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VIETNAM EDITION / VOL. 10 TÁC GIẢ: BAO ROSS | October 2017 Word | 1

Contents Oct.2017




20 / Hanoi Life Drawing Society

76 / Vietnam in Cyanotype

22 / Tohe

82 / The Rise of Diabetes

This month in Vietnam

Developing creative skills for disadvantaged youth


24 / Food Street

88 / The Premier League in Vietnam

THE TALK 10 / The Tick List

For better or worse, travelling has changed

11 / The Big Five

12 / The HCMC Skyrun

Some like it horizontal, some like it vertical

14 / The Giang Brothers

Life drawing in a relaxing environment

Street food, controversy and a road called Nguyen Van Chiem

26 / Overcoming Obstacles

16 / The Children

50 / Street Portrait

18 / The Commercialisation of Sapa

54 / The Vietnam Bucket List

Flogging the gift horse to death

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From malnutrition to type 2 diabetes in 30 years

The obsession with football goes beyond watching a match or two

The story behind Red Bull Champion 94 / Urban Beautification Dash Making Hanoi pretty

Breaking records, one harrowing step at a time INSIDER The much loved Vietnamese alt-rock band release a new EP

Not all modern-day photography is digital

Ngoc Ha in Hanoi has a little bit of everything

98 / Eating out in Phu My Hung The ultimate eating and drinking guide to District 7

101 things to do or not to do before you leave Vietnam


Contents Oct.2017






136 / Body & Temple

108 / The Cham Islands

30 / To Do List

138 / Medical Buff

38 / Just In

148 / Know Your City


132 / HCMC City Guide


40 / To Do List

140 / Bar Stool

150 / Reverse Culture Shock

44 / Just In

146 / Top Eats

It’s the thing that happens when you return home

118 / Hanoi City Guide


152 / Ten 10

120 / Day Tripper

122 / Women’s Fitness

126 / Bar Stool

123/ Book Buff

128 / Top Eats

124 / The Therapist

A tropical paradise, just off the coast of Hoi An

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The brains behind Pilatesaigon, Oscar Soletto



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

his month we asked Word contributors if there was one thing they could do in Vietnam that they haven’t done yet, what would it be? Retire and live by the ocean. The dream is still well and truly alive. — Matt Cowan, Managing Editor Let me check our cover story! Before I leave the country (if I ever do), I will do a motorbike trip from north to south. One thing on the list during the trip will be hot air ballooing in Mui Ne — it sounds f**king awesome! — Julie Vola, Photo Editor

EDITORIAL BAO ZOAN Staff Photographer

NICK ROSS Chief Editor


EDWARD DALTON Staff Writer (Hanoi)

JULIE VOLA Photo Editor

AIMEE DUONG Graphic Designer

NGUYEN LOC Layout Designer

MATTHEW COWAN Managing Editor


There are so many options! The main contenders on my bucket list would be to ramble through the jungle of the caves in Phong Nha, motorbike through Vietnam and foster a little cat or dog. — Olga Rozenbajgier, Contributor Visit Sapa. I made it halfway there on a motorbike last year before I realised I would run out of time for my flight back to Saigon, so I abandoned the trip. I’d like to finish the job. — Thomas Barrett, Staff Writer Open a bagel bakery in Saigon and call it Banh Mi O. Been wanting to do it for years. But now it seems that someone’s got there first. The bakery, not the name. — Nick Ross, Chief Editor


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I’m allergic to, and generally hate, cats, so I’d love to stir fry/BBQ a few before I go and take the population down a bit. — Edward Dalton, Staff Writer


ISBN: 978-604-77-3471-9

6 | Word October 2017 |

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can’t remember having heard the term bucket list until that movie, The Bucket List, came out in 2007. Starring Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson, the two aging buddies putting together a list of things to do before they die. While this month’s issue The Vietnam Bucket List has been put together with less morbid intentions in mind, we do offer up a list of 101 things that you could do before you

leave Vietnam. Anyone who travelled to this part of the world when the main travel publications we relied upon were Lonely Planet and Rough Guide, will remember how we created our to-do lists by talking to other backpackers on the circuit, usually back at the hostel over a cold beer or, if we were really skint, a coke. On my own travels, I remember eating so many baguettes (with nothing in them) that the corners of my

mouth began to bleed. Nowadays, of course, things are easier, especially given the greater access to information independent travellers have online. They no longer have to fly by the seat of their pants, wondering if indeed there is actually somewhere to stay at the end of the line. They can look ahead, plan and book, and rest assured knowing there will at least be a bed and perhaps a swimming pool to cool off in after their

journey. Are things better? It depends on your perspective, but we like to think they are thanks to publications like ours that continue to add to the wealth of travel knowledge out there about Vietnam. While we don’t endorse all of the experiences we have in our bucket list, they are something to get the ideas flowing before you clear off to other far-flung destinations for your next adventure. — Matt Cowan, Managing Editor



the Vietnam Bucket List W OR DV IE TN AM .C OM



THIS MONTH'S COVER Design by DH Advertising Photo by Julie Vola

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 matt@ wordvietnam. com — we’re at your fingertips.

Bad Press (September 2017, p10) “Mainstream media has always been focused on mass readership. In the online press, this is measured by clicks, hits, likes, retweets and shares. The more clicks a link gets or the more shares on Facebook, the more important (at least financially) the contents of that link are deemed to be, even though the actual content may be vacuous, superficial and uninspiring.” Thanks for this. Exactly how it is. — JC Some really interesting points and insights — LN Great article! As someone who has visited multiple times and is beyond the ‘tourist’ stage, your points are spot on. I think the Vietnamese are openly creating more positive press, at least on a regional basis. But national good stories are needed — JR

8 | Word October 2017 |

Go Home Matcha, You’re Drunk (August 2017, p174) Thanks for all the matcha tips!! I’m back in Hanoi next week and can’t wait!! — KM

The Final Say



Go Home Matcha, You’re Drunk Edward Dalton declares war on matcha, and anything else green for that matter. Photos by Julie Vola


ear Matcha, What is the point of you? You are green tea; why do you insist on trying to be more than that? Why do you want to ruin everything, and infect every Instagram post with your incessant, intolerable shade of goblin-vomit green?

Nothing Good is Green Type “green things” into Google images and you’ll see the first problem. Green things, in general, tend to suck. Broccoli and the Starbucks logo? Check. Venomous reptiles and the most irritating of all The Muppets? Check. And nobody ever threw a party themed around avocado, the bane of good breakfasts and nemesis of any millennial at the foot of the property ladder. A latte should be a magical thing; a caffeinated cup of bliss, where rich, brown espresso meets white, foamy milk, perhaps bedecked with a lopsided leaf or wonky heart. Thanks to places like Urban Station (2B Pham Ngoc Thach, Dong Da), you can now get a matcha latte, an abomination which looks like Shrek has sneezed into it. No thanks. It’s still summer, so maybe an iced drink would be more appealing. No dice, I’m afraid; matcha has stuck its grubby little claws into that refreshing retreat, too. Bubble tea from Coco (19 Le Dai Hanh, Hai Ba Trung), or an iced tea from Hanoi Sandwich House (8 Tay Ho, Tay Ho) were once things we could look forward to. But no longer, as their matcha bubble tea or iced matcha are now yours to enjoy; if anyone can enjoy a drink which looks like it was made by mixing water with the Hulk’s dandruff.

The Dessert Destroyer The matcha invasion goes to show that nothing is sacred anymore. Crème brûlée and tiramisu, two classic staples of the French

174 | Word August 2017 |

and Italian dessert menus, have now been tainted by that pointless powder. If you don’t believe me, I invite you to torment your taste buds with the matcha tiramisu at Xofa Café (14 Tong Duy Tan, Hoan Kiem) or the matcha crème brûlée at Jouri Dessert and Tea (10 Khuc Hao, Ba Dinh). Even ice cream hasn’t gone untarnished by the gross green brush. I agree that gelato can come in all flavours and colours. I just don’t agree that one of those flavours or colours should be Yoda’s Ballbag. If you disagree, then head to Gelato Italia (31 To Ngoc Van, Tay Ho) and try their matcha gelato. Less creamy than gelato, but equally vile, the good name of ice cream has been desecrated at Fanny Ice Cream and Sorbet (2 Hang Bai, Hoan Kiem) where you will find matcha ice cream sitting alongside the proper flavours, thinking it belongs there. The popular Korean import, patbingsu, or “snow ice cream”, is traditionally made with shaved ice and red beans, while other varieties made with fruit or cookies are known as bingsu. However, if you’d prefer to try a variety of bingsu, which is to desserts what Scotland is to football, then check out the matcha bingsu at Pow Pow Snow (166E Doi Can, Ba Dinh) or Swaffles House (20 Hang Manh, Hoan Kiem).

be found on sale at most Circle Ks or big supermarkets, and is of course the loathsome matcha Kit Kat. As a semi-professional fat man, cake is one of the most important things in my life. Unfortunately, The Grinch has sprinkled his evil into the mixing bowl, resulting in the repulsive matcha cakes you can find almost anywhere around town.

Give a Gift of Hate I’m sorry matcha, but I will always hate you. The next time someone I despise has a birthday, I will buy them a matcha birthday cake from Madame Huong Dessert (39 Ly Thuong Kiet, Hoan Kiem) and laugh as they cry into it, wondering why it’s not chocolate or another real flavour. So in the meantime, matcha, keep gathering your strength at one of Hanoi’s many matcha cafes, such as Kool Off (54 Hoang Ngoc Phach, Dong Da), Yamamoto (65 Hang Trong, Hoan Kiem) or Matcha Coffee 2NE1 (6 Le Van Huu, Hoan Kiem), and I will keep rallying individuals of more discerning taste to my cause. The Matcha Crusade is coming. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer and don’t necessarily reflect those of Word Vietnam

Snot-Coloured Snacks Just like everyone knows that Bulbasaur, that unloved green mutant, is the worst of the grass-type Pokemon, it’s about time everyone knows that matcha is the worst variety of Kit Kat. Kit Kat have had some cracking varieties and special editions over the years; orange, mint, white or dark chocolate, peanut butter and strawberry have been some of the highlights. The indisputable low point, however, can | August 2017 Word | 175

Hilarious — CM I love matcha! It gives you wings. Plus this matcha trend has been on in California since last summer! So hipster lol. Lame — RP Nothing good is green... except for… — OCW Nothing good is green? failed assumption — BN This is literally a ‘flavour of the month’. Anyone remember Vanilla Coke? I loved it. But I never wish for it to come back. — AS

Talk Lead

The Tick List For better or worse, travelling has changed


nce upon a time the travelling community headed off to far-flung places with one goal in mind; an experience. They wanted to make things happen that would have a life-changing impact, to see and do things which would alter their world view. They wanted to party, but party in a way that they were unable to do back home, and they wanted to meet new, interesting people. Out of necessity everything had to be done on the cheap. When I first went travelling in earnest in the late 1990s, I met one such guy from the old school. Thailand had already started its transformation into the commercial touristfriendly entity it is today, so people who were searching out those life-changing experiences were heading elsewhere. This guy, Laszlo, was Hungarian, and he was funding his travelling by renting out his apartment in Budapest. I remember when we talked about daily budgets, he was horrified at what I was spending. I was going for RM70 (VND380,000) a day, while he was on a much more modest RM30 (VND163,000). We were in Kuching, Malaysia and his constant complaint was how expensive it was compared to Indonesia. But it was his time in Indonesia and the Philippines that really showed what type of a traveller he was. He trekked halfway across Irian Jaya (now West Papua) and came down with malaria. The tribespeople looked after him and he slept on a matt of woven grass, to wake up covered in flea bites. He went to the Maluku Islands in Indonesia while the province was in the

10 | Word October 2017 |

middle of a religious civil war and got caught up in the fighting — he showed me photos of the riots. He tried to get into the then-nonindependent East Timor, to be turned away at the border, and he got himself in trouble once again in Zamboanga on the southwestern tip of the Philippines, when independence fighters from the nearby Sulu Archipelago made raids on the city.

Now Everyone Can Fly Today’s travellers rarely have such experiences. Part is the reason for travelling. Yes, people are searching out experience, but it’s no longer as daredevil as it was in the past, and it is no longer experience that means doing things and going to places that few have been to before. The internet and advances in communications have put paid to that. Everywhere has already been visited and we know about it by people talking online. Another reason is Southeast Asia itself. Whereas once upon a time it was the travellers and backpackers who opened up the region to tourism, now with mass tourism and all the required amenities so well set up, tourism dollars come from all strata of society. This is aided by the growth of the budget airlines, which in turn has changed the physical nature of travelling. Back in the day, travellers had to suffer the discomfort of long and often harrowing bus journeys, or unsafe boat rides across unfriendly seas. Now travel times have been shortened and journeys cheapened thanks to the likes of AirAsia. Put simply, anyone who can afford the short-haul flights and cheap hotel rooms can travel.

Stability One other key difference is regional stability. We hark on about North Korea and the threat it poses both regionally and to the Western world, whereas in fact this region was far more volatile 30 and even 20 years ago than it is today. Take Cambodia — war there only stopped following the death of Pol Pot in 1999. Indonesia was constantly dealing with uprisings in provinces as far-flung as East Timor, Aceh, Irian Jaya and the Maluku Islands. Myanmar was a no-go zone, as was much of the southern Philippines, and even southern Thailand had issues with Muslim insurgents. Instead, today travellers are in search of far more trivial experiences, the kind of experiences they can tick off a bucket list, the kind of experiences that simply mean, “I’ve done it. It’s finished and over with.” Whether it’s cutting the head off a chicken, taking a selfie with an elephant or eating snake, it’s these kind of experiences that seem to make people tick. As selfie culture suggests: in the past people travelled to see, now they travel to be seen. Does it make it any better or worse than the experiences of travellers in the past? In my opinion, no. It’s just different. Although I do yearn for those days when myself and a group of people going by boat to Siberut off the west coast of Sumatra in Indonesia got caught up in a storm. Without food and low on water, we ended up stranded for eight hours on an untouched, white-sand beach on an uninhabited island. Now that was an experience. — Nick Ross

Big5 The

Film festivals, music festivals, talks, a charity gala and Quest



Goethe Institut Science Film Festival 1

Hanoi & HCMC Oct. 6 to Dec. 7

Belgian DJ Lost Frequencies will be one of the acts playing at Monsoon

Yes, it’s back. From Nov. 10 to Nov. 12. Quest Festival



The 7th Science Film Festival organised by the Goethe Institut in Vietnam in collaboration with THD Education Solutions Ltd is starting Friday, Oct. 6 and running until Thursday, Dec. 7. The main theme of the festival this year is Anthropocene. The term refers to the fact that for thousands of years, humans have made an impact on nature, and have changed it. Today, we experience Anthropocene through climate change and the associated crises plants and animals face because of it. While the festival will screen science and natural history films, attendees will also be able to participate in discovery workshops and experiments. It will also come to schools and cultural centres where kids can experience science hands-on by doing their own experiments on the spot. Last year, 36,000 people attended 300 screenings across Vietnam. This year it’s expected the festival will be just as popular. For more info, go to

Heart Institute Gala 2017 2

Park Hyatt, HCMC Saturday, Oct. 7

The Heart Institute of Ho Chi Minh City and the CMI (International Medical Center) are holding their seventh edition of the Heart Institute Gala to support deprived children suffering from heart diseases. This year’s theme will be Havana Dream. Held to raise vital funds to finance the growing demands of deprived children needing heart surgery at the Heart Institute of HCMC, at present 30,000 children in

Vietnam are waiting in Vietnam to receive the cardiac surgery that can save their lives. This year’s charity gala will consist of a welcome cocktail, a fivecourse French meal with a tropical twist, live and silent auctions, live performances and a whole host of other entertainment. The dress code is tropical chic. Tickets cost VND2.9 million per person. A table of 10 goes for VND25 million. For information or to purchase tickets email m.pernas@cmi-vietnam. com or call (028) 38 27 23 66/67

Forbes Talks: The Future of Education InterContinental Asiana Saigon, HCMC 3 Friday, Oct. 20 The development of technology is bringing far-reaching changes to all aspects of social life, including education. In Vietnam, the education sector is transforming itself with the involvement of the private sector and the impact of technology. Traditional educational methods face the pressure of change while new learning patterns are flourishing to meet the diverse needs of learners. Forbes Talks discusses the Future of Education focusing on the latest developments in the field of education and their effects on businesses, educators, policy-makers and the public. The event is from 1pm to 5pm and tickets start from VND660,000 and go up to VND1.1million. For more info on ticketing, go to

International Monsoon Music Festival 4

Imperial Citadel, Hanoi Nov. 10, 11, 12

Another music festival hits Hanoi in November attracting local and

international artists, including Dong Hung (Vietnam), Garden City Movement (Israel), Biuret (South Korea), Lost Frequencies (Belgium), BUD (UK), and Chris Minh Doky (Denmark). Since 2014, the Monsoon Music Festival has become the ultimate destination for music lovers and culture enthusiasts. The festival offers more than just music, however, giving audiences from different generations opportunities to relax and enjoy unique experiences amidst the historical settings of the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long. More artists to be announced soon. Tickets can be purchased from ranging in price from VND330,000 for a daily ticket, to VND660,000 for a 3-day pass. For more info, go to

Quest Festival 5

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

Firmly establishing its place as Vietnam’s most premiere multi-day festival, Quest returns from Nov. 10 to Nov.12 for an unforgettable weekend of music, art, discovery and magic. Over the past few years, Quest has consistently raised the bar drawing international acclaim and praise. Combining over 150 of the very best local and international acts across five beautifully crafted stages, the festival in Ba Vi close to Hanoi includes music, cinema, boat tours, workshops, street performances, team activities, live and installation art, and much more. Phase 4 ticket options are on-sale from Oct. 3 until Nov. 8 via ticketbox. vn starting at VND600,000 for a oneday student pass to VND1.8 million for a three-day individual pass. Buying through saves you up to 28% off gate prices | October 2017 Word | 11

Briefings HCMC

The HCMC Skyrun Some like it horizon tal, other s like it ve rtical

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arathons, half-marathons, fun runs and triathlons. All are starting to make inroads into an increasingly health-conscious Vietnam. Now it’s the turn of a different type of running, vertical running or stair climbing. Imagine running up 49 floors to the top of Ho Chi Minh City’s tallest building. That’s what 500 runners will be doing on Sunday, Oct. 29 at the HCMC Skyrun, when they race up 1,000 steps from the ground floor lobby to the observation deck of the Bitexco Financial Tower. First known in the 1970s as “vertical races”, stair running has emerged over the past four decades, as a global sport, with elite athletes training all year round to be the first to reach the top of the world’s tallest buildings. Part of the allure of this gruelling sport is the novelty of competing in unique urban settings — the world’s tallest structures. At the inaugural event in the Bitexco Tower back in 2011, Germany’s Thomas Dold made it to the top in an aweinspiring 4 minutes 51 seconds, while the leading female, Italy’s Valentina Belotti, completed the race in 6 minutes and 19 seconds. For the non-pros, just getting to the 49th floor without collapsing halfway up was a blessing, and if by some stroke of physical luck you could do it in less than 15 minutes, then you were near superhuman. With the HCMC Skyrun on our doorstep, we decided to talk to one of those superhumans, sorry, elite runners, Suzy Walsham. Hailing from Australia, Suzy is presently the top-ranked woman on the Vertical World Circuit.

How long have you been on the circuit? Suzy: My first vertical run was the Swissotel Vertical Marathon in Singapore in November 2006.

Why vertical runs as opposed to horizontal runs? Suzy: I raced track for many years and also road races, but I was looking for a new challenge, so I tried vertical races. I loved

it from my first race and am still enjoying it 11 years later. The other bonus is that because it is relatively non-impact (unlike horizontal running) I don’t get injured, so this is also a big positive for me.

What makes vertical runs so challenging? Suzy: It’s the lactic acid that builds up as you propel yourself upwards that is the most challenging to deal with. Lactic acid is what makes your legs feel like jelly — learning to manage this is key. Your heart rate also goes up quickly and can reach very high levels in a short period of time, so you can feel out of breath after only a few floors. It is also important to have strong quads and glutes as you need a lot of power to push up the stairs.

Where have you competed? Is it possible to make money out of running the vertical run circuit? Suzy: Over the past 11 years, I have competed in more than 90 stair races across five continents, and hold course records in more than 20 international stair races. I am fortunate to do well in a lot of races so I win some prize money and often get travel assistance. It’s not possible to make a living out of it, but I get to travel all over the world, cover my costs and make a bit of pocket money.

What’s the competitive spirit like between the various top runners? Suzy: The stair running community is a very positive and supportive group, even at the elite level. It’s quite an individual sport; the real race is between you and the building. We all know how hard the races are, but also that if someone is better on the day, there is not much you can do about it. At the elite level, we all know each other pretty well and usually hang out after the races and explore the cities we have travelled to. It’s a lot of fun.

How do you combine training and competing with your day job? Suzy: It’s a challenge. I get up at 5.30am every day to train and also do two

afternoon sessions. I train approximately nine times per week for around 1.5 hours a day. I am fortunate with my job in that so long as I have an internet connection, I can work from anywhere in the world, so I am usually still working when I travel to races. But it’s a bit of a juggling act managing training, competing, work and family.

What kind of exercise routines do you use to help you prepare for a race? Suzy: I always have a day off two days before a stair race — the races are intense and I like to be both mentally and physically rested. Prior to the race, I just do my normal warm up; 10 minutes of jogging, some stretches and drills, some strides/sprints. If I can, I also like to try to run about 10 floors of stairs around 30 minutes before the race to get my legs firing. To register or find out more about the HCMC Skyrun on Sunday, Oct. 29, click on | October 2017 Word | 13

Briefings HCMC

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The Giang Brothers Breaking records, one harrowing step at a time



uinness World Record breakers come in many shapes and sizes, and the Giang brothers arrive in what appears to be peak physical condition. To walk up 96 steps with one balancing vertically upon the other brother’s head, you have to be. However, it’s a risky act that has them balancing between career success and possible paralysis.

In the Circus Born and bred in Ho Chi Minh City, the Giang brothers Co, 34, and Nghiep, 28, followed in their father and grandfather’s footsteps by becoming circus performers, but they are the first in their family to have taken their act all over the world. From the US to Ukraine and from France to Taiwan, they’ve been performing as part of various circus troupes since 2001. Their act is centred around a gravitydefying stunt whereby Nghiep gets on top of his brother’s head and balances vertically, giving a spectacular mirror image type effect. Unsurprisingly, both brothers trained in gymnastics from an early age — which has given their acrobatic performances a solid framework. The proudest moment of their career came nine months ago at Saint Mary’s Cathedral in Girona, Spain, when they performed their balancing act while walking up a whopping 92 steps, breaking the Guinness World Record for ‘most stairs climbed while balancing a person on the head’. They regularly perform for long stints in Europe, which was how their record-breaking attempt came about. While working in Spain, staff at the circus encouraged the brothers to go for the record.

“The old record was 25 steps in one minute, and that is very easy. So they asked us to do 90 steps in one minute,” says Nghiep. The brothers have been performing the balancing act as part of their routine for a decade, but they were still apprehensive about breaking this particular record. They’d only practised a couple of times prior to their main attempt, and on each time they’d failed to reach their goal of under a minute. “The first time it took us 1.1 minutes and the second time we did it in one minute,” says Nghiep. The pressure was on.

On the Day When the day came there were understandable nerves. 92 steps is a long way to fall, and and they were unused to the chilly outdoor weather conditions. “It was very cold. At 12pm we were waiting for the sun so it would be a bit warmer and there was a big crowd watching. We were nervous. We didn’t think we could do it. We said this is a good time to make a big happening for Vietnam, so we wanted to do it. In the end, we did it in 52 seconds,” says Nghiep. “It was unbelievable,” adds Co. “We didn’t think anyone could do it, but we are human.” The brothers say their life hasn’t really changed since they became record breakers, but it has certainly made them more wellknown in their home country. One unusual request has since come their way, and a wax model has been made of the balancing duo in a new wax museum that celebrates the artistic achievements of Vietnamese, past and present. Co says it feels good to be recognised.

“We’re proud,” he says. “It’s one of the things that young Vietnamese people can look at to follow their dreams. It can be a symbol of young people in Vietnam and what they can achieve. Try to do your best and don’t stop practising.”

Sacrifices For Nghiep, the smaller of the two, his role is more physically demanding, especially on his neck, and a nasty fall recently is threatening to put an end to his career. “Five days ago I went to hospital to check my neck, and I found out that it is not straight. It suffers a lot of pressure so now it’s deformed,” he says. “The doctor advised me to stop my career. But it’s just advice, I can choose to keep doing it. The next time I fall off, my neck could break.” This element of danger gives their act a risky dimension. “I worry,” says Co, when discussing his brother’s neck problems. They are a double act and rely on each other.

Never Say Never But records are there to be broken, and the brothers have their eyes set on Bulgaria in March of 2018, where they hope to beat their own record. “Now we want to do it faster. I hope 45 seconds for 90 steps,” says Nghiep. “If someone wants to break it. We will always be the first. We are protective over it. We’re scared somebody can do it better than us, so we keep practising every day. To be proud of ourselves and proud of our country.” — Thomas Barrett Check out a video of the Giang brothers breaking the record on their website | October 2017 Word | 15


The Children


The much-loved Vietnamese alt-rock outfit releases its new EP


sit next to Loc and Son from Nhung Dua Tre — ‘The Children’ — in a crowded bar as they sling back their beers. Their faces show relief when I suggest we move downstairs. As we retreat, I think that despite their quiet demeanour, they will soon be making a lot of noise. Nhung Dua Tre’s second EP, E.P 2.0, will be released this month. Their first EP from early 2016, Nhung Dua Tre Trong Ngo, immediately resonated with music fans across the country. Their sounds were driven and expansive. Their lyrics yearned for more, from their city and their lives, and their songs captured what it feels like to be young but aimless among the history, chaos and opportunity of Hanoi. They also play and make music that is a departure from much of the cultural output in this country. This is the sound of indie pop alt-rock, but with Hanoi flair. The lyrics are all in Vietnamese.

Sounds of the City “We were born and raised here,” says Son, the band’s guitarist. “Our music and Hanoi are inseparable.” But the band didn’t record new music for over a year after the release of their first EP. “It is hard to be a musician here,” says Loc, the outfit’s vocalist and guitarist. “Most people are conservative. It’s hard work when people don’t understand why we need to make music.” Looking away, Son admits that somehow, the band had lost their drive. “We love the songs from our first EP but we were just practising our old songs, and only going to gigs only when people invited us.” So what changed? “When we tried to record this EP, life just got really hard, in a way none of us were ready for,” Son says. The band faced meltdowns and complete breakdowns within the group, their relationships and their families. As the setbacks piled up, recording completely stalled. “Some days we felt that everything in our lives was completely out of control,” he continues. “Those were dark days.”

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Despite all the hardships, their new music kept coming out. “When we got together, we wrote songs about the bad thoughts we were having,” says Son. “But we realised that making the EP was the only thing keeping us excited and inspired about anything. Playing these songs together as a band was the only thing helping us find a way through the mess of our everyday lives.” The band’s devotion to each other comes out in their energetic live shows but also in their songwriting. Son explains. “Our band is a family. We grew up together and understand and love each other. We are different but we are all linked together and care for each other. It’s a great dynamic for songwriting.”

Highly Charged When I ask Son what we can expect from Nhung Dua Tre’s second EP, he is clear. “We talk about this all the time,” he says. “The new songs contain all the messed up, distorted and confused feelings we had trying to get our lives together. We can’t express those feelings in conversations. Not even with each other. We can only say what we need to say through these songs.”

Loc agrees. “I’ll stumble over my words and mess it up if I try to explain it. The songs are about hope and making the EP was an act of hope. I want people to believe that sometimes life is harder than you are ready for, but you can get through it.” All four band members are introverts and sometimes it is awkward just being around them. But on stage they are charged and captivating. They make music that sounds like nothing else coming out of this country today. This is the sound of Hanoi alt-rock in 2017. — Stephaine Wong Nhung Dua Tre are launching EP 2.0 with shows in Hanoi and HCMC. First they play HRC on Oct. 15 and then they head to Yoko Cafe HCMC on Oct. 22. Doors are at 8pm. Tickets cost VND120,000. For more info click on


Briefings National

The Commercialisation of Sapa The gift horse that has been flogged almost to death

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becoming glorified theme parks, where local ethnic minorities dress up and act a part, in order to greet the daily rush of tourists and sell souvenirs. The result is that many ethnic minorities are losing their cultural heritage, the very heritage that many travellers to Sapa have come there to see.

An International Town?


nyone who has travelled to Sapa will be familiar with the onslaught of women and children dressed in traditional ethnic minority outfits ready to sell their ‘handmade’ souvenirs. Speaking English, Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, Russian and even Italian in order to sell their souvenirs, anywhere tourists flock, aggressive hawkers are bound to follow. With the influx of tourists coming to Sapa, the territory has become saturated with foreign influences. Head into town, and any real estate boasting the views of the rice terraces has all but been snatched up by foreign hotel, bar and restaurant owners. Villages such as the touristheavy settlement of Cat Cat are bordering on

“Cultural identity is being lost and foreign guests are becoming disillusioned,” says Phil Hoolihan, who co-founded the Sapa eco-tour group Ethos with his wife Hoa. “I conducted 366 surveys of people in Sapa Town and Ta Van Village in June. 71 percent of those interviewed were foreigners, of which 90 percent said litter was their biggest negative and 69 percent said they wouldn’t ever return to Sapa.” As you stroll the main strip of Sapa Town from Huong Hoa to Fansipan Street, Phil’s words become apparent. The potholed streets are lined with bars, Italian pizzerias and nightclubs offering shisha and ‘funny’ balloons. There are 9000+ hotel rooms currently under construction in Sapa. No property is too sacred. Even the tallest mountain in Vietnam — Fansipan — which lies on the outskirts of Sapa is not safe. In the past, scaling this once formidable mountain was a badge of honour for those willing to brave the two-day hike to the mountain’s summit. Now the peak can be reached via a 20-minute cable car ride (VND600,000) built by the Sun World Entertainment conglomerate. At the top, you are rewarded with an observation deck, a Buddhist temple and a souvenir shop. To make things even easier, there are plans to build a railway, which will ferry tourists from the upcoming Sun World five-star hotel to the cable car station, plus a theme park and a golf course. “Those facilities are aimed almost exclusively at Vietnamese and Chinese clients,” says Phil. “Most foreigners [who come to Sapa] seek culture and nature, but most Vietnamese seek cool air and entertainment.”

A Short Stay With tourists often spending only two or three days in Sapa, a quick excursion before heading on elsewhere, it’s because of this fast turnaround that many companies have learned the art of making a quick buck. “The development is short-sighted, with little thought to sustainability,” says Phil.

“Growth is happening too quickly. In a town with no litter disposal, no checks on buildings and no water quality, the impacts on local villages have been huge.” Knowing full well that cuteness sells, the allure of selling souvenirs to tourists has left many families pulling their children out of school to spend the days dressed up in traditional Hmong garb in hopes of enticing customers. This has led to an increase in illiteracy among minority children, and warnings by local authorities against buying souvenirs from children have gone unenforced. With investors pouring billions of dollars into Lao Cai province, it is hoped that some of that money will trickle down to the people who live there. “Tourism has made the town more noisy and dirty,” says Ly Thi My, one of the Hmong tour guides working at Ethos. “The road to Lao Cai used to be natural, but now there are buildings everywhere. I don’t like it because the views are being destroyed and there is more rubbish in the rivers.” Seeing the condition of the roads, which are littered with potholes from the damage caused by the heavy trucks used for the large-scale construction projects, shows that not much of that money, if any, is going into infrastructure.

Crossroads Sapa’s growth does have its pros. The increase in tourism has benefited those working in the travel, food and drink industry exponentially. For some, it is a welcome shot to the local economy. “When I was young, my family didn’t have enough food to eat. We had no shoes or warm clothes. Tourism means I can buy the things I need and my children have a better life than I did,” says Giang Thi So, another one of Ethos’s tour guides. Unfortunately, the hiring of local workers for service work is rare. Phil estimates close to 95 percent of the staff come from other parts of Vietnam. As mega-corporations begin privatizing once-public land, and outside influence starts to have effect on the local ethnic minorities, Sapa is truly at a crossroads. With change coming so rapidly, little regard is given to the impact it will have on Sapa’s stunning landscape and the villagers that occupy it. There’s no stopping the construction from raging, but with all the progress, the future of Sapa and its resilient people remain uncertain. — Hai Vu | October 2017 Word | 19


Hanoi Life Drawing Society


Practising life drawing skills in a relaxed environment


or artists looking for a relaxed, judgment-free environment to practice their drawing skills, consider dropping by The Creative Artillery in Tay Ho on Monday nights from 7pm to 9pm for one of Hanoi Life Drawing Society’s (HLDS) weekly life drawing sessions. For VND200,000, artists partake in a two-hour class featuring about 20 different poses from live models. Materials and the occasional cup of wine are also included. The class is open to anyone looking to hone their skills or dabble in a new hobby, amateurs and professionals alike. Coordinator Liz Vorster keeps classes interesting by introducing new models each week and asking them to get creative with the types of poses they do. A mix of short gesture poses and longer 10 or

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20-minute poses are always on the agenda, but occasional surprises like live storytelling, unexpected costumes, or impromptu yoga are also not uncommon. Even pets have been known to make modelling appearances.

Drawing Attention The Creative Artillery, which is located on the ground floor of Hanoi Rock City, shares a venue with a bar and a dance floor. During the weekend, the space is bustling with people, but once Monday night rolls around, a quiet stillness emerges. Ambient music and the sound of pencils scratching paper are the only noises that materialise out of The Creative Artillery as artists concentrate on their work. In addition to weekly classes at The Creative Artillery, HLDS also occasionally hosts events at other

locations in Hanoi such as the Secret Garden in Tay Ho or The Painter’s Studio in Ba Dinh. Less formal drawing sessions also take place at artists’ homes or studios from time to time for even more intimate experiences. HLDS also plans to host an event at Quest Festival this fall, which will be free for all festival-goers. Models will pose as different characters in eccentric costumes for artists to draw and interpret. To stay updated about when and where HLDS events take place, follow their posts on Facebook.

Prop Art HLDS’s classes are distinctive because, unlike conventional life drawing classes, models are as much a part of the creative process as the artists. Vorster encourages models to tell their personal stories either


verbally or through props during the classes, which adds an element of performance art to the drawing sessions. For example, one model who had just returned from a long trip through India brought her backpack and her ukulele with her while she modelled. As she posed, she told stories of where she’d been and how material possessions do not equate to happiness. These models are not necessarily professionals or even experienced, but it doesn’t matter because this group of artists would rather see personality than perfection in their subjects. After the sessions, Vorster likes to ask models to reflect on their experiences. One model explained the experience as such: “Intrigued, exposed and fulfilled… a bucket list experience,” and another said, “This was truly an unforgettable life experience of pure liberation. Seeing

each artists’ perception of my body was majestic.” Artists are also encouraged to reflect on their experiences in the class. One artist wrote, “When I am life drawing, I get lost in my own state of mind. Love and lust, masculinity and femininity, identity and individuality.” Another said: “Life drawing not only lets you immerse yourself in the beauty of nature, but it also encourages you to abstract your impressions, break the lines, and be aware of your own creative reservoir.” — Emily Arntsen Hanoi Life Drawing Society is located at The Creative Artillery, 27/52 To Ngoc Van, Tay Ho, Hanoi. Every Monday from 7pm to 9pm. For artists or models interested in practising their drawing skills or playing muse, contact Vorster at and check out their events on Facebook @ HanoiLifeDrawingSociety | October 2017 Word | 21

Charity of

the Month

Tòhe Developing creative skills for disadvantaged youth


ablo Picasso famously said, “It took me four years to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to paint like a child.” This is the idea that drives Tòhe, a Hanoi-based social enterprise founded in 2006 that produces beautifully-crafted accessories, home decor and fashion. With the aim of assisting children in disadvantaged communities by developing their creative skills through art, Tòhe takes the artworks and prints them onto various products that are sold at their store and other outlets around Hanoi. 5 percent of the revenue from these products is then given to the children who produce the artworks. The designs have a Picasso-like surrealism that comes naturally to children. There are misshapen figures, a clock reminiscent of Salvador Dali, paint splattered family portraits, and imagined creatures covering a variety of products from aprons and tote bags to laptop cases and passport holders. “The company promotes the idea of a playful spirit,” marketing manager Cung Tuyet Nga explains. “This is not only the playfulness of children, but adults who take a positive approach to life and are always optimistic,” she adds. “Many people do not see the beauty in children’s

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pictures and we want to share this.”

Artistic Channels The idea for Tòhe started when one its three founders Nguyen Dinh Nguyen visited a museum in Barcelona and came across items for sale in its gift shop decorated with prints of Picasso’s works. Nguyen has a background in fine art and design and has worked as a designer for 20 years. He combined his fine art background, love of Picasso, and experiences with disadvantaged communities and founded Tòhe. The core team now has around 40 people including a marketing and design team as well as a group of volunteers who assist with workshops and are dedicated to sharing the “playful spirit” of children’s artworks. The name Tòhe refers to a traditional Vietnamese folk toy made from rice flour and food colouring that is meant to be eaten as well as played with. The name symbolises children benefitting from their creative outlet. The company has many other aspects. Tòhe Fun aims to foster creativity by creating an art playground area for children to freely express themselves through artistic channels. This initiative has been running since 2006 and has helped over 1,500 children in more than 30 locations around Vietnam.


Tòhe also regularly hosts art workshops. The workshops range between 90 minutes and two hours and teach children art in the form of games to keep them busy and interested. This is complemented by Tòhe Play, which provides art activities and creative events for urban families and children, inspiring children to familiarize themselves with art, creativity and installation. Tòhe Bank is Vietnam’s first online gallery selling children’s paintings to showcase emerging talent and provide young artists with an opportunity to gain exposure and bring in revenue from their work. Tòhe also recently hosted an exhibition in collaboration with The Coffee House and Nguyen hopes to make it a regular event. “Thanks to many years working with disadvantaged children, we found that most of them have difficulty in expressing themselves in the usual ways, such as speaking or writing,” Nguyen explains. “They always missed channels to communicate with people and to express their thoughts and feelings “But with art, especially through drawing, they can express themselves easily. Among them, many have interesting inner worlds full of special thoughts and feelings,” he continues. It is being privy to these inner worlds that make Tòhe products so unique. — Alex Maggs Tòhe Style, the company’s flagship store, is located at No.8 Do Quang, Cau Giay, Hanoi and their products can be purchased online at | October 2017 Word | 23

Briefings HCMC

Food Street

Street food, controversy and a road called Nguyen Van Chiem


n Nguyen Van Chiem, behind Diamond Plaza in District 1, stand around a dozen identical stalls, all selling different items of food and drink. Nothing unusual perhaps —but it’s an initiative set up by City Hall that could potentially change the face and eating habits of Saigon. The sidewalk clearing campaign has caused controversy since it was launched in February of this year, as government trucks have intermittently scooped up all in their path, leaving food and drink sellers with hefty fines to recover their belongings. It’s estimated at least 500 businesses have been affected by the purge, so designated street stalls are the government’s way of allowing the vendors to continue selling, while in theory retaining Vietnam’s famous street food culture.

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“There are good days and bad days,” says one of the new vendors. “At first we thought it would be good, but not as many customers have come as we thought,” says another. It’s near to famous landmarks like the Notre Dame Cathedral and the Reunification Palace, but its location is obscured by the Diamond Plaza shopping mall, which has led to a slightly disappointing footfall. It’s still a work in progress, and more streets like this are set to open in the near future. “Before I came here I had a small store on Nguyen Du,” says one vendor. She likes it here, as it means she is free from the aggressive street game of cat and mouse that plagued her in her previous location. “When I work here, I don’t have to run,” she says. “Here we feel safe”. All the vendors wear the same purple-coloured shirts as a uniform

which each have the same branded logo. According to one vendor, they had to apply to City Hall, who would then choose the poorest applicants. They seem grateful for the opportunity, and the opening hours of 6am to 9am and 11am to 2pm are less taxing, with all the equipment being provided by the government. I visited on Sunday, when business is slower than usual, but it was by no means deserted. And the sellers who would usually work alone in the street look to be enjoying each other’s company as they work side by side. There are plastic tables and chairs for customers to sit on.

The Food There was the juice seller, the banh mi seller, the che seller, many noodle soup sellers, and the prices were fair, with all the takings apparently


going straight to the vendors. I tried ha cao, three dumplings for VND10,000 and a delicious, freshly made melon juice for VND15,000. It is easy to criticise the project as an insult to a way of life in Saigon, but the fact is many tourists and even locals are put off by street food vendors who do not show prices and practice questionable food hygiene. Each stand here has a visible menu and it is clear how much everything will cost before you order. Vendors were sent on food safety courses, and there are regular inspections from city officials to check that food hygiene standards are being upheld. All the ingredients that go into the meals must be approved by City Hall. City planners in Vietnam have long cast envious glances towards Singapore — a city that has successfully moved street vendors into food courts. But this is Saigon, and homogeneity is a concept that doesn’t sit well with many. The government will support designated food streets but like any business, people will vote with their feet, and time will tell if the public are ready to give up on their street stalls just yet. — Thomas Barrett | October 2017 Word | 25

Briefings Hanoi

Overcoming Obstacles R ussel Johnson is a man who lives his brand. As the co-founder of the Red Bull Champion Dash, that means that the vast majority of his time is spent designing challenges for other people to overcome. As the company prepares for its sixth obstacle course race, which takes place in Hanoi on Oct. 21, you won’t find him behind a desk in an office, but in the trenches, masterminding a course that will cover a gruelling 8km and push thousands of competitors to their limits. As he tells us: “Some people come back a little bit broken.” What makes the growth of the Champion Dash a refreshing success story in Saigon’s entrepreneurial scene is that Russel is an enigma. He did not go to business school or university. There was no financial backing when he and business partners Onslo Carrington and Bank Trinh poured their time and savings into a concept entirely untested in Vietnam and spent two years bootstrapping the business from a windowless room on

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Russel Johnson on the making of the Red Bull Champion Dash

the outskirts of Ho Chi Minh City in Thu Duc. And there was certainly no plan B if they failed. He’ll tell you that the values the Champion Dash hopes to instil in competitors — grit, resilience, and teamwork — have been the recipe for the company’s success. “The team got a little worked up recently,” Russel says, referring to a curved, four-anda-half-metre wall shaped like a half-pipe that competitors would have to ascend. “I tried it and realized once the surface gets warm, it has a pretty good grip. That was unacceptable, so I sprayed some cooking oil on it.” His team sent angry messages to him as they struggled with the increased difficulty of the climb. “But then three people did it and all that says to me is go train harder. There’s a big difference between possible and impossible.”

Hard as nails Growing up in Canada, he comes from a self-described labour background where one’s work ethic is a point of pride and

“aunties and uncles would first check your palms for callouses before giving you a hug at the family reunion.” After spending years working construction jobs and later as a fire rescue first responder, he eventually made his way to Vietnam in 2011, working in the outdoor rock climbing industry on Cat Ba Island, where he and Onslo (co-founder of Asia Outdoors — formerly SloPony Adventures) met. Three years later they moved to Saigon with little more than an idea. “We actually almost didn’t make it off the ground,” Russel says of the early days and long nights struggling. “We had a US$30,000 budget in mind. That quickly turned into US$60,000 and then US$90,000, and so on.” With expenses rising, disaster nearly struck when would-be competitors caught sight of a small course they had built for teambuilding exercises and, underwhelmed, began pulling out of the competition. “We lost a huge percentage of participants before the race even started,” he says. But once they began construction of the actual

course, they managed to coax enough people back to pull off their first event and ultimately land a partnership with Red Bull that has allowed them to further develop their vision.

No ‘I’ in TEAM Since then, the number of participants has more than doubled in three years, with ages ranging from 14 to 64 years old, though that’s not the only way in which the company measures growth. “We’ve had to slowly build the culture of teamwork, helping strangers, and being safe. I would rather see a person come in sixth place who was at the front of the pack but saw someone in need and decided to stop and give up that position for teamwork. For me, that’s what the value of what this whole thing is all about.” The course’s obstacles, too, have grown in difficulty as competitors gain experience. Russel says: “I’ve had a level of obstacles in my head that I’ve wanted to see since the beginning, but I couldn’t introduce [them]

from day one because it would have scared everybody. That’s why we’ve now started to unleash new ones like Pipe Dream and Hero Hoist. Some of these have a 75% to 80% failure rate, but that’s good. It exposes a general physical weakness in the fitness world and then we can incorporate that with trainers.” Promoting a healthy and active lifestyle inevitably means that they have to walk a fine line when creating a fun, yet potentially dangerous, environment. “We want to make it as scary as it can be, while being as safe as possible,” says Russel. “I’ll be the first to say that people can get hurt. People can get hurt doing anything. That’s life. But it’s not due to the failure of a design or a lack of attention to detail. People get some nicks and scratches from barbed wire and rocks. It can get a little demoralizing out there, but when you get to the finish line, that’s a hell of a feeling.” — Wes Grover For more information on Red Bull Champion Dash, click on | October 2017 Word | 27

Sports Digest Sport in Brief Vietnamese Star Makes Mark in Karate A young karate artist made history for Vietnam in Germany last month after winning gold in freestyle fighting (kumite) at the 2017 Karate 1-Premier League. Nguyen Thi Ngoan, 19, beat Canada’s Haya Jumaa in the women’s 61-kg kumite event at the ongoing competition in Leipzig. This is the best-ever result in international competition for Vietnamese karate in the kumite discipline. Inspired by her impressive victory against the title holder, Ngoan made a comeback in the bout and beat her Canadian rival Jumaa to bring home a historic gold medal. The Karate1-Premier League, organised by the World Karate Federation, is the sport’s most important competition. This year’s event attracted 1,384 martial artists from 87 countries.

Chinh to Train in the US Vietnamese athlete Le Tu Chinh, who has emerged as the queen of sprinting in Southeast Asian (SEA), will undergo training in the US this year, according to Vietnam News. Chinh will train at the IMG Track & Field Academy in Florida until 2020, with an annual expenditure of some VND2 billion (US$87,000), according to the Ho Chi Minh City Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism. Chinh will be accompanied to the United States by coach Nguyen Thi Thanh Huong. At the SEA Games which concluded

in Malaysia last month, Chinh dominated the short dashes, winning the 100m in 11.56s and 200m in 23.32s. The talented 20-year-old then teamed up with Nguyen Thi Mong Tuyen, Tran Thi Yen Hoa and Do Thi Quyen to win the 4x100m in a time of 43.88, a Games record.

Rookie Squad Plays Veteran Hoops in VBA The first-season Thang Long Warriors secured their second win in the Vietnam Basketball Association (VBA), beating hosts Ho Chi Minh City Wings 79-71 last month, according to Vietnam News. Despite strong support and home advantage, the Wings, last season’s runners-up, found it hard to solve the Warriors’ defence. Bilal Richardson provided a bright spot for the Wings in the defeat. Trieu Han Minh and Henry Nguyen lifted the hopes of the Wings with consecutive three-point throws in the third quarter, but the Warriors’ To Quang Trung did even better. The Wings staged a late comeback, but to no avail. Meanwhile, in their first match, Hanoi club Warriors beat the defending champions Danang Dragons 96-65, before losing 78-86 to the Saigon Heat.

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

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Hanoi Relay A new running event in Hanoi looks to bring together runners of all levels for a day of fun and competition. Words by Harry Hodge


anoi Relay is the brand-new team running event from Topas Travel, organisers of Vietnam Mountain Marathon. Set in Hanoi’s Ecopark area, it will bring people of all ages and abilities together to enjoy a running festival atmosphere along with music, food, games and team spirit. Following the success of Vietnam Mountain Marathon, which has attracted huge numbers to trail running for the first time, Danish-Vietnamese event organizer Topas Travel created Hanoi Relay, a shorter distance team event which will allow more people to take up running. The format includes a 4 x 5km relay and will take place on Sunday, Nov. 19. Hanoi Relay is inspired by a relay series in Denmark which sees 500,000 people take part annually in events all across the country. While plenty of running clubs join in, the event is known as the “world’s biggest company running festival” because huge numbers of businesses enter staff teams as a team building event. “In Hanoi we will begin with a far more modest number in the first year, but we expect it will grow significantly as the concept

becomes more widely known here and many companies use it as a team building event like in Denmark," says David Lloyd, director of sport at Topas Travel. “The key to the event is team spirit.” Like other races organised by Topas Travel, there will be a charity element with various charitable organisations entering teams to raise money and awareness. The number of running events in Northern Vietnam generally has increased significantly in recent years. “When we started Vietnam Mountain Marathon in 2013 there was very little choice of running events and very few Vietnamese joined,” says Lloyd. “However, we have seen massive growth in running. “There is plenty of appetite for running in Hanoi and particularly for something different, which is what Hanoi Relay provides.” Lloyd foresees adding a Danang Relay next, and next year the company will also hold the Vietnam Jungle Marathon in Pu Luong in May and Vietnam Mountain Marathon in September. For more information, visit | October 2017 Word | 29

ToDo list HCMC

Vertical runs, comedy, exhibitions, Rocky Horror and a gastronomy week. This month in Saigon

The work of Yiu Chi Leung is being exhibited at Vin Gallery until Monday, Nov. 20

Skate Life by Phuong Sophea, one of the images on display at the exhibition, Canvas

Five Michelin Star chefs and two celebrity chefs come to town for Saigon Gastronomy Week from Oct. 3 to Oct. 8

Celebrate Oktoberfest this year at East West Brewing Co. with freeflow craft beer and a German-style buffet Oct. 5 & 6







An Era of Half Humanity Vin Gallery, Q2 Until Nov. 20 Vin Gallery is running an exhibition of work by Yiu Chi Leung until Monday, Nov. 20. Haunted by shadows of a car accident from childhood, Yiu Chi Leung lives with the risk of danger and threats posed by the society. Having also witnessed the environmental damage caused by local industrialization, he reexamines the costs and benefits of scientific and technological advancement on civilization. This has led to this present exhibition, An Era of Half-Humanity, which reflects his concerns on industrial globalization and his hope on the future of our society. Using painting to blend temporal and realistic scenes, Leung’s sense of space and strokes in his work create an immersive visual experience on the audience, an experience that leaves the viewer with a sense of insecurity. The industrial revolution has led us to unconsciously live in a world of diminishing faith and empathy, a world that leads us to live without soul and purpose, creating what Leung calls an Era of

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Half-Humanity. The exhibition will be held at Vin Gallery, 6 Le Van Mien, Thao Dien, Q2, HCMC. For more info email info@

Canvas L’Usine, Dong Khoi, Q1 Until Oct. 29 Canvas is an exhibition of selected works from students enrolled in RMIT Vietnam’s School of Communication & Design. The exhibition, which includes works from students studying fashion, photography, typography, virtual reality, architecture, experimental video and publication design, will be held at L’Usine’s Dong Khoi location in District 1. The exhibition runs until Oct. 29 and is free. L’Usine is located at 151/5 Dong Khoi (first floor), Q1, HCMC

Saigon Gastronomy Week Le Meridien Saigon, Q1 Oct. 3 to Oct. 8 Food lovers will be in gastronomic heaven from Oct. 3 to Oct. 8 thanks to seven culinary masters from all over the world who will be flying in to guide diners through Saigon

Gastronomy Week. With a programme that is a culinary journey through some of the finest cuisine you will ever eat in this city, the week will include daily cooking classes alternatively hosted by the chefs themselves, lunches, dinners, a weekend brunch, a Chef Battle Night on Oct. 6 and a Gala Dinner on Oct. 7. With the help of five Michelinstar chefs, on call will be Hervé Rodriguez (one star), Jean-Baptiste Natali (one star), Thierry Drapeau (two star), Jean-Pierre Jacob (two star) and Jacques Pourcel (three star). In addition, two celebrity chefs will be on call including Alain Caron from Amsterdam and Didier Corlou from Hanoi. With most of the activities taking place at Bamboo Chic Restaurant on the 9th floor of Le Meridien Saigon, this is definitely one to get you drooling. Lunch costs between VND550,000++ and VND680,000++ per person, while dinner goes for VND1.65 million++ or VND2.1 million++ with wine. The Gala dinner is slightly more expensive while the Chef’s Battle will cost VND2.5 million ++ per person. For more information or to book your spot email 03529. or click

on gastronomy-week-reservation. Le Meridien Saigon is at 3C Ton Duc Thang, Q1, HCMC

Oktoberfest at East West East West, Q1 Oct. 5 and Oct. 6 3


East West Brewing Co. will be holding their very own Oktoberfest event on Thursday, Oct. 5 and Friday, Oct. 6. A chance to get into mass celebration mode, the two nights of revelling will include freeflow craft beer, a German-style buffet, a Limited Edition Oktoberfest beer mug and a chance to try the brewery’s specially brewed Oktoberfest beer. Costing VND1.2 million ++ per ticket, entrance will also give you access to one hell of a party that includes live entertainment and bands. Capacity is limited, so to reserve your spot in advance, call 0913 060728 or email Tickets cost VND1.2 million++ and East West Brewing Co. is at 181-185 Ly Tu Trong, Q1, HCMC. The parties run from 7pm to midnight



list HCMC



Abandoned by Heaven

The annual Landmark Squash Tournament kicks off on Oct. 6

East West Brewing Co. has on-site brewery tours every Saturday from 12pm to 2pm

Indika will host a book club discussion of Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

Urban Distortions, a dance and musical collaboration involving Vietnam’s queen of hip-hop Suboi, is on





at the Opera House Saturday, Oct. 14

Work by Bui Thanh Tam that make up his series, Abandoned by Heaven


Craig Thomas Gallery, Q1 From Oct. 6 to Oct. 30 Craig Thomas Gallery will be hosting Abandoned by Heaven, a solo exhibition of oil and Dong Ho folk paintings on canvas by Hanoi-based artist Bui Thanh Tam. The opening reception will be at the Tran Nhat Duat gallery on Oct. 6, and the exhibition will run until Oct. 30. Concerned with the effects of hyper-materialism that are increasingly evident in Vietnam, Bui Thanh Tam believes this phenomenon is eroding the country’s unique culture and values. In response, he has created a body of work that is a pastiche of the country’s nouveau riche. His subjects grin inanely out of his canvases as they revel in their privileged lifestyles. For Tam this shows how these fashionable but empty-headed people represent not progress but a coarsening and increasing vacuity in Vietnamese cultural life. Born in 1979 in Thai Binh Province in the northern coastal region of Vietnam, an area known as the homeland of Vietnamese water puppetry, Tam currently

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resides in Hanoi. He is a 2009 graduate of the Vietnam Fine Arts University. Abandoned by Heaven is his second solo exhibition at Craig Thomas Gallery. Craig Thomas Gallery is at 27i Tran Nhat Duat, Q1, HCMC. For more information click on cthomasgallery. com

The Landmark Squash Tournament The Landmark Health Club, Q1 Oct. 6 to Nov. 11 The annual squash tournament at The Landmark Health Club will take place between Friday, Oct. 6 and Saturday, Nov. 11. The only tournament of its kind in Vietnam, the competition brings together both new and returning players for competitive matches, with all levels of player accounted for: from beginner all the way through to advanced. The tournament culminates with the finals, which will be held on Saturday, Nov. 11, and will be followed by an Awards Party for all players who’ve taken part in the competition. For more information call (028) 3822 2098 ext. 176. The Landmark Health Club is at 5B Ton Duc Thang, Q1,

HCMC. Non-players are allowed to come along and watch the matches from the balcony above the squash court.

East West Brewery Tour East West, Q1 Oct. 7, 14, 21 and 28 East West Brewing Co. has opened its doors to anyone who wishes to get a tour of their on-site brewery. Taking place every Saturday from 12pm to 2pm, customers will visit the brewery and meet the brewers, have a craft beer tasting and food pairing walkthrough, eat a fourcourse lunch and learn about the brewing process. The cost of the tour is VND1 million++ and reservations can be made by calling 0913 060728 or emailing East West Brewing Co. is at 181-185 Ly Tu Trong, Q1, HCMC

Book Club at Indika Indika Saigon, Q1 Tuesday, Oct. 10 Indika Saigon will host a book club discussion of Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe written by American author Benjamin Alire Saenz. This coming-of-age novel was first


4 published in 2012. Set in El Paso, Texas in 1987, the novel follows two Mexican-American boys’ friendship and their struggles with racial and ethnic identity, sexuality, and family relationships. Since its publication, the novel has received critical acclaim and numerous accolades. The discussion starts at 7pm and participation is free. Indika Saigon is located at 43 Nguyen Van Giai, Q1, HCMC. For more info, go to events/483788905333689 or facebook. com/IndikaSaigon

Urban Distortions HCMC Opera House, Q1 Saturday, Oct. 14 The last of the events of the Europe meets Asia in Contemporary Dance Festival, Urban Distortions is a dance and musical performance put together through the collaboration of French-Belgian dance group t.r.a.n.s.i.t.s.c.a.p.e, Vietnam’s queen of hip-hop Suboi and prominent young musician Teddy Chilla. Choreographed by Pierre Larauza and Emmanuelle Vincent, the production is inspired by the

global phenomenon of migration. It raises questions such as: What is habitat? With whom do we share it? How do we perceive strangers and cultural differences? Using body and space, proximity, intimacy and the notion of culture, the performance tries to search out some answers. Both the dancers and the musicians appear on stage in transparent inflatable bubbles. Tickets cost from VND100,000 to VND450,000 and are available through The HCMC Opera House is at 7 Cong Truong Lam Son, Q1, HCMC and the performance starts at 8pm | October 2017 Word | 33

ToDo list HCMC


Nhung Dua Tre (The Children)


Yoko Café, Q3 Sunday, Oct. 22 Successful local alt-rock outfit Nhung Dua Tre this month celebrates the release of their second EP, E.P 2.0, with a live show at Yoko Café. Their first EP, released in early 2016, Nhung Dua Tre Trong Ngo, was an immediate hit with music fans as their lyrics captured what it feels like to be young in Vietnam but aimless among the history, chaos and opportunity of Hanoi. An added attraction is that they make music that is a departure from the usual cultural output of this country. It’s indie pop or alt-rock with local flair all sung in Vietnamese. To read an interview with the band, turn to page 16. Nhung Dua Tre play Yoko Café, 22A Nguyen Thi Dieu, Q3, HCMC on Sunday, Oct. 22. Doors open at 8pm. Tickets cost VND120,000. For more info, click on bandnhungduatre

Ladies’ Comedy Night

Local alt-rock outfit Nhung Dua Tre celebrate their second EP release at Yoko Café on Sunday, Oct. 22

The Ladies’ Comedy Night on Oct. 25 will be headlined by UK comic, JoJo Smith

The Global Education Centre is holding a fundraiser to benefit Animal and Rescue Care in Thao Dien on Thursday, Oct. 26

Birth of Frequency hits the decks this month in Saigon at a Heart Beat pop-up location near you

The Saigon Players’ Rocky Horror Halloween Madness Show is on again, this time at The Hive on Oct. 27 & 28






Game On Saigon, Q1 Wednesday, Oct. 25 Stand-up Hanoi and Saigon International Comedy get a lot of top-notch stand-up comedians flying into Vietnam, but few are female. Which is why the two promoters have clubbed together to give unsuspecting audiences their first ever ladies’ night. Heading the line-up will be the well-known British comedian JoJo Smith. First stepping onto the stage in 1993, over the period of a decade JoJo went from open spot to late-night TV personality, thanks to performances in all the top venues in the UK and her own show on ITV that she wrote and presented, Funny Business. This was followed by international performances including two sold-out tours in South Africa, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Dubai, Abu Dhabi and both the Sydney and Melbourne comedy festivals, as well as a soldout 20 date tour as support to Red Dwarf’s Craig Charles. Since then she has consolidated her success as a stand-up by regularly topping the bill at venues all over the UK. Flying in as support for JoJo will be Natalie Wegoda, aka Natty, a Thai-Chinese corporate slave with a true passion for comedy. Natty started dabbling in Bangkok’s English stand-up scene after winning a one-off humorous story telling contest in 2012. Since then, she has

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managed to squeeze in precious time to hone her stand-up skills and is an official member of the improv troupe at The Comedy Club Bangkok. Naturally, the night will also promote local comedians living and performing in Saigon. Included on the roster are Emma Case and Rosh Cher. Emma has been doing comedy in Saigon for the past year. She enjoys long walks on the beach, belching and bacon, while Rosh is a South African comedian. When not on stage making grown men uncomfortable, she can be found at home watching Dr. Phil. Easy to look at and nastier than your uncle. Entrance is VND200,000 in advance and VND250,000 on the door. For further information or to purchase advance tickets, email nick@ or go to Game On Saigon, 115 Ho Tung Mau, Q1, HCMC. You can also check out Saigon International Comedy by clicking on

Animal Rescue Charity Night CGV Cinema, 2nd floor, Thao Dien Pearl, Q2 Thursday, Oct. 26 The Global Education Center (GEC) is calling on all dog, cat and animal lovers to come together for a movie night fundraiser to benefit Animal and Rescue Care in Thao Dien. It’s going to be an action-filled night starting at 6pm with a screening of the movie Thor: Ragnarok. The event hopes to raise funds for animal medical needs ranging from surgical treatment and rehabilitation to services for the provision of homes for rescued animals to the maintenance of the animal shelter, among other necessities. The night has been made possible with support from pet lovers, companies, restaurants and organisations that hold animal care and rescue close to their hearts. There is a range of ticketing

announcement on that. Despite the logistical difficulties going on behind the scenes, the shows will go on. Birth of Frequency will be supported by Construct ReForm and Pole Group. Doors open from 9pm till late. Entry is free until 10pm. After VND150,000. For more info, go to facebook. com/events/124416671546132 or


Rocky Horror Halloween Madness The Hive, Q2 Friday, Oct. 27 & Saturday, Oct. 28



The Time Warp is being done again by the Saigon Players as they put on their annual Rocky Horror Halloween Madness show, an interactive screening of the cult classic film Rocky Horror Picture Show. This is the best and most unique way to celebrate Halloween in Saigon, with the venue for the evening, The Hive, keeping the Halloween party going with an after-party on its rooftop. There will be prizes for the best Rocky Horror themed costumes, so dig out those high heels and fishnet stockings — this will be the best excuse yet. The film starts at 7.30pm and is an adults only event. Tickets cost VND250,000 (which include a loot bag full of props to use during the screening) with proceeds going to Little Rose Shelter. Tickets are available from The Hive or by emailing saigonplayerstickets@

options for people wishing to attend. Choose from the Sweetbox (VND600,000 for two people), VIP (VND315,000), Gold (VND270,000), and Silver (VND220,000). Ticket cost includes food and drinks from Thai Street, Pachi Pachi, and Bubba Bar. For more info and to purchase tickets, go to or call 0947 945428 (Jonee), 0907 797579 (Thao), 0933 530599 (Trang), (028) 6281 1075 (GEC)

Birth of Frequency (Heart Beat) Venue To Be Confirmed Friday, Oct. 27 Birth of Frequency is the second of the live techno quartet Unforseen Alliance to get behind the decks at Heart Beat. Despite the unforeseen closure of The Observatory’s home recently in District 4, there’s still plenty of life left yet in Heart Beat with this event slated to either take place at an Observatory pop-up location or a Heart Beat pop-up location — stay tuned for an | October 2017 Word | 35



list HCMC

Competitors will race to the top of the Bitexco Tower in this month’s HCMC Skyrun

The 7th Annual Sunrise Surf & SUP Contest in Mui Ne is coming up in November




The Hive is located at 94 Xuan Thuy, Thao Dien, Q2. For more info, go to events/1725061637798262/?ti=cl or

The HCMC Skyrun Bitexco Tower, Q1 Sunday, Oct. 29 Ho Chi Minh City’s tallest building, Bitexco Financial Tower, will once again host the city’s only stair climbing race — the HCMC Skyrun. On Sunday, Oct. 29, runners will start at the tower’s ground floor lobby and ascend to the observation deck on the 49th floor. Stair climbing, first known as vertical racing in the 1970s, is now a global sport with stair climbing clubs in the US, Canada, Europe and Asia, as well as elite athletes who train year-round to be the first to reach the top of the world’s tallest buildings. Although still a relatively new sport, stair climbing has quickly caught on with fitness enthusiasts attracted

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not only by the physical demands of this gruelling sport but by also the novelty of competing in unique urban settings — the world’s tallest structures, some of the tallest of which are located here in Asia. Organised by Sporting Republic, the inaugural event in 2011 saw Thomas Dold of Germany win the men’s division, setting the overall fastest time in 4 minutes and 51 seconds. In the women’s division, Italy’s Valentina Belotti reached the top first in 6 minutes and 19 seconds. Registration is now underway, giving runners a chance to secure their spot on the starting line for the race, with participation fees starting at VND500,000. The 2011 race sold out and organisers once again anticipate strong demand for the race due to the tremendous popularity of running events both nationally and internationally. For more info and to register, click on And to see an article on vertical running, turn to page 12

7th Annual Sunrise Surf & SUP Contest Jibe’s Beach Club, Mui Ne To Be Decided in November The 7th Annual Sunrise Surf & SUP contest is coming up fast at Suoi Nuoc Beach in Mui Ne. The competition will be held some time in November subject to weather conditions with competitors given 72 hours advance notice of the first heats. Men’s and women’s divisions will compete with short boards, long boards and stand-up paddle boards. Over the past six years, the contest has attracted participants from all over the world, including Australia, France, Russia, England, America and, of course, Vietnam, giving the competition a friendly international vibe. Fullmoon Village — Jibe’s Beach Club is at Suoi Nuoc, Mui Ne, Binh Thuan. For more info, email (Silvian Blum), pascal@ (Pascal Lefebvre) or (Adie Casket) | October 2017 Word | 37





Domino Books & Coffee has had a name change and facelift

The Bluffs Ho Tram Strip will welcome back the Asian Golf Tour in December next year

Fred Serra of Oggy and the Cockroaches fame will be holding drawing and animation classes in Saigon


Luxury accessories and jewellery boutique Anupa will have a pop-up store for the month of October in Thao Dien



Loreto Vietnam celebrates its 20th anniversary in November


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Pizza LOGiC Lucky Draw


Pizza LOGiC located in Saigon Centre is running a promotion for ladies throughout October


Pizza promotions, bookstores, pop-up boutiques and 20 years of Loreto Vietnam. What’s new in Saigon

Boasting the services of Japanese pizza chef, Jyunuchi Shouji, who was the Trofeo Caputo world champion pizzaiolo back in 2012, Pizza LOGiC is proud of their pizzas, so proud that they call them the best pizzas in the world. Cooked in wood-fired ovens and using top quality ingredients, this restaurant in the Saigon Centre is running a promotion for ladies throughout October. Eat at the restaurant from Oct. 2 to Oct. 20 (from 5pm to 9.30pm) and ladies will have the chance to win a VND50,000 voucher in the nightly lucky draw. Pizza LOGiC is at Lot L5-18, 5F Saigon Centre Building, 92-94 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, Q1, HCMC. For more info call (028) 3821 8319 or click on

Loreto Turns Twenty The well-known and much loved international NGO Loreto Vietnam, is preparing for their 20th anniversary celebrations. Founded by Trish Franklin in 1997 to support some of the most

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vulnerable children in Vietnam, from its beginnings Loreto has provided shelter and support for street children in Ho Chi Minh City. Their programmes aim to impact the lives of disadvantaged and vulnerable children through the transformative potential of education. Loreto Vietnam has always strived to be responsive to the needs of the communities it works within. This responsiveness is evident when considering the range of achievements over the past 20 years; from shelters for street children to constructing a special needs school for children with disabilities and supporting the development of a special needs curriculum, life skills programmes and teacher training. The NGO’s current focus is on improving education in disadvantaged rural areas in six provinces in the south of Vietnam. The 20-year celebrations will acknowledge and celebrate the support of the many individuals, businesses and organisations that have enabled Loreto to improve the lives of thousands of children. The event will be held at Lubu Restaurant in late November and

will provide the opportunity to thank supporters, as well as to share stories of Loreto’s first 20 years and the organisation’s exciting plans for the future. For more information on Loreto Vietnam, click on

Anupa Pop-Up Store Luxury Saigon boutique Anupa is bringing its collection of handmade luxury leather accessories and jewellery to the river in Thao Dien for the month of October. In collaboration with River Cottage Boutique Hotel in Thao Dien, the Anupa pop-up store will be open daily from 8am to 8pm, enabling residents and visitors to the area to partake in some retail therapy on the river. For more information on Anupa, click on or go to River Cottage Boutique Hotel is at 18 Duong 6, Thao Dien, Q2, HCMC

Domino Books & Coffee The café that was once Kafka Bookstore & Café has had a name


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change and facelift to become Domino Books & Coffee. The concept behind the café is to provide a warm and welcome atmosphere to both locals and travellers so that they can communicate and exchange ideas and experiences. Located in the heart of Saigon and just a street over from the busy backpacker street Bui Vien, guests can sit down with a book over coffee in a quiet environment tucked away from the busy streets. There is a wide range of books available in Vietnamese and English, weekly events and staff on-hand for anyone needing travel or sightseeing tips. Domino Books & Coffee is conveniently located on the first two floors of a small bed and breakfast hotel offering comfortable and affordable accommodation. Domino Books & Coffee is located at 54/2 Nguyen Cu Trinh, Q1, HCMC. For more information, click on Dominocoffeebook

Ho Tram Players Championship Officials at The Bluffs Ho Tram Strip, home of the Ho Tram Open and where reigning Masters Champion Sergio Garcia took out the title in 2015, have announced that the Asian Tour will return to Vietnam’s most acclaimed golf facility in 2018 and 2019. Since opening in 2014, the spectacular Greg Norman designed course has earned a number of accolades, including World’s Best New Golf Course at the 2015 World Golf Awards. The Bluffs was also the only course in Vietnam in 2016 to make it into Golf Digest USA’s list of 100 Greatest Golf Courses in the World. The Ho Tram Players Championship will take place on Dec. 6 to Dec. 9 next year, with a follow up event to be scheduled in 2019.

Drawing & Animation Classes Saigon-based animator Fred Serra has begun holding

drawing, painting, animation and digital graphic design courses for adults and kids in Phu My Hung, District 7. Fred has been working in the animation industry in Vietnam for almost 20 years and is well-known for his work on the children’s animation TV series Oggy and the Cockroaches. Private and small group classes are available for VND400,000 per hour. Participants learn the fundamentals of drawing and painting in an environment where they can let their imagination run free to enhance the creative process. Classes can be adapted to suit varying levels, so that participants, children in particular, can develop skills at their own pace. For young adults dreaming of a career in graphic design or animation, Fred can propose programmes that will prepare them to gain access into the best design schools around. For more information, email Fred at or call him directly on 0901 319302

ToDo list Hanoi

Half marathons, the Gang of Five, Halloween, a ladies’ comedy night, A-festival and a mystery pool party. Events this month in Hanoi

The GBA Oktoberfest 2017


JW Marriott, Tu Liem Oct. 5 to Oct. 7 The German Businesses Association (GBA) will celebrate the 25th anniversary of Oktoberfest from Thursday, Oct. 5 to Saturday, Oct. 7 at the JW Marriott in Hanoi. Serving a variety of Bavarian specialties typically associated with Oktoberfest including German sausages, pretzels and much, much more, pride of place will be the beer, lots of it, and the beer hall-style atmosphere typical of Oktoberfest parties around the world. Expect a live band, lots of dancing and a helluva lot of fun. All-inclusive tickets start at VND1.32 million for GBA members and rise to VND1.53 million, with discounts available for large bookings. For more info and to purchase tickets, click on, email nhung.trinhthi@vietnam.ahk. de or call (024) 3825 1420. The festival starts at 6pm each night and finishes at midnight.



6. Nhung Dua Tre will celebrate their EP launch with a show at HRC on Oct. 15

The Goethe Institut Hanoi premieres two new installations by German artist and composer, Tim Otto Roth, from Oct. 13 to Nov. 3

Escape the city on a mystery bus for a 24-hour musical adventure into the countryside at Mystery Mountain Pool Party 2.0


This year’s A-festival in Hanoi & HCMC will bring together poets and translators from around the world for workshops,


Savage, Tay Ho Saturday, Oct. 7


The Goethe Institut Hanoi hosts Sculpting the Burrows, an exhibition reflecting upon the dance piece, The Burrow


panel discussions, readings and performances

Color, a party created by Savage fave, Graz, is coming to Savage on Oct. 7


Color featuring Dreems

Color, a party created by Savage favourite, Graz, will be coming to Savage courtesy of Graz himself, and Australian DJ heavyweight, Dreems. Creating DJ sets that take the audience on “a mushroom-picking vibe beyond all borders,” Dreems’ hypnotic reveries strain and pulse against the restrictive meta-thongs of contemporary lifestyle living to offer a “pan-globo soulstyle” for our times. “I am on a mission, a quest to free you from the divisive shackles of flags and tongues,” says Dreems. “Whatever your culture, sex, or species, there is a place in your heart for light, sound and dance, and that is where I will make my home.” Savage is at 112 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Hanoi. Entrance is free before 11pm and VND100,000 after. For more info click on

Sculpting the Burrows Goethe Institut Hanoi, Ba Dinh Until Oct. 10 This exhibition reflects upon the dance piece The Burrow by Laurent Goldring and Isabelle Schad. The exhibition shows the way visual work and the choreographic combines through space and image. Video loops make the connection between film work, photographic

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work, and choreographic work, as being one process. Free admission. The exhibition is at the Goethe Institute Hanoi, 56 Nguyen Thai Hoc, Ba Dinh, Hanoi. For more information visit Institut.Hanoi/

A-festival Hanoi & Ho Chi Minh City Oct. 11 (Hanoi) & Oct. 15 (HCMC) Now in its second year, A-festival, which is a literary festival, believes in the equality of all languages and endeavors to better care for the underrepresented languages of the world, attending to the questions of representation in multilingual spaces. This year’s intimate and independent international gathering will bring together poets and translators from around Vietnam, the US, France, Indonesia, Australia, the Philippines, Germany, Hong Kong, Singapore, Belgium and Taiwan.

The festival will take place across two cities in Hanoi on Oct. 11 and then in HCMC on Oct. 15, and will include a variety of workshops, panel discussions, readings and performances all centred around personal practices and the politics of translation. The festival will be held at various locations across Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. To see the programme for Hanoi, visit To see the programme for Ho Chi Minh City, visit events/1943599192545430. For further information, visit ajarfestival

Circulating Sounds Goethe Institut, Ba Dinh Oct. 13 to Nov. 3 The Goethe Institut Hanoi will premiere two brand new sound installations by the German artist and composer Tim Otto Roth. Both


6 installations, hanging from the ceiling above the visitor, describe a circular motion but in different ways. In the first installation, sine tones circulate in a ring of 23 illuminated “sound pixels”. The second consists of six translucent tubes of different lengths fixed to a hexagonal body circulating slowly above the heads of the audience. This horn-like construction permits the playing of saturated deep tones, which change their pitches slightly due to their relative motion — also described as the so-called Doppler effect. By rotation and by switching tones on and off, which can be followed by illumination, a rotating sound field is created, sounding to the listener like a vibrating sound field. The exhibition opens on Oct. 12 at 6pm. Admission is free. The exhibition will be held at the Goethe Institute Hanoi, 56 Nguyen Thai Hoc, Ba Dinh, Hanoi. For more information visit

Nhung Dua Tre (The Children)

Mystery Mountain Pool Party 2.0

HRC, Tay Ho Sunday, Oct. 15

Mystery Location, Hanoi Oct. 14 & Oct. 15

Successful local indie pop rock outfit Nhung Dua Tre this month celebrates the release of their second EP, E.P 2.0, with a live show at Hanoi Rock City. Their first EP, released in early 2016, Nhung Dua Tre Trong Ngo, was an immediate hit with music fans as their lyrics captured what it feels like to be young in Vietnam but aimless among the history, chaos and opportunity of Hanoi. An added attraction is that they make music that is a departure from the usual cultural output of this country. It’s alt-pop rock with local flair, all sung in Vietnamese. To read an interview with the band, turn to page 16. Nhung Dua Tre play Hanoi Rock City, 27/52 To Ngoc Van, Tay Ho, Hanoi on Sunday, Oct. 15. Doors open at 8pm. Tickets cost VND120,000. For more info, click on bandnhungduatre

Adventurous partygoers are encouraged to escape the city, jump on the mystery bus and join a 24-hour musical adventure into the countryside. Some of the team behind Quest and Kabala are teaming up to create a unique party experience at a mystery location outside of Hanoi. There will be two stages with over 20 different DJs playing music on top quality sound systems. The adventure begins at 1pm on Saturday, with the buses returning to Hanoi at 1pm on the Sunday. Tickets are VND500,000 which includes a return bus ticket. Tickets are available at Tay Ta. For more information visit mysterymountainhanoi | October 2017 Word | 41



ToDo list Hanoi



Stand-up Hanoi and Saigon International Comedy have joined forces to bring Vietnam its first ever ladies’ comedy night

Halloween at Savage with Snug will be one of the biggest nights of the year on Oct. 28

The Hanoi Red River Runners are once again holding the Hanoi Half Marathon on Sunday, Dec. 10


The Gang of Five back in the early 1990s. These five artists were responsible for changing contemporary art in Vietnam



The Observatory (HCMC) resident, Dan Lo, brings his eclectic blend of electronic music to Savage on Oct. 20



Bookworm celebrates 16 years of selling books in Hanoi



Bookworm Birthday Celebration Bookworm, Ba Dinh Sunday, Oct. 15 To celebrate 16 years in Hanoi as Vietnam’s premier English language bookstore, on Sunday Oct. 15 Bookworm is offering a 15% discount on all fiction and nonfiction books in stock. The discount includes new and second-hand books, as well as all children’s books In the afternoon of the same day, customers will be able to enjoy free icy-cold sangrias or tinto de verano — a similar drink to sangria — while tapping their feet to Hanoi’s grooviest jazz and pop trio. Bookworm is at 44 Chau Long, Ba Dinh, Hanoi. For more info, click on

Dan Lo Savage, Tay Ho Friday, Oct. 20 From Cyprus by way of London, Dan Lo is a resident of The Observatory in Ho Chi Minh City. He plays an eclectic blend of electronic music that can include anything from dub house and techno to dark disco and afro-psychedelic

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movements, and has featured on line-ups of festivals and clubs from Tokyo to Vietnam and throughout Europe. Having delighted the crowds down south, now he will be bring his blend of electronic music and beats to Savage. Savage is at 112 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Hanoi. Entrance is free before 11pm and VND100,000 after. For more info click on

Chancing Modern Vietnam Film Studio, Tay Ho Oct. 21 to Nov. 19 Anyone who knows something about contemporary Vietnamese art will know the Gang of Five. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, five young artists started producing bold, robust and distinctive work, depicting personal conceptions that marked a huge departure from the socialist realist imposition in Vietnamese art. It was controversial, edgy and caused both consternation and international acclaim. Now a new exhibition, Chancing Modern, is presenting a window into the latest work of the Gang of Five — Hong Viet Dung, Ha Tri Hieu, Dang Xuan Hoa, Tran Luong

and Pham Quang Vinh. Including photographs, sketches and video documentation that highlights a journey tracing their aesthetic development, the exhibition will showcase the unique separatetogetherness that sustained these five young artists throughout the heady days of Vietnam post-Doi Moi. The exhibition is being organised by the Japan Foundation — Asia Centre in conjunction with Art Vietnam Salon. For info call (024) 3862 3184 or email Vietnam Film Studio is located at 4 Thuy Khue, Tay Ho, Hanoi

Ladies’ Comedy Night Standing Bar, Ba Dinh Thursday, Oct. 26 Stand-up Hanoi and Saigon International Comedy get a lot of top-notch stand-up comedians flying into Vietnam, but few are female. Which is why the two promoters have clubbed together to give unsuspecting audiences their first ever ladies’ night. Heading the line-up will be the well-known British comedian JoJo Smith. First stepping onto the stage in 1993, over the period of a


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decade JoJo went from open spot to late-night TV personality, thanks to performances in all the top venues in the UK and her own show on ITV that she wrote and presented, Funny Business. This was followed by international performances including two sold-out tours in South Africa, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Dubai, Abu Dhabi and both the Sydney and Melbourne comedy festivals, as well as a sold-out 20 date tour as support to Red Dwarf’s Craig Charles. Since then she has consolidated her success as a standup by regularly topping the bill at venues all over the UK. Flying in as support for JoJo will be Natalie Wegoda, aka Natty, a Thai-Chinese corporate slave with a true passion for comedy. Natty started dabbling into Bangkok's English stand-up scene after winning a one-off humorous story telling contest in 2012. Since then, she has managed to squeeze in precious time to hone her standup skills in Bangkok and is an official member of the improv troupe at The Comedy Club Bangkok. Naturally, the night will also promote local comedians living and performing in Hanoi. Included

on the roster is American comic Sara Butryn. First starting stand-up comedy in April 2016, Sara moved to Vietnam in August 2016 and made comedy her creative goal, performing as often as possible. Entrance is VND200,000 in advance and VND250,000 on the door. For further information or to purchase advance tickets, email info@ or go to Standing Bar, 170 Tran Vu, Ba Dinh, Hanoi. You can also check out Stand-Up Hanoi by clicking on

Halloween at Savage with Snug Savage, Tay Ho Saturday. Oct. 28 A cosy and welcoming night described by Savage as being for the “fabulous, dancers, kissers, huggers, homos, queers, posers, bitches, flexible, curious, tops, bottoms and in betweens,” Snug is one of THE monthly events on the Savage calendar. With the latest incarnation taking place on the weekend before Halloween, this time round Savage is making a huge party of it, with DJs galore taking over the decks. 15 DJs will be spinning the tunes

including Alex who DJs, Ali, Graz, Hlib, Min8, Quan, Miya, Jauge, Ouissam and many more, with the music being played in all parts of the club, and the show going on all night. So, put this one down on your calendar as it will be a big ‘un. Savage is at 112 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Hanoi. Entrance is free before 11pm and VND100,000 after. For more info click on

Hanoi Half Marathon Ciputra, Bac Tu Liem Sunday, Dec. 10 The Hanoi Red River Runners will once again hold one of Vietnam’s longest standing running events, the Hanoi Half Marathon. This time they have teamed up with Sporting Republic. Previously known as the Song Hong Half Marathon, this version starts and finishes inside the grounds of Ciputra International City. There are a number of events scheduled, including the main race (21km), plus 3km, 5km and 10km races. For the kids there will be an 800m race. For information on how to register, click on HanoiHalfMarathon | October 2017 Word | 43


Just Hanoi

Jazz singer Kristen Evelyn Rossi returns to perform at the Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi after almost three years

New café Lifted – Coffee & Brunch is owned and operated by a local with 10 years’ experience of cafés in Melbourne

After more than two years of restoration work, Thuy Trung Tien Temple is finished

Tay Ho has just got itself a new Thai restaurant called Quan Ngon Thai





Jazz singers, frozen yoghurt joints, quality Thai cuisine and a place that is really quite MAD… What’s new in the capital



Kristen Evelyn Rossi at the Metropole After a gap of nearly three years, jazz singer Kristen Evelyn Rossi has returned to perform at the Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi. Since arriving in Bangkok in 2007, Kristen has made a niche for herself in Asia. She is the co-founder of Broadway Babe and Musical Theatre for KIDS, both with the mission to share her love of Broadway and the American songbook. She has worked her way around the region performing as the resident jazz singer in luxury hotels, for private events, as well as creating her own shows in Thailand, Vietnam, Macau and Hong Kong. Kristen will be performing Metropole’s Le Club bar every Tuesday to Sunday from 8pm to 11.45pm until Nov. 8. The Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi

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is at 15 Ngo Quyen, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi

Lifted – Coffee & Brunch One more café may not seem like a cause for celebration, but owner Quan Dang brings 10 years of experience from the world’s most liveable city, Melbourne (for the last three years, according to the Economist Intelligence Unit). “Customers say the place reminds them of home,” says Quan. “We couldn’t be happier!” The food menu is a hipster paradise, with heaps of pulled pork, avocado and little sliders just waiting to be Instragrammed. Don’t miss unique fusion dishes such as the avocado egg burrito (VND105,000) or the ultimate Australian meal, the hangover sandwich (VND125,000).

“Our menu changes all the time,” explains Quan. “Our kitchen staff get creative with seasonal food items to make brunching fun and well-presented.” Drinks start from VND15,000 and include signature creations such as the egg and hot chocolate (VND59,000) and homemade earl grey ice tea with coconut milk and lychee compote (VND59,000). Lifted is at 101 Hang Ga, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi and is open daily from 8am until 11pm. For info, call 0906 262107 or visit liftedcoffeehn

Thuy Trung Tien Temple After more than two years of painstaking restoration work on what seems like one of the smallest temples in the city, Thuy Trung Tien Temple is finally finished.



The view of that little construction site on the edge of Thanh Nien has transformed into a charming, freshly decorated temple devoted to a peculiar myth involving the great emperor Ly Cong Uan, later known as Ly Thai To. Originally called Cau Nhi, the temple was dedicated to the worship of a mystical puppy, who when born, bore a prophecy written into its fur that someone was soon to become king. As Ly Thai To became emperor around that time, and was born in the Year of the Dog, the prophecy became attached to him. The new temple is in an idyllic location, sitting on a small island in Truc Bach Lake, accessible by a brand new

18-metre-long bridge connecting it with Thanh Nien. The temple opens quite randomly at the moment, with full public access expected to come soon. Located on Truc Bach Lake Island, accessible from Thanh Nien, Ba Dinh, Hanoi

Quan Ngon Thai Tayhoians, rejoice! Hanoi’s whitest district has a new Thai restaurant, and it’s superb. Down the end of To Ngoc Van and overlooking Quang Ba Lake, Quan Ngon Thai has got just about everything right. The view is gorgeous, but with only two tables on the balcony, expect some competition for seats. The ample interior seating, however, at least means you will still get

to enjoy some great dishes. The chef is Vietnamese, but he has spent a good deal of time in Thailand, learning the secret to great Thai cuisine. Classic basil dish, pad kra pao, is available in a number of varieties starting at VND65,000. The essential pad thai starts at VND55,000, and comes with vegetables, beef, chicken, shrimp or seafood. There’s no Singha beer, but you can get cocktails from VND70,000. For hotpot fans, there’s a tom yum-style hotpot with seafood, frog, beef or chicken, ranging in price from VND195,000 for two people, to VND595,000 for six. Quan Ngon Thai is at 56/52 To Ngoc Van, Tay Ho, Hanoi. Open daily from 7am until 2.30pm, and from 5pm until 11pm.






Two Spanish chefs from two Spanish restaurants have come together to form El Loco Tapasbar

A new modern Asian dining experience has opened up called MAD Society

Brand new frozen yoghurt concept Max & Leo Frozen Yoghurt has opened in Tay Ho




El Loco Tapasbar What do you get if you combine two Spanish chefs from two separate Spanish restaurants? El Loco Tapasbar, of course. Cristian Sanchez and Miguel Soria both have many years of experience of cooking Spanish food, right here in Hanoi. With an extensive menu featuring the best selection of tapas from all around Spain, there are enough options to satisfy both meat eaters and vegetarians alike. Look out for the garbanzos, stewed chick peas with homemade chorizo (VND100,000) and the longaniza a la sidra, homemade sausage with cider sauce (VND100,000). The tapas menu also features classic favourites such as albondigas (Spanish meatballs), patatas bravas, Spanish tortilla and croquetas. There are weekly special empanadas, and more dishes are planned for the next menu already. Located at 60 To Ngoc Van, Tay Ho, Hanoi. Open Friday to Sunday from 5.30pm until 10pm. For more information, call 01646 492384 or visit El-Loco-tapasbar-493253751055119.

MAD Society Don’t panic, this isn’t a new institution for deranged expats; MAD stands for Modern Asian Dining.

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A new dining experience in Hanoi, the concept is to pair an extensive Asian tapas menu with a comprehensive list of wine and whisky. The menus are a creative fusion of East and West, with distinct and instantly recognisable flavours from all over Asia. There’s a Tiki bar outside, and the 1920s Art Deco interior is sure to be the background for many photos. As it was founded by So Yeon Kim, owner behind the popular café Vpresso Coffee and the classy bar Mad Botanist, you can be sure MAD Society is here to stay. Look out for the chilli steak tartare (VND110,000), Sriracha prawn cocktail (VND105,000) and teriyaki meatball in lettuce wrap (VND65,000) from the list of Asian tapas. There are a few vegetarian options and salads, and special dishes such as the MAD phoritto (VND120,000). Finish off the meal with a classic tiramisu (VND70,000), or try something more unique with the wasabi ice cream and crispy rice cake (VND80,000). Located on the 4th floor, Somerset West Point, 2 Tay Ho, Tay Ho, Hanoi. Open daily from 11am until midnight, and there’s a walk-in breakfast buffet from 6am until 10.30am. For more information, call (024) 3200 6881 or visit MadSocietyHanoi.

Max & Leo Frozen Yoghurt A brand new concept to Hanoi, father and daughter team Jim and Jo Connolly have just opened a selfserve frozen yoghurt bar. Jo takes care of the frozen yoghurt side of things, which features over 30 toppings, many of which are made from premium Australian and New Zealand products. Here are just some of the toppings currently available to load up on; mango, dragon fruit, kiwi, strawberries, grapes, M&Ms, popping balls, honeycomb, red liquorice, coke bottles, pineapple lumps, gummi bears, goji berries, almonds, walnuts, peanuts, chia seeds, coconut flakes, coco pops, fruit loops, cornflakes, muesli and flavoured syrups. Now take a breath. Over on the drinks bar, Jim sorts out the beer, wine and other drinks, which start from VND15,000. Customers can then enjoy their beverage and dessert overlooking the lake outside. Frozen yoghurt is fixed at VND30,000 per 100g. You simply fill up your cup with your favourite type of frozen yoghurt, load it up with toppings and then weigh and pay. Located at 77 Ngo Trinh Cong Son, Tay Ho, Hanoi. Open daily from 10am until 10pm. For more information, call 0949 396023 or visit maxandleofroyo



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Did you know? BWT water filtration systems filter arsenic, pesticides, viruses, bacteria and even more... And the result is? Clean drinkable water! Europe’s No.1 in Water Technology | October 2017 Word | 47


Ngoc Ha: The Jack of all Trades / The Vietnam Bucket List / Vietnam in Cyanotype / The Rise of Diabetes / The Premier League in Vietnam / Urban Beautification / Eating Out in Phu My Hung Photo by Sasha Arefieva 48 | Word October 2017 | | October 2017 Word | 49




Ngoc Ha: The Jack of all Trades In the first of a new featured series, Edward Dalton presents a portrait of Ngoc Ha, the street that has a bit of everything. Photos by Sasha Arefieva 50 | Word October 2017 | | October 2017 Word | 51


ne of the most charming aspects of life in Hanoi is how there seems to be a street for everything. Pho cuon street, money-exchange street, sunglasses street, handmade wooden furniture street; whatever you need, it can often be found in a street with a concentration of shops so similar you wonder how they all stay in business. In the middle of Ba Dinh, however, Ngoc Ha Street is the kid who can’t make up their mind about what they want to be when they grow up. Tourism hotspot, local market, banh cuon HQ or the place to get your glasses fixed and business cards laminated; Ngoc Ha really is the jack of all trades.

Food Street As the first street to be featured in Street Portrait, it’s only right that Ngoc Ha is

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home to some of the best street food around. Bun Cha Huyen Linh (136 Ngoc Ha, Ba Dinh) is an unassuming, barely two-metre wide restaurant. However, anyone drawn in by the smell of pork fat dripping into burning coals will find some of the best bun cha in Hanoi, where each meatball is wrapped in la lot leaves before meeting a fiery fate on the grill. There are a few banh cuon (steamed rice paper rolls) restaurants dotted along the main stretch of road, each one with their own take on this iconic northern dish; and all of them far superior to franchised chains such as Gia An. Head into the alleyways, starting at Ngo 158 Ngoc Ha, and you can find pho bo, thit xien (grilled pork skewers) and an excellent Japanese pancake restaurant. One of the people making a living from selling food in this labyrinth of alleyways is

Nguyen Thi Xuan Huong. Huong, now 54, has lived in Ngoc Ha Village for the last 40 years and in her current home since 1988. “Life here is so peaceful and convenient,” says Huong, as she prepares another batch of pork skewers for her trusty old grill. “We’re near a school, a police station and a hospital.” Selling out of her shophouse just past the corner of ngach 158/51 Ngoc Ha, Huong has first-hand experience of the development speed of the area she calls home. “When my family first moved here, the village consisted of only single-storey homes,” she explains. “The temple and lake have recently been widened and renovated, and all the buildings are much taller these days.” Calling up to her daughter to bring more pork down from their second-floor living space, she motions at a pair of foreigners

passing on their tragic yellow Yamaha Nouvo. “There’re many expats living around here now,” says Huong, as her daughter descends with a bucket of meat, and a face covered in cucumber slices. “I guess that means this must be a great area to live.” Aside from the convenient public services, Huong says that the alleyways a little further up are also home to a lively morning market, where she can find all the fresh vegetables, meat and other produce she needs for her family and her business.

Tourism Street The lake and temple Huong referred to are almost opposite her shophouse, and both are named for the street they are found in. Ngoc Ha Lake is a small, U-shaped body of water, which has become known as a location for releasing fish into for good luck around Tet. The temple, Dinh Ngoc Ha, which sits on the land forming the centre of

the U-shape was recently reopened after a renovation taking around two years. There’s no great historical backstory to the temple, but it’s a very pleasant place to sit and read, walk the dog or watch the resident turtle navigate its way around the koi-filled pond. Follow ngo 158 Ngoc Ha until you reach ngo 55 Hoang Hoa Tham, and there is a real tourism treasure lurking around the corner. Huu Tiep Lake was renamed B52 Lake, in honour of the visible wreckage of the bomber shot down in 1972. Back out on the main road, and you can find the entrance for two of the most-famous tourist attractions in the city; the Ho Chi Minh Museum and Mausoleum.

Everything Street Opposite the entrance to these two attractions is a diverse stretch of shops home to more than just steamed rice paper rolls.

Around 170 Ngoc Ha, there are a handful of barber shops — but good luck telling them apart. If you forgot to buy a birthday cake, pick one up from the bakery at #166 on the way home; it’s open late. Get your watch fixed at the Seiko outlet at #182, restock your painkillers from the pharmacy at #162, pick up some new board markers from the stationer at #114D or find more specialist, artsy stuff at #110. There’s a plethora of photocopy shops, a few minimarts, a bookstore, a sports equipment shop at #52, a hipster’s heaven Fairtrade shop at #90C, and of course, no street can escape the writhing tentacles of the Vingroup Monster — find your local Vinmart at 104C Ngoc Ha. With so much crammed into just 550m of road and a few alleyways beyond, Ngoc Ha is one of the most underrated streets around; it almost feels like a self-contained town within a city; a real jack of all trades. | October 2017 Word | 53

Cover Story


Vietnam Bucket List 101 things to do or not to do before you leave Vietnam. Words by Matt Cowan, Edward Dalton, Thomas Barrett and Nick Ross




t’s the largest cave in the world, and a trip here is like travelling to another planet. It’s surreal, otherworldly, beyond anything you will have ever experienced in the past. The trip doesn’t come cheap, although we reckon it’s worth every penny. It’s also worth every ache, pain and scratch gained scrambling through caves, trekking through jungle, and wading through rivers.

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at on the Cambodian border just south of Chau Doc, Tra Su Bird Sanctuary is a twitcher’s paradise, especially when the water is high. Imagine taking a canoe, in Apocalypse Now-style silence through the swamps, while all about you birds flap and search for food. Surrounding you are vines, lotus, strange mosses, mangrove trees with gnarled roots, and odd flowers peaking out of the gloom.




he roof of Indochina, Fansipan (Phan Xi Pang in Vietnamese) towers 3,143m (10,312ft) over northwestern Vietnam, making it the highest mountain in the region. Climbing it is a stunning achievement, but if you had one-too-many nem with lunch, just take the fancy new cable car, get the selfie done, and pretend you climbed it like a boss.




ietnam has many islands, but few are as wild and relatively untouched as the islands of Con Dao. The reason? Part is the location — way out there in the East Sea. And part is their geographical significance. The Vietnamese navy is out there and much of the land and marine habitat is protected by national park. Which means development doesn’t get a look in. Long may it stay that way.




hong Nha is all about the caves, right? Well, yes and no. Thanks to an area called the Bong Lai Valley, it’s also the best spot in the whole country to chill in the middle of the Vietnamese countryside while swaying upon a hammock and staring into the peaceful, idyllic views beyond. You want rural relaxation? This is it. | October 2017 Word | 55







ave you ever been on a plane that’s landed on water? Most likely not, unless you’re Austin Hatch, the only person in the world to survive two plane crashes. Hmmm. Let’s not go there. If you want to head to Halong in style, with exhilarating views along the way, then the Hai Au Seaplane ( is the way to go. Alternatively, the helicopter ( is a great option, as it stays lower in the sky giving you a close-up, drone-like view of the land below.





h, Ha Giang. Hands down the most beautiful province in Vietnam. A place where heaven meets earth, a place you’ve got to visit if you like your motorbike trips and want jaw-dropping scenery thrown in along the way. There are a number of ways to do the loop. When we went we chose the fourday option, renting motorbikes in Ha Giang City. We then took in Quan Ba, Yen Minh, Dong Van, Meo Vac and Bao Lam before heading back to Ha Giang City. Five stops in Ha Giang Province, one stop, Bao Lam and its cattle market, in neighbouring Cao Bang. And in between, soaring, breathtaking views, ethnic minority peoples eking out a living and still in their traditional dress, the Ma Pi Leng pass, more terraced paddy fields than you can shake a conical hat at, and a sense that here, at the foot of the Himalayas, you are on the edge of the world.

ow hard can it be? You’ve slurped down loads of the stuff since you’ve been here. And you’ve watched the ladies in action. Throw a few old beef hocks into a pot with some onions and garlic, boil it up for a day or three, pour it over some rice noodles, squeeze on some lime juice, sprinkle in some cracked pepper and chilli to taste (forget the beansprouts), then load it up with a bunch of basil. That’s all there is to it, right?




or anyone who’s spent time up north, or at least anyone who’s lived up there, drinking ca phe trung ain’t nothing new. Allegedly the idea to plop an egg in coffee came about when milk was scarce in Vietnam; its invention attributed to a bartender working at Hanoi’s Metropole Hotel in 1946. How he got away with dropping a chicken’s ovum in a guest’s (presumably) morning coffee is nothing short of ballsy and it remains surprising, if not a touch sad, that the inventor isn’t a household name. Perhaps then at least, the thing we know as egg coffee would sound just a little more palatable




hat better topic for that travel blog you’re writing about travelling through Vietnam? The deprivations. The toilets. The people. The terrible music. The stares. The rattling of the train. The screams of the children as you try to get to sleep. It’s all just so ‘out there’.




hen Alexandre de Rhodes, the missionary who invented the Roman script for Vietnamese, first came to Vietnam, he spent his time preaching in Nam Dinh, an area south of Hanoi on the Red River Delta. In terms of spreading Catholicism, his efforts worked. To this day, Nam Dinh and Ninh Binh Provinces are the heart of the religion in Vietnam. Yet, followers of the Catholic creed have taken their fervour to whole new levels. Each village has its own church. We’re not talking about any old churches, here the structures are huge, cathedral-size huge, with colonial-style wedding cake décor and bright garish paint. The jewel in the faith-driven crown is Phat Diem in Ninh Binh, a church built in the late 19th century by Father Six that mixes European architecture with the traditional designs of dynastic Vietnam. But head to the west of this and you see the churches rearing their spires above the flat skyline. The irony is the cathedral in Nam Dinh City. Smaller than the majority of churches over which it has dominion, it is the local seat of the faith. To do a tour is simple. Start at Phat Diem and then head west towards the ruined church in the sea in Hai Ly. On the way you will see monolith after grandiose monolith rising into the sky. Stop, go inside — the doors are usually open — and explore. The experience is surreal.




he Top Gear lads took amphibious scooters. Tom Hiddleston went by helicopter. However you go, just go; no visit to Vietnam is complete without it.




lthough we officially condemn eating any endangered animal, which make up most of the offerings from this country’s best-known snake restaurants, it’s still a popular experience for daring foodies.




espite the abhorrent side effect of driving up the theft of pets and maltreatment of farmed animals, understanding why it’s so popular is on many people’s to-do lists.




hannel your inner Mr. Miyagi (or should that be Ong Minh?) and prove you are the ultimate Kung Fu Badass of pest control. | October 2017 Word | 57




t’s a long road, the Ho Chi Minh Trail, so long in fact that it goes almost all the way from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City, hugging the border between Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia in between. It’s also the safest route if you want to motorbike north to south, with breathtaking scenery, hairpin bends and that sense of freedom you get when you’re away from civilization. Just don’t expect much in the way of modern amenities. Some stretches, like from A Luoi heading south and between Phong Nha and Khe Sanh have little in the vicinity. And don’t expect top-notch accommodation or anything other than local food. And if you do find yourself complaining, just remember that under attack from bombers, Viet Minh and Viet Cong soldiers walked this route during the war. North to south took three months. Which makes this even more of a bucket list kind of thing to do.




oseph Conrad. Heart of Darkness. Francis Ford Coppola. Apocalypse Now. There’s something to be said for getting drunk in a brewery with a name that so closely ties itself to jungle, war and Vietnam. [Editor’s note: For the uninitiated, Apocalypse Now was based on Heart of Darkness]. Okay, fine, you’ll be going to the industrial zone in Binh Duong rather than into the jungle. Although you’ll definitely get to meet Colonel Kurtz, in his IPA form, that is.






cascade of 20 or so mini waterfalls coming down into a river and surrounded by jungle-clad, limestone karsts, Ban Gioc is bang on the border, and is one of the most beautiful sites in Vietnam. Even National Geographic thinks so. Check out their photos. The problem is getting there. It requires a long road trip from Cao Bang City down bad roads to the border. But then, that’s all part of the fun?



nd if you do, we reckon you’ve got a one in hundred chance of keeping it going. Just remember that unless it’s a true labour of love, you’ve got to make it pay. That’s the difficult bit.

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hat better way is there to earn an island paradise getaway than by enduring an eight-hour journey consisting of buses, boats, taxis and electric buggies? As the bird flies, Co To is 270km east of Hanoi — getting there is no walk in the park, but once you’re there, the good times will roll. The island isn’t as developed as tourist hotspots like Cat Ba, but the few resorts which have been opened offer beach bungalows, sunset BBQs and picturesque cycling routes sure to satisfy the most obsessive of Instagrammers. Besides Co To, Quan Lan Island and Cai Chien Island are two other similar destinations, both beyond Halong Bay and near the Chinese border; getting there will require a good deal of preparation and patience, but the payoff is more than worth it if you go for at least two to three nights.




ou turn off the lights, get into bed, and hear something scurrying along the floor. Your options are: ineffectual stickyback humane traps, waste good cheese on a spring trap, or commence a Tom & Jerry-style hunt, with marigold-covered clenched fists. I’ll get the gloves.




o you’ve eaten hamburgers in Hamburg, spaghetti Bolognese in Bologna, Wiener schnitzels in Vienna, black forest gateau in the Black Forest and pizza in, erm, Pisa. So naturally the next step is to eat bun bo Hue in Hue, of course. Just don’t expect the version you get elsewhere, although it’s something to tick off the list. As the dish has weaved its way around the country it’s been altered to fit the local taste buds. Our favourite version? In Saigon. Sorry Hue!

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nd fulfil that dream you had as a teenager. | October 2017 Word | 59





nce upon a time, Vietnam was considered an A-grade destination for shoestring travellers, tight backpackers and those looking for an off-the-beaten-track experience. These days, however, Vietnam is home to some of the most sensational luxury resorts in Southeast Asia. Hanoi’s Metropole Hotel offers guests a taste of classic French class, while the legendary Park Hyatt Saigon, a city-centre hotel complete with luxury spa and tropical garden outdoor pool, redefines the five-star experience. For a more resortish resort experience, check out Danang’s InterContinental Sun Peninsula, a resort so spectacular, it has its own Wikipedia page. Then in Nha Trang is the secluded Six Senses Ninh Van Bay and further south in Cam Ranh is The Anam. On the resort island of Phu Quoc, the recently opened J.W. Marriott Phu Quoc Emerald Bay is already wowing anyone lucky enough to check in there. Designed by Bill Bensley, the same award-winning architect behind the InterContinental Sun Peninsula, it’s a slice of chic paradise with a strong tropical vibe.





ho chua or sour pho, really is the best version of Vietnam’s national dish there is. Or at least we think so. The fresh pho noodles are served with ground peanuts, sliced herbs, pork, Chinesestyle roasted pork (xa xiu or heo / lon quay) and the most essential part — the sour sauce. Many variations can be found around Vietnam, but to eat it in Lang Son, the city on the Chinese border where it is supposed to have originated, is something else. Wow does it taste good!

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hether you identify as spiritual or religious is insignificant; a pilgrimage to one of Vietnam’s most sacred spiritual sites is not to be missed. Around 70km southwest of Hanoi, the Perfume Pagoda is a complex of Buddhist temples, caves and shrines spread throughout the Huong Tich Mountains. If you want the full, in-your-face, sardines-in-a-can experience, then visit between the sixth day of the first lunar month and the last week of the third lunar month; this period guarantees the most crowds, coming for the Perfume Pagoda Festival. Whether you go by motorbike or with an organised tour, the final stretch of the journey involves a 45-minute boat ride along Suoi Yen, a lotus-lined river. Wish for good fortune, barter away your soul for greater fertility, or just go for the stunning views, tacky souvenirs and fresh air.





ietnam is one of the cheapest locations in the world to drink beer — at least it was until craft beer arrived. Fortunately for the ‘I’m not paying those prices’ brigade, bia hoi is still alive and kicking. So why not make a night or five of it and pub crawl your way around every bia hoi in Hanoi? After all, it’s hardly going to break your wallet. And just think of all those drunken selfies you could share on Facebook.





alloons have been all the rage in the party scene for a little while now, but not these ones. For the first time in Vietnam you can now take flight over the southern coastal towns of Phan Thiet and Mui Ne. Known for its beaches, sand dunes, kiteboarding and dragonfruit, the best parts of Binh Thuan Province can now be seen from the air in a basket. Balloons lift off daily at 5am either from the centre of Phan Thiet or somewhere close to the sand dunes, all depending on weather conditions of course. For around VND3 million per person for four hours, you get transfers, a light breakfast and some bubbly, along with some amazing views taking in desert lakes and colourful rural landscapes. Vietnam Balloons applies European safety standards to everything it does, including European pilots with tons of experience. The company also caters for special occasions like birthday parties and even weddings. So why not tie the knot in the sky before you die... err leave?





t’s the compassionate busybody’s dilemma; you hear your neighbours beating their dog. You have no right to get involved, he owns it. Your code of ethics doesn’t apply here, but you can’t stand those whimpering cries any more. Who you gonna call? Try Hanoi Pet Rescue, on 01234 524650 or Animal Rescue & Care in Saigon (





ver wanted to be publicly ridiculed in the local media? Do you crave unfavourable attention on Facebook groups? If so, then get on your best bikini/banana-hammock, sprawl out on a grassy bank like no one’s around, and wait for the cameras to click.




o one wants squirty-bum, but who can resist BBQ meatballs, salad and noodles for US$2? If you buy it in bulk, toilet paper is super cheap. #protip




any of us have been there. Hungover and parched for thirst, you stumble into the kitchen to fill up a glass of water before quickly realising the error of your ways as you spurt it out. A lucky escape, as the water in Vietnam features all sorts of chemical nasties that are guaranteed to at the very least, upset your stomach, or at worst, send you to hospital.





f you ever needed more evidence that TV chefs prioritise fame over food, then Anthony Bourdain’s awful choice of bun cha for some people’s favourite ex-president it is. Overpriced, sub-par quality and now the seed for a hundred copycats, Bun Cha Huong Lien (24 Le Van Huu, Hai Ba Trung, Hanoi) will be reaping the benefits of Mr Obama’s visit for years to come. If you’re not put off by the sound of the Obama Combo, the most cringeworthy name of a food special ever to stain a menu, then by all means go and see what all the fuss is (or isn’t) about. It’s open daily from 8am until 9pm, and if you want to call them up while you’re bent double over a toilet exploding from both ends to ask where they get their seafood from, their number is (024) 3943 4106.





o-one would see Vietnam as a country that has produced some amazing photographers. After all, most of the imagery we see of Vietnam outside of Vietnam is either war-themed or based around food and travel. Which is what makes the Lai Xa Photography Museum so interesting. Located in Hanoi, the museum plays homage to the nearby village of Lai Xa which produced a wealth of talented photographers, making it one of the more unusual visitor attractions in this country, and certainly one to put on the list.


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f you’re the type of person who is in perpetual state of mild panic and apprehension about everything from where you will live next year to what colour socks you will wear in the morning, then let one of Vietnam’s many fortune tellers lighten the load by giving you the answers you require. Note — what they tell you is not legally binding. So if they promise you great riches and a year later you’re just as skint as before, don’t go looking for a refund.




o ba ba are the humble Vietnamese pyjamas worn by women of a certain age up and down the land. The brighter the better, and if you squint, watching a group of women chatting away can look like tropical birds showing off their feathers. Finding a pair that fits, especially if you’re a 6ft-tall foreigner could be challenging. But think of all those great photos you could take!





ere’s how you do it. In the Bong Lai Valley just outside of Phong Nha, there is a chillout spot called The Pub With No Name. Go there and the lady who cooks up the ever-so-freshly barbecued chicken may even let you kill the chicken yourself. Now, if you’ve never done this before, you’ll need to line this one up for your bucket list. It’s something to talk about afterwards. But there’s another benefit. When you go to the countryside to spend Tet with your in-laws, you might just be the person charged with the responsibility of killing the chicken. For at Tet, people here like to cook up roosters, who can be a little more flighty than their female counterparts. So, unless you want to find yourself hacking indiscriminately at a head that just refuses to be hacked off, better hone your skills early. Only then will your in-laws truly be impressed.





here is something exciting about exploring abandoned places. Yet the disused townships on the edge of Hanoi are a little different. They were never completed. Unlike most of the buildings that urban explorers find a way into, they don’t have history. One such suburb is Lideco, an urban area of 500 to 700 houses sitting 16km outside of Hanoi off the Highway 32. Only 100 houses are occupied and a third were never finished. Wandering the town is eerie. Some of the empty houses have become homes for chickens and ducks. The vegetation has taken over, but there are still isolated areas of human activity, and the occasional sound of a child's laughter. For urban exploration, places like Lideco are a dream, especially when it comes to seeing development gone wrong. Other places to check out for your bucket list are Van Canh in Hoai Duc and Bao Son Paradise on the edge of My Dinh.





ou know you’ve made it in Vietnam when they make a wax model of you. Recently opened and inspired by Madame Toussards, this District 10 museum features a plethora of Vietnamese painters, artists and comedians in wax form — and their likenesses are uncanny.








espite being a common dish in Vietnam and Southeast Asia, the humble fertilised duck egg often finds its way to the top of any ‘weird food’ compilations. Perhaps the appearance has something to do with that. On the outside, regular old boiled egg. Nothing scary at all. Peel away the shell, however, and something resembling the foetus of Alien and Predator’s lovechild stares up at you. Easily recognisable parts, including feathers, beaks and claws are all folded in to this yellow, grey and white ball of OMG. It’s honestly not as bad as it looks, though; it’s usually served with a handful of herbs plus a few shreds of ginger and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. There’s a range of soft and chewy textures, a rich fatty punch from the centre and an all-round eggy taste.





nd tell all your friends and family how you spent a night with the ‘true’ locals of Vietnam.


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o visit to Vietnam would be complete without a trip to the Cu Chi Tunnels, networks of underground passageways dating back to 1948 that were used by Viet Cong forces. Appealing to some will be the firing range, where trigger happy tourists can have a go at firing off some of the weaponry used during the war — from AK47 to the M30. The bullets are pricey at US$1 a pop — but it’s a fun way to unleash your inner Rambo. Just don’t forget to wear your ear muffs, as it can get pretty noisy.


ot recommended for even the most sprightly of souls. But then, the bridge is so iconic and it was reportedly built by Gustave Eiffel.





ou’ve got three days to go before your visa runs out and you can’t avoid it any longer. The dreaded Moc Bai visa run will have to be broached. A two hour bus ride that seems to spend most of its time trying to get out of the quicksand that is Saigon traffic, you arrive to be welcomed off the bus by a hive of scum and villainy trying to drag you along for a price. Once you’re past their clutches you’ll be greeted by a queue followed by queue followed by another queue. Maybe you enjoy the process of queuing? In that case, this could be a top day out. After a seemingly endless traipse through red tape, you return to Vietnam, tired, grumpy and swearing you’ll never do it again. Three months later…





ut on your wetsuit and helmet, attach yourself to a rope, abseil down the side of canyons, jump off a cliff, waterslide down a river and zipline over a gorge. If this kind of adrenalin-fuelled outdoor activity is for you, then canyoning in Dalat is one for the list. Only problem is licensing and insurance. Which means best to go with Phat Tire (, who are the only fully licensed operator in the area. Three people died in early 2016. Make sure you’re not the fourth.

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hances are you’ve already visited one, especially if you’ve been living in the south. The Delta (and most theme parks) have quite a few of them. One of the memorable ones, and a rite of passage for many unsuspecting newbies to Vietnam, is the crocodile farm at Monkey Island (Dao Khi) in Can Gio. Here you can feed the crocs and watch them fight for their bits of fish. Not an attractive sight, although some tourists seem to get a thrill out of it.





ith all the steep inclines and falls, driving a quad bike as it skids and slides over the dunes is both scary and fun, especially if you can close your eyes to the environmental degradation that comes in its wake. But take note. You have to hire a driver — usually a teenage kid — to take you on the ride as you won’t be allowed to go off on your own. And if you do get the chance to drive the bike, you’ll be expected to give a tip.



nd make sure you make a video of it. Or even better. Post it to Facebook Live





f you want to take a risk, and you believe in ghosts, this is the Vietnam bucket list option for you. Home to what was once the Bulgarian Embassy, the building at 300 Kim Ma is built on a former cemetery. When the land was repurposed, the authorities moved the graves elsewhere, but some tombs remained because the families couldn’t be traced. According to legend, the embassy sleeping quarters were in the basement. Every night at midnight the beds would move and would stand vertical — no one could see how it happened. At a Christmas party a secretary heard a strange noise, he tried to move and see where it was coming from, but then he was paralysed without any reason. The embassy stayed for only one year before moving down the street. The Bulgarian government paid 50 years rent upfront, which is why the building sits there abandoned. Yet the stories continue. Six or seven years ago two young people climbed over the fence to look for ghosts. Just after they left the building they were in an accident and both died. Five years ago a monk came to try and chase the ghosts away. She talked with them and diminished their power, but according to locals they are still there. Visit at your peril.



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ant to know how the majority live? Well, here’s a menu for you. Breakfast — banh mi thit or banh my trung. Lunch, com sinh vien or com binh dan from one of the cheap rice restaurants. Dinner xoi thit if you’re in Hanoi, or bot chien down south. If you’re lucky, you’ll have some change for some tra or possibly even a ca phe da on the street. Do this for one day, easy. For a week or even a month, you’ll be pulling your hair out.





ou know you’ve got to. Come on, you’ve got to give it a try!

ust make sure you’re the person driving them. It gives you bargaining power.





ecause your engagement is all about the photos, right?







nfortunately, visions of a locomotive chugging along through Dalat’s rolling mountains is little more than a memory for most, as the line closed for good following reunification in 1975. But there are still reminders of the former route that went 84km from Dalat to Thap Cham. This impressive feat of engineering was built by the French to transport goods and people up to the then colonial retreat of Dalat, and the route took over 30 years to be completed. You can visit dilapidated old railway stations that still retain remnants of colonial class, and you can head into long abandoned tunnels that cut through some of Dalat’s highest peaks. It’s an off-the-grid tour that you’ll have to organise yourself, but for the train enthusiast or romantic it’s an evocative trip down memory lane.


nd then realise that everyone else is dying their hair brown or orange. You just can’t win, can you?








ut only if you’re still awake at such a ridiculous hour.

ust make sure you know how to change the spark plug, or that you should mix oil in the fuel tank with the petrol you’ve just put in. Otherwise, you might find yourself flagging down help on the side of the road.

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f you’re in Hanoi, hmmm. But if you’re in Saigon you can get there in a morning. 70km to Moc Bai on the border and then lots of places to stay at casino-friendly Bavet on the other side. Just bear in mind the roads. The one leaving Ho Chi Minh City via Tan Binh is not all that pleasant. Still, getting there is an accomplishment




oar through the skies, hold your heart in your mouth, see the rice plots, hills and townships below like you’ve never seen them before. Paragliding could just be for you. Just make sure you’ve got the wind with you — you’ll need it. Wanna know how? Click on




words Chiang Mai and Thailand written all over them. But why head to the Land of Smiles when the Central Highlands and Sivana Yoga is on your doorstep? Weekly, monthly and longterm residencies are available, and the people who’ve been come back positively glowing.


os your trip is just so cool, dude, and your writing and photos are even cooler, and you just reckon that everyone out there is going to want to read about it, and that by reading your blog it will be really beneficial to them — a life-changing event, like your travels were for you…



ven better, attend the mass on Christmas Eve, when the crowds of worshippers swell out of the doors. Just don’t expect to understand anything, unless you speak Vietnamese. Although the rituals are mostly the same.




ietnam has scores of national parks if you’re the kind of person who likes to go for a trek or two. The largest is Yok Don in the Central Highlands. Yok Don is said to be the most biodiverse park in Vietnam and is home to endangered Indochinese tigers and leopards, Indian elephants and gaur. Might be best to take out life insurance before you go? From Saigon, the best known national park is Cat Tien, approximately 150km north. The park is home to a surprisingly large number of animal species that include monkeys, bears, elephants, deer, birds, snakes and insects and once upon a time, the Javanese rhino. But the park on everyone’s lips at the moment is Phong NhaKe Bang in Quang Binh, about 500km south of Hanoi. Comprising over 300 caves and grottos, it is home to Son Doong Cave, the world’s biggest cave. Aside from the park’s major attraction, Phong Nha-Ke Bang is home to a vast array of vulnerable animal species, and trekking is well set up here. Just don’t expect to head off on your own. You’re not allowed.




outh of Hue lies an amusement park, Ho Thuy Tien. But its popularity with visitors lies not in the amusements, but in the fact that it’s abandoned. You won’t be the only ones there, as its creepy charm which includes overgrown water slides and a mechanical dragon, have turned it into popular tourist attraction in its own right — but it’s a gem, nonetheless.



ustralian writer and practising Buddhist Walter Mason in his delightful memoir of his time in Vietnam, Destination Saigon, reveals that before his travels here, he used to imagine Buddhist monasteries as “transcendent places of deep spiritual advancement” only to discover they are “hotbeds of intrigue, gossip and pettiness, just like everywhere else.” Mason has a strong connection with Vietnam and holds this country close to his heart. He describes a number of Buddhist monasteries and pagodas in his book that leave even the keenest of sceptics thinking about planning a visit themselves. The Ambassador’s Pagoda in Hanoi is one; it was the official residence for foreign visitors to the city in the 15th century. He mentions Binh Dinh Province and its fame Vietnam-wide for its martial artists, monks and temples. And his humorous but moving description of his outing to the big Buddha in Phan Thiet is a highlight as he retells his emotions on hearing the power of the female monks’ voices as they chant the Great Compassion Mantra of Kwan Yin. The point is, you don’t have to be a Buddhist adherent to get a kick out of visiting one of Vietnam’s hundreds of pagodas. And if you want to learn or practice Buddhist meditation, simply go to the pagodas and ask.

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f you’ve ever Wiki’d Chinese chess, you’ll have noticed you need two things to be any good at this: 1) The IQ of Garry Kasparov; 2) The legs of Garry Kasparov (he’s quite short). Chinese chess is all about strategy and who can put up with the pins and needles in their legs the longest. As a starter, we suggest you hit your local park in your white singlet, black dress slacks and slippers, and at least try and look the part. Get that right, and you’re on your way.




t might seem odd the concept of ice-skating in a country where the temperature regularly hits 35 degrees, but thanks to Vincom, it’s not. As far as we know, at least two Vincom Centers have ice-rinks — Royal City in Hanoi and Vincom Mega Mall Thao Dien in Saigon. There might be more. Regardless, there’s something to be said to go from the immense heat of the tropical outdoors to the immense cold of an ice rink. Just ask all the skaters.












n a city of rivers and canals, it’s no surprise that one of the favourite pastimes of many Saigon dwellers is to rock up to their nearest stretch of water with a fishing rod. In a city of hustle and bustle, it looks genuinely relaxing. It could be just the ticket after a stressful day in the city

till quite a young concept in Vietnam, a country famous for good value accommodation, Airbnb is starting to build a strong presence here. Treehouses, homestays and capsule hostels all offer an alternative stay, if you prioritise quirkiness over comfort, security and hygiene.


ocated not far from Hoi An, the My Son ruins are a group of abandoned Hindu temples constructed between the 4th and 14th century AD, and they are one of the historical jewels in Vietnam’s crown. The temples are dedicated to the worship of the god Shiva, and were built by the now extinct Champa people. It’s a UNESCO world heritage site, and was the religious and political capital of the Champa kingdom for most of its existence. It’s tranquil experience strolling around the ruins these days, but during the war it was hit heavily by US carpet bombs, so look out for the craters that are still dotted about the site. | October 2017 Word | 69




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k, perhaps not like a local, but at least someone who sounds like they are trying. Most of us have given up sounding like the locals by now, at least in Vietnamese anyway, but learning another language exercises the brain in different ways. It’s extremely social, and hey, you might just learn something positive about the culture.





t’s what everyone’s doing these days. Start-up costs are relatively low — especially if the business has a virtual component to it — and Vietnam is imbued with the spirit of entrepreneurship. All making this country a fantastic environment for doing something on your own. Now as for making money, that’s a different issue. As most businesspeople will whisper over a quiet beer or a glass of wine, their business model allows them to make enough to survive and muddle by. Getting rich, however, is a little bit more complicated. Do something successful, and the whole world and his dog will try and get a piece of it. Did anyone say the word ‘copy’?







atch the Netflix series Suits, where a young upstart with a photographic memory blags his way into a job with one of NYC’s top law firms, and you can probably work out how this is done. So, in time-honoured fashion, this is something you’ve got to try in Vietnam. You certainly won’t be the first to talk your way into a top job in real estate of finance. After all, bullshitting is a highly sought after skill in those fields. So, get yourself down to all those networking events and become a regular on the expat bar scene. You never know what you might be offered.




t’s easy. Everyone’s doing it, especially those without any F&B experience whatsoever. The most successful of these DIY restaurateurs know what they like, and don’t need advice from anyone. They stay on top of service quality by trolling Foodies and Expats on Facebook, and terrorise anyone who is remotely critical of their dining experience. If it’s your dream to open a restaurant, it could just be you!


s everyone knows, Vietnamese weddings are an in-and-out affair. They are often two hours of ceremony, food and drink where guests are expected to down crates and crates of Tiger and devour mountains of goi ngo sen (lotus stem salad). Which all means leaving last shouldn’t be that difficult. But you do need a strategy. Once you notice the oldies starting to leave and the mot, hai, ba, dzos tapering off, hit the toilets for a while, make some phone calls and catch up on Facebook. By the time you get back to your seat, the tables will be cleared and you will be the last man (or woman) standing.





e know this one is a bit of a cliché (and the only person I know who has been to Vietnam and not taught, is my mum), but it’s still worthy of a place on the bucket list. We’re not suggesting that every unwashed bogan with a backpack and a biro becomes a teacher; but if you know what the future perfect continuous tense is, and you understand what signing an employment contract means, by all means tick this one off the list. These days, it’s not even just English teaching that attracts foreign workers; there are foreigners coaching basketball, teaching maths and science at international schools and even teaching American history to students preparing to study abroad. If you put the effort in, the reward you get out of it can be really life-affirming. Plus, the money is damn good.


t’s crossed our minds… many times. Like our imaginary rock band, we have a name for it already and know exactly where and how we’d set it up. The theme would be different from everyone else’s, probably tiki with sand on the floor and coconut shell bikini tops for the staff. It would always be packed and the bills would never get screwed up. Then your wife calls…







here are many potential benefits to traditional acupuncture, like giving you more energy, releasing pent up stress, promoting a better night’s sleep, increasing productivity, and allegedly even make you more openminded. There are even stories in Vietnam of stroke patients being able to walk again after paralysis, and stories of children who were able to identify parts of their body after an acupuncture treatment. Hmm… Scepticism aside, there’s the nagging issue of having a bunch of needles poked into your body. And the advertorials don’t seem to help much: “You’ll see an acupuncture patient with dozens of needles stuck in their body, but they’ll only be feeling good.” Go on then, you go first.





he air base in Ta Con, the prison at Lao Bao, the mine museum in Dong Ha, the La Vang and Long Hung churches in Quang Tri, the tunnels in Vinh Moc and the bridge over the Ben Hai River. Some of the places to visit in the DMZ in Quang Tri Province in Central Vietnam. The scene of some of the most intense fighting during the war, to this day the unexploded ordnance in the area continues to claim innocent lives. If you really want to get a sense of wartime Vietnam and how it affected everyday Vietnamese, both then and now, spend some time in the DMZ.




ietnam is blessed with some truly outstanding stretches of beaches and coastline which can rival anywhere else in the world, but the sorry fact is many of them are dangerously polluted which makes the prospect of going for a dip pretty unappealing. The island paradise of Phu Quoc has been criticised for allowing 28 of its hotels to dump raw sewage and waste directly into the ocean. And it’s not just a case of out of sight, out of mind. From Vung Tau to Danang, litter and trash is a depressingly familiar sight on Vietnam’s beaches. Fancy doing your bit? In 2015, photos of two Spanish tourists collecting litter from in Cat Ba Beach went viral.





or most of us, driving ourselves on a motorbike is challenging enough. Add a girlfriend or boyfriend and perhaps a backpack onboard, and that’s about as far as we’re willing to go. That’s pretty cool (in most countries) until at the traffic lights the drinks lady pulls up with two massive eskies full of ice and drinks, and snacks in shopping bags tied to every spare non-moving part of the vehicle. Just look ahead and pretend you haven’t noticed.





wo years ago, Hanoi was ranked 39th in the world for cities with the most skyscrapers over 100m tall. That should make for some moist reading for those who appreciate a good sunset to the tune of cocktails and olives. Try the Chill Skybar in Saigon or Lotte’s Top of Hanoi.





ometimes one’s sense of community is diminished by living in a far-flung city or country. Volunteering and getting involved in a charity or NGO can be one way to help alleviate that feeling. That’s not to say that volunteering should be all about you. There are a great number of charities and organisations that could do with your experience and skills, so hit one or two up and see where it leads.





e think Clint Eastwood missed a trick by not casting Vietnamese cowboys in 1992’s Unforgiven. Learn to ride at CLB Ngua Hanoi (





ou know all of those times you were in your kitchen slicing mushrooms, and you thought, “Damn, I wish I had made this knife myself!” No? Ok, us neither, but making your own knife is still a pretty sweet way to get hold of an original souvenir that has some real practical use.





t gets you more SMP (social media points) than a lousy blog or Facebook check-in; just don’t try to take our job.


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here can’t be too many things more exhilarating than experiencing the turtle nesting season in Vietnam. Every year from May to October, 400 turtles from the East Sea and the Philippines swim to Con Dao to lay their eggs on a beach on the island of Bay Canh. 55 days later the turtles hatch and crawl to the sea where the survivors embark on a 100-year cycle of doing the same thing over and over again. The fact that you can watch this happen is amazing, but it means a night-time boat trip from the main island to Bay Canh, and then hours waiting in the dark for nature to take its natural course. It’s worth every second.



nother chance to get a souvenir a bit more interesting than some faux-lacquer chopsticks. Passport holder and handbag, or whip and gimp mask, it’s really up to you. Either way, Hanoi’s DIY Box (33 Ngo 135, Doi Can, Ba Dinh) will sort you out with instructions and materials.

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uch of the time parties go off without a hitch. Everyone has a good time. They drink, dance, chat, get drunk, go home. But behind the scenes, it’s a different story. Most likely there have been issues with the venue, licensing with the authorities. Equipment hasn’t arrived or been put together properly, the DJ’s had a problem with their visa, ticket sales have been poor, it’s all gone over budget and nothing else will move unless the sound guy who’s been dragging his arse all day long doesn’t get paid upfront for working overtime. But if you’re determined to do it, we did warn you.





ith promoters in Hanoi and Saigon desperate for local talent, Vietnam is a great place to get into stand-up. The audiences are supportive, every promoter is keen to give you a chance, and the venues are small, warm and friendly. As of yet, unlike elsewhere in the region, no-one who’s honed their skills in Vietnam has made it to the next stage, the pro stage. But a few of the present batch of local comics here are knocking on the door. After all, if you like comedy, it’s worth giving it a try. You might just discover you’re the next Bill Bailey or Ellen DeGeneres.



his country is made for aspiring rock bands and punk bands. In the West, you’d have to line the garage with egg cartons and practice when no one’s in the vicinity. In Vietnam, the louder, the better — noise pollution is acceptable here. Even better, there are hundreds of venues looking for bands for free. Oh yeah, don’t expect to get paid.





t’s easy. Just put the initials of a country after your name: (GER), (US), (UK), (FR), (AUS). Then you KNOW you’re in with a shout.





r moonshine, to me and you. Just make sure the brewer knows what they’re doing and your stomach can deal with it. There are too many stories of every single male guest at a countryside wedding getting poisoned because the rice wine was dodgy. Still game?

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pholder of outdated misogyny and cheap objectification? Or classy club venue with incredible live performances? Well, you’ll have to be the judge of that yourselves, but at least everyone can agree that Hugh Hefner’s Playboy brand is a global powerhouse, which makes its arrival in Hanoi quite the occasion. Situated at 136 Hang Trong, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi, it’s open every day except Monday, from 7pm until 2am. With people so beautiful your eyes may need to be realigned, and cocktails so ostentatious you would be excused for thinking sorcery was afoot, one thing is certain; you won’t forget your first visit to Hanoi’s Playboy bar. And if that’s not enough of a reason to try it out, we’ve heard a few Careless Whispers that one of the owners looks like George Michael.



ot so long ago, a bar crawl along Pasteur Street would’ve been unthinkable, mostly because — save for Bar Number 5 and the now long gone Moon Bar — there simply weren’t any bars along here. They were mostly concentrated along Ho Tung Mau, a couple of blocks over towards Nguyen Hue Street, and in and around Ton That Thiep and Ton That Dam Streets. How times have changed. When the lads from Vinyl Bar bravely took over the lease from Moon Bar and threw caution to the wind almost five years back, it flagged the beginning of a gold rush along that section of Pasteur Street running the length of two blocks. It has now become a strip in its own right with new bars popping up and closing down and popping up again all the time. When you include the bars in the connecting streets nearby, the number could quite likely tally 50. Now that’s a big night out.

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Vietnam in Cyanotype Not all modern-day photography is digital, as proven by a project which is processing photos in a format once used to create architectural and engineering blueprints. Words by Edward Dalton. Photos by Sasha Arefieva and Julie Vola

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“Originally invented by English astronomer Sir John Herschel in 1842, [cyanotype is] now enjoying a revival by creative types looking to add a new depth of meaning to their work”


ince arriving in Hanoi seven years ago, French photographer Julie Vola has snapped, taught and edited her way to the forefront of the photography scene in the capital. She had always been interested in alternative photography processes, and a recent trip to Singapore’s House of Photography sparked a new love affair; cyanotype printing. Before modern printing methods rendered it obsolete, cyanotype was once the medium of architects, botanists and engineers, who used it to make low-cost copies of drawings,

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especially blueprints. “I first learned about cyanotype printing when I was 17,” says Julie, “but I haven’t done it for over 15 years, so I’m kind of relearning the process.”

The Process Originally invented by English astronomer Sir John Herschel in 1842, it’s now enjoying a revival by creative types looking to add a new depth of meaning to their work, and Julie is the first photographer in Hanoi to dabble with the process in a meaningful way. The chemicals involved are potassium

ferricyanide and ferric ammonium citrate, two powders which are dissolved in water and combined to create a sensitizer solution. The solution is then painted onto paper, and dried inside home-made lightproof boxes. “I mostly work at night, because my apartment is very bright,” explains Julie. “It would be great to have a real dark room, but I make do.” Negatives of her photos, printed on a transparent sheet material such as mica, are then laid down on top of the coated paper, and left outside to absorb UV light. The coated paper gradually moves through

shades of green, blue and bronze. Depending on the conditions, optimum exposure can be anywhere from 10 to 90 minutes. Finally, the paper is submerged in water, washing away the chemicals, and leaving behind a dreamy, poetic image in vivid shades of deep blue. After a recent successful exhibition of her cyanotype prints at Ke Quan, Julie is now preparing a series of workshops where others can learn to create their own cyanotype prints. For more info, email Julie Vola on julie@ | October 2017 Word | 79

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The Rise of Diabetes 30 years ago Vietnam suffered from widespread malnutrition. Now its type 2 diabetes that is affecting people’s health. Words by Thomas Barrett. Photos by Olga Rozenbajgier 82 | Word October 2017 |

“The Vietnam Association of Diabetes and Endocrinology (VADE) recently reported that in Vietnam there are now 5 million diabetics, which accounts for around 5.4% of the population. It’s believed that the real figure could be closer to 10%” | October 2017 Word | 83


nside a shopping mall on a Saturday afternoon in Tan Phu District, Ho Chi Minh City, several groups of Vietnamese children and their families are perched on plastic chairs eating burgers and fries and sipping fizzy drinks. Outside in the shade, a group of men take a smoke break from shopping. It’s a sign of the times in Vietnam, and it’s a scene that reveals several red flags for diabetes. The Vietnam Association of Diabetes and Endocrinology (VADE) recently reported that in Vietnam there are now 5 million diabetics, which accounts for around 5.4% of the population. It’s believed that the real figure could be closer to 10%, after factoring in those who are living undiagnosed. It’s an alarming rise from the figure of 3.3% just three years ago, and it means that Vietnam has one of the fastestgrowing rates of diabetes in the world. The main concern is type 2 diabetes, which used to be called Adult-Onset Diabetes before its rapid rise began to be charted in children. Unlike the genetic nature of type 1 diabetes, type 2 is

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characterised by lifestyle choices; eating refined sugars and flour, high-fructose corn syrup, heavily processed food, lack of dietary fibre and smoking. Fast-food outlets get most of the blame, but look around your local Family Mart or Circle K and see how much of the food and drink is

quietly crammed with sugar. The problem is stark; just 30 years ago, Vietnam was in the grip of malnutrition, and now it faces obesity and diabetes problems, with over 50,000 deaths attributed to diabetes in Vietnam in 2015, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO). That number is sure to rise as the country gets wealthier. The list of complications of diabetes is long; ulcers, gangrene and resulting amputations, cardiovascular diseases, blindness and kidney failures. Dr Pedro Trigo, a hepatology and internal medicine specialist at Family Medical Practice in District 1, has been practising in Vietnam for seven years, and in that time he’s seen great changes in lifestyle for the general population. Vietnam is on the road to becoming a developed country, and a burgeoning middle class have new money in their pockets. “When the culture says ‘wow you are wealthy, you have to enjoy your time, your car etcetera’, they become lazy, eat

more proteins and fatty foods and become obese,” he says.

Cigarettes and Alcohol Another key risk factor in developing type 2 diabetes is smoking, but the link between smoking and diabetes is one that is often overlooked by both the public and by doctors. “I think sometimes even doctors are not aware [of the risk],” says Dr Trigo. A 2015 Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) survey estimated that 22% of Vietnam’s population are smokers (45% of men, 1.1% of women), a figure that is not declining, as in the West. The link between drinking alcohol and type 2 diabetes is disputed. In moderation, many studies suggest you are safe. But doctors agree that binge drinking and excessive consumption of alcohol is a big risk factor, particularly when looking at the link between diabetes, pancreatitis and heavy drinking. With new eating, drinking and overall lifestyle habits come many differing risk factors, which are now combining to create

“With new eating, drinking and overall lifestyle habits come many differing risk factors, which are now combining to create a perfect storm for diabetes in the country” a perfect storm for diabetes in the country. Dr Trigo says these can create further problems, such as depression and anxiety, which can also contribute to the disease. Worse, Asians are at risk from diabetes due to a lower Body Mass Index (BMI) than Caucasians, meaning looks can be

deceiving. You may look relatively healthy, but inside your body, you may already be suffering the consequences without showing the signs that you might expect.

Symptoms Symptoms of diabetes are often subtle and range from irritability to increased thirst to frequent urination. But Dr Trigo says patients are never surprised when they receive the diagnosis. “Nowadays everyone knows, if you have bad habits you will get in trouble,” he says. “Even poor people know that if you eat well, sleep well, you will be healthy. If you drink and smoke a lot it will be a problem. Human beings pretend this will not happen to them.” Additionally, with resources stretched, many diabetics may be too far from the services that they require, which Dr Trigo says has cost lives in Vietnam. Diagnosis rates are also low, as it’s uncommon in Vietnam for people to go for a check-up. “The people live quite far [away], and the roads are often bad,” he adds. “The | October 2017 Word | 85

problem is how much they comply with the treatment, even to pick up the medication. They don’t go because, an hour and a half on a motorbike [is too far] so they don’t go, and they die.”

Living with diabetes Dang Ngoc Tran is 56 years old, and was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes towards the end of last year. “I felt tired. I was losing weight without control for a couple of months,” says Tran. “I drank three to four times per week. That is the big factor plus family medical history. I smoke, but I’m not a smoker, and only smoke one when seeing friends and I wasn’t aware of the link between them [smoking and diabetes],” he adds. “Of course, it was difficult at the beginning when I had to care about what I eat.” Even though he worries about complications that may arise from his diagnosis, he is retired and still hopes to enjoy life. “You can’t ask people to stop eating nice food or stop drinking which is the fun part when you hang out.” Marvin Mesina is 35 and was born in the

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Philippines but grew up in Canada. He was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes aged 24 and it came as a big shock. “The main symptoms were sudden weight loss, always thirsty and hungry, frequent urination, especially at night and being unable to concentrate,” he says, “My family has a history of diabetes. My father and grandfather had it, but I think what triggered it was that level of stress I was under back at that time. “I felt devastated when I heard the news, I thought I was going to be immune from it regardless of our family history, so when I heard the confirmation from the doctor, I felt depressed and was in denial for a while.” Living as a foreigner with diabetes in Vietnam comes with its own challenges. Mesina struggled to find a proper endocrinologist when he first arrived in the country, and it was also difficult to find the same brand of medication that he was taking back in Canada; the cost of his insulin and oral medication is higher than it was back home. But Marvin says the hardest aspect of life for a diabetic in Vietnam, is trying to maintain a suitable diet. “I feel like it’s hard to adopt a diet here

in Vietnam, in Saigon in particular,” he says. “People here love eating rice and anything sweet. I feel like they put sugar in everything. I have yet to try an authentic ca phe sua da.”

Hospitals Marvin and Tran are fortunate in that they both receive their care at a local clinic, but diabetes is a condition where the poorest suffer disproportionately. According to the International Diabetes Federation, in 2015 diabetes-related expenditures in Vietnam were on average US$162.70 per patient, per year. This is more than the average monthly salary of US$150 in Vietnam, and the public hospitals that treat the poorest are not being built and new doctors are not being trained at a rate that can support the need. “To create a new generation of doctors takes six years, but to build a hospital takes one year,” says Dr. Trigo. “There are massive needs. They are building new universities but there is a big gap between the needs and the ability to support these needs. It’s very difficult.” He adds: “When I arrived in Vietnam I was in shock when I visited a local hospital. There were horrible corridors, horrible beds,

“According to the International Diabetes Federation, in 2015 diabetes-related expenditures in Vietnam were on average US$162.70 per patient. This is more than the average monthly salary of US$150 in Vietnam”

no mattresses, everything dirty, chaos. Now it’s the opposite, except the chaos. Because they have everything new but the doctors and nurses are extremely overloaded. You can have the best F1 race car, but if you don’t have someone who can manage the car, it’s a disaster.” Dr Trigo believes it’s inevitable that there will be more and more blind people in Vietnam due to diabetes, and there will be more cases of diabetics who require kidney dialysis or amputations. “The best is to be prepared to avoid this, not to deal with the consequences,” he says. “The doctors have good training, but it’s not enough.”

Malnutrition and Obesity Vietnam’s lightning-fast but unequal development means that it is a country that deals with malnutrition at one end of the economic scale, and obesity and diabetes at the other. Efforts to educate the citizens on the consequences of an unhealthy lifestyle have so far been ineffective, and the diabetes rates are relentlessly climbing. If old habits die hard, then new habits will die even harder. | October 2017 Word | 87




The Premier League in Vietnam

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There’s an obsession with English Premier League football in Vietnam. Thomas Barrett spends the night with a local arm of the Arsenal Supporters Club to find out what it’s all about. Photos by Pham Thu Nga

“The English Premier League is hot property, and in Vietnam is no exception. The self-branded ‘best league in the world’ has fans across the globe hooked due to its mix of full-blooded, fast-paced action and recognisable global| October megastars” 2017 Word | 89

“‘When I first came here in 2006, all EPL games were shown on Vietnam free-to-air TV... However, since the cable provider K+ got involved… the game [was driven] from free-to-air to cable — which meant a lot of viewers suddenly had their access taken away’”


round 350 Arsenal fans are packed into Kasa Cafe in District 10, Ho Chi Minh City to watch their team play London rivals Chelsea. Today, the same question that will be asked in the North London pubs of Highbury and Finsbury Park is on everybody lips. Should long-serving Arsenal manager, Arsene Wenger, stay or go? “It’s a big question,” says Linh, who is the vice-president of the official Arsenal supporters club in Vietnam. “Sometimes I feel he should go, but he stays, so we support him,” he adds. When Wenger appears on the huge screen, the large crowd stand up and applaud him. It seems in this corner of Southeast Asia, the Arsenal faithful are backing their boss.

The EPL The worldwide monster that is the English Premier League (or EPL for short) is hot property, and in Vietnam this is no exception. The self-branded “best league in the world” has fans across the globe hooked due to its

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mix of full-blooded, fast-paced action and recognisable global megastars. Manchester United and Liverpool shirts are ubiquitous sights on motorcycles across the country, and during a big match, the cafés that are dotted all the way down the Thi Nghe Canal will be full of fans huddled around a TV. Some observers at home have bemoaned a loss of connection to their local club as the game has become a truly global machine — but try telling these fanatical supporters waiting to watch their team play Chelsea, that being located 12,500km away from the Emirates Stadium makes them any less of a fan.

TV Rights The success of the EPL since its launch in 1992 can be tracked via the amount of money the league has raised in revenue in worldwide television rights. Increasing the reach in far-flung corners of the globe has been essential to its growth, and some of the numbers commanded are eye-watering. In 2016 the Premier League sold a three-year contract to Chinese broadcasters PPTV for

US$700 million. In the US, broadcaster NBC paid an estimated US$1 billion in 2015 for the rights to six seasons of the league. While TV rights in Vietnam don’t command the same type of figures as in China or the US, the amount that broadcasters here have forked out to provide coverage of the league has risen sharply over the past decade. The current deal is with K+, which is a joint venture between VTV and French broadcaster Canal+. It was a controversial move, and according to Vietnam football expert, Scott Sommerville, the effects of this deal have not necessarily served football fans in Vietnam. “When I first came here in 2006, all EPL games were shown on Vietnam free-to-air TV, including the big games with teams like Man Utd, Liverpool and Chelsea. However, since the cable provider K+ got involved, they drove the price up from US$3.9 million in 2008 to 2010, to US$38 million for the 2013-2016 period — this massive increase drove the game from free-to-air to cable — which meant a lot of viewers suddenly had | October 2017 Word | 91

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“Linh’s first memory of [the EPL] was when David Beckham scored his famous goal from the halfway line against Wimbledon in 1996. He saw the red shirt and decided to follow Arsenal... It wasn’t until 2006 that he found out that Beckham was actually wearing the red shirt of Manchester United” their access taken away,” says Scott. He adds: “People did find ways around this, most coffee shops have K+, and some of the lesser games are still shown on freeto-air. However, I really do think that this change to paid subscription TV had a big effect on the casual viewer.” In 2013, there was a petition served to the then-prime minister of Vietnam, Nguyen Tan Dung, to try and prevent K+’s monopoly of EPL football in the country. A monthly subscription to K+ costs VND125,000. Not a massive amount, perhaps, but still enough in a country where the average income falls well below levels of more developed countries. It raised questions of whether subscription-based viewing was sustainable in Vietnam. “I think that there was a real fear that Vietnam could lose all of its EPL television, though this fear was slightly alleviated with recent subscriber numbers,” says Scott. “The cost for rights in Vietnam have already increased tenfold, and K+ has reportedly raked up losses of $88.52m to date. The positive is that K+ subscriber numbers have jumped from 95,600 in 2009 to 800,000 at end of 2016. If K+ can keep growing in line with the rights package prices (and consumers can keep up with subscription price rises) — it should be able to keep up.”

Arsenal’s 2013 visit to Vietnam It is now commonplace for the big English

clubs to travel to Asia during their preseason, where they will promote their brand and play to crowds who normally only get to witness them play on TV. They’ll play in the likes of Tokyo, Singapore or Hong Kong, but Vietnam is nearly always absent from itineraries. On the back of the Arsenal Soccer School programme, which had been running in Vietnam for almost five years, Arsenal bucked the trend when they played a fixture against the Vietnam national team in Hanoi in 2013. It was the first time an English Premier League club had played in Vietnam, and in 2015 Manchester City played in the country. The market in Vietnam is relatively untapped, and Scott believes it won’t be long before more clubs begin to make inroads into Vietnam. “Vietnam has also struggled with its relatively weak economy,” he says. “EPL clubs don’t see a huge middle-class market waiting to spend money on replica jerseys, for now. I expect that within four to five years a few clubs will start making a bigger impact in Vietnam. It’s probably a case of when, rather than if.”

We are the Gooners When you’re not geographically connected to a club through birth — how do you choose which club to follow? Twenty-fouryear-old Lien has been an Arsenal fan for six years, and she started following them because she liked the look of cherubic Czech midfielder, Tomas Rosicky. It’s a love affair

that has continued, and she proudly shows off a tattoo on her shoulder which says ‘Come on you Gooners’. Khanh’s grandmother used to watch Arsenal on TV so he sees it as keeping up the family tradition, and Linh’s first memory of watching TV was when David Beckham scored his famous goal from the halfway line against Wimbledon in 1996. He saw the red shirt and decided to follow Arsenal ever since. It wasn’t until 2006 that he found out that Beckham was actually wearing the red shirt of Manchester United, but by then, the dye had been cast and he’d long been calling himself a Gooner. “My favourite player is [Thierry] Henry,” he says. “His finishing was incredible.” Michael is a former season ticket holder at Arsenal and has been following the club for most of his life, born three tube stops from Finsbury Park Station near to Arsenal’s home stadium. He’s one of just a couple of Western faces in the crowd tonight. He enjoys the experience of watching with the Vietnamese fans save for one thing. “I like to sing [when watching Arsenal] — and I won’t sing on my own!”

Score Draw The game ends goalless at 0-0, but the Arsenal fans seem happy with the result against last season’s champions. As they leave, their seats are filled by Manchester United fans, who are here to watch their team play Everton. | October 2017 Word | 93




Urban Beautification As Hanoi’s urban sprawl spreads its tentacles, a new project is under way to counteract the ugliness of development; the planting of one million trees. But will it make a difference? Words by Edward Dalton. Photos by Sasha Arefieva 94 | Word October 2017 |


he last time the Vietnamese population became animated in any meaningful way, it was to protest against the proposed plan to fell many of Hanoi’s beloved trees. More than just offering respite from the sun to motorcyclists waiting at a red light, they are symbolic of the spirit of Hanoi — strong, resilient and with a deep-rooted history. It’s with cautious optimism, therefore, that we should appreciate the efforts of the government, as well as many local people, to add to Hanoi’s great green beauty, rather than take away from it.

Green Intentions There are certain tree-lined boulevards

around the city which are so well known, they have long contributed to Hanoi’s unofficial nickname as the Paris of Southeast Asia; Hung Vuong and Hoang Dieu are great examples. However, there are many more areas in this concrete jungle which remain untouched by the forward-looking brush of beautification. Certain junctions, such as the meeting point of Ton Duc Thang and Xa Dan, are so famously congested, they often appear in time-lapse videos or long exposure photos; and aside from the traffic, the other unavoidable detail is how grey and bland the whole area is. The government knows this, and has been working to improve things by implementing a city-wide plan to plant one million more trees

by 2020 — an initiative which started last year. “The planting of flamboyant trees is part of a bigger plan to beautify the city,” reported Tuan Minh for the Hanoi Times in October 2016. “City authorities plan to develop 25 new parks over the next five years.” The Hanoi Forestry Development Centre was also instructed to find an appropriate location for a nursery garden to grow trees suitable for an urban centre, a plan already yielding positive results. “The plants at the nursery garden developed well, with widespread shadow and strong trunks,” said Ta Duy Long, deputy director of the centre, to the Hanoi Times. “Even when planted at a high density.” Hanoi is by far the most densely populated | October 2017 Word | 95

city in Vietnam, so the target of raising green areas from an average 7sqm to 10sqm per person by 2020 is one to be welcomed; especially by those in the most over-populated Old Quarter area, where the current figure is only 1 to 2sqm per person.

Saplings Evidence of the tree planting plan is already visible in many areas around the city. Saplings of the delonix regia, or royal poinciana, have been planted along many road dividers of some of Hanoi’s most congested dual carriageways. Last spring, some 300 young trees were planted in the middle of Lang Ha, Xa Dan, Tay Son and Giai Phong. Speaking to VNExpress in July 2016, Nguyen Xuan Hung, executive of the Hanoi Green Tree Park Company, spoke of the effect these new trees will have on the local population. “They aren’t just there for their aesthetic value,” said Hung, “but also to ensure the safety of nearby buildings, utilities and commuters.” Nguyen Duc Chung, chairman of the Hanoi

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“The government… has been working to improve things by implementing a citywide plan to plant one million more trees by 2020 — an initiative which started last year”

At the junction of Hoang Quoc Viet and Hoang Hoa Tham, a huge new infrastructure project was completed at the end of last year. Besides improving traffic flow with a complex, yet highly efficient merging of several roads and highways, the new project also included the creation of large green islands and tree-filled road dividers. Nhat Tan Bridge, opened in January 2015, shaved a big chunk off of most airport journeys, but it also included the creation of large, green public spaces on either side of the bridge’s entrance around An Duong Vuong; local people have even added their own badminton court markings to these areas, and use them every day.

A Beautiful Controversy People’s Committee, claimed those early locations were chosen so the new saplings could replace the thousands of diseased or decaying trees cut down each year.

Practical Beauty New urban developments are also benefiting from the government’s renewed green focus.

In Tu Hoa, a small residential street between Tay Ho’s two most famous five-star hotels, significant developments have been undertaken over the last two years. Two years ago, anyone looking down at the street from one of the InterContinental West Lake’s balconies would have been treated to a little slice of countryside heaven, right in the heart of the city.

Local people would be out on the patches of land to the side of the road, tending their vegetable plots, stopping for the occasional chinwag or to readjust their conical hats. Cue the government, who, in the name of beautiful progress, sent in teams of workers armed with shovels and tractors to rip the whole place up, and leave it looking like a postapocalyptic landfill for the next 10 months. They eventually got around to tidying up and planting new public gardens, which are still not completely finished — but it does pose the question, was it needed? The small farming plots were unofficial, sure; but they were beautiful and maintained on a daily basis by people who had a direct interest in them. Now, all that’s left is a patch of grass where dogs empty their bowels. Progress?

Money Well Spent? Some may argue that money spent on making the city look nice, might be better spent on real, practical improvements. The new pavements and freshly painted railings around West Lake look lovely; but might that money have been better spent

“Some may argue that money spent on making the city look nice, might be better spent on real, practical improvements” improving infrastructure, or installing more public toilets and recycling bins? In some cases, however, the money being spent is not public money. In two separate areas, local people have spent their own money to beautify the area they live in with two very different kinds of street art. In ngo 68 Yen Phu, Tay Ho, local artist Nguyen Van Thang was commissioned by residents of the alleyway to paint scenes of Venice on their walls. Those residents whose

walls were covered in the vivid, 3D scenes, forked out VND5 million each. Twenty years ago, Cao Tri Thinh, now 94, used his own money to buy supplies in order to paint the walls and benches in several alleyways around his home in Duc Thang, Tu Liem. Despite not being officially sanctioned, his work has remained untouched, because it depicts scenes of family ideals, neighbourhood harmony, strong work ethics and Uncle Ho’s advice. However it’s done, and whoever is paying for it, no one can deny that beautifying the city has a positive impact. If one applies the opposite principle to the “Broken Windows Theory”, it could be argued that by just making the area around people look nicer, it will encourage those people to take more pride and care in protecting their environment. A nice idea for sure, but it’s still too early in the government’s grand beautification plan to know just how much of a knock-on effect new paving and more trees will have on the health, habits and lifestyle of those residents privy to the changes. | October 2017 Word | 97

Food and Drink EAT & DRINK


Eating Out in Phu My Hung A wealth of eating, drinking and café options are now at the disposal of residents of Phu My Hung. Matt Cowan checks out what’s available. Photos by Olga Rozenbajgier


The deck at Coolabah Bistro in Happy Valley

Coffee Time Café

Pho Bo — Ga

One-of-a-kind café in District 7. Spacious, light, new and cool, Coffee Time is for catching up with friends, work or a loved one. Has a large playground outside for children — something rare in this district — while parents can chill inside with a coffee or breakfast in a smoke-free environment. On Sundays, kids are entertained by live exotic birds (macaws), a clown and other activities. Coffee is 100% organic from Dalat. A ca phe sua da costs VND30,000. Coffee Time Café is located at 307C Le Van Luong, Q7, HCMC. Open daily from 6.30am to 10.30pm. For info go to Coffeetime1501

There’s no name written on the shopfront awning, just whatever’s served here, hence pho bo — ga. Opposite Tan My market’s main gate, get all your Vietnamese morning favourites, including pho bo, pho ga, bun bo Hue and banh canh cua. There’s no skimping on herbs, limes and chilli, all kept refrigerated until needed. VND40,000 will get you a big bowl of pho tai. Pho Bo – Ga is at 42 Tan My, Q7, HCMC (opposite Tan My Market). Open daily from 6am

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Eden Coffee House On expat radars for a while, Eden does a very good eggs benedict (VND100,000)

and other Western breakfast favourites. A flat white coffee costs VND70,000. Seating is inside and out, but limited. Saturday mornings are very popular. Eden Coffee House is at 23 Noi Khu, Hung Phuoc 1, Q7, HCMC. Open from 8am to 9pm. Closed Tuesdays. For more info, go to facebook. com/edenQ7

Gourmet Thuc Pham A locally run affair and mainstay among Westerners, mostly because they bake decent bread and have good breakfast and lunch options at great prices. A banh mi op la and ca phe sua da will set you back VND75,000. Gourmet Thuc Pham is at 005 My Khanh 1

Hung Bo food cart has some of the best wonton noodles around

on Nguyen Duc Canh, Q7, HCMC. Open daily from 7am to 9.30pm

Pitchers Bar & Grill The king of sports bars in the area. If it’s not shown here, chances are it ain’t sport. You could do breakfast, lunch and dinner at Pitchers, but their big brekky (VND230,000) is a ripper and well worth starting the day with. Pitchers is located at C0.01 Riverside Residence, Nguyen Luong Bang, Q7, HCMC. Open daily from 10am till late. For info go to

Huong Bac Hidden out back between Skygarden 2 and 3 apartment complexes, Hung Bac attracts a busy, mostly wealthy, crowd weekday mornings and is packed at weekends. Their pho bo is good, but the com tam (VND60,000) is what most people come for. Houng Bac is at 36/19 Pham Van Nghi Bac, Q7, HCMC. Open all day, every day

Almacen Cafe adds some Latin flair to Phu My Hung

Hung Bo Very good pho bo but what you really should come here for is the mi hoanh thanh xa xiu (VND40,000). The noodles are handmade and the wonton are wrapped just before they’re dropped into the simmering pot. The wheat, pork and xa xiu flavours in this dish will have you coming back for more. Hung Bo is located at E002 Street 6, Hung Vuong 1, Q7, HCMC (opposite the site of the old Wonderland amusement park). Open all day, every day

Opposite Tan My Market, Pho Bo - Ga is great value for money | October 2017 Word | 99

Mad House caters for Asian and Western tastes

Pitchers Bar & Grill has both air-conditioned and open air spaces

LUNCH Hien Lanh Sometimes you just want some good old Hanoi-style pho ga or bun cha. Situated on what has become an unofficial Hanoi food strip, this thriving eatery has seating inside and out. VND50,000 will get you sorted for lunch. Hien Lanh is located at S14-1, Hung Vuong 2, Q7, HCMC. Open all day, every day

An Ky

The Weekend is a cozy cafe with a kawaii theme

A little-known joint off Nguyen Van Linh. It’s a modest eatery that serves up Singaporean and Malaysian food, and is popular with expats from those countries. Has all the regular favourites starting from VND50,000 up to VND200,000 and is best for lunch. An Ky is located at D002 Nguyen Binh, My Phuoc, Q7, HCMC. Open daily from 8.30am to 2pm and 5pm to 9pm (last order 8.30pm). Closed 1st and 2nd Monday of the month

Thuy Dung Hu Tieu Nam Vang Challenges Hung Bo for its mi hoanh thanh (VND50,000), although also known for its hu tieu nam vang. This small, well-shaded eatery is opposite Domino’s Pizza. Very popular with the local breakfast and lunchtime crowds. Servings are generous and fresh with friendly service. Thuy Dung is located at H19-2B Parkview, Dang Duc Thuat, Q7, HCMC. Open daily from 5am to 3pm

MADHouse A stylish family-friendly restaurant that is equally good for business meetings as for a romantic rendezvous and a friendly catch-up. MADHouse offers Asian (VND145,000) and Western (VND225,000) lunch sets done with Danish flair. An excellent escape away from the noise and glare of District 7. MADHouse is located at No.2 Street C, Tan Phu, Q7, HCMC on the 2nd floor of Capri by Fraser serviced apartments. Open daily from 11.30am to 10pm

Son Anh Com Ga Xoi Mo Near the traffic lights on Le Van Luong and Nguyen Thi Thap streets, Son Anh looks about ready to fall over. Still, for VND30,000 you get a beautifully fried piece of chicken on a large plate of rice. Son Anh is located at 387 Le Van Luong, Q7, HCMC. Open all day, every day Almacen Cafe also offers Latin dance and yoga classes

DINNER Bangkok Kitchen With just a handful of places offering Thai cuisine in District 7, Bangkok Kitchen is a welcome addition. The owners have renovated what was once a gym into an upmarket two-floor restaurant with private rooms for business lunches and functions. The prices reflect the décor. Chefs are all from Thailand. Bangkok Kitchen is located at R16-2 Hung Vuong 3, Q7, HCMC. Open daily from 7am to 11pm. For more info, go to

VIII RE (Eighth King) Now etched into the frontal lobes of Italian wood-fired pizza lovers this side of District 4, VIII RE’s pizza bases are light but wholesome, with toppings packed with flavour. The only downside is no delivery. VIII RE is located at R4. 27-28-29, Hung Phuoc 1, Q7, HCMC. Open daily for dinner. For more info, go to

Jane’s Bistro Has quietly built a reputation for excellent home-made pasta and Western cuisine, although most people can’t tell you where it is let alone that it exists. A tiny place down a narrow street near Skygarden apartments that only serves 20 customers per day, yes, per day. Reservations are a must. Jane’s Bistro is located at 19 Hung Gia 4, Q7, HCMC. Open Tuesday to Sunday from 11am to 2pm and 5pm to 8.30pm. Closed Mondays. For more info, go to janebistro

Plan K Korean BBQ Among the scores of Korean BBQ joints in Phu My Hung, Plan K keeps popping up in conversations as one of the best places to go. Mostly indoors, Plan K has booth seating with your own hotplate and ubiquitous exhaust vents dangling from the ceiling. Next door to Saigon Craft. Plan K is at 66 Ly Long Tuong, My Phuc, Q7, HCMC. Open daily from 6pm

The Greenhouse Restaurant This unassuming resto — open for more than seven years — specialises in Italian cuisine, including homemade pasta and a large selection of pizzas. The tagliatelli carbonara (VND155,000) is a good choice. A dish like this can easily become stodgy without the right care, but this one is light, thanks to the pasta tasting like it’s fresh from under the rolling pin. The Greenhouse also does burgers (VND185,000) and steak (VND385,000). Perfect for a no-fuss lunch or dinner. The Greenhouse Restaurant is located at SF10-1 Canh Vien 1, Pho Tien Nam, Q7. Open daily from 10.30am to 10pm. For more info and deliveries call 028 5417 1701

Plan K is popular among scores of Korean BBQ joints in Phu My Hung

COFFEE & BEER The Lighthouse Food & Coffee A new spacious café that looms over every other business on the street. Just one street over from Vivo City Mall, Lighthouse looks like a gardening store from the outside, and a craft beer joint on the inside. The mezzanine level has communal spaces with sofas and benches. Offers live music. A ca phe sua da is VND38,000. The Lighthouse Food & Coffee is located at 472-474 Le Van Luong, Q7, HCMC. Open daily from 6.30am to 10.30pm. For more info, go to

Craft beer is pouring into Phu My Hung in a big way

The Weekend Started by a young Vietnamese professional who has put a thriving media career on hold to set up this kitsch, albeit tiny, ‘Japanesy’ café. The Weekend does breakfast, lunch and dinner. There’s also a small shop upstairs selling clothes and kawaiimono (cute things). The Weekend is at B-011 Hung Vuong 1, Nguyen Van Linh, Q7, HCMC. Open daily from 8am. For more info, go to theweekendsg

Awesome Coffee Mr Son, the brains behind this this Koreanowned gem, takes coffee seriously, importing and exporting it from all the major coffeeproducing countries around the world. In case you’re feeling rich, splurge on a VND500,000 coffee shot. A double-shot latte will set you back around VND90,000. Has a quiet upstairs space to escape the rat race. Awesome Coffee is at 994 Nguyen Van Linh, Q7, HCMC. Open daily from 8.30am

Zip Coffee Another café owned by a Korean mad about coffee. Established for more than five years, Zip has expanded to District 4. The owner roasts his own beans and is a licensed barista trainer. Especially popular with the Korean ladies set, Zip attracts all types. VND40,000 for a hot latte. Zip Coffee is located at S31-2 Skygarden 3, Q7, HCMC. Open daily from 8am. For more info, go to

The Lighthouse's mezzanine is huge

Almacen Café Started by James, a Korean who has spent a large part of his *life* in Spain and has brought to Vietnam his love of coffee, music and Latin dance, Almacen is spacious and breezy with a vibe unlike any other in Phu My Hung. Has a view of the river, and its Latin inspired décor gives it a cantina-like feel. The tables can be cleared out quickly to transform it into a Latin dancehall. An Americano is VND40,000. Almacen Café is located at SA-12 Garden Plaza 1, Ton Dat Tien, Q7, HCMC. Open daily from 7am to 10.30pm

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Speakeasy offers something much different from sports bars and Korean BBQs in Phu My Hung

One of Phu My Hung’s newest bars that bucks the trend of showing televised sport. If you love your whisky and enjoy downing it in an unpretentious, laid back and friendly atmosphere, then this is the joint. Don’t ask for YouTube EDM numbers here, Jazz and Blues rule the roost. Down an Old Fashioned (VND120,000) over a few racks of pool. Speakeasy is at S35-1 Le Van Thiem, Hung Vuong 2, Q7, HCMC. Open daily from 3.30pm. For more info, go to speakeasyHCMC

Coolabah Bistro The newest kid on the block situated in the Happy Valley apartment complex on Nguyen Van Linh, Coolabah has a spacious outdoor deck making it a great vantage point to catch those fiery red sunsets in the evening over a frosty Tiger draught (VND50,000). Has a breezy, relaxed familyfriendly atmosphere with perhaps the best fish and chips in Saigon. The spaghetti carbonara is a winner, too. Coolabah Bistro is located at R15, (off) Nguyen Van Linh, Q7, HCMC. Closed Mondays. Open from 3.30pm Tuesday to Sunday. For more info, go to

Ruby Soho Now an institution, Ruby is adorned with movie posters, cartoons and portraits of Tinseltown legends. Busy every night of the week with punters from all over, film classics are projected onto a big screen and tracks play from a songlist like no other in the area. Ruby Soho is located at S52-1 Pham Van Nghi, Skygarden 2, Q7, HCMC. Open daily from 3.30pm Saigon Craft has all of Vietnam's craft beers under the one roof

Saigon Craft Recently-opened taproom opposite the river with about 20 locally brewed craft beers on tap. There’s no other venue like it in District 7 where you can sample all of Vietnam’s craft beer under one roof. Offers food, a mixed crowd and plenty of beer. Saigon Craft is next to Pho Hung on the corner of Nguyen Duc Canh and Ly Long Tuong, Q7. Open daily from 4pm

LAC Brewing Co. Tap Room This beautiful taproom is the home of one of Vietnam’s best craft beers. LAC’s Devil’s Lake IPA (VND95,000) is worth the visit to District 7 alone. Stylishly finished in beautiful timbers, LAC is an excellent place to start your evening with the water traffic rumbling along the river across the way. LAC Brewing Co. Tap Room is located at 169/7 Nguyen Duc Canh, Q7, HCMC. Open daily from 3pm. For more info, go to facebook. com/lacbrewing | October 2017 Word | 105 The crew at Coolabah Bistro


The Cham Islands Photo by Olga Rozenbajgier 106 | Word October 2017 | | October 2017 Word | 107




The Cham Islands Just off the coast of Hoi An, The Cham Islands mix tropical paradise with a growing fishing trade, and are perfect for a day trip or a few-day retreat from the world beyond. Words and photos by Olga Rozenbajgier

“The islands’ original settlers, the Cham people, have an ongoing influence on their shape and feel” | October 2017 Word | 109


here is a certain pleasure in heading out to islands that until recently were no-go areas for tourists. Situated in Central Vietnam a short boat ride from Hoi An, the Cham Islands are such a place. A hidden treasure steeped in tradition — the islands were originally settled 3,000 years ago — over the past few years there has been an influx of tourism. However, the islands’ original settlers, the Cham people, have an ongoing influence on their shape and feel. Arriving from what is now Indonesia in around the 4th century, the Cham first settled these islands before moving onto the mainland where they gradually established the Kingdom of Champa.

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For over 1,000 years, the islands have been used as a stop-off point to ship goods from the mainland to other lands overseas. With nearby Faifo — now Hoi An — becoming such an important international port between the 15th and 19th centuries, these islands would have taken on great significance. Used as a trading point in conjunction with Faifo for farming, fishing, pepper, cinnamon bark, ivory and wood, over the years the Cham Islands also developed another trade; swallows’ nests. Used to make bird’s nest soup, a Chinese delicacy, nests along with nest harvesters can be seen all over the islands. With 1kg of bird’s nests going for as much as US$4,000, this is a trade that continues to this day.

Spirit As I make the crossing to Hon Lao, the main island, it’s hard to imagine the turbulent and rough seas that have been reported on this passage. Today the seas are calm, their colours tropical and azure. Eight islands make up the Cham Islands, however only Hon Lao is inhabited and exploration here is a challenge. As a tourist the opportunity of renting a bike and exploring the largest island doesn’t exist — your two options are to get a local to drive you around by bike, or to pay a local fisherman to take you around by boat. While this means you can still explore, you don’t have the same independence as you would on the mainland.

“As the boat draws closer you see the islands are covered with forest and rocky formations, with a few yellow sand beaches dotted around� | October 2017 Word | 111

“Fishing takes a leading role in the economy here, with large numbers of fishing boats docked or going out to sea�

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As the boat draws closer you see the islands are covered with forest and rocky formations, with a few yellow sand beaches dotted around. With rising sea levels, erosion has crept in and while these stretches of sand are still pleasing to the eye, they are no longer the magnificent beaches they once were. Bai Lang is the main village on Hon Lao and Bai Huong is the smaller of the two. As in the past, fishing takes a leading role in the economy here, with large numbers of fishing boats docked or going out to sea. Many types of fish are on sale in the main market; buckets full of shrimp, star fish, lobster, squid. This is the islands’ mode of living. Walking around, you notice that everyone seems to get involved. Not only with the fishing, but also with the construction of nets, cooking, and boat maintenance. There’s an overwhelming warmth and togetherness in the people here. And as they open their homes to us and greet us with beaming smiles, we can see the community spirit is strong. We feel welcome as soon as we step off the boat.

Marine Life But there’s a dark side to every story.

With the demands of the tourism industry in Hoi An, a large quantity of the local catch is being transported to the mainland. But, there’s still never enough. So, fishing for seafood and marine life is on the increase. Not long ago, a big draw for those snorkelling and diving in the Cham Islands was the possibility of glimpsing whale sharks. In recent years sightings have been on the decline as these beautiful creatures have started migrating to more plentiful oceans. Overfishing has diminished their food source in the seas surrounding the Cham Islands. However, there is still a vibrant and vast underwater ecosystem to explore. How long this will remain, though, is unclear as overfishing is rampant. As one of the locals said: “If I don’t catch fish, I don’t feed my family.” And this is the problem, except for subsistence farming and harvesting swallows’ nests, the options for survival here are limited. Hopefully the current construction of holiday resorts will take some pressure off the fishing industry. But with more tourism comes a greater demand for seafood. We can only wait and see.

Getting There & Accommodation Departures from Cua Dai Beach in Hoi An dock at two different sites on Hon Lao. The speedboat leaves daily at 9.30am with a return trip in the afternoon. The journey time is 30 minutes and can be organised by a tour operator. Dangerous when seas are rough. There is also a local boat that departs daily at 7.30am / 8am. The journey time is roughly two hours and it takes you to Bai Lang, returning in the afternoon at 3pm. To board this boat and get onto the islands, you will need to show your passport. Dive, snorkelling and day trips depart at around 8am. The journey time is one hour and trips can be arranged through tour operators, hotels, and hostels in Hoi An. There are now a couple of homestays on Hon Lao including Hammock Homestay, Smiles Island Homestay, Homestay Bai Huong and Lan Thu Homestay. You can find all their details online. For more info on the Cham Islands, click on | October 2017 Word | 113

Travel DALAT DALAT GREEN CITY HOTEL 172 Phan Dinh Phung, Dalat, Tel: (0263) 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 PALACE $$$$ 12 Ho Tung Mau, Dalat, Tel: (0263) 382 5444

DALAT TRAIN VILLA Villa 3, 1 Quang Trung, Dalat, Tel: (0263) 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.

HANOI DAEWOO HOTEL $$$ 360 Kim Ma, Ba Dinh,

Tel: (024) 3831 5555

over the lake. Great gym and health club.



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

HILTON HANOI OPERA $$$$$ 1 Le Thanh Tong, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi, Tel: (024) 3933 0500 Situated next to the iconic Hanoi Opera House and a short stroll from the Old Quarter, this five-star hotel is a Hanoi landmark. With 269 fully-equipped rooms and suites, there’s plenty for the discerning business and leisure traveller to choose from.

INTERCONTINENTAL HANOI WESTLAKE $$$$$ 1A Nghi Tam, Tay Ho, Tel: (024) 6270 8888 This stunning property built over West Lake falls in between a hotel and a resort. Beautiful views, great balcony areas, comfortable, top-end accommodation and all the mod-cons make up the mix here together with the resort’s three inhouse restaurants and the Sunset Bar, a watering hole located on a thoroughfare

$$ 5 Au Trieu, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi, Tel: (024) 3938 1048 Located next to the cathedral, this popular well-appointed, airy and spacious boutique hotel mixes comfort with a nice ambience and great Western or Vietnamese breakfasts. Modern amenities at reasonable prices.

JW MARRIOTT HANOI $$$$$ 8, Do Duc Duc, Me Tri, Tu Liem, Hanoi, Tel: (024) 3833 5588 From the expressive architecture outside to the authentic signature JW Marriott services inside, this Marriott hotel in Hanoi is the new definition of contemporary luxury. Lies next door to the National Convention Centre.

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

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


41, Thao Dien, Q2. Tel (028) 3519 4111, Ext. 15/17/19 reliable and experienced travel company operating through Southeast Asia, Exotissimo brings you personalized tours across the region, many including insights into culinary customs, handicrafts and humanitarian initiatives.


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

PAN PACIFIC HANOI $$$$ 1 Thanh Nien Road, Ba Dinh, Tel: (024) 3823 8888 Boasting Hanoi’s best views of West Lake, Truc Bach Lake and the Red River, Pan Pacific Hanoi soars 20 storeys above the city skyline. Each of the 329 rooms, suites and serviced suites is furnished with stylish interiors, modern amenities and magnificent views, while the 56 serviced suites offer fully equipped kitchens and separate living spaces for the comfort and convenience of the extended-stay traveller.

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

Equatorial also has an onsite casino.



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


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

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




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

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



$$$$ K5 Nghi Tam, 11 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Tel: (024) 3719 9000 S u r ro u n d e d b y l u s h gardens, sweeping lawns and tranquil courtyards, this peaceful property features picturesque views of West Lake and is less than 10

$$$ 242 Tran Binh Trong, Q5, Tel: (028) 3839 7777 This massive property boasts seven dining and entertainment outlets, a business centre, meeting rooms and a comprehensive fitness centre and spa. The

$$$$ 76 Le Lai, Q1, Tel: (028) 3822 8888 Former guests include U.S. presidents — two Bushes, Clinton — and K-Pop sensation Bi Rain. An ongoing event as well as a hotel, New World is one of the best luxury stops in town.

PARK HYATT $$$$$ 2 Lam Son Square, Q1, Tel: (028) 3824 1234 Fabulous in style, prime in location, everything one would expect from the Hyatt. The Square One and Italian-themed Opera restaurants have garnered an excellent reputation, as



$$$$$ 148 Tran Hung Dao, Q1 Tel: (028) 3838 8686 his upscale, contemporary property boasts 306 signature rooms combining design, comfort and connectivity. Innovative cuisine, a great downtown location and high-tech meeting venues able to host up to 600 guests make up the mix.

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



has the landscaped pool.

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

SHERATON $$$$$ 88 Dong Khoi, Q1, Tel: (028) 3827 2828 Sheraton boasts one of the best locations in town, with first–class facilities, an open–air restaurant 23 floors above the city and a live music venue on the same floor.

SOFITEL SAIGON PLAZA $$$$ 17 Le Duan, Q1, Tel: (028) 3824 1555 This 20–storey building in downtown Saigon, caters to upscale business and leisure travelers seeking a classic yet contemporary stay in Saigon.

VILLA SONG SAIGON $$$ 197/2 Nguyen Van Huong, Q2, Tel: (028) 3744 6090 Deliberately located away from the city centre in Thao Dien, this riverside boutique villa-style hotel is a sanctuary of peace and calm — a rarity in Ho Chi Minh City. Beautiful, Indochineinfluenced design, a great setting and good drinking and dining options make

this a great, non-city centre choice.


pre–programmed iPod and both indoor and outdoor showers.


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

$$$$ Cu Du Village, Loc Vinh Commune, Phu Loc, Thua Thien Hue, Tel: (0234) 369 5800 Located on Vietnam’s South Central Coast, Angsana Lang Co commands an unrivalled beach frontage of the shimmering East Sea. Traditional Vietnamese design encompasses the resort’s contemporary buildings and chic interiors.


$$$$ Cu Du Village, Loc Vinh Commune, Phu Loc, Thua Thien, Hue, Tel: (0234) 369 5888 en/lang_co Built on a crescent bay, The Banyan Tree offers privacy and unparalleled exclusivity with all-pool villas reflecting the cultural and historical legacy of past Vietnamese dynastic periods.

$ 544, Cua Dai, Hoi An, Tel: (0235) 386 2231

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

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

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


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

NHA TRANG COSTA NHA TRANG HOTEL & RESIDENCES 32 – 34 Tran Phu, Nha Trang, Tel: (0258) 3737 222 Located in the heart of the city, The Costa Nha Trang Hotel & Residences is a symbol of modern living thanks to its luxury oceanfront residences.

From a beautiful day on the beach to the great nightlife of Tran Phu Street, this is the perfect place to experience the best of Nha Trang.

EVASON ANA MANDARA AND SIX SENSES SPA $$$$ Beachside Tran Phu, Nha Trang, Khanh Hoa, Tel: (0258) 352 2222 destination

JUNGLE BEACH RESORT $ Ninh Phuoc, Ninh Hoa, Khanh Hoa, Tel: (0258) 362 2384 On a secluded promontory north of Nha Trang, this budget place is all about hammocks, the sea, the jungle and nature.

SIX SENSES HIDEAWAY NINH VAN BAY $$$$ Ninh Van Bay, Ninh Hoa, Khanh Hoa, Tel: (0258) 372 8222 ninh-van-bay/destination The upmarket Tatler magazine voted top hotel of 2006. The location is stunning, on a bay accessible only by boat.

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

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

Tel: (0252) 384 7111 With charming wooden bungalows, a private beach, a swimming pool (both with attached bars) and a French restaurant, Coco Beach continues to be run by those who opened it in 1995.

JOE’S GARDEN RESORT $$ 86 Nguyen Dinh Chieu, Ham Tien, Mui Ne, Tel: (0252) 384 7177 A leafy, seafront bungalow resort and café with nightly live music all in one. Reminiscent of the type of places you’d find on the Thai islands, an international and Asian food menu together with a cheap happy hour on beer make up the relaxing mix.

VICTORIA PHAN THIET RESORT AND SPA $$$$ Mui Ne Beach, Phan Thiet, Tel: (0252) 381 3000 Another beachfront Victoria chain, the thatched–roof bungalows and family villas are set in exotic gardens with an infinity swimming pool, a seafood restaurant, spa, beauty salon and jacuzzi.

PHONG NHA EASY TIGER AND JUNGLE BAR $ Son Trach, Bo Trach, Quang Binh, Tel: (0252) 367 7844 easytigerphongnha@ 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


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

PHU QUOC BEACH CLUB RESORT $$ Ap Cua Lap, Xa Duong To, Long Beach, Phu Quoc Island, Tel: (0297) 398 0998 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. | October 2017 Word | 115


Bat Trang: A DIY Guide / Women's Fitness / Book Buff / The Therapist / Bar Stool / Top Eats Photo by Julie Vola 116 | Word October 2017 | | October 2017 Word | 117

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.




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

AUSCHAM 4th Floor, 100 Lo Duc, Hai Ba Trung Tel: 0909 710994 hanoiholistichealth A guide to various holistic health practitioners in Hanoi. Only available online, but a great information source.



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

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

M M M HOSPITALS & MEDICAL CLINICS AMERICAN CHIROPRACTIC CLINIC (ACC) CHIROPRACTORS & PHYSIOTHERAPISTS 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.

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

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

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

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


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





The Westcoast International Dental Clinic is composed of dental professionals who deliver modern, high-level dental services throughout Vi e t n a m . T h e c l i n i c provides the highest quality technology, comfort and after-service care to patients.


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

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



Business Center Fortuna Hotel, 6B Lang Ha, Ba Dinh

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

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


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

MEDICAL / DENTAL CLINIC 51 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Tel: (024) 3934 0666 Well-known medical clinic also known for its quality emergency services. Doctors and consultants also provide a range of services from

standard GP-style checkups through to vaccinations, paediatrics and specialist care.


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


19th Floor, VCCI tower, 9 Dao Duy Anh, Dong Da, Tel: (024) 7308 6699 acific Cross Vietnam brings a first class level of service and expertise to the health and travel insurance market in Vietnam. Part of the Pacific Cross group of companies with over 60 years’ experience providing health and travel insurance to people who call Asia home, their reputation for transparent, honest and reliable service means they are the strength behind your insurance. Contact them now for a free quote.


41A Ly Thai To, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (024) 3938 8762 worldwide leader in international removals and relocations, with 130 offices globally. Have the capacity to move property to and from any location. Has offices in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh CIty.


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Dinh Cong, Hoang Mai, Tel: (024) 3540 9183 A not-for-profit, prekindergarten to Grade 12 school serving the international and local community of Hanoi. ISV accepts students of any nationality aged 3 and up. Highly qualified and experienced international educators are supported by a 21st-century campus with the latest in educational technology plus excellent resources for learning. Class sizes are small.

KINDERWORLD INTERNATIONAL KINDERGARTEN Unit 9 – 10, Shophouse CT17, Ciputra, Tay Ho, Tel (024) 3743 0306; 3rd Floor, 49 Hai Ba Trung, Hoan Kiem, Tel (024) 3934 7243; C5 – C11, 1st floor, The Manor Building, My Dinh, Tu Liem, Tel (024) 3764 0209 Classes are kept small with a foreign teacher leading the class with the assistance of a Vietnamese teacher according to the teacherstudent ratio. KinderWorld provides pre school education for children from 18 months to below 6 years.

SINGAPORE INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL 2D Van Phuc Diplomatic Compound, 46 Van Bao, Ba Dinh, Tel (024) 3726 1601; Block C3, Ciputra, Tay Ho, Tel (024) 3758 2664; Road 2, Gamuda Gardens, Km 4.4 Phap Van, Hoang Mai, Tel (024) 6666 1818 Provides an international education for students from primary up to university level. A strong curriculum


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


Suite 821, 8th floor, Vietnam Trade Union Hotel, 14 Tran Binh Trong, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (024) 3941 0805 ith over 150 offices around the world, Santa Fe offers local and international moving, pet transportation, relocation services including home search, orientation, cultural training, immigration services and records management.


Khu Do Thi Bac AnKhanh, An Khanh, HoaiDuc, Tel: (024) 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: (024) 3758 1551 Established in 1988, 1,050 students from 60 nationalities follow the IB programme from aged 3 through to aged 18. A not-for-profit entity, UNIS aims for its students to emerge as responsible stewards of our global society and natural environment.

M M M PROPERTY RENTALS FAIR REAL ESTATE RENTALS 6 Ngoc Van, Tay Ho, Tel: (024) 3718 6332

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

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

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


RENTALS 21 Alley 1/22 Au Co, Tay Ho, Tel: (024) 3718 5203

MID-RANGE FITNESS CENTRE 5th Floor, 71 Nguyen Chi Thanh, Ba Dinh, Tel: (024) 6266 0495




YOGA & WELLNESS 5th Fl, 135 Bui Thi Xuan, Hai Ba Trung. Tel: (024) 6263.1515

Room 302, 12A Ho Xuan Huong, Tel: (024) 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: (024)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.

M M M SPORTS & FITNESS BODY&SOUL SPA 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 51 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Tel: (024) 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.

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 HANOI YOGA & PILATES 247 Au Co, Tay Ho; Floor 6, No. 2 Lane 371 Kim Ma, Ba Dinh Tel: (024) 3266 8125 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.







What Do You Think?

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










provides core subjects from the Singaporean and Vietnamese curricula, as well as specialist programmes from Britain, America and Canada, all taught by qualified teachers.

t Viethe Bucknam Listet




Word is Stopping Subscriptions Our magazines are disappearing fast out of our distribution outlets. So fast in fact that as a result we have decided to stop all subscriptions. We don’t have enough copies. Anyone who is an existing subscriber will continue to receive their monthly copy of the magazine. So no need to worry! And for everyone else, you can see a list of our distribution outlets by clicking on: Alternatively, you can find the digital version of our magazine online at: Once again, a big thank you for all your support. It’s you, the reader, who allows us to make this magazine happen.

Any questions or queries, please drop us a line on | October 2017 Word | 119


Why go to Hanoi’s best known craft village on a tour when you can just as easily go there by yourself? Words by Edward Dalton. Photos by Julie Vola


here isn’t a tour agency in Hanoi worth its salt that doesn’t offer an overpriced day trip to Bat Trang, the famous ceramics village. This handy guide should enable you to make the trip yourself, for a fraction of an organised tour price and with a few little extra excursions thrown in for no added cost.

Not a Village The first thing you need to do is mentally prepare. This involves lowering your expectations. Every guide, both online and in the flesh, waxes lyrical about the “traditional” or “ancient” ceramics village and its seven-century history.

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Maybe once upon a time it was as poetic and charming as these guides would have you believe. These days however, Bat Trang Industrial Zone would be more appropriate. The narrow roads around the village haven’t seen the same level of development and modernisation as the workshops, which means every lane is a dusty labyrinthine death-trap full of trucks and potholes.

Not a Day Trip Given that Bat Trang is just 13km from Chuong Duong Bridge in Central Hanoi, it’s easily reachable in less than half an

hour. Even with a two-hour pottery class, you can still wrap up the whole visit in under half a day. A Grab or Uber xe om will get you there for around VND50,000, but the short trip is actually quite pleasant, so take your own bike if you have one. If there’s no great rush, stop off at Tho Khoi; a complex of beautiful pagodas and a community hall either side of the DT378, which is on the main road from Chuong Duong Bridge to Bat Trang. While this main road is the easiest way to get there, the best way is to come off the main road at some point around Thong Nhat and Xom Bai (small towns just after

Bat Trang: A DIY Guide


Vinh Tuy Bridge) and take a slow ride through the fruit fields. And don’t forget; no matter how fresh, ripe and unguarded the bananas, star fruits and guavas look, definitely don’t help yourself to enough to fill up the space under your bike seat. Definitely don’t.

(227 Xom 4 Giang Cao, Bat Trang). The cute, minimalist shopfront is a good clue as to why; the products inside are less dusty and more original/modern than you can find elsewhere, and the owner is more than happy to just chill out with you and drink tea.

Tons of Teapots

Hands On

Once you arrive, the whole place feels like one giant pottery emporium; it’s hard to believe that all of the shops have different owners, given the similarity between their products. However, if you want to find something a bit different, head to Delicious Ceramics

If you want to get your hands (and jeans) dirty by attempting to make your own little trinket, there are plenty of workshops devoted to this purpose; no English is necessary. At Son Yen (251 Xom 4 Giang Cao, Bat Trang) you can rock up without booking,

pay VND40,000 and get a chunk of clay, a bit of watch-and-follow guidance and access to all the paints you could want. Over at Lo Bau Co (Xom 2, Bat Trang), you can find an excellent combo deal for just VND90,000. This includes the same pottery-making experience as above, plus a tour of the enormous old dragon kilns and old village, a pot of tea, and free delivery for whatever you make. Organised tours to Bat Trang vary in price from around VND550,000 to well over VND2 million. If you drive yourself and have lunch there (plenty of buns, phos and banhs around), the whole trip will cost less than VND150,000. — Edward Dalton | October 2017 Word | 121



he gym can be intimidating for some women particularly if you are a novice still building up your confidence around working out in the gym and learning how to use all the equipment. Part of feeling confident in the gym is realizing you belong there regardless if this is your first time in the gym or your 100th time. For some, the hardest part of working out isn’t about the aerobic classes, cardio equipment or walking onto the gym floor — it’s as basic as just having the confidence to walk into the gym. I started weight training at the age of six with some rusty dumbbells at home and by the time I was eight years old I was already working out in the gym. I remember the first day I walked into the gym how intimidating it was being in an all-male adult environment and not having a clue how to use any of the equipment. Like many novices I had not yet worked on building ‘gym confidence’ so I felt very uncomfortable in the gym. A survey by Sports England discovered that 75% of women wanted to be physically active but were afraid of being judged for their physical appearance and ability. To achieve your health and fitness short and long-term goals in the gym along with being able to develop an effective exercise programme that works for you, one must

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also build gym confidence because your mind and body need to work together for you to be successful.

Three Tips to Build Gym Confidence 1) Identify your gym requirements. The most important thing before you first step into the gym is identifying your needs that will match your gym requirements and your health and fitness goals. These are some of the types of questions you need to ask yourself. What type of gym are you looking at? Do you feel uncomfortable working out around the opposite sex would you prefer a women-only gym? Do you want to go to a boutique gym like a personal trainer gym or would you prefer a chain gym and hire a personal trainer once you join? What type of exercise do you enjoy i.e. yoga, aerobic classes, weighttraining, cardio equipment? Making sure you have chosen the right gym that you’ll feel comfortable to train at each week is the first step in boosting your gym confidence. 2) Hire a personal trainer. A personal trainer can play an integral part in your fitness programme and building your gym confidence. With a qualified eye, a good trainer will help motivate you, boost your confidence working out in the gym and provide that little bit of extra inspiration to overcome plateaus and correct your


technique (which will lessen your chance of injury), as well as monitor and adjust your programme as you reach each shortterm goal. 3) Beat the crowds by training offpeak. Boost your confidence in the gym by beating the crowds by working out during off-peak times. Usually off-peak weekday is between 9am and 4pm, and all day over the weekend. Make sure you ask your gym when is off-peak — another perk is that off-peak memberships are cheaper. Training during the quieter times will help you learn to feel more at ease with the gym environment while you’re learning to familiarise yourself with all the equipment. Make sure you keep your feelings and anxieties about working out in the gym into perspective. Don’t be afraid to be the newbie in the gym; remember that everyone was in your shoes once and at any given time there are newbie gym goers just like you. Don’t ever think you are alone in your feelings of lacking gym confidence at the beginning. Amazin is a Prana Samyana meditation Yin Yoga teacher and performance coach having trained Olympic athletes to special forces. She is also a former natural competitive bodybuilder and the first Vietnamese internationally published health and fitness author and DNA fitness trainer. For more info, click on





ere’s a real gem for professional or amateur ichthyologists. Recently we obtained a nicely maintained copy of E.M. Grant’s Guide To Fishes, first published in 1965. The 900-page hardcover book was originally intended to be a resource for marine researchers in Queensland, Australia, but it soon became popular with fisherpeople worldwide, both commercial and recreational, and was unofficially subtitled The Fisherman’s Bible. It is an important resource book of larger marine creatures that populate tropical and sub-tropical oceans. It is thoroughly researched and has over 500 colourful fullpage photographs of specimens, partnered with detailed watercolour or pen and ink drawings. When Grant first had his compendium published, the belief in most cultures was that the oceans were an unlimited source of seafood. Fifty years on, that belief has been blown out of the water. Overfishing, particularly with trawler nets, has seen a tragic decline in fish numbers and species with some, once teeming, fishing grounds almost deserted. Ocean warming has seen the extinction of many species, and jellyfish appear to be one of few marine animals that are increasing and invading habitats. A recent feature length documentary, A Plastic Ocean, highlighted the disastrous impact of plastic debris on oceans and their marine life. If we add chemical run-off from polluted rivers and shore-side industries, oil spills and the occasional nuclear reactor failures to the menu, we come to understand why so many environmental scientists are pessimistic about marine life extinctions.

Fish in crisis James A. Lichatowich has detailed one major marine environmental crisis. He was

a fishery scientist who spent more than three decades studying fish in the Pacific Northwest, in particular the seven species of Pacific salmon. Their lineage spans 400 million years but in the last 150 years they have become near extinct in the wild. His research is presented in Salmon Without Rivers: A history of the Pacific salmon crisis Nowadays, salmon are grown in hatcheries and commercially farmed and the proliferation of these polluting farms is seen as environmentally unviable. As explained by Lichatowich: “Habitat degradation has not simply been a longoverlooked by-product of our industrial economy, it has been the direct result of the large-scale ecosystemic simplification that is a central and guiding vision of that economy.” The author advocates the preservation of rivers and watercourses and naming them in law as fish sanctuaries; these sanctuaries being the only places where healthy wild salmon can revive their species. He has cause to be pessimistic about this as too many countries are hacking at the boundaries of the marine reserves that they created in less neo-liberal economic decades. In Four Fish: The Future of the Last Wild Food, Paul Greenberg takes as his subject the global fisheries market and the relationship humans have with tuna, cod, sea bass and salmon — all of which have been chased to the verge of extinction in the wild. He assumes that all nations that fish — and all fishermen — are somehow interested in protecting fish stocks but that the passion to protect is as strong as the one to kill them, and it’s this contradiction that is the focus of this easy-to-read book. The battle, he states “is with ourselves. Between the altruism that we know we can muster and the primitive greed that lies beneath our relationship with the creatures of the ocean.”

It’s a must read for people who enjoy eating fish, farmed or wild.

A Fishy Tale The last novel Ernest Hemingway wrote in 1954, in those heady days when the oceans were considered to be eternally full of delectable eatables, was The Old Man and the Sea, his shortest, yet most powerful, tale. It was rewarded with the Pulitzer Prize for literature. The old man is a struggling Cuban fisherman, Santiago, who, daily, heads out into the Caribbean in his small boat to fish with lines. His adolescent protégé, Manolin, has crewed with the old man since the age of five, but his parents have put him on another fishing boat believing that the old man is bad luck. It’s been 84 days since Santiago’s had a catch and he heads out to sea further than he’s ever gone before, and in the midst of the Gulf Stream, hooks a giant marlin. Hemingway writes of the old man’s three-day duel with the great fish, his attempt to bring it back to his village, and the attack by sharks that leave just a skeleton tied to his small boat when he lands. As a recent commentator stated: The story is told with an incredible economy of words and description, yet nothing is sacrificed which drives home the power and inner strength of this man, who just takes it as what he does, what it is to be a serious fisherman. The novella is truly magnificent and all readers are warmed in the end when Manolin is overwhelmed with the old man’s formidable courage and fortitude and dares to defy his parents and resume his apprenticeship with Santiago Truong Hoang is behind the bookshop, Bookworm. For more info click on or visit their shop at 44 Chau Long, Ba Dinh, Hanoi | October 2017 Word | 123



Dear Douglas, I have been feeling “off” for the last couple of years and my wife has been telling me I should go see someone. I think she means a psychologist. My interest and motivation for work and my family has been sinking and I seem to be looking for something outside my current life that I can’t seem to find. While I am unhappy, I am pretty sure I am not mentally ill. I just don’t understand why I am unhappy, after being successful my whole life… with a good job and a great family. It doesn’t make sense, but people around me can see it and I am beginning to think I should come to see a psychologist. The problem is that I am keep thinking that a “shrink” can see things about me I cannot see and the whole idea scares me. Is this normal… that people might be afraid to see someone like you? By the way, I am a 42-year-old Aussie, living in Ho Chi Minh City for four years. — Mr. Chicken Dear Mr. Chicken, Thank you for bringing up a topic that is not all that uncommon, particularly for people who have a history of being high functioning and successful. It gives me a chance to talk about what therapy is like and also point to ways that your experience is not unlike that of other people. I think it is fair to say that many people have to muster some courage or overcome the feelings of vulnerability in order to open up to a psychotherapist. Most of us have fears of being judged and find it difficult to be vulnerable with someone we don’t know, someone who might know more about things that affect us than we might. It is difficult for people who value their ability to perform and then find they are having difficulty finding motivation and concentration to do things they know they can do. It generates anxiety and touches on hidden fears of inadequacy or failure. Most people would rather avoid looking at that and just hope it will go away. There are some important things to know about psychotherapy that might help people like you decide whether to go to see one to talk to about your feelings and what you going through. The first is that a therapeutic session is meant to be a safe place for one to talk about anything that they want to.

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It is confidential (unless you are about to commit suicide or hurt someone else, which requires a response that is meant to help a person through the desperate feelings they are having). Therapy is a place where one will not be judged or blamed or made to feel like their feelings or behaviour is their fault. I often explain to my clients that none of us has, yet, evolved to the state of perfection and that is a normal process to seek understanding when we feel problems in life that are beyond our current ability to understand them. We learn by living, and can discover new things at any point in life, but usually when we are confused, stuck, in emotional pain or have lost motivation, it is a time when we might grow. When a client and a psychotherapist join together to sort out thoughts and feelings and to reflect on behaviours, it can point to things the psychotherapist might already know something about, like depression, or mid-life shifts, or perfectionism. We have all developed ways of functioning in the world that fall into patterns or come from a need to cope with a situation. Upon reflection we may find that altering

these patterns might serve us better. Another important thing you need to know about psychotherapy is that the client and the psychotherapist work cooperatively in the discovery process. Psychotherapists do not fix clients. They offer relevant feedback or ideas that promote understanding and resolution in clients. Attention is paid to the process so that the pace is one that is helpful. It is common to check in about how things are going in therapy, what is coming up between sessions, how it is helpful, relevant and applicable. Most often, the initial fears are dispelled and there is relief when one discovers the support of a caring professional. I hope this is helpful for you, Mr. Chicken. I like to think that everyone could benefit from the process of psychotherapy since we are all discovering who we are in the midst of a confusing world. I wish you wellness, — 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

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

88 LOUNGE CONTEMPORARY WINE BAR 88 Xuan Dieu, Tay ho, Tel: (024) 3718 8029 A wine bar with a difference, this mainstay on the watering hole scene in West Lake mixes contemporary design, black ceilings, subtle lighting and an international aesthetic with one of the best wine lists in town. Not surprisingly it is developing a faithful clientele. Well worth a visit.

BARBETTA ARTSY BAR & CAFE 34C Cao Ba Quat, Ba Dinh, Tel: (024) 3734 9134 Set in a colonial villa, when it comes to design, the funky but comfortable Barbetta with its roof terrace is difficult to beat. A great place for coffee, beer or even a bite to eat.

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

FURBREW CRAFT BEER BAR 8B/52 To Ngoc Van, Tay Ho 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.

MAO’S RED LOUNGE LATE-NIGHT GRUNGE BAR 7 Ta Hien, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (024) 3926 3104

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

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

ROCKSTORE LIVE MUSIC BAR 61 Ma May, Hoan Kiem, Tel: 01653 336087 RockstoreHanoi

SIDEWALK HANOI DIY BAR & EVENTS VENUE 199D Nghi Tam, Tay Ho sidewalkhanoi

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

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

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

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

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

TRACY’S PUB AND GRILL SPORTS BAR/GRILL 114 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Tel: (024) 6675 9838

VUVUZELA MODERN BEER HALL 2A Tran Thanh Tong, Hai Ba Trung, Tel: (024) 3972 8922

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

COFFEE BEAN & TEA LEAF INTERNATIONAL COFFEE HOUSE 28 Thanh Nien, Tay Ho, Tel: (024) 3715 4240 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.

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

EMM CAFE URBAN CAFÉ & BRASSERIE 110 D1 Tran Huy Lieu, Giang Vo, Ba Dinh, Tel: (024) 6293 6361 An urban café and brasserie serving international and French-Mediterranean cuisine in a casual and cozy atmosphere. A popular social hub in Ba Dinh District featuring a wide selection of coffees and wines from around the world.

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

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

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

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

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

MANZI ARTSPACE ARTS CAFÉ & GALLERY 14 Phan Huy Ich, Ba Dinh, Tel: (024) 3716 3397 A stunningly designed contemporary café and events space that screams out the words ‘modern art’. Housed in a converted colonialera villa, a continuous flow of exhibitions, talks, experimental music and game shows make up the mix here. Great cuisine, too.

MAISON DE TET DÉCOR LIFESTYLE CAFE 36 Tu Hoa, Nghi Tam Village, Tay Ho, Tel: (024) 3823 9722 On-site coffee roasting, comfortable seating arrangements, rustic style furnishings and décor, and a focus on healthy, nonprocessed foods. This is the concept behind Maison de Tet Décor, and it’s a popular one, too, as witnessed by the size of the clientele. Also run occasional farmers’ markets.



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

COFFEE/BAKERY 22 Ly Quoc Su, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (024) 3747 3388; 43 To Ngoc Van, Tay Ho, Tel: (024) 3718 6071 Popular café with a contemporary western feel to the counter-style service and atmosphere. The food is all there, too: breakfasts, salads, soups, ice cream, muffins, cakes, cereals and bagels. Starting in Laos in 1996, Joma moved to Hanoi

INTERNATIONAL / CAFE 16-18 Tong Duy Tan, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (024) 3938 1745 This spacious spot on Food Street is open around the clock, offering Aussieinspired comfort food along with more eclectic Irish nachos, cottage pies and pan-Asian fare. Upstairs is fit for social gatherings and live music while the no-smoking downstairs space

PUKU | October 2017 Word | 125



little over five years ago, Red River Tea Room (RRTR) opened its doors, and would go on to become one of the most iconic bars in Hanoi; a uniquely chilled-out place with great staff, great drinks and Frank the dog. Today, the location may have changed, but the core concept remains the same — and if Frank’s enthusiasm is anything to go by, the new location adds a whole new level of awesome to RRTR.

Back Room Booze Although you can find tea on the menu, the name is a bit misleading without a bit of

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background. “Back in the prohibition days, many American bars reopened as ‘tea rooms’,” explains owner James “Jim” Brennan. “But if you knew the owner, you could get in the back room and get some alcohol.” And although Hanoi sits in the Red River delta, the bar is actually named after a nowclosed 1920s watering hole in Georgia, US. “This location really fits with the old tea room theme, because it’s kind of hidden,” says Jim. “You need to make a bit of effort to get in, but once you do, there’s a big reward.”

Nooks and Crannies The most obvious aspect of the upgraded

setting is the large outdoor seating area. Situated on the bank of Dai Nghi Tam Lake, the low-hanging trees, not unlike an emo kid’s fringe, let in just enough of the outside world while still affording peace and privacy. There are a number of nooks and crannies, with a bunch of benches, high and low tables and comfortable seating where guests can relax with a drink. If conversation is running a bit dry, RRTR keeps a selection of board games on hand, which are free for anyone to use. Dog lovers, who are welcome to bring their own pet, may find a kind of therapeutic joy in tossing a stick for Frank

Red River Tea Room


to chase — but if it’s an extra hot or humid day, don’t take it personally if he decides to just keep it. Cementing its reputation as one of the most chilled and welcoming bars in the city, you are even free to bring your own food or order a delivery. RRTR has a few Tay Ho food favourites on speed-dial, and its own in-house food is soon to undergo a complete overhaul.

Music and Beer The new RRTR is more of a destination now, rather than a place to stop for a quick beer. Jim reckons it will also become a popular place to make an inexpensive start

to a weekend or night out. The drinks menu features a selection of local and imported beers, both craft and mass-produced. The frozen beer mug of home-made red sangria (VND90,000) may prove too good to ignore, though. There are over 40 varieties of whisky, bourbon and scotch starting from VND50,000 a glass, a modest cocktail list starting at VND75,000 and a respectable wine list, with four reds and four whites available by the glass from VND60,000. “We also have a very popular Sunday night quiz,” says Jim. “It’s VND20,000 to enter, and the winning team takes home all the entrance money.”

Some of the events at RRTR, such as story slams and wine tastings, also act as charity events. When it first opened, a key aim of the business was to give jobs and training to disadvantaged youths. As a result, many of the current staff have been there since it opened five years ago. Or maybe they just like playing with Frank. — Edward Dalton Red River Tea Room is at Ngo so 1 Au Co, 19 Xom Chua Kim Lien, Tay Ho, Hanoi. Open daily from 11am until 11pm. For more information (and a map), visit or email | October 2017 Word | 127



wo years since opening, Linguini Fini continues to go from strength to strength. With an extensive menu using only the freshest ingredients and home-made pastas, it’s easy to see why. The stylish Hanoi branch of this casual diner (with sister restaurants in Hong Kong and Manila) offers New York-style Italian cuisine in imposing, chic premises in Tay Ho.

Dough Wars Pizza is one of those dishes which inflames debate. New York or Neapolitan? Deep dish or thin crust? While some fight over whether pineapple is an acceptable topping, New Zealand PM Bill English was savaged by the usual suspects on social

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media for putting tinned spaghetti on top of his. At Linguini Fini, however, a marriage of styles is key to success. “The route is Italian, in that we use fresh ingredients and cook with heart,” explains restaurant manager Rio Roxanne Domingo. “But it’s also adapted to the New York style.” In fact, group executive chef Vinny Lauria has even created dishes just for Hanoi. “When he saw the morning glory, turmeric and dried shrimp here, he said we had to use them for infused pastas,” says Rio.

Homemade Despite originally finding fans with their gigantic 18” pizzas (12” now also

available), the huge selection of fresh pastas make a strong case for a place in the spotlight. All of the pasta is homemade, churned out daily for use in over 20 different varieties. We try one of the more American offerings; On Top of Spaghetti (VND198,000 / small) is a spaghetti and meatballs where the meatballs have joined forces to create a single, mega-ball. Once the chef finishes grating a generous amount of fresh ParmigianoReggiano over the dish, we are left to succumb to an assault of rich, savoury tomato sauce, al dente spaghetti and a tender yet firm meatball packed with juicy meaty goodness. Serving as side dishes to the pasta course, we order up two plates from the

Linguini Fini


extensive list of antipasti. The homemade burrata (VND248,000), stuffed with ricotta and served with roasted peppers, basil and an aged balsamic dressing is among the biggest and creamiest you will find in Hanoi.

Platters and Pizzas The second choice, the cold antipasti platter (VND398,000) is a selection of cold cuts, local organic vegetables and homemade giardiniera (pickles) surrounding a portion of fresh mozzarella. The imported mortadella, similar to Vietnamese cha lua, overflows with flavour, while the chilled, creamy cheese balances out the salty spiciness of the Mugnano and Danois salamis. Despite the overwhelming quality and

quantity of pasta and antipasti, it still feels like they are just warm-ups for the main event; which says a lot for the reputation of Linguini Fini’s pizzas. Opting for a vegetarian pizza, the lure of homemade pesto results in a nearly table-sized fresh tomato and pesto pizza (VND258,000/378,000 12”/18”) arriving to a collection of wide eyes and drooling mouths. “The 18” size comes from the New York on-the-go tradition of buying pizza by the slice,” explains Rio. There’s more fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano and a collection of complimentary condiments such as Tabasco sauce and homemade pickles on hand, and each slice is loaded with bubbling mozzarella, juicy baby tomatoes and thick trails of pesto.

Consistency The pizza is easily enough for three or four people, but owner Max Lambert’s homely, chilled-out restaurant means the two of us are happy to take our time to finish it off. There’s a large selection of wines available by the glass, which ensure there’s no shortage of choice on how to wash down the meal. With buy-one-get-one-free cocktails every Monday to Friday from 5pm until 9pm, consistently high-quality food and a welcoming, local neighbourhood restaurant atmosphere, it looks like another good two years ahead for Linguini Fini. — Edward Dalton Linguini Fini is located at 36-38 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Hanoi. Open daily from 11.30am until 11pm (kitchen closes at 10.30pm). For more information, visit or call (024) 3266 8968 | October 2017 Word | 129

Hanoi On the Town

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

SAINT HONORE CAFE / BOULANGERIE 5 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Tel: (024) 3933 2355 This cafe and French-style boulangerie is best visited in the morning when that Gallic, fresh-cooked bakery aroma hits you as you walk through the door. The downstairs space is split into the bakery on one side with a small non-smoking dining space on the other. The upstairs lounge area has standard tables as well as sofa seating. Simple but tasty French and international fare is served at meal times.

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

THE HANOI SOCIAL CLUB CAFÉ / CONTEMPORARY EATERY 6 Hoi Vu, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (024) 3938 2117 thehanoisocialclub A cozy midsize café/ restaurant where you can forget the heat and bustle of Hanoi. The atmosphere is relaxed and here you can imagine, for a second, that you’re sitting in a European café. The ood is fresh and internationally inspired, and has an excellent top-floor terrace.

YOLO FUNKY LIVE MUSIC CAFE 32C Cao Ba Quat, Ba Dinh YoloCoffeeShops

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


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EAT — CHINESE MAY MAN CHINESE CUISINE PAN-CHINESE Fortuna Hotel, 6B Lang Ha, Ba Dinh, Tel: (024) 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.

M M M EAT — FRENCH FRENCH GRILL TOP-END GRILL JW Marriott Hanoi, 8 Do Duc Duc, Me Tri, Tu Liem, Tel: (024) 3833 5588 W i t h u n i q u e d e c o r, contemporary ambience, a walk-in wine cooler and a delectable seafood bar, this classy restaurant offers guests a service experience with crafted food difficult to find in the capital.

GREEN TANGERINE FRENCH / VIETNAMESE FUSION 48 Hang Be, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (024) 3825 1286

LA BADIANE CONTEMPORARY FRENCH 10 Nam Ngu, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (024) 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 VERTICALE CONTEMPORARY FRENCH 19 Ngo Van So, Hai Ba Trung, Tel: (024) 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: (024) 3826 6919 The Metropole’s signature restaurant serving up both classic and contemporary French fare. Buffet options mix with an a la carte menu and an ambience that could be straight out of Paris.

MILLENIUM-CAFÉ DES ARTS PAN-FRENCH 11 Hang Hanh, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (024) 3828 7207 A contemporary and chic three-storey restaurant with a terrace and views over one of Hanoi’s best-known alleys. Serves up quality French cuisine such as: snails, foie gras, lobster, scallops, chateaubriand and tournedos Rossini. Does an excellent set menu and also has a daily specials board.

M M M EAT — INDIAN FOODSHOP 45 INTERNATIONAL INDIAN 59 Truc Bach, Ba Dinh, Tel: (024) 3716 2959 Lakeside location and low bamboo seating, this eatery is one of the most popular Indians in town. Selling an international version of the mighty curry — they even sell pork and beef here — the menu keeps to the northern part of the subcontinent with masala, dopiaza, korma and the more Goan vindaloo taking centre stage.

INDIA PALACE NORTH INDIAN 10B Quang An, Tay Ho, Tel: 01247 668668

NAMASTE HANOI PAN-INDIAN 46 Tho Nhuom, Hanoi, Tel: (024) 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 INDIAN & AFGHAN 49 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Tel: 0922 087799



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

AU LAC DO BRAZIL BRAZILIAN 6A Cao Ba Quat, Ba Dinh, Tel: (024) 3845 5224

CHOPS GOURMET BURGER & CRAFT BEER 4 Quang An, Tay Ho, Tel: (024) 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; 7 ngo 58, Dao Tan, Ba Dinh cousins.hanoi A contemporary, Frenchinfluenced restaurant selling international cuisine at reasonable prices in a spacious, airy atmosphere. Blackboards, whitewashed, bare-brick walls, period tiles, a well-chosen wine list and an outdoor terrace overlooking the lake make up the formula. Has a second restaurant in Ba Dinh.

DON’S TAY HO CONTEMPORARY NORTH AMERICAN 16 Quang An, Tay Ho, Tel: (024) 3719 3719 This lake-facing venue with its top floor Oyster Bar is the work of charismatic Canadian restaurateur and wine connoisseur Donald Berger. Focusing on comfort food done well, the main restaurant menu includes anything from wood-grilled rare tuna steak with fragrant Chinese black bean beurre noir to gourmet pizza and pasta dishes Excellent range of imported oysters, great

breakfasts and an extensive wine list.

EMM CAFE URBAN CAFÉ & BRASSERIE 110 D1 Tran Huy Lieu, Giang Vo, Ba Dinh, Tel: (024) 6293 6361 An urban café and brasserie serving international and French-Mediterranean cuisine in a casual and cozy atmosphere. A popular social hub in Ba Dinh District featuring a wide selection of coffees and wines from around the world.

EL GAUCHO STEAKHOUSE ARGENTINIAN STEAKHOUSE 11 Trang Tien, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (024) 3824 7280; 99 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Tel: (024) 3718 6991 With venues in Saigon and Bangkok, the essence of El Gaucho is quality top grade meats off the grill. Steak is the mainstay — the USDA cuts are to die for — but everything from chicken, pork and seafood is also up for grabs. Add to this a backdrop of low Latin music, low, subtle lighting, an extensive wine list and slick service. There’s a reason El Gaucho is so successful — everything’s being taken care of.

J.A.F.A. INTERNATIONAL G2-G3 Ciputra, Tay Ho, Tel: (024) 3758 2400 J.A.F.A. is a great place for drinking cocktails by the pool. The beverages are not the cheapest, but this is made up for by service and ambiance. They also have a full menu featuring familiar western dishes such as pizza and cheeseburgers and cater for large parties or dinner functions. Periodic buffets and drink specials are also offered.

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

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

KOTO ON VAN MIEU RESTAURANT / CAFÉ / BAR 59 Van Mieu, Dong Da, Tel: (024) 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.

LA SALSA IBERIAN / MEDITERANEAN 5 Bui Thi Xuan, Hai Ba Trung, Tel: (024) 3995 0950

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

MOOSE AND ROO SMOKEHOUSE AMERICAN GRILL The American Club, 19-21 Hai Ba Trung, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (024) 3939 2470 There’s a reason for Smokehouse’s popularity — the excellent, on-site smoked meats together with all the typical, American-style sides. Set in the American Club, dining is both indoors and out, and comes with the best bourbon selection in town.

NINETEEN 11 INTERNATIONAL / ASIAN The Opera House, 1 Trang Tien, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (024) 3933 4801 Named after the completion date of the Hanoi Opera House, this upscale yet casual restaurant maintains an ambience of elegance, luxury and mystery. The cuisine mixes international fare with twists on Vietnamese cuisine and comes complete with a formidable wine list and an in-house sommelier.

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

THE CART SANDWICH SHOP / CAFÉ 8B, Lane 1, Au Co, Nghi Tam Village, Tay Ho, Tel: (024) 3938 2513 Small cozy café and sandwich bar hidden away in Nghi Tam Village. Serves and delivers tasty baguettes, homemade juices, quiches, pies, muffins and cakes. The delivery service is quick and reliable, which makes this lunchtime favourite ideal for when you need to eat at the desk.

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

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

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

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.

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



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

LINGUINI FINI ITALIAN-AMERICAN 36-38 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Tel: (024) 3266 8968 With branches in Hong Kong and Manilla, the contemporary ItalianAmerican Linguini Fini pulls no punches with its first outlet in Vietnam. Sleek modern décor, high quality cuisine, home-made pasta, reasonable prices and dishes cooked up with the freshest ingredients available are part of the deal, as are some damn fine pizzas.

LUNA D’AUTUNNO CLASSIC ITALIAN 27 Nam Ngu, Tel: (024) 3823 7338 This old-favourite Italian uses traditional wood ovens

PAN-ITALIAN 3 Nguyen Khac Can, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (024) 3826 9080

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

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



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

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


PHO CUON 26 Nguyen Khac Hieu, Ba Dinh

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



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



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


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


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

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


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




BANH CUON 14 Hang Ga, Hoan Kiem




SAUTEED BEEF PHO 13 Lo Duc, Hai Ba Trung

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

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


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

ALL NEW SELECTION OF CANADIAN ALBERTA BEEF FROM OUR WOOD BURNING GRILL We also uniquely offer genuine Canadian Wines, Ontario craft Beers, Bloody Caesar Cocktails, award winning Rye Whiskys, Newfoundland hardshell Lobster, British Columbia Oysters, Montreal style Pizza, Poutine and Cheese Cake.

16 Quang An - Tay Ho - Hanoi | Tel: (84-24) 3 719 2828 | 3 719 3719 | | October 2017 Word | 131

Ho Chi Minh City

Body and Temple / Medical Buff / Bar Stool / Top Eats / Know Your City Photo by Olga Rozenbajgier 132 | Word October 2017 | | October 2017 Word | 133

HCMC Essentials

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

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



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


STAMFORD SKIN CENTRE SKIN CARE / COSMETICS 99 Suong Nguyet Anh, Q1, Tel: (028) 3925 1990 tamford Skin Centre offers a broad range of medical and aesthetic skin treatments. Their international dermatologists and doctors ensure accurate diagnosis and safe treatment procedures. It houses excellent equipment for a variety of procedures.



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


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


25 Le Duan, Q1, Tel: (028) 3829 8430


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

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


INTERNATIONAL DENTAL CLINIC Norfolk Mansion, 17-19-21 Ly Tu Trong, Q1, Tel: (028) 3825 6999 Thao Dien Clinic, 27 Nguyen Ba Lan, Q.2, Tel: (028) 35 191 777 n international dental clinic equipped with the latest technology, the comfortable clinics offer cosmetic and implant dentistry with a focus on making each patient’s experience anxiety and pain free.



INTERNATIONAL DENTAL CLINIC 167A Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, Q3, Tel: (028) 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.

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

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

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


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


INTERNATIONAL HOSPITAL 6 Nguyen Luong Bang, Saigon South Parkway, Q7, Tel: (028) 5411 3333 Emergency: (028) 5411 3500 V Hospital is one of Vietnam’s leading, healthcare facilities, receiving international recognition from the global leader of accreditation, the JCI (Joint Commission International). With over 950 service staff, including 130 doctors, FV Hospital provides care in over 30 medical specialties in a complete, one-stop modern hospital.



246 Nguyen Van Huong, Q2, Tel: (028) 3744 2335 nspected and approved by the British Government, BIS provides a British style curriculum for an international student body from pre-school to Year 13. The school is staffed by British qualified and trained teachers with recent UK experience. Fully accredited by the Council of International Schools and a member of FOBISIA, BIS is the largest international school in Vietnam.


6th Floor, Fimexco Building, 231-233 Le Thanh Ton, Q1, Hotline: 0909 240809 |


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

SIAN SKINCARE CLINIC SKIN CARE / COSMETICS 27 Nguyen Trung Truc, Q1, Tel: (028) 3827 6999 he Australian and Canadian managed SIAN Clinic offers a wide range of skincare medical therapies to treat problems by an experienced dermatologist and facial care team. The clinic utilises the latest therapies.





veryone has his or her favourite exercises when it comes to working out. When people do not achieve the results they want from their efforts in the gym, they need to look at what they are doing. The problem is that most of these people spend their precious workout time on exercises that are, generally speaking, a waste of time. I’m not talking about exercises that may not be appropriate for certain individuals based upon their conditioning level or training goals. I’m talking about exercises that, pretty much regardless of how much you do them, will not make significant changes in tone, strength, or body composition. Here are five of the biggest gym time-wasters:

1) Triceps kickback. Although it is one of the most included and used exercises for the back of the arms, the triceps kickback is a real time-waster. The reason being that the triceps are only placed under stress through a small range of the total motion, meaning that the triceps are only contracting in the last 10 to 15% of the movement. Much better alternatives to create shapely arms are the cable triceps pushdowns or a decline bench French press.

2) Donkey Kicks (or kneeling hip extensions). The donkey kick exercise should be considered an exercise that works core stability, in particular the Transversus Abdominis (TVA). The

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general mistake is to think that this exercise works the glutes. However, there is no resistance applied, so the glutes will not be overloaded sufficiently to cause significant “toning”. It’s like trying to tone the biceps by simply bending the arm at the elbow. The TVA is placed under considerable load, having to stabilise the lumber spine and pelvis while controlling the weight of the moving leg. There are many better and much more functional exercises that will give you a lot more “bang for you butt” such as lunges, one-leg squats and weighted glute bridges. 3) The ABDuctor & ADDuctor machine. In my opinion these two machines are simply oversize paperweights taking up valuable space on the gym floor. The ADDuctor machine only works the short adductor muscles, which will actually result in a bulky upper inner thigh. Likewise, the ABDuctor machine fails to deliver its promise of toning the glutes. The actual muscles being worked by sitting in the abduction machine are the piriformis and tensor fascia latae. I expect these are not the muscles you were hoping to tone. Furthermore, the adductor machine starts with your legs in a stretched position, making it easy to strain these inner thigh muscles. These two isolated exercise machines don’t cause your body to burn much fuel, which will limit their effect on fat loss. It is much more effective, and safer, to work the inner and outer thighs with compound exercises, like side lunges, step-ups, Bulgarian squats and pile squats.

4) The iPhone Curl. This is technically not an exercise but if you’re on your phone in the gym you are wasting time! You are at the gym to achieve a goal; socialise after your workout. Intensity is one of the most important components of your workout, getting distracted by your phone and resting too long means fewer results and taking up space when someone else could be exercising in your space. Any exercise you do in the gym has some benefit (and of course doing something is better than nothing), but these four exercises are on the “if I have nothing better to do than waste time list.” So, train smarter by choosing the most effective and efficient exercises for your workouts. Phil is founder and master trainer at Body Expert Systems. Contact him on 0934 782763, at his website or through Star Fitness (

HCMC Essentials

CENTRE MEDICAL INTERNATIONALE (CMI) FRENCH MEDICAL CLINIC 1 Han Thuyen, Q1, Tel: (028) 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 INTERNATIONAL CLINIC 34 Le Duan Street, Q1; 95 Thao Dien Q2, Tel: (028) 3822 7848 Family Medical Practice (FMP) is the largest and one of the oldest foreign, privatelyowned, international health care providers in Vietnam. As the only health care provider that can offer a countrywide network of integrated clinics for foreign and local populations, FMP’s main specialties include family medicine, pediatrics and emergency medicine as well as health checks and work permit health-tests.

FV SAIGON CLINIC INTERNATIONAL CLINIC 3rd Floor, Bitexco Financial Tower, 2 Hai Trieu, Q1, Tel: (028) 6290 6167 FV Saigon Clinic offers international standard primary care for patients of all ages right in the heart of District 1 in the iconic Bitexco Financial Tower. The clinic provides consultations in a variety of specialities; as well as vaccinations, blood tests, and diagnostic imaging.

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

INTERNATIONAL SOS HCMC MEDICAL CLINIC INTERNATIONAL CLINIC / MEDIVAC 167A Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, Q3, Tel: (028) 3829 8424 The world’s leading provider of medical assistance and international healthcare offers

primary health care, diagnostic services and 24/7 emergency care. Specialist care is available in many fields.

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



M M M INTERNATIONAL SCHOOLS ABC INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL (ABCIS) Saigon South Campus 1 (Primary & Secondary), Tel: (028) 5431 1833/34/35/36; Saigon South Campus 2 (Foundation Stage & Early Primary), Tel: (028) 5431 1833/34/35/36 Rated as ‘outstanding’ by British Government Inspectors, academic results puts ABCIS among the top 8% of schools worldwide. ABCIS is accredited by CIE, AQA and the Education Development Trust, and are members of COBIS and FOBISIA. Provides education for two to 18 year olds in a supportive and friendly environment.

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

KIDS CLUB SAIGON 79/7 Pham Thai Buong, Q7; 27/3 Ha Huy Tap, Q7, Tel: (028) 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: (028) 7300 7257 The European International School offers a supportive and challenging academic education from Early Years to Grade 12 based on the IB curriculum. EIS is a Nobel Talent School and is part of the Nobel Education Network. The school educates global citizens to enjoy learning, inquiring and caring for others.

MONTESSORI INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL 42/1 Ngo Quang Huy, Q2, Tel: (028) 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: (028)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 350seat theatre, swimming pool, mini-pool, play-areas, gymnasium, IT labs, music and drama rooms, science labs and an all-weather pitch.

SAIGON KIDS EDUCATIONAL CHILDCARE CENTRE 15 Street 12, Q2, Tel: (028) 3740 8081 saigonkidskindergarten. com SKECC has evolved over 10 years to create a creative, playful learning environment for children ages two to six. Limited class sizes and highly engaged teachers ensure personal attention for all students.

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

EASY SAIGON Tel: 0932 112694


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

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 Americanbased curriculum with rigorous performance standards and a variety of academic offerings. Runs advanced placement courses and university credit courses through their partnership with Missouri State University, as well as an Intensive ESL Program for English Language Learners.

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

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

SNAP 32 Tran Ngoc Dien, Thao Dien, Q2, Tel: (028) 3519 4282

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

M M M RELOCATION AGENTS ALLIED PICKFORDS 12th floor, Miss Ao Dai Building, 21 Nguyen Trung Ngan, Q1, Tel: (028) 3910 1220

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

JVK INTERNATIONAL MOVERS 1st Floor, Saigon Port Building, 3 Nguyen Tat Thanh, Q4, Tel: (028) 3826 7655 Focused primarily on the international and local movement of household goods, JVK is a leader in the field. | October 2017 Word | 137




n Vietnam, certain blood groups are very rare. As all rhesus negative (Rh-) blood types are far less common in Asian populations than they are in Caucasians, blood banks in Ho Chi Minh City and all over Vietnam stock a very limited supply of them. If there’s an emergency, and a patient with an Rh- blood type requires a transfusion, obtaining the right blood is often a big problem. At Family Medical Practice, our answer is walkers — donors who’ve signed up to come into the clinic and donate their blood whenever someone urgently needs it. People who join the walking blood bank complete a form, get tested for their blood type, and are willing to donate if someone is in need. When we need Rh- blood and have trouble getting it from the local blood bank, we will look at our walking donor blood list and call anyone who matches the type. We then ask if they’re willing to come in and donate their blood. Maintaining this list, however, is a difficult task. Because rhesus negative blood types are so uncommon in the Vietnamese population, we need to rely on the somewhat transient expat community — and that list can go out of date very quickly. People come and go, so the list is something we need to update on a regular basis.

Potential Donors The call is now open to anyone who knows they have an Rh- blood type, or who don’t know their blood type but are willing to visit the clinic to have it tested free of charge. We’re not asking for blood right now; we’re just asking people to give their permission to be contacted if we need an emergency donation. When an Rh- patient needs a transfusion, we will start calling potential donors. If someone is available and willing, we will ask them to come to the clinic as soon as possible. The process does take some time: when you give blood, you don’t give whole blood, it’s not one person’s blood going straight into someone else. The blood has to be screened and processed first, following stringent international protocols. With most blood transfusions, you only give red blood cells. The blood donation and processing must be done at the blood transfusion hospital. We work with the Hospital of Hematology and Blood Transfusion (118 Hong Bang, Q5, HCMC) where standards are known to reflect good hygiene and safety practices. We will escort a patient and stay with them

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throughout the entire process. I’ve donated blood there myself and it’s like giving blood in any other country. They ask you to complete a form with personal details and a health questionnaire. Next they’ll take your blood pressure and heart rate and draw a small amount of blood to do a full blood count test to ensure you’re healthy enough to donate blood. They will also take blood to complete screening tests for serious infectious diseases such as HIV, hepatitis, syphilis and malaria. Once they confirm that everything is okay, you’re able to donate blood. For most people, it normally takes between 10 and 15 minutes to fill the blood bag. They won’t let you leave immediately; the nurses there will ask you to wait around to make sure you’re okay. They will also give you some food and a drink afterwards. So, for a patient who might be concerned about donating blood in Vietnam, I can say that the standards are of good quality; it’s quite a new facility, very clean and professional with highly experienced staff. I am certainly impressed by it. To be honest, every case we’ve had where we’ve called in walkers, they’ve always been very willing to help. I think that most people understand the difficulties, and if somebody knows they have a rare blood type, they

would hope that other people would help them given the same scenario. To register for the walking blood bank at Family Medical Practice, call (028) 3822 7848, email hcmc@vietnammedicalpractice. com or pop into one of the clinics. Blood types needed are AB Rh Negative, A Rh negative, B Rh negative, and O Rh negative. A former meningitis vaccine researcher who served in public health in the UK for a decade, Family Medical Practice’s on-site laboratory manager Louise Bishop is on the hunt for fresh blood

Donating Blood in Ho Chi Minh City Regardless of your blood type, all blood donations are valuable. If you would like to donate your blood now at the general blood bank in HCMC, you can visit the Blood Transfusion and Hematology Hospital (Benh Vien Truyen Mau Huyet Hoc), 1st Floor, 118 Hong Bang, Q5, HCMC, Tel: (028) 3957 1342. For more details email lienlac@bthh. or click on Blood donations are taken Monday to Friday, 7am to 11.30am and 1.30pm to 4pm.

HCMC Essentials

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

M M M SPORTS & FITNESS 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. All activities are safe and run by Cyril and his trained staff.


Dong Khoi, Q1, Tel: (028) 3827 2828

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

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


STAR FITNESS GYM Sunday 2pm sharp, Caravelle hotel. Bus out to the county with a walk, usually 4km and a run around 8km. VND150,000 for locals and VND220,000 for expats. Bus, water, snacks and freeflow beer after the run.

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


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



4th/12th Floor Rubyl Tower, 81-85 Ham Nghi, Q1 Tel: (028) 3821 9908 acific Cross Vietnam brings a first class level of service and expertise to the health and travel insurance market in Vietnam. Part of the Pacific Cross group of companies with over 60 years’ experience providing health and travel insurance to people who call Asia home, their reputation for transparent, honest and reliable service means they are the strength behind your insurance. Contact them now for a free quote.



VERTICAL ACADEMY CLIMBING GYM Truc Duong, Q2, Tel: 0966 920612


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


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

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

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


16 Vo Truong Toan, Q2, Tel: (028) 3898 9100 SHCMC — American Academy is a U.S. curriculum secondary school for students aged 11 to 18 years old. Early university credits, a 1:1 University Counseling Program, and an extensive EAL program set our graduates on the road to 100% acceptance rate at overseas universities and a US$1 million scholarship fund.



8FL, Thien Son Building, 5 Nguyen Gia Thieu, Q3, Tel: (028) 3933 0065 ith over 150 offices around the world, Santa Fe offers local and international moving, pet transportation, relocation services including home search, orientation, cultural training, immigration services and records management. Email for info.

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


92 Nguyen Huu Canh, Binh Thanh, Tel: (028) 2222 7788/99 ietnam’s only international school offering a U.S. curriculum for children aged 18 months to 11 years old. With 100% English language immersion, a library containing over 13,500 English books and more than 60% of students achieving above grade level English, ISSP students are well prepared for secondary school at ISHCMC or ISHCMC - American Academy.



5th Floor, Lafayette De Saigon, 8A Phung Khac Khoan, Q1, Tel: (028) 3521 0071 global leader in international removals and relocations, with 130 offices globally, we can move your property to and from any location. Has offices in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.


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

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he Thao Dien ‘bubble’ is a familiar expression when talking about the expat-friendly area of District 2, and Tropicana, on the 9th floor of the Nam Anh building, offers a great vantage point over it. The bar opened on New Year’s Eve, 2016. Martijn Lips, a native of The Netherlands and part owner, felt there was a gap in the market for a rooftop bar in the area; Tropicana remains the first of its kind in the district. Skybars and rooftop terraces

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are now familiar settings to have a drink in District 1, but Martijn says they wanted to give that option to District 2 as well.

Going troppo For a bar with a tropical theme, cocktails are unsurprisingly the name of the game up here. There’s an original-looking cocktail list that gives adventurous cocktail drinkers the option to veer away from the usual mojito and cosmopolitan standards and try something new. I chose one off their

Tropicana Signatures list, a Santa Domingo, priced at VND150,000. It contains dark rum, Cointreau, and Malibu with pineapple and lemon juice. With a lot of flavours, plus alcohol, competing for attention, it’s an excellent balance and is very refreshing. I also went for an After Eight, priced at VND150,000. It’s a cocktail which features gin, creme de cacao white, creme de menthe, milk, cream and a mint topping. Both cocktails are presented with a bit of flair, important in a competitive marketplace, but most important



of all, the flavours complement each other really well. Martijn says they also want to focus on high-quality wines, and their wine list is sourced from Celliers d’Asie.

Island in the sky There are palm trees dotted around the uncovered terrace, with a sunny and warm colour scheme befitting the bar’s name. As well as the bar stools outside, under the covers there are comfy-looking sofas with multi-coloured pillows for larger groups to

sit on. The view is fantastic, which makes the prospect of drinking wine or a cocktail while looking outwards, an inviting one. A party-type atmosphere is encouraged in the evening, and there’s a stage and dancefloor to the right side of the bar. Every Friday and Saturday night there are DJs or bands performing, with the music playing as long as the customers feel like dancing. Once a month Tropicana holds themed parties, which in the past have included Caribbean and Carnival get-togethers.

There is a daily happy hour from 5pm to 8pm, which knocks 10% off wine prices and 30% off cocktails. There is also a food menu which includes Mexican-inspired fare such as quesadillas (VND160,000), tacos (VND120,000 to VND180,000) and burritos (VND120,000 – VND165,000), among other items. — Thomas Barrett Tropicana is located on the 9th floor of the Nam Anh building, 41 Street 41, Thao Dien, Q2, HCMC. For more information on Tropicana, visit | October 2017 Word | 141

HCMC On The Town

BARS 2 LAM SON (MARTINI BAR) TOP-END INTERNATIONAL Park Hyatt, 2 Lam Son, Q1, Tel: (028) 3824 1234 International décor blends seamlessly with local themes. Style joins forces with a wideranging drink menu and hip dance tunes to create one of the most tasteful if pricier bars in Saigon.

ACOUSTIC BAR LIVE MUSIC 6E Ngo Thoi Nhiem, Q3, Tel: (028) 3930 2239

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

BIA CRAFT CRAFT BEER BAR 90 Xuan Thuy, Q2, Tel: (028) 3744 2588; 1 Le Ngo Cat, Q3 As craft beer continues to take over watering holes

around Ho Chi Minh City, so bars dedicated to all things ‘craft’ and ‘real ale’ are pretty sensible, right? With wooden tables perfect for sharing, and beer both on tap and by the bottle, Bia Craft sells up a delectable range of the good stuff. Looking for Tiger? Go take a hike. Also has a decent food menu.


GASTROPUB / CRAFT BEER 159 Nguyen Van Thu, Q1, Tel: (028) 3910 0485 TheBelgianCraftBeerBrewery Located within a lion’s roar of Saigon Zoo and a block or two from Dien Bien Phu, Belgo is a craft beer pub specialising in Belgian beer and food. With barebrick walls and decor with an industrial edge, Belgo also caters for parties, is good for groups, and has outdoor seating.



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



CONTEMPORARY STEAKHOUSE 44 Mac Thi Buoi, Q1, Tel (028) 3826 8691 ne of the world’s oldest culinary techniques — grilling over a wood fire. Stoker kitchen uses different woods to infuse foods with different smoky flavours. These techniques revolutionize live fire cooking by providing precise heat control through the use of a grilling surface that can be adjusted to different cooking heights above the hot coals.


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


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Tel: (028) 3836 8452

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

BUDDHA BAR RESTOBAR 7 Thao Dien, Q2, Tel: (028) 3345 6345 Just across the lane from Mc’Sorley’s, this pub with an eccentric European tilt and some nice, authentic cuisine draws an older crowd with darts, pool and weekly poker tourneys.

CHILL SKYBAR TOP-END BAR & TERRACE Rooftop, AB Tower, 76A Le Lai, Q1, Tel: (028) 3827 2372 For the spectacular views alone, Chill Skybar remains the place to go to mix topend, outdoor terrace drinking around an oval-shaped bar with cityscapes of Saigon. One of the top watering holes in the city.

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

DUBLIN GATE IRISH PUB & RESTAURANT 19 Thai Van Lung, Q1, Tel: (028) 6656 1103 irishpubsaigon Typical of Irish pubs the world over, The Dublin Gate has a fun, welcoming atmosphere and offers a break from the craft beer scene taking a hold over the city. The Dublin Gate is just a short walk from the Opera House, is open from 7.30am and has a pool table for a break between football matches, live bands and all that Irish charm.


GOURMET BURGER BAR 44 Dong Du, Q1, Tel: 01207 214294; 105-107 Xuan Thuy, Q2, Tel: 0909 004294 elish & Sons burgers are lovingly made with a healthy food philosophy in mind and fresh high quality ingredients. The beef patties are 100% Australian grass-fed; the buns are made with a reduced sugar and salt content. Burger relishes such as chutneys are all made in-house from scratch.



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


EAST WEST BREWING CO. VENUE & BREWERY 181-185 Ly Tu Trong, Q1 If you love craft beer and want to catch a glimpse of the brewing process in a contemporary yet vast and thoughtfully constructed environment, head to East West. A tasty range of on-site brewed craft beer mixes with an excellent food menu and an impressive vibe.

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

ENVY NIGHTCLUB 76 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, Q1, Tel: (028) 3913 8168 envyclubsaigon Located a short stroll from Ben Thanh Market, Envy has taken nightlife in Saigon to a whole new level with its


BUTCHERS 1 Street 2, Thao Dien, Q2, Tel: (028) 3744 2565; 401 Pham Thai Buong H11-2, My Khanh 3, Q7, Tel: (028) 5412 5228 ocusing on the retail trade, the meat at this Australian-managed butcher comes pre-prepared and, if you so wish, pre-marinated. Sells up some of the best imported meats in town together with homemade sausages, free-range products and excellent Australian grass-fed steak.


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

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


night off or end it in a chilled atmosphere.

46-48 Mac Thi Buoi, Q1


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

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


CRAFT BEER PUB 31D Ly Tu Trong, Q1, Tel: 0903 017596 heartofdarknessbrewery The home of its eponymously named craft beer, Heart of Darkness features up to 20 different beers on tap at any given time with each one having a name that pays homage to Joseph Conrad’s novel. There’s also a sports bar and a space for live shows with pizzas cooked onsite by 4Ps. Enter the darkness.

BAR & EATERY 63 Dong Du, Q1, Tel: (028) 3827 2279 LaylaEateryandBarHCM Housed on the 2nd floor of a former apartment overlooking Dong Khoi, Layla is a nice option for a bottle of wine, a few cocktails and carefully crafted sharing dishes. Here you can lounge after work on a comfy couch or pull a surprise party for a loved one. Behind the 11-metre-long bar mixologists create their magic.



CZECH BREWHOUSE 28 Mac Dinh Chi, Q1, Tel: (028) 3825 8605 The original microbrewery, this large, wooden-panelled, brasskegged Czech Brewhouse is as popular as it was 15 years ago when it was first opened. Does a great food menu to accompany the home-brewed beer.

INDIKA BAR, CAFÉ & RESTAURANT 43 Nguyen Van Giai, Q1, Tel: 0122 3994260 IndikaSaigon From movie screenings, DJs, acoustic sessions, and open mics, Indika just about has it covered for all types throughout the week. Located just away from the inner city mangle, Indika is still close enough to kick your

AFTERHOURS LOUNGE 59 Dong Du, Q1, Tel: (028) 3823 3122 If you’re in need of dense, soulful atmosphere and maybe an artisanal cocktail on your way back from wherever, Last Call is your stop — and fast becoming that of the similarly inclined. Great happy hour deals for early evening starters.

LE PUB INTERNATIONAL / RESTOBAR 175/22 Pham Ngu Lao, Q1, Tel: (028) 3837 7679

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



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

PHATTY’S AUSTRALIAN / SPORTS 46-48 Ton That Thiep, Q1, Tel: (028) 3821 0796 From its roots as the famed Café Latin, Phatty’s has become the go-to, Aussie beer-guzzling / sports viewing emporium, showing everything from international cricket to Aussie rules and serving an array of pub grub favourites.

PITCHERS SPORTS AND GRILL SPORTS BAR & GRILL RESTAURANT C0.01 Riverside Residence C, Nguyen Luong Bang, Q7, Tel: (028) 6274 1520 Located in the heart of Phu My Hung, this spacious restobar with an affection for showing televised sports has a family friendly edge thanks to its kids play area. Does a great grill menu and of course, lots of very cold beer for those developing a thirst in the Saigon heat.

QUI LOUNGE INTERNATIONAL BAR & LOUNGE 22 Le Thanh Ton, Q1, Tel: (028) 3828 8828 A recently opened, stylish top-

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

ROGUE SAIGON CRAFT BEER PUB 13 Pasteur, Q1, Tel: 0902 365780 Hidden on the upper floors of a crumbly old building in the heart of the city, Rogue Saigon is a hideout for craft beer lovers. Tricky to find, once you’re at the address, look up and you’ll see it. There’s a rooftop bar with excellent views of the neighbourhood and plenty of local craft brews on tap. Finger food tops off a chilled atmosphere with live music out in the open air.

RUBY SOHO CARTOON BAR S52-1 Sky Garden 2, Q7, Tel: (028) 5410 3900 A Phu My Hung mainstay thanks to its cartoon décor and light but fun ambience. Has a reasonable food menu to complement the drinks.

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

SAIGON OUTCAST EVENTS / MAKESHIFT CAFÉ BAR 188/1 Nguyen Van Huong, Q2, Tel: 0902 365780 Up-cycling and innovative design form the foundation for this bar / arts venue / mini-skate park and graffiti space. Home to numerous events and markets, Saigon Outcast also houses a | October 2017 Word | 143

HCMC On The Town

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


5B Ton Duc Thang, Q1, Tel: (028) 3822 9698 vespersaigon

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



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

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

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




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



CAFÉ / LOUNGE BAR 71-75 Hai Ba Trung, Q1, Tel: (028) 3824 8468 This iconic upmarket downtown bar is known for its cocktails and wine list. It serves a range of international and Vietnamese dishes to be enjoyed in its richly decorated interior. Regular DJ nights.

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




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

THE SOCIETY GRILL AND LOUNGE BAR 99 Nguyen Hue, Q1, Tel: (028) 3914 3999 TheSocietyHCM Designed as a Lanewaystyle restobar, the kind of place found in Hong Kong, London, New York or Central Melbourne, thanks to its indoor and outdoor ambience, The Society brings dining and drinking to a new level. Phenomenal cocktails, steaks, grilled fare and seafood make this a place to go for drinks, a full-blown meal or a mixture of both.


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


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


159A Nguyen Van Thu, Q1, Tel: 0918 115657


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.

GUANABANA SMOOTHIES CONTEMPORARY JUICE BAR 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.

HIDEAWAY INTERNATIONAL 41/1 Pham Ngoc Thach, Q3, Tel: (028) 3822 4222 Hidden in a colonial building with an outdoor courtyard, the ample soft, sofa seating

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

L’USINE CONTEMPORARY / FRENCH First Floor, 151 Dong Khoi, Q1, Tel: (028) 6674 9565; 70B Le Loi, Q1, Tel: (028) 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.

MOCKINGBIRD CAFE 4th Floor, 14 Ton That Dam, Q1, Tel: 0935 293400 mockingbirdcoffee

THE LOOP HEALTHY CAFÉ FARE / BAGELS 49 Thao Dien, Q2 Tel. (028) 3602 6385 Low-key yet nice-on-theeye décor helps create the café-style atmosphere at this European-influenced café and restaurant. Sells excellent coffee and if you like bagels, here you’ll be in heaven.

THE MORNING CAFE 2nd Floor, 36 Le Loi, Q1, Tel: 0938 383330

THE OTHER PERSON CAFE 2nd Floor, 14 Ton That Dam, Q1, Tel: 0909 670272 TheOtherPersonCafe

THE PRINT ROOM CONTEMPORARY CAFE 158 Pasteur, Q1, Tel: (028) 3823 4990

THINGS CAFE 1st Floor, 14 Ton That Dam, Q1, Tel: (028) 6678 6205

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

Q1, Tel: (028) 3822 0033

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

SHANG PALACE RESTAURANT PAN-CHINESE / CANTONESE Norfolk Mansion, 1719-21 Ly Tu Trong, Q1, Tel: (028) 3823 2221

YU CHU TOP-END PAN-CHINESE 1st Floor, InterContinental Asiana Saigon, crn.of Hai Ba Trung & Le Duan, Q1 Tel: (028) 3520 9999 intercontinental. com/saigon

EAT – FRENCH L’OLIVIER FRENCH/MEDITERRANEAN Sofitel Saigon Plaza, 17 Le Duan, Q1, Tel: (028) 3824 1555 Exuding a southern Gallic atmosphere with its tiled veranda, pastel-coloured walls and ficus trees, this traditional French restaurant has quarterly Michelin star promotions and an award winning pastry team.

BABA’S KITCHEN NORTH / SOUTH INDIAN 164 Bui Vien, Q1, Tel: (028) 3838 6661 This pleasant, airy Indian does the full range of fare from all ends of the subcontinent, from dosas and vadas through to chicken tikka masala, kormas, kebabs and fiery vindaloos. Has a delivery outlet in District 2.

GANESH PAN-INDIAN 74 A2 Hai Ba Trung, Q1, Tel: (028) 38229366 padamjivietnam@ 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.


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

INTERNATIONAL 27 Dong Du, Q1, Tel: (028) 38238424 The downtown outlet of one of Vietnam’s most successful restaurant chains, Al Fresco’s offers international, Australianinfluenced comfort fare in a pleasant environment with efficient, friendly service to match. Also has an excellent garden-style branch at 89 Xuan Thuy, Q2.




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

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

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

AU PARC EUROPEAN / CAFÉ 23 Han Thuyen, Q1, Tel: (028) 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 greentiled décor.

BOAT HOUSE AUSTRALIAN / INTERNATIONAL 40 Lily Road, An Phu Superior Compound, Thao Dien, Q2, Tel: (028) 3744 6790 A revamp has seen this riverside restaurant get a new management and a new menu — think American-style burgers, sliders and Tex-Mex together with soup and salad and you’ll get the idea. Excellent nachos and frozen margaritas.



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

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

CHI’S CAFÉ INTERNATIONAL / VIETNAMESE 40/31 Bui Vien, Q1, Tel: (028) 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.

CORSO STEAKHOUSE / INTERNATIONAL 117 Le Thanh Ton, Q1, Tel: (028) 3829 5368

ELBOW ROOM AMERICAN 52 Pasteur, Q1, Tel: (028) 3821 4327

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

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

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

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

LU BU CONTEMPORARY MEDITERRANEAN 97B Thao Dien, Q2 Tel: (028) 6281 8371 Drawing inspiration from the great cuisines of Europe, The Mediterranean and The Orient, this contemporary, Australian-run restaurant bathed in white focuses on wholesome, fresh ingredients, with breads, cheeses, pickles, pastas and preserves made on site daily from scratch. A well-conceived wine list supplements the excellent fare.

MAD HOUSE CONTEMPORARY CAFE, BAR, RESTAURANT 6/1/2 Nguyen U Di, Q2, Tel: (028) 3519 4009; Duong C — Bac, Phu My Hung, Q7, Tel: (028) 5417 1234 Set over a pool in a leafy, tropical garden, the beautiful rustic décor is matched by a darkwood, aircon interior. Subtle lighting and an attention to details is matched by some of the best contemporary cuisine in the city, all with a European influence. Also has an extensive wine list, a good selection of imported beers and a happy hour. Has a second restaurant in Phu My Hung.

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

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

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

QUAN UT UT US-STYLE BARBECUE 168 Vo Van Kiet, Q1, Tel: (028) 3914 4500

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

RIVERSIDE CAFÉ INTERNATIONAL / ASIAN Renaissance Riverside, 8–15 Ton Duc Thang, Q1, Tel: (028) 3822 0033

SAIGON CAFÉ INTERNATIONAL / BUFFET Level 1, Sheraton Saigon Hotel and Towers, 88 Dong Khoi, Q1 Tel: (028) 3827 2828

SANCHO CANTINA TEX-MEX 207 Bui Vien, Q1, Tel: 0901 268226 sanchocantina This hole-in-the-wall sized Mexican cantina is located bang on party street Bui Vien towards the Cong Quynh end. It maybe small, but it’s big in flavour. Sancho’s will quell those Mexicali cravings once and for all — the burritos are huge. It’s also an excellent place to watch the mayhem unfolding on the street over

a craft beer or three.

SKEWERS INTERNATIONAL / MEDITERRANEAN 9A Thai Van Lung, Q1, Tel: (028) 3822 4798

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

THE SOCIETY GRILL AND LOUNGE BAR 99 Nguyen Hue, Q1, Tel: (028) 3914 3999 TheSocietyHCM Designed as a Lanewaystyle restobar, the kind of place found in Hong Kong, London, New York or Central Melbourne, thanks to its indoor and outdoor ambience, The Society brings dining and drinking to a new level. Phenomenal cocktails, steaks, grilled fare and seafood make this a place to go for drinks, a full-blown meal or a mixture of both.

VESPER GOURMET LOUNGE INTERNATIONAL Landmark Building, 5B Ton Duc Thang, Q1, Tel: (028) 3822 9698 vespersaigon Headed up by well-known chef Andy Ertle, Vesper is a sophisticated yet downto-earth cocktail bar and restaurant with subtle lighting and a great spirit selection. Serves creative, Japanese and German-influenced cuisine to supplement the drinks and has a separate dining space.

ZOOM CAFÉ AMERICAN / TEX-MEX 169A Bui Vien, Q1, Tel: (028) 3920 3897 vietnamvespaadventures.

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

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

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

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

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

SORAE SUSHI SAKE LOUNGE Level 24, AB Tower, 76 Le Lai, Q1, Tel: 0938 687689 Set over two floors, this astonishing, no-expensespared Japanese restaurant and lounge brings to Saigon the type of environment and | October 2017 Word | 145



on’t be frightened off by the name, because this Mad Cow is nothing like what you’re probably thinking. Mad Cow Wine & Grill is located on the 30th floor of the Pullman Saigon Centre; a self-proclaimed combination of edgy grill with the casual tone of an urban wine bar. Its motto is Mad about Wine, Serious about Food. Like the direction the restaurant faces — away from the city centre — its concept is outward looking, bold and daring. It’s almost as if the bulls behind Mad Cow, General Manager Tony Chisholm and Head Chef Danny Grisham, are waving a muleta at the competition near and far tempting them to charge them down. “You’ve got to keep evolving,” says Chef Danny. “You can’t just kick back and offer the same menu time and again. You have to evolve because Saigon is becoming a foodies’

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destination and competition from all over is sitting up and taking notice.”

Differentiation Mad Cow differentiates itself from other Saigon restaurants in the same segment with its sharing concept. You can be forgiven for thinking it’s an out-and-out steakhouse given its audacious name, its grisly-looking mascot, Maddy, red-and-black decor and light fittings (that look somewhat like a set of horns on an angry bull), and its macho charcoal grill. But aside from serving up steaks like their gorgeous 350g hunks of Australian grass-fed Black Angus ribeyes (VND800,000) or their 250g free-range wagyu striploins (VND1.1million) from the pastures of Western Australia, dinner out with friends can quite easily start off with some tapas, of which there are three to choose from. The VND280,000 tapas option gives you

three ham, cheese and potato croquettes; a handful of fried lemongrass and chilli chicken wings; and three spicy BBQ lamb ribs. Once you’ve licked your fingers clean of the sticky marinade, you can pick at the Mad Cow Board (VND850,000) over the course of the evening, which has a selection of four cheeses, including an amazing blue, and four cold cuts of meat (ham, salami and chorizo) served with condiments and bread. Other excellent sharing dishes include the wagyu beef cheek bourguignon (VND400,000) which comes with buttered mash, shallots, mushrooms and bacon; the delicate-looking and tasting burrata salad (VND210,000) with heirloom tomatoes, basil and rocket, plated much like a Japanese dish, served up in a black textured bowl and imaginatively garnished with long, slender pieces of bread that resemble chopsticks resting to the side. And if you needed further proof that

Mad Cow Wine & Grill


Mad Cow isn’t just a beef steakhouse, the salmon steak (VND640,000) with garlic aioli and charred leeks showcases the variety of sharing options available. Chef Danny has even come up with a vegan burger (VND250,000) put together with locallymade cashew cheese, chipotle slaw and French fries. When we visited, he served up a side of mac and cheese with some chilli spiced root vegetables (VND70,000 per portion) just in case we needed reminding of how flexible the menu is. Every week there’s also a Seafood Sunday when you can get a sharing board of seafood plus two glasses of wine for VND890,000.

Imbibe Mad Cow isn’t just bullish about its food. General manager, Tony, argues that their wine list is second to none in Saigon. With

over 50 labels to choose from — including 12 by the glass — it’s hard to disagree with him, especially given they are at prices you’d expect to pay at a wine cellar, not in a higherend restaurant. It’s evident that Tony wants to ensure guests get the full treatment with great food and wine in an environment that is fun and accessible backed up with excellent service. “The restaurant and bar scene in Saigon has changed dramatically over the last five years,” he says. “They’ve become more creative, introducing clever interior design concepts. We recognised that if we wanted to enjoy our fair share of the restaurant market, we needed to reinvent ourselves.” Diners, along with guests who drop by for a drink at the beautiful timber-finished bar that has some of the best views of Saigon going around, can imbibe on reds and whites from the old world and new.

A glass of Yalumba shiraz from Australia is VND135,000, or VND670,000 for the bottle. Other wines range in price from VND480,000 for a bottle of French malbec, up to the higher end of the price range for a bottle of Craggy Range pinot noir from New Zealand for VND1.2 million. Noticeably, the cost of a bottle hovers somewhere between VND500,000 to VND800,000, something of an enticement to crack one open over dinner. Mad Cow Wine & Grill offers a little something for everyone. Don’t expect sawdust on the floor, swinging saloon doors and a mechanical bull in the corner, just great value for money. — Matt Cowan Mad Cow Wine & Grill is on the 30th floor of the Pullman Saigon Centre, 148 Tran Hung Dao, Q1, HCMC. Open daily from 4pm to midnight. For more info and bookings, go to madcowsaigon. com and, or call (028) 3838 8686 | October 2017 Word | 147



housands of urban interventions enliven our city streets. These include hundreds of street altars scattered throughout the city. Some are well-constructed structures like the one in the hem at 63 Pasteur Street, or the one at the bend in Huynh Thuc Khang just before it intersects Nam Ky Khoi Nghia. Others are informal gatherings of deities, some temporary and some remarkably resilient and long-lived. You can find several along Vo Van Kiet or Tran San Xoan streets. Long, hot, fume-saturated commutes can be unexpectedly seasoned with a whiff of incense from a street altar as you travel these streets from one district to another. The most informal shrines have an accreted feel to them. Pink tiled shrine boxes accumulate along with red-framed images of gods both benevolent and fearsome. Small statues pile up, some round and laughing, some slender and robed, some mustachioed with red jackets and caps. Many are damaged; missing fingers, hands or arms. But where did they come from? How did they end up there?

Godly acts I'm sure you have noticed the altars present in nearly every business and home in Vietnam, with gods plied with offerings of food, drink and cigarettes. Gods, though, like every other player in Vietnamese

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culture, are expected to do their part. They must provide, if not riches, then at least reasonable luck and protection from ill fortune. Even gods are subject to replacement if they fail to perform. Broken gods, unlucky gods, or gods who have outlived their home often get deposited at street altars, since many people don’t dare toss an unwanted god into the trash. Many deities are abandoned at temple gates. No one dares to adopt them, for who knows what calamities occurred on their watch? There might have been a loss of income, the failure of a shop, a fire or a motorbike crash, perhaps even the death of a loved one. Flouting the will of heaven by adopting a discarded god carries too great a risk. At the heart of this is an implication (startling to me) that even gods may have destinies that cannot be altered; even gods may not be masters of their own fates.

God bless them Not all discarded gods, however, go to waste. Some of those found at the city’s garbage sorting areas are aggregated into makeshift public shrines. One such god haven adjoins a canal in District 8. A tiny site, it has been diligently tended to and has become more garden-like through time with denser vegetation, a taller god shelter, and even a bench added over the years. The gods have been curated and arranged,


the floors have been tiled, the frames not on display have been neatly stacked showing a level of care and time spent that raises it to the level of a civic gift. Many altars are located under or on a tree, echoing the story of the Buddha attaining enlightenment under a Bodhi tree. Still other abandoned gods are gathered into roadside shrines, perhaps to tend the souls of traffic victims, perhaps to provide a blessing to those who pass by. It's possible that all of us have been the unwitting beneficiary of a street god's blessing at one time or another. Who knows? You may owe your life to the protection of a street deity who averted a mishap without your ever being aware of it. That thought plus the sight of a delicate orchid in a small vase residing centimetres away from hundreds of passing motorbikes is reason enough to be grateful for the existence of street altars, but gods as well as mortals reap benefit from their existence. This is because, thanks to this thrifty and generous cultural custom, even deities can sometimes be fortunate enough to be recycled and get another chance at life. Archie Pizzini, PhD, is a design principal at Hoanh Tran Archie Pizzini Architects and has practiced and taught in Ho Chi Minh City for several years. He studies the urban landscape of Vietnam with a special focus on making and improvisation. Archie can be contacted at


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

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

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

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

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

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

MSG-free traditional

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

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

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


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

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

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



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

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

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

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

102 Cao Thang, Q3







BANH TAM 271 Nguyen Trai, Q1



COM TAM 84 Dang Van Ngu, Phu Nhuan

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




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

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



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

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

NAM GIAO BUN BO HUE 189 Bis Bui Vien, Q1

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

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

PHO LE PHO BO 413-415 Nguyen Trai, Q5

PHO PHU GIA PHO BO 146E Ly Chinh Thang, Q3

PHO PHU VUONG PHO BO 339 Le Van Sy, Tan Binh

SUSHI KO STREET SUSHI 122/37/15 Vinh Khanh, Q4


TIEM COM GA HAI NAM HAINANESE CHICKEN RICE 67 Le Thi Hong Gam, Q1, Tel: (028) 3821 7751Orum | October 2017 Word | 149



Reverse Culture Shock After moving to Vietnam, Diane Lee returns to her native Australia for a month and finds that some things have changed while others are exactly the same. Photo by Senkaya


noticed it as soon as I set foot in Melbourne, waiting for my connecting flight to Adelaide. The air was decidedly chilly, and I was decidedly underdressed, having just arrived from the heat and humidity of Hanoi. A group of middle-aged men, football fans, had seated themselves near me and were swearing loudly, cursing their team’s loss. Another group of young people lounged on the floor, limbs stretched in overt rebellion, fingers tapping in time to whatever tune was being streamed into their ears. The ordered, but well-mannered chaos of Vietnam’s airports was immediately up for comparison, and I searched eagerly for the familiar solace of Asian faces, finding only a few. I was warned by the expats in my social circle that I was likely to experience reverse culture shock, and I pooh-poohed the notion. Of course, it didn’t apply to me. I was going back to Australia and my home town of Adelaide to see my family, friends and beloved cat — back to where all is right, good and sensible with the world.

Toto, We’re not in Kansas Anymore Except it’s not. Right, good and sensible is not the world I want to occupy. Not anymore. I missed Hanoi almost immediately. Where was the noise, the motorcycles, the heaving mass of humanity living life on the streets that I had grown so used to and loved? The heat and humidity that I vacillated between loving (because I had great skin) and hating (because I was always dripping with sweat)? The weather was icy in Australia and I felt the cold seep into my bones. I couldn’t get warm. And everything was

so expensive; food and alcohol especially. But it was more than that. A few days in, I was bored. Now I was back, my social life had dwindled to a few lunches and dinners with family, friends and a handful of ex-colleagues, some of whom I had to chase. I tired very quickly of answering the same questions about the same things; did I eat street food (yes, and it’s delicious and safe), how much does everything cost (not a lot to quite a bit, depending), did I drive a motorcycle (no, I get a Grab or an Uber), how easy is it to find work (easy), how my daughter felt about me moving to Hanoi indefinitely (happy), was Hanoi the capital of Vietnam (yes), what was the internet like (cheaper, faster and better than Australia). And so on and so forth. Apart from a few friends and ex-colleagues, I was bored with them and their lives. The majority of my friends from before I went to Vietnam were doing exactly the same thing as when I left. Sure, one friend married, two had children, and another separated from her spouse, but their lives were essentially unchanged. They told me about their struggles with work, bullying bosses, toxic work cultures and not winning promotions, with not having enough money to travel and enjoy life, about their frustrations with their families, partners and children. It was lovely to see them, but I struggled to connect at an intimate level. I craved real conversations — like the stimulating ones I had back in Hanoi — but scrabbled to deal with what was essentially superficial chit chat.

Proof of Concept: Backing Myself I recognise this is my problem. I’ve changed. I’m not the person who had left Australia to have an

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adventure almost 12 months ago. I arrived in Hanoi knowing no-one, unsure of how I would make friends or what work I would do. I didn’t know the language, apart from a xin chao and a cam on, both abominably pronounced. I got lost in the Old Quarter (nothing has changed in that regard — I still do). When I gave an address, I had no idea where the taxi was taking me, and had to trust that I wasn’t going to be scammed or sold into white slavery (neither of which happened). Slowly, as things fell into place with an apartment and a volunteering role, and because I went to the opening of all the envelopes, I made friends. Good friends. And my life in Hanoi kicked up a notch into exciting and interesting territory because I’m all in. I had nearly died in Cao Bang and lived to tell the tale. I can speak basic Vietnamese. I have work falling into my lap, and I travel regularly and meet many interesting people because of the work I do. There are opportunities here, real opportunities that value skills and experience and education. My expat friends come from all walks of life and from all over the world. My Vietnamese friends are kind, warm and funny, and have welcomed me with open arms into their world. My edges, which were honed razor-sharp in Australia because everything is so hard and such a fight, are softer. I have learned to let things go, like politics and late taxis and flooded roads, because I can’t do anything about it. That frees up time and space for other creative ventures and projects. Call it reverse culture shock if you will, but what I miss is this; my lovely life in Vietnam. Thank God I’m only away for a month.



Oscar Soletto In a space of months Oscar Soletto’s certified Pilates studio, Pilatesaigon, has gone from strength-to-strength as the Vietnamese discover another way to get fit What got you into Pilates? When did you first start teaching? In the beginning, I was introduced to fitness and then to Pilates. Then, I fell in love with the mind-body approach. Now, 25 years on, I am a fully certified Pilates instructor and personal trainer.

Why is Pilates such an effective system of physical fitness? Pilates uses a combination of effective and challenging exercises. Exercises can be adapted to provide either gentle strength training for rehabilitation, or a strenuous workout, vigorous enough to challenge skilled athletes. The exercises increase muscle strength and endurance, as well as flexibility that improve posture and balance. The exercises are also relatively easy.

How difficult is it to get into Pilates? What would you say to absolute beginners who are interested in trying it out? Pilates is suitable for people of all ages, ability levels and physical conditions, from beginners to experienced athletes. The equipment used also supports a broad range of people, all the way up to those who want to challenge their body with tough exercises.

because I was guided by a local agency in Saigon. Thanks to their useful advice and guidance it was relatively easy to set up my company and run it smoothly.

How well has your studio been received? I began with only three or four clients. Gradually, through word of mouth, I developed a base clientele. After a few months, I bought more equipment from Canada enlarging my little space and eventually moving to my present location. My studio, currently sees over 100 clients per week in both private and small group formats, with three instructors, and offers a teacher training programme.

Who are your clients? What kind of backgrounds do they come from? They are mainly expats of all ages. Golf, tennis and soccer players are another type of client but there’s

an increasing number of Vietnamese businesspeople discovering the benefits of Pilates.

By setting up your business in Vietnam, are you following a dream? My dream is to follow my passion but at the same time to create a chain of new studios.

You say that by teaching Pilates you are helping people. Can you explain this? There are seven core ways that Pilates helps people: improves flexibility; increases muscle strength and tone; improves breathing; improves posture; teaches control both physically and mentally; promotes body awareness; and reinforces strong, mobile joints.

What are your plans for the future of your studio? My plan is to create a chain of new Pilatesaigon studios so that as many people as possible can enjoy the benefits of having a healthy mind and body. Pilatesaigon is at Lily Residence, 231 Nguyen Van Huong, Q1, HCMC. For more info click on or

What brought you from Milan to Saigon? It was for love. My partner was offered a new position here and we decided to accept this new challenge together.

How different is it working in Vietnam to working in Italy? What cultural difficulties have you had to overcome? There are many but the main one is that Pilates is considered a very new discipline here, while in Italy it’s well-established. Vietnam is a country with many contradictions, with a different lifestyle. In the beginning I had to deal with a completely different bureaucracy and culture but thanks to local friends, I overcame it.

How difficult was it to set up your Pilates studio in Saigon? What challenges did you face? It wasn’t so difficult

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ISBN: 978-604-77-3471-9


Word Vietnam October 2017  

The Vietnam Bucket List: 101 things to do or not to do before you leave Vietnam