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Contents Sep.2017




THE TALK 10 / Bad Press

Why Vietnam and other countries just don’t get a good rap

11 / The Big Five

September in Vietnam

26 / The SEA Games Vietnam goes for gold

INSIDER 50 / Many Faces

An interview with Tri Minh, one of Vietnam’s foremost musicians

BRIEFINGS 12 / Whatever Suits You

52 / Celebrity Wax Museum

14 / The Lesser Known Coffee Chains

60 / Bohemian Vietnam

Let the battle commence

Some people in this country are just, well, a little Bohemian

16 / KOTO Opens a Catering Arm

82 / The Analogue Experience

The best tailors in Hanoi

…and starts delivering cook-at-home meals to your door

18 / Lucy Rose

The acclaimed singer-songwriter prepares to play Hanoi

20 / Northern Lights

Saigon gets itself a version of Madame Tussauds

larger audience

108 / Behind the Bun

Far more goes into bun cha than just the ingredients

114 / Organic Hanoi

Organic produce is easy to buy in the capital. But is it really organic?

120 / P for Picnic

The best places to lay down a blanket and picnic basket in Hanoi

126 / Getting Your Phil

Film photography gets a renaissance

Filipino food in Saigon. Forget the rep, it’s pretty damn good

90 / Niche Photography

134 / The A to Z of Steak

Wet-plate processing, large format cameras, polaroids and drones

Reader discretion advised

98 / Street Cred

Fu Hong Rua

144 / Mystery Diner Hanoi

A Vietnamese guy in the Arctic… You’re having a laugh, right?

From small town choirgirl to backup singer for Stevie Wonder. Meet LaDee Streeter

24 / The Record Collector

102 / Theatre Groups in Vietnam 148 / Mystery Diner HCMC

Fuelling an obsession

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Theatre in English is gaining itself a

146 / Street Snacker Hanoi Banh bao

CCCP Saigon

ABC International School, Ho Chi Minh City, Official

Congratulations to our Graduates Class of 2017

Recognised by the UK Department for Education as an Outstanding British School Overseas.

Contents Sep.2017





36 / Just In

200 / Know Your City

152 / Tam Dao

180 / HCMC City Guide


184 / Day Tripper

202 / Terrible Tourists

70km from Hanoi, the mist-covered mountain town of Tam Dao is the perfect getaway

HANOI 40 / To Do List 44 / Just In 162 / Hanoi City Guide 166 / Day Tripper 170 / Bar Stool 172 / Coffee Cup 174 / Top Eats HCMC 28 / To Do List

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190 / Bar Stool

What are we really like when we travel away from home?

194 / Coffee Cup

204 / Ten 10

198 / Top Eats

Artist and gallery owner, Shyevin S’ng

COLUMNS 163/ Book Buff 168 / The Therapist 178 / Women’s Fitness 179 / Pets’ Corner 186 / Body & Temple 188 / Medical Buff



his month we asked our staff the following question: “How has living in Vietnam allowed you to be creative?” My time in this country has allowed me to resurrect a career in journalism. But most importantly, it’s enabled me to work with a lot of creative souls. I’ve seen some fantastic stuff produced here over the past decade. I hope it continues. — Nick Ross, Chief Editor It has allowed me to reinvent myself relatively easily. While my personal creativity doesn’t quite get the attention it deserves, from a professional perspective, it’s been a boon. — Diane Lee, Contributor

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


NICK ROSS Chief Editor

MATTHEW COWAN Managing Editor

BAO ZOAN Staff Photographer

MIKE PALUMBO Staff Photographer


EDWARD DALTON Staff Writer (Hanoi)

JULIE VOLA Photo Editor

AIMEE DUONG Graphic Designer

NGUYEN LOC Layout Designer


Vietnam forces you to step out of your comfort zone — which is where the best ideas happen. — Tom Barrett, Staff Writer I have never identified myself as ‘creative’ but Vietnam has made me think in different ways. I guess that can make me more creative with ideas and writing. — George Schooling, Contributor I came to Vietnam seven years ago to get my mojo back. There hasn’t been a day I don’t feel inspired living here. The low cost of living also allows me to have the time to be creative. — Julie Vola, Photo Editor Before moving to Vietnam, I was working 50+ hours a week in a restaurant in my hometown. I never had time to pursue my creative side. I came to Vietnam with the intent to work fulltime in the creative field. — Mike Palumbo, Staff Photographer

BAO ROSS General Director


CHAU GIANG Office Assistant



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

Special thanks to Emily Arntsen, Olga Rozenbajgier, George Schooling, Joffy Cruz, Luke James, LaDee Streeter, Ngoc’s bun cha joint, Bridget Griffin, Amelia Burns, Harry Hodge, Diane Lee, Sasha Arefieva, Billy Gray, Hai Vu, JB Jance, Malte Blas, Zoe Osborne, Teigue John Blokpoel, Douglas Holwerda, Amazin Le Thi, Maria Skorobogatov, Truong Hoang, Phil Kelly, FMP, Dr. Guillaume Nguyen Forton, Hoanh Tran, Shyevin S’ng and David Legard.

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

For me, living in Vietnam and a culture that’s different from my own has forced me to deal with all sorts of unfamiliar situations. It has given me the confidence to approach creative projects in a way that I couldn’t before. — Bridget Griffin, Contributor

CHUYÊN ĐỀ DU LỊCH & ẨM THỰC ISBN: 978-604- 77-3470- 2

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© Word - Duong Huynh Advertising JSC

CÔNG TY TNHH MTV NHÀ XUẤT BẢN THẾ GIỚI Trụ sở chính: 46 Trần Hưng Đạo, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội Tel: 024.3825.3841 – Fax: 024.3826.9578 Email: thegioi@ Website: www.

CHỊU TRÁCH NHIỆM XUẤT BẢN: TS. Trần Đoàn Lâm Biên tập: Phạm Trần Long Thiết kế mỹ thuật: Bao Ross Sửa bản in: Nick Ross Bìa: Duong Huynh Advertising JSC

© Tất cả hình ảnh và nội dung trong Ấn phẩm này thuộc bản quyền của Ấn phẩm Word của C.Ty CP TM–DV–QC–Truyền Thông Dương Huỳnh. Mọi sự sao chép không được phép sẽ bị xem là vi phạm luật Sở Hữu Trí Tuệ hiện hành của nhà nước Cộng Hòa Xã Hội Chủ Nghĩa Việt Nam.

LIÊN KẾT XUẤT BẢN VÀ PHÁT HÀNH CÔNG TY CP TM–DV–QC–TRUYỀN THÔNG DƯƠNG HUỲNH 158A Võ Thị Sáu, Phường 8, Quận 3. Tp.HCM ĐT: + 84 28 3838 6908 Fax: + 84 28 3838 6971 Email: Website:

In 15.000 cuốn, khổ 20.5 x 27cm In tại Công Ty Cổ Phần In Trần Phú 71 – 73 – 75 Hai Bà Trưng, Q. 1, TP. HCM. Giấy xác nhận ĐKXB số: 1736-2017/ CXBIPH/11- 118/ThG. Quyết định xuất bản số: 908/QĐ-ThG cấp ngày 31 tháng 08 năm 2017. In xong và nộp lưu chiểu năm 2017. Mã ISBN: 978-604- 77-3470- 2 SÁCH CHUYÊN ĐỀ QUẢNG CÁO



he definition of Bohemian has undergone a sea change since the word first appeared in the English language in the 1800s. At the time it was used to insult Romani gypsies, who lived nomadic lifestyles and were erroneously thought to have originated from Bohemia in central Europe. However, thanks to the French authors George Sand, Honore de Balzac and Henry

ranges from someone who practices an unconventional lifestyle, to someone who is an optimist, to someone who English writer Virginia Nicholson has defined as an “outsider” who “defines themselves as an outsider and is defined by the world as an outsider.” Whatever your own personal definition, somewhere along the line the term has become romantic. Unlike 200 years ago, being called Bohemian isn’t such a bad thing. In fact, we think it’s a good thing. Hence, our cover story this month Bohemian Vietnam, where we delve into the lives of ten Bohemians living

in this country. In a time of rapid technological advancement and the proliferation of associated buzzwords like startups, innovation hubs, co-working spaces, and office pods, it’s heartwarming to know that there are still people in our community who like to go against the grain. Society has always created a pressure to conform to the mainstream, to take the easy option. But for Bohemians, that’s just not an option. Which is why unconventional Vietnam is just such a great place for them to live. — Matt Cowan, Managing Editor






Murger, by the 1850s, the term was used to describe the lifestyles of marginalised and impoverished artists, writers, journalists, musicians and actors living in Paris and later, across Europe. This kind of Bohemian, it’s said, was associated with antiestablishment political or social viewpoints, often expressed through free love. As one writer wrote in Silhouette Magazine, “Bohemia is a district in the Department of the Seine bordered on the north by cold, on the west by hunger, on the south by love, and on the east by hope.” Today, depending on where you look, the definition of Bohemian

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.

Vietnam’s Cities Still ‘Unliveable’ (published on Reaction to the article and the following Facebook post: The Economist Intelligence Unit’s latest liveability survey claims that #Hanoi and #Saigon are only slightly better places to live than #Tehran, #Kiev and #Tripoli. Now, as for cities with political unrest... Comparing cities like that doesn’t really work, HCMC nor Hanoi are like places where violence is a daily thing. Even in those two cities you can’t find many thefts either. Yeah of course, the pollution sucks, but I still chose Vietnam for a limited residence over Germany because of the weather, the way the people are and the safety. Hanoi and HCMC are pretty international, so there must be a reason why people chose to live in Vietnam. — VLL Violence every day but you select Vietnam because of safety? — KP Compared to where I grew up (we have the biggest red light district in Europe) violence was a daily thing. — VLL I don’t listen or read surveys. They don’t know what’s best for me. I work here. I’ve been here since

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2011. It’s as liveable to me as when I was back in my native country. — KP I come from Singapore for work regularly. Sure, It’s messy and noisy but otherwise safe and very liveable. These people need to come down from their Ivory towers and actually visit the countries before giving the rankings — JN That liveability index is just a shitty money grab. Melbourne is at the top of a popular index... HAHAHA seriously, a cold grey expensive bore. Good food, though… It’s highly subjective — JP These surveys are fantastic for expats. Let’s get Vietnam back to being a “Hardship Posting”. — CP I come from Venezuela. This is paradise for me. — CJD

What’s wrong with Tehran in terms of liveability? — BB It’s quite accurate. It’s subjective of course, since there are a lot of factors involved but overall Saigon and Hanoi are unliveable. — RDL Haha. Hilarious. Give me Saigon over London any day. — MT I found Saigon more liveable then the entire state of Maryland. How does Saigon compare to the ghetto that is Baltimore? I’d take Saigon any day. — JN Are you unemployed and need long term loans that could solve your all financial problems? PAYDAY LOANS is a professional online loan service provider that easily approves long term loans for unemployed people. — Payday Loans

Talk Lead THE TALK


Bad Press

Vietnam gets a lot of it. So do other countries, too


ome time ago on a trip back to the UK, I had a conversation with a worker in a charity shop. When I mentioned that I live in Vietnam, her response was: “Why would you want to live there?” More recently the reaction to my connection with this country has changed. Now it’s based on tourism. “Oh, I went to Vietnam last year. Spent 15 days there.” Or the food. “I tried Vietnamese food last week for the first time. It’s really good.” Beyond that, people know little about Vietnam, and what they do know tends to be associated either with war or bad press relating to imprisoned bloggers or dodgy exports of catfish. So why are people so ignorant about the 14th most populated country in the world? And why, except for tourism and food, does Vietnam continue to get a bad press?

smaller clubs don’t get a look in, which means we get to know very little about them. The same goes for current affairs. Terrorist attacks, North Korea, Donald Trump, China, Israel-Palestine, natural disasters, human rights violations, poisoned food or water sources, bad instances of crime and murder cases dominate the news. All these news items get mass amounts of clicks. Because Vietnam doesn’t really feature in any of the above topics, the country gets scant media coverage overseas. It’s just not ‘hitworthy’. And it doesn’t fit into that old, Jeremy Bentham concept of democracy, a concept that can be equally well applied to the media: ‘The greatest happiness of the greatest number’. When Vietnam does get coverage, it’s because news emanating from this country is negative. Thus, the bad press. The irony is that in the Age of Information, vast swathes of information is getting missed.

The Hit Factor

The Unknown

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. This is why, for example, when it comes to football or soccer, the majority of the media space goes to clubs like Barcelona, Real Madrid, Manchester United, Chelsea, Paris St Germain and Bayern Munich. The

Yet, the bad press or lack of press comes also down to other factors. Key is the fear of the unknown. With the gradual decline of Western hegemony over the rest of the world, so new nations are gaining prominence. China, Japan, India and newly developed economies such as South Korea and Singapore. Up-and-coming nations such as Thailand, Vietnam, the Philippines and Indonesia also fit into this category. In the West, home to only 12% of the world’s population, little is known about these places, the places that now compete for global power. And as such they tend to

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get negative rather than positive treatment. Look at the press that India gets — gang rape, the arrest and conviction of the rapist guru, a swine flu epidemic that’s killed over 1,000 people, violence between Hindus and Muslims, a video of a maths lesson where a child gets slapped in the face by her teacher. India is home to 17.7% of the world’s population, yet in the West, there is almost nothing positive to say about the place. Other countries suffer a similar fate. It reinforces a mindset played out by the global media: these are bad places to live, we have it so much better. It also reinforces the dominant mainstream view of the liberal, pro-equality, pro-tolerance mould espoused by the West. Any country who doesn’t follow this mindset is just not a good place.

Word Up Which brings us back to publications like ourselves, The Word. Since we are based in Vietnam, our focus is necessarily on this country. Since we require a license to publish every month, our focus is generally positive — although recent relaxations have allowed us to be more critical. And while our publication gets little online readership overseas — 80 percent of our online hits come from users in Vietnam — the fact that our non-negative, non ‘bad Vietnam press’ content gets out there is positive. It does something, no matter how little, to redress the balance. And it ensures that information about this country that really matters is getting an international voice. Leave it to the global press and it would be silenced. — Nick Ross

Big5 The

EDM trailblazers The Chainsmokers play Saigon on Sep. 14

DJ Allan Walker will headline the Ravolution Music Festival in Hanoi

Oktoberfest kicks off in early October




An international tourism expo, The Chainsmokers, Allan Walker, Oktoberfest and the Red Bull Champion Dash. Five big events to look out for over the coming weeks




International Tourism Expo HCMC

Saigon Exhibition & Convention Centre, HCMC Sep. 7, 8, 9 The growth of the tourism industry in Vietnam continues and so do events that support it, such as the upcoming 13th International Tourism Exhibition (ITE HCMC). ITE HCMC has established itself as Vietnam’s key international tourism event, which attracts international buyers, suppliers, trade professionals and media partners from domestic and international tourism and travel organisations to keep up-to-date with the latest developments in the travel industry. With a varied programme including post-show tours and exhibitions, ITE HCMC will provide delegates with excellent opportunities to network. The expo is on from 8am to 5pm each day. Saigon Exhibition & Convention Centre (SECC) is at 799 Nguyen Van Linh, Q7, HCMC. For more info, go to 2

The Chainsmokers

Sala Thu Thiem New Urban Area, HCMC Thursday, Sep. 14 Hugely popular EDM melody makers The Chainsmokers hit Ho Chi Minh City this month on their first tour, Memories… Do Not Open. In 2014, The Chainsmokers released their first single #SELFIE which turned into a hot overnight hit with over 500 million views on YouTube. In 2015, greater fame came the American duo’s way on release of their debut EP Bouquet featuring the single Roses which reached the top 10 on the US

Billboard Hot 100. But it was 2016 that was a golden year for the boys when their hit Closer ft. Halsey became a global phenomenon right after its release. Closer is nearing almost two billion views on YouTube and spent 11 consecutive weeks at number one on the Billboard Hot 100. The Chainsmokers will be supported by alternative rocker, Nick Martin. Tickets start at VND750,000 and go up to VND1.6 million. They can be purchased online at

Ravolution Music Festival ft. Allan Walker 3 Venue To Be Announced, Hanoi Sunday, Sep. 17 If electronic dance music is your thing, then perhaps it’s time to book your tickets to Ravolution Music Festival in Hanoi on Sep. 17. So far the organisers have secured big names in BritishNorwegian DJ Allan Walker, who is no stranger to these shores after his brief performance at Envy nightclub in Saigon last year, and Dutch DJ Nicky Romero, with more artists to be announced soon. Tickets start at VND359,000 and can be purchased online at ticketbox. vn 4


Windsor Plaza Hotel, HCMC Oct. 4 to 7 & Oct. 11 to 14 The global phenomenon in the name of celebrating German culture is on again, and for the umpteenth year the Windsor Plaza Hotel will be playing host to eight nights of beer swilling, dancing and food. Included in the cost of a ticket (from VND1.2 million to 1.4 million), revellers will enjoy

six hours of free flow Schneider Weisse or Krombacher beer out of their very own souvenir Oktoberfest beersteins presented on entry with official tickets. The authentic atmosphere that is found in the massive beer halls in Germany is recreated at Oktoberfest in Saigon, complete with savoury German sausages, schnitzel, pretzels and sauerbraten. For more ticketing info, c call 0908 477489, email or go to 5

Red Bull Champion Dash Hanoi Xanh Ecopark, Hanoi Saturday, Oct. 21

The Red Bull Champion Dash is a 5km race done in teams where participants will encounter 15 exciting and challenging obstacles that will test teamwork skills and physical strength. The obstacles will require teams to crawl, climb, balance, swing, carry and support each other to the finish. It’s anticipated that it will take teams anywhere from 45 minutes to two hours to complete the dash. The Red Bull Champion Dash is intended for everyone, as it’s a sports and entertainment experience that includes music, food and drink. For more info, go to | September 2017 Word | 11

Briefings Hanoi

Whatever Suits You Five of the best tailors in Hanoi


etting tailor-made garments is always a bit of a gamble — one wrong measurement and suddenly your dress won’t zip up. Errors are common with custom-made clothing, which is why we’ve done the dirty work for you and compiled a list of the most reliable tailors in Hanoi.

patterned and vibrant fabrics not typically found elsewhere. Prices start at around VND300,000 for short dresses, skirts, and women’s tops. The tailors here have experience with both men’s and women’s clothing, and they speak English. Located at 17 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Hanoi. Open 9.30am to 5pm every day.

Vintage Boutique

6th May

For 10 years, Vintage Boutique has produced quality custom and ready-to-wear clothing as well as home décor, earning its reputation as a reliable tailoring service. An array of fabrics is available in store. Customers are also welcome to bring their own. In addition to offering the standard solidcoloured fabrics most tailors sell, Vintage Boutique also has a wide selection of bold

Embroidery is always a fun way to liven up your clothes, but unless you have a particularly talented grandmother, you probably don’t know anyone who can embroider a piece of clothing for you. That is, until now. 6th May specializes in hand-embroidered garments both custom and ready-made. The shop sells a variety of hand-stitched goods including dresses, tops,

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jeans, shoes, bras and ao dais. Embroidery details range from conventional flowers to more elaborate scenes depicting traditional Vietnamese life, but customers are also able to suggest their own embroidery designs. Ready-made dresses start at around VND1.6 million and ao dais at about VND1.25 million. For custom embroidery and tailoring, enquire by phone or Facebook. Located at 174/165 Chua Boc, Dong Da, Hanoi. Open 10am to 8pm Tuesday to Sunday. Contact via Facebook messenger @6thMay or call 0983 311058 for more information.

Jade Tailor At Jade Tailor, tailors and sisters Thu and Thuy emphasize co-creation, meaning the client’s ideas are essential to the design process. Jade Tailor offers a selection of


fabrics at the shop, or a service where someone will accompany customers to fabric markets to find the highest quality materials and barter for the best prices. The sisters also speak excellent English, which is very convenient for foreign clients. Finished products range from about VND300,000 for a shirt to VND4 million for a suit or wedding dress, materials excluded. Jade Tailor is located at 27-29/115 Nguyen Luong Bang, Dong Da, Hanoi. Open every day 10am to 9.30pm. Contact via Facebook messenger @JadeHanoiTailor or call 0903 452958 for more information. By appointment only.

Clom’s Closet and Tailort A custom suit or a fitted dress is enough to make anyone feel like royalty, but if you’re in the market for something especially lavish,

Clom’s Closet, and its men’s store, Tailort, provide the full luxury experience. Materials are imported from Japan, and the difference in fabric style and quality is apparent. Casual dresses are the top seller at Clom’s Closet, but accessories, jewellery, and ready-made clothing are also for sale. Tailort specialises in custom men’s dress clothes, but a variety of accessories like hats, ties and leather briefcases are also for sale. Prices at Clom’s Closet range from about VND1.2 million for a short dress to about VND3 million for a formal dress. At Tailort suit prices range from VND4.9 million to about VND14.9 million. Clom’s Closet is located at 31A Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Hanoi. Open every day from 9am to 7pm. Tailort is located at 29 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Hanoi. Open 10am to 8pm Monday to Saturday and 9am to 8pm on Sunday.

Lacy Lingerie Finding a bra that fits right is close to impossible in Vietnam. So many elements need to line up to ensure the perfect fit — shoulder length, back width, cup size. Lacy Lingerie eliminates this hassle by custommaking underwear that is specific to your body. Combining gorgeous laces with elegant designs, tailor Than Thi Thu Thao creates stunning bras, bralettes and panties that are almost too beautiful to wear under your clothes. Bras and bralettes range from VND180,000 to about VND500,000. — Emily Arntsen Lacy Lingerie is located at 24/46A Pham Ngoc Thach, Dong Da, Hanoi. Hours are flexible but by appointment only. Contact via Facebook messenger @lacybralette or call 01673 113688 | September 2017 Word | 13

Briefings Hanoi

The Lesser-Known Coffee Chains The little leaguers striving for big league fame


e compare four slightly less-well-known café chains in Hanoi that — slightly less well-known chains that are trying to make their way into the big leagues. We compare the cafés in relation to their service, prices, atmosphere, variety, and taste. Here are the findings.

The Coffee House The Coffee House is a modern dream. With industrial style décor, smooth quiet music, and a plethora of plants, it’s a good

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place to sit and relax with a cool drink. The cakes and desserts are not only fresh and tasty, but cost only between VND25,000 and VND38,000. The passion-fruit mojito mocktail is a refreshing drink on a hot summer’s day at only VND45,000. Other options including coffee, tea and iceblended drinks all range between VND29,000 and VND65,000. The staff are friendly and happy to answer questions about their products. Each branch of The Coffee House has a modern, relaxed, professional atmosphere.

You can visit The Coffee House in over 40 locations over Vietnam. With The Coffee House now delivering on, this café really has a lot going for it. The Coffee House is at 68A Hoang Cau, Dong Da, Hanoi or go to

Lion Coffee If you ever find yourself out at Hai Ba Trung and wanting a refreshing drink, this particular outlet of Lion Coffee is a great option. Lion Coffee offers a range of fresh drinks all between VND25,000


and VND45,000. If you’re after a coffee and you like it strong, make sure you specify that in your order. The range of fruit teas includes fresh ingredients corresponding to the flavour, such as the mango tea; a delicious fruity drink filled with fresh mango and pieces of jelly. Lion Coffee has speciality drinks on their ‘Lion King’ menu consisting of sweetcorn, sweet potato, and pumpkin iced drinks. The airconditioned café offers free Wifi, electricity outlets, and a rooftop seating area that caters for all. Lion Coffee is at 61 Ba Trieu, Hang Bai, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi. Call 0968 318361 or go to lioncoffee01

AHA Café AHA Café on the corner of Dao Duy Tu and Hang Buom is one of the many AHA Cafés located in the

Old Quarter. This location has three storeys, each of which provide customers with views of the street below from their huge, balcony-style seating. Fans are available all around for those hot summer days. AHA Café sells a range of drinks including coffee, teas and smoothies, all priced between VND20,000 and VND45,000. The drinks at AHA Café are consistently good and the coffee always fresh and fragrant, and made with real milk. Whether you’re here with friends, on your own for a quick drink or a long one, you will not be disappointed by AHA Café. AHA Café is at 2 Hang Buom, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi. Call 0937 704146 or go to

Twitter Beans Twitter Beans is a coffee chain with four locations in Hanoi. We visited the

location on Tay Son Street on the ground floor of the Mipec Tower. The first standout was the service. The English-speaking staff are kind and helpful, and take their opportunity to upsell, without being too pushy. They sell a range of drinks from coffee, tea, ice blended drinks and smoothies. The prices range between VND25,000 and VND55,000, and the drinks are consistently good. Twitter Beans is fully equipped with plenty of seating available and free Wifi. Along with the drinks, Twitter Beans sells a small selection of pastries and cakes behind the counter. The custard Danish is a delicious treat. Each of the drinks is served with a little cookie to enjoy while you are there, a nice touch. — Amelia Burns Twitter Beans is on Floor 1, Mipec Tower, 229 Tay Son, Dong Da, Hanoi. Call (024) 3564 3600

The Final Verdict The café chains, although very similar, seem to be competing quite well. With so many cafés in Hanoi all jockeying to be the best, it’s hard to go wrong when picking one that you like, as they are all of a pretty high standard. Each one is different in its own way, and each one is a favourite for someone.

Bean Counting The Coffee House Upside: Décor Downside: Nothing Lion Coffee Upside: Huge drinks range Downside: Coffee strength AHA Café Upside: Open air and friendliness Downside: Nibbles needed Twitter Beans Upside: Cookie service Downside: Décor | September 2017 Word | 15

Briefings HCMC

KOTO Opens a Catering Arm The country’s first social enterprise extends its reach

In the kitchens at KOTO


f you know KOTO (Know One, Teach One), then you’ll know something about their respected food and beverage training programmes for underprivileged youth and their training restaurants in Hanoi and Saigon. The brainchild of Australian-raised Jimmy Pham, a former tour leader born in Vietnam who returned to the country in 1996, KOTO was first set up as a sandwich shop in Hanoi to help street kids. Gradually transforming itself into a training school to give its trainees life skills in the food and beverage industry, graduates from KOTO’s programmes in both Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi have become highly sought after within the industry. Now KOTO is extending its reach with a new catering arm; KOTO Catering, incorporating three separate businesses.

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Fresca ( is an online food ordering service that delivers recipe kits to people’s homes, perfect for those who love to cook, but don’t have the time to do the market shopping that is required to produce tasty, home-cooked meals. Also part of the new arm are Pies by Rachel (piesbyrachel. and The Patisserie ( KOTO Catering’s general manager, Rachel Sinanan, explains.

Why this new venture? Why three elements to it? We decided to start our own online retail division within KOTO Catering, as we already do food production for many retailers and cafés in Ho Chi Minh City, as well as catering for corporate and private events, and weddings.



recipe kit, and recipes have been made simple, so that anyone who wants to cook at home can cook the meals listed. The base for the pho is already prepared, making it quick and easy to cook.

The issue of buying ingredients from one outlet in Ho Chi Minh City has always prevented people from cooking at home. Is this part of the idea? This was the main reason Fresca was started. It came from an idea of mine, as when I arrived in Ho Chi Minh City, although I had lived in other countries in the past, I found it hard to find all the products I wanted to cook with. It takes time to get to know the city’s markets, and it can also be very time-consuming trying to get all the products you want — especially when you are working full time.

The meals work out at about VND160,000 a head. Do you think people would rather cook themselves at home than go out and spend the same money on a meal in a restaurant? Eating out every day can cost a great deal more. It is part of the culture here in Vietnam to cook as a family at events like Tet, so why not make it fun and interesting and cook more often at home? It’s healthier and you know the food is safe.

Pies by Rachel. What fillings do you have? What will they add to the social enterprise? A different type of business that will help grow the enterprise, and give the youth being trained a new outlet to utilize their skills — still in hospitality, but in a different way. It gives them the opportunity to be part of something different and exciting they can put their ideas into.

How successful has Fresca been so far? Fresca has only just started, and is still in its infancy, but it’s growing bigger every day. The interest we have had purely from advertising it just on Facebook has been huge. We love seeing our recipe kits flying out the door.

directly from farmers, and source the best quality products for us.

Who puts together the recipes? How have you chosen the dishes? Our team at KOTO Catering have put the dishes together. This has included input from myself and our executive chef, Craig, who is from the UK. His team of chefs, most of whom are ex-trainees from KOTO, have also had a huge input into the recipes. The recipes will be added to monthly as time goes on.

How easy is it to cook the dishes? Pho, for example, is notoriously time-consuming to cook. Do you include everything — herbs, spices Where do you source the ingredients? and so on? We have some fantastic suppliers who buy

Absolutely everything is included in your

We’ve started with one pie — the Great Aussie pie. It is a secret recipe with two different sizes; a 250g pie for VND150,000 or a 100g pie for VND70,000. We plan to keep growing our selection of gourmet pies over the coming months. We are perfecting our recipes before we launch them and they will include British pies, French pies, American pies, New Zealand pies, Italian pies and of course the Vietnamese vegetarian hot pot.

The Patisserie. At the moment you’re only doing macaroons. What are your plans for this venture? As we already provide many of our clients with our fresh bread, pastries and more, we intend to start selling them via the Patisserie by October. So, we will be a fully fledged bakery. For further information on KOTO, click on | September 2017 Word | 17

Briefings Hanoi

Lucy Rose The acclaimed British singer-songwriter performs in Hanoi


f you don’t like acoustic music then you’re going to be totally uninterested in me straight away,” laughs British singersongwriter Lucy Rose. “And I quite like that.” Due to perform at Hanoi Rock City on Thursday, Sep. 21, Lucy’s brand of indie folk acoustic music attracts a certain type of listener, one, she says, tends to have a “big heart… and a lot of feelings going on.” “From all the people I’ve met, I think they think on a slightly deeper level,” she says. “It feels like a lot of people have gone through a certain [experience], and maybe they have a certain song or record of mine that they listen to at that time.” Brought to Vietnam by Kindassault, Lucy’s first album Like I Used To was released on Columbia Records in 2012. It led to a meteoric rise to stardom that garnered numerous TV appearances, a tour of the UK and North America, and performances at the top festivals in the UK. This was followed by her second album in 2015, Work It Out, which peaked in the UK album charts at number 9. However, with commercial success came a pressure to ‘up the ante’, and conform to the commercial needs of the music industry. “The industry is profit-based,” she explains. “If you’re not selling a huge amount of records and are not in the top 5 artists in the UK, then you’ve failed.” To achieve such success required adjustments. The staff at her label began questioning her songwriting: the music itself or the meaning of a particular word or metaphor. In turn she was encouraged to analyse every aspect of her work. “Until that point songwriting was a relatively natural thing,” she says. “I had bad days and good days. It was just

subconscious and I never thought about it that much. “Now I started questioning myself. ‘Is that lyric actually any good?’ and I didn’t actually know whether that lyric was any good. ‘Is it too simple?’ ‘Is it too obvious?’ I didn’t know.” Suddenly, songwriting, which had always brought Lucy happiness, was making her unhappy. “The one thing that I treasured in life was being ruined.” That was when she took a big step back and re-evaluated.

The Rise to Stardom Brought up in Warwickshire, central England, Lucy’s musical journey began with playing the drums at school. When she was 15, she bought herself a guitar and started to learn — she is largely self-taught. At 18, with both her older sisters already out of the roost — one is an accountant and the other works in advertising — Lucy moved to London to pursue a music career. What followed were open mic gigs, paid shows, a contract with Columbia Records, two albums, performances in venues she could only dream of playing as a kid, and commercial success. Come 2016, however, and Lucy was struggling. “I’d lost my confidence,” she says, “and I was told that ‘this album hasn’t worked out how we want and we don’t think we can do another record with you unless we do this compromise or that compromise.’” So before making any decisions on her future, and before making those ‘compromises’ she went travelling.

On the Trail Inspired by the number of tweets and Spotify streams coming from the region, for two months Lucy took her guitar and

backpacked around Ecuador, Peru, Chile, Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay, Brazil and Mexico, playing free shows and staying with fans. The journey led to her reevaluating both her life and career, and was also the catalyst for her third album, Something’s Changing, which was released in July. “[The trip] gave me the confidence to go back and say, you know what, I’m going to do it a bit differently this time.” Now she manages herself and has decided that she will never again sign to a major label. She has a self-funding, selfreleasing licensing deal with Communion in the UK and Arts & Crafts in Canada, which means she has creative control over her work. Having already performed in the region last year, Lucy is back in Southeast Asia this September for three weeks’ worth of shows. During her trip to South America, Lucy made a documentary of her experiences, a 20-minute short film that is being screened at the beginning of all her shows. It shows her as a real person with real people, brought together by the love of her music. “It’s quite powerful to see it and then hear the new songs that came out because of it,” she says. “It goes into detail about where my headspace was before going on the trip and the profound effect it had on me. I think it can be quite a powerful thing seeing the documentary and hearing the new songs live at the same time.” — Nick Ross Lucy Rose and her band will play at Hanoi Rock City (27/52 To Ngoc Van, Tay Ho, Hanoi) on Thursday, Sep. 21. Entrance is VND250,000 (before Sep. 3), VND300,000 (in advance) and VND350,000 on the door. For info and ticketing search for Lucy Rose Hanoi on Facebook. For more info on Lucy Rose, click on

Briefings HCMC

Northern Lights An intrepid native of Saigon takes on the Arctic


he sub-zero temperatures of the Scandinavian Arctic are beyond the imagination of most sandalwearing inhabitants of Saigon, but for 29-year-old Hoang Le Giang, a seven-day expedition crossing this remote wilderness presented an unmissable challenge. In December 2016, he won a competition which offered amateur adventurers the chance to travel to Sweden, where they would be taught how to build a shelter, start a fire, cook food and navigate their way using dog sleds, before setting out on their adventure across 300km. When he applied, Vietnam wasn’t even on the list of countries where applicants could say they were from. “I had to email the organisers to put it on,” he says. His dream was to be the first Vietnamese to go to this remote corner of the globe, and the public responded as he received over 113,000 votes to send him on the trip in April of this year.

On Becoming Top Dog Giang wasn’t a complete novice, however. He’d had some experience of trekking in the Himalayas, and he knew he’d have to put in the hours to ensure he was in peak physical condition for the adventure, which he would complete with 27 other people.

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He spent five days a week doing triathlon training to prepare. “Physically, I’m much smaller than Europeans. They are huge. You feel a bit of pressure,” he says. Once there, the most important relationship he made was with the huskies that would pull their sleds. They were to carry Giang between 50km and 70km each day, so it was imperative that they were well looked after and well managed. “At first they don’t really like you,” he says. “Six dogs have six different personalities. Sometimes one dog is bad, some are grumpy, and there are fat dogs, thin dogs. You have to learn the differences. One dog might not go well with the other so you have to switch positions. You have to make them trust you. At the beginning, they have suspicious eyes. “Especially when they are going uphill they always look to see if you are helping them. They appreciate it if you jump out of your sled and help them push. When you are going downhill they want to go very fast, and you have to slow them down and they look back thinking, ‘Hey, what are you doing man?!’” Witnessing the Aurora Borealis (northern lights) is an experience many people dream of, and Giang was lucky enough to experience it first-hand as he lay at night in his sleeping bag.

Pressure Cooker Environment A trip in such extreme conditions presented certain unavoidable ailments, but these served to spur Giang and his fellow adventurers on. Through the adversity, there were vital lessons to be learnt. “Sometimes you are so cold and your back is painful, your fingers are cracked but you still have to do everything,” he says. “You know that you have to keep going on.” “The instructor is a very famous outdoors man in Sweden. He gave a lot of lessons about the philosophy. I remember the lesson about our cooker. It’s very problematic because sometimes it’s too cold, you have to reheat it, and the snowflakes get into the nozzle and there are many things to fix. “It’s 10pm and it’s so cold, and we haven’t eaten yet. We’re still trying to fix it. So we borrowed the cooker from our neighbour. The instructor said the relationship between us and the cooker is like our relationship with life. If you have a problem you have to try and fix it. Nowadays people don’t try to fix things when they have a problem, because there


“It’s always very magical. It happened on the night we didn’t have the tent. Normally it happens when we are all asleep. We were looking at it as we fell asleep,” he remembers.

are so many other options.” Giang says this was the biggest life lesson that he took away from the trip — that a job should be done properly and seen through until the end. Shortcuts will usually end up costing you more in the long run. “It’s amplified in nature,” he says. “If you don’t use a stove properly you get burnt. If you don’t cook the water hot enough, the food won’t taste good, or if you don’t make the tent properly, it will collapse and you have to do it all again.”

A Double Life Giang works for a web browser company as well as owning a small coffee store, and he made many personal and financial sacrifices in order to go on the trip. He’s reflective as he looks back on his Arctic adventure. “It felt like you live a different life,” he says. “You feel like another person. Just like there’s an office worker me, then there’s the one who went on the adventure. It’s like I live many lives.” Later this summer, Giang will head off to Russia to climb Mount Elbrus, the highest mountain in Europe and one of the seven summits, which are the highest peaks in each of the seven continents. Giang’s ultimate goal is to be the first Vietnamese to complete all seven. — Thomas Barrett Follow Giang’s adventures at | September 2017 Word | 21

Briefings Hanoi

All That Glitters An ongoing exhibition showcases gold lacquered objects from the past


rainy day in Hanoi is always a good time to meander around a museum and receive my annual injection of culture, and the Sparkling Exhibition at the Vietnam National Museum of History was the drawcard for this particular jaunt. With promises of gold lacquered objects hundreds of years old, I was prepared to be amazed at the craftsmanship, and inspired by the religious significance of the artefacts. I stopped by the information desk for a brochure, with no luck. There wasn’t one. I was on my own. For the history buffs among us, lacquered wood first made its appearance in Vietnam more than 2,000 years ago during the Dong Son period, with the craft reaching its zenith during the Le and Nguyen dynasties between 300 and 100 years ago. Intricate carvings and decorations, usually associated with royalty or temples, were painted crimson and then lacquered in gold or silver. The carvings represented the sacred beliefs of the Vietnamese people, but were also infused with the minutiae of everyday life, as well as motifs of significant animals and

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plants. This exhibition showcases key pieces from the 17th to the early 20th century.

Not the Real Deal I was disappointed that one of the aforementioned key pieces, a many-armed Buddha was in fact a large print of the original carving. Carved in 1656 during the Le Dynasty by artist Truong, the Kwan Yin Avalokitesvara statue is almost four metres in height and over two metres wide. Sporting 11 heads, 42 large hands and 952 small hands, the statue is carved in crimson wood and gilded, and was declared a national treasure in 2012. Yet I was impressed with the ornate, sacred palanquin occupying the foyer of the museum. Under a lofty ceiling lit by a crystal chandelier, the piece was undeniably beautiful. Carved in the 18th century, it had lost none of its allure. The palanquin’s use was primarily ceremonial, and it was used to carry statues or tablets from one village in the north of Vietnam to another.

Less is More For me, the exhibition shone when it


came to the smaller pieces. Yes, there were screens and altars and beds and ceremonial spears, but I was drawn to smaller statues of lions and nghe, carved in the 18th and 19th centuries. The nghe can be compared to unicorns or dragons and symbolise strength, purity and intelligence. Usually seen on guard at temples, nghe are also carved into knife handles, roof beams and other items. Intricate and detailed, with the gold worn thin in places, I could appreciate the level of skill needed to create these gorgeous artefacts. Of course, the same level of skill was evident in the larger pieces, but there was a sense of whimsy associated with lions and nghe that I thought delightful. The truth is that — overall — I found this exhibition seriously underwhelming. I expected to be dazzled by countless artefacts dripping in gold — like an Aladdin’s Cave of sorts — but there seemed to be only a small number of pieces on show, although the publicity surrounding the exhibition promised 100. I expected more. — Diane Lee. The Sparkling Exhibition is on display until Nov. 30 at the Vietnam National Museum of History, 1 Trang Tien, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi | September 2017 Word | 23

Briefings HCMC

The Record Collector Fuelling an obsession


ixty-two-year-old Nguyen Huu Tien eagerly pulls out Deep Purple’s Machine Head album from his collection. It’s instinctive, like how a magician might blindly pick a specific card out from a pack. “Do you know Ritchie Blackmore?” he asks with teenage enthusiasm. At its peak, Tien’s collection of vinyl records swelled into the thousands. Nowadays, it’s settled at a more modest amount at just under one thousand. To fellow collectors in Saigon, he’s well known, and he’s been building up his impressive collection since he first got hold of a single from a band from Hong Kong during the early 1970s. His collection is mainly

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composed of British and American LPs from the classic era of pop and rock. He has them all, from The Rolling Stones to Neil Young to The Carpenters and more.

Dangerous Obsession His vinyl obsession was kickstarted during the war when he struck up a friendship with an American GI who would sell him LPs for US$1 each: “The first record I bought from him was a Johnny Winter record. I bought so many from him,” remembers Tien. By the end of the war, his collection had grown to over 40 LPs. But following reunification in 1975, the authorities cracked down on things deemed “corrosive to the

revolution”, which included music from America. Many collectors destroyed their records. “You couldn’t let [anyone] know. If they found you listening to US music, [you’d get in trouble]. It had to be a secret. “There was a time when I was still going to school and they did not allow music, but I really liked the song Starman by David Bowie, but I could not listen to it. I caught it on the Philippines radio [picked up in Saigon] and I got to listen to the song. It was a happy moment.” With the lack of vinyl available locally for collectors like Tien, he went abroad in search of his beloved wax discs to bring home. “After the war, I went to Europe


and when I returned I just carried on collecting and playing. I went to East Germany and Slovakia and I brought records back with me to Vietnam.”

Thrill of the Hunt Five years ago he travelled to America and returned with boxes full of records to top up his collection. Any record collector will tell you that it’s the hunt that is one of the joys of collecting, and the US is a treasure trove for collectors like Tien. Tien’s 21-year-old son, Hung, has grown up with records around the house, and he’s proud of his dad’s collection. He says: “I think it’s really precious. I feel lucky I have a dad like mine. I’m going to keep collecting vinyl if I have the money, I’ll never sell [his collection]. I want to keep it.” Hung is part of a new generation of youths in Vietnam who are turning to analogue forms. He says: “Many teenagers in Vietnam are starting to look into the past. They choose film, they collect vinyl. They like going back to the vintage style.” Vinyl has seen a worldwide resurgence in recent years and since 2008 there has been an impressive year-on-year increase in sales. Tien believes that digital platforms such as YouTube are fine, as long as they are seen as a preview to the authentic music experience, which to him, is unquestionably heard on a turntable.

Music is Life

Tien has spent his working life as an illustrator, and he’s always had his records as physical reminders of a life lived. He’s had to sell some of his collection in recent years due to financial difficulties, which Hung says was a tough blow for his dad to take: “I felt really sad. I felt sad for him.” “LPs to me mean several things,” adds Tien. “They are my souvenirs and my childhood times. I feel the same about music as when I was 14.” “Sometimes I’ve had unfortunate family affairs and so many troubles in my life,” he says. “I have to have music in my life. I’m still a lucky man now to be able to listen to rock.” — Thomas Barrett | September 2017 Word | 25

Sports Digest Sport in Brief Champs About to Clean Up As many as 100 43-inch smart TVs, worth over VND1.6 billion (US$70,400) in total, will be awarded to the Vietnamese gold medalists at the 29th Southeast Asian Games (SEA Games 29), according to Nhan Dan Online. The sponsorship programme was signed by Nguyen Kim Trading Joint Stock Company and Samsung Vietnam, in Hanoi last month. Tran Duc Phan, head of Vietnam’s SEA Games delegation, said at the time that Vietnamese athletes were expected to win between 49 to 59 gold medals, adding that the gifts will provide great motivation for the athletes. Duong Thuy Vi and Hoang Thi Phuong Giang were Vietnam’s earliest champs in Malaysia, competing in wushu.

Cyclists set for September Circuit The annual VTV International Cycling Tournament, the Ton Hoa Sen Cup, will kick off on Sep. 2 with the participation of 84 athletes, according to Vietnam News. Cyclists from 12 crews will tour through 14 stages from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City, during which they will have to conquer famous but difficult passes, such as Hai Van, which connects Hue and Da Nang, Ngang between Ha Tinh and Quang Binh provinces and Ru Ri in Khanh Hoa. The final is on Sep. 17 and a total bonus of VND1.2 billion (US$52,600) will be awarded to the best cyclists, of which the overall winner who bags the yellow jersey will pocket VND120 million. During these two weeks, organisers and athletes will

present more than 46,000 gifts and 200 bikes to poor students in localities they pass through.

Hoi An to Host September Marathon The Hoi An International Marathon 2017 will be held on Sep. 17. The marathon is expected to attract around 1,500 runners, mostly foreigners, who will compete in the 5km, 10km and 42km categories. Participants will receive souvenir cups, medals, T-shirts and bags at the Centre for Culture and Sports, Hoi An. For more information, visit the Hoi An International Marathon page on Facebook.

Offroad Cup Trucks on Over to Hanoi Outskirts The Vietnam Offroad Cup (VOC) is scheduled to kick off on Sep. 9 to 10 at the Culture Tourism Village of Vietnamese Nationalities on the outskirts of Hanoi. The event, which is organised by the OTOFUN forum, attracts the participation of more than 100 racers from across the country. Competitors will take part in the pickup, basic and improved vehicle categories. At the VOC event, apart from enjoying interesting tours, people will get an opportunity to exchange experiences and improve their driving techniques.

s date p u d Sen out yourp or ab g grou @ in ry o p s rtnt to har .com m eve vietna word

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SEA Games

The SEA Games have just ended in Malaysia, and it will be Vietnam’s turn in four years. Is it all worth it? Words by Harry Hodge. Photos by Bao Zoan


round the world, regional sporting competitions often lack the glitter of the Olympics or the World Cup, and are invariably a tougher sell in a crowded entertainment market. While the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games represent an opportunity for athletes in this region to shine against a high level of competition, the staging of the event has become a hot potato. Thailand appears to be set to step in for the 2019 edition that was originally awarded to Vietnam, then passed on to Brunei, then ended up in the lap of the Philippines who recently withdrew in order to deal with terror-related turmoil there. In this respect, the SEA Games aren’t so different from competitions like the Commonwealth Games, currently without a host for the 2022 edition after the South African hosts withdrew, or even the Asian

Games, which Vietnam was set to stage next year but declined — the baton passed to Indonesia. This is not to put a dampener on the performances of Vietnamese athletes in Malaysia last month. According to the organisers of SEA Games 29, the event drew approximately 6,000 athletes from 11 nations in Southeast Asia, competing in 38 sports with 405 categories. Vietnam’s delegation included 476 athletes, competing in 32 sports, and the country is ranked among the top nations competing at the games. Several outstanding performances in athletics, wushu, archery and table tennis marked the early days of the competition for Vietnam. In the coming years, big things are expected of track stars like Nguyen Thi Huyen, Bui Thi Thu Thao and Le Tu Chinh. Nguyen Thi Huyen recently broke her own national record in the women’s 400m hurdles

event, clocking an impressive time of 56.14 seconds. Meanwhile, her teammate, Bui Thi Thu Thao, is a famed long jumper, while sprinter Le Tu Chinh, born in 1977, won two gold medals in the women’s 100m (11.47 seconds) and 200m (23.52 seconds) events at the recent Thailand Open Track and Field Championships. Team sports like football are a strength for Vietnam, while other sports like basketball are on the rise. Vietnam will be host for the 2021 edition of the Games, although the debate whether to use Hanoi and its existing facilities, versus Ho Chi Minh City and having to build new ones from scratch is ongoing. Many citizens and even sports fans are more likely to clamour for the completion of new subway lines over a new SEA Games stadium, proposed for a site in Ho Chi Minh City’s District 2. | September 2017 Word | 27



list HCMC

The Observatory, Michelin-star chefs, a fun run and golf scramble, a comedy night and a nomadic yogi. You’re not alive if you’re bored in the big city



Yatender Local photographer, Yatender, is the subject of an exhibition at Shyevin S’ng Gallery until Sep. 16

Internationally acclaimed artist, Ly Hoang Ly, is exhibiting at The Factory until Sep. 17

Just like mama used to make. Mama’s Cooking comes to The Anam on Cam Ranh Bay




Shyeven S’ng Gallery, Q2 Until Sep. 16 Local photographer Yatender is exhibiting at the relaunched Shyevin S’ng Gallery in District 2. She has been shown both locally and internationally, and most recently contributed to Saigon Artbook 7, sharing a small teaser of her present portfolio. Yatender’s wider Tinder Project is a largely private catalogue of stolen moments and fleeting connections. The gallery is at 6 Le Van Mien, Q2, HCMC

Ly Hoang Ly The Factory, Q2 Until Sep. 17 The Factory is showing the first solo exhibition by Ly Hoang Ly, one of the most critically and internationally acclaimed artists of her generation. The multimedia, collaged body of work showcases the artist’s ongoing inquiry into the epic story and continuous

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struggle of human (im)migration, while highlighting the contested nature of the memorization, documentation and circulation of history. The Factory is located at 15 Nguyen U Di, Q2, HCMC. For more info, visit thefactorycontemporaryartscentre or call (028) 3744 2589

Mama’s Cooking at Anam Resort

lot (grilled beef in betel leaf), bun bo Hue and banh xeo. Each dish is complemented by plenty of fresh, zesty salads and other treats. Mama’s Cooking serves as a complement to the resort’s daily Vietnamese fare and coincides with the opening of the resort’s Indochine Grill which specialises in European fine dining with a storing emphasis on classical French cuisine. For more info, go to

Anam Resort, Cam Ranh Every Wednesday and Sunday

Borie-Manoux Wines at Reflections

When it comes to cooking, nothing is as sacrosanct as a home-cooked meal. That’s why The Anam Resort on beautiful Cam Ranh Bay has recruited six mothers of its staff to serve up an authentic slice of Vietnamese culture every Wednesday and Sunday evening. Drawing on centuries-old recipes handed down the generations, the mother cooks serve up timeless Vietnamese classics as if they were cooking for their own families. The dishes include bo nuong la

Caravelle, Q1 Wednesday, Sep. 6 Wine connoisseurs are invited to an enchanting wine dinner with one of the last family-owned French wineries in Bordeaux. Savour old-school winemaking traditions over a five-course meal in the atmospheric setting of Reflections reflections at Caravelle Saigon. The Caravelle Saigon is at 19–23 Lam Son Square, Q1, HCMC. For more information, call 0906 900523



list HCMC


Michelin Star Chef Nicolas Isnard

New York DJ Tim Sweeney plays Saigon on Sep. 23

Sonic wizard Francis Inferno Orchestra plays Obs on Sep. 16

The annual BBGV Fun Run returns for the umpteenth time, once again for a good cause



He’s back. Yes, you guessed it. Alex from Tokyo



Michelin Star chef, Nicolas Isnard, takes over the kitchen at the Social Club Restaurant on Sep. 6, 7, 8


Hotel des Arts, Q3 Sep. 6, 7, 8 Hotel des Arts welcomes back acclaimed French chef Nicolas Isnard to Social Club Restaurant. Chef Isnard’s signature creations include French seared foie gras, beetroot and raspberry hibiscus scent, Phu Quoc baby calamari, zucchini caviar, and the list goes on. Gourmands are recommended to opt for a full dinner menu pairing with fine wine at VND2.688 million per guest. For bookings, email h9231-fb@accor. com or call (028) 3989 8888. Hotel des Arts is at 76-78 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, Q3, HCMC

Doors are at 8pm and entrance is free before 9pm, VND150,000 thereafter. The Observatory is at 5 Nguyen Tat Thanh, Q4, HCMC or online at pg/theobservatoryhcmc

Alex From Tokyo Observatory, Q4 Saturday, Sep. 9

12x12 and Voodoo Down Records

The sound force is back once again to take the floor on another ride through his vast, ultra-curated and delicately interwoven selections out of the dance cosmos, from rare Afro and Disco gems to cutting-edge house and techno. Support comes from Hibiya Line. Doors are at 8pm and entrance is free before 9pm, VND150,000 thereafter. The Observatory is at 5 Nguyen Tat Thanh, Q4, HCMC or online at pg/theobservatoryhcmc

Observatory, Q4 Friday, Sep. 8

Francis Inferno Orchestra

Boss of Berlin-based, worldrenowned Voodoo Down Records 12 x 12 is in town to join one half of Manchester-Saigon sonic entity MadderModes. Expect a night that will reverberate to the undercurrents of the kind of deep electronic sound that they all specialize in, and prepare yourself to go on a journey.

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Observatory, Q4 Saturday, Sep. 16 Returning once again is the globe-trotting sonic wizard from down under. Having made all sorts of waves in the last few years as a result of his highly distinctive productions that escape classification, and a series of mixes


that have been featured by RA, Francis Inferno Orchestra’s sounds have been received by happy ears everywhere. Support comes from MadderModes. Doors are at 8pm and entrance is free before 9pm, VND150,000 thereafter. The Observatory is at 5 Nguyen Tat Thanh, Q4, HCMC or online at pg/theobservatoryhcmc

Tim Sweeney Observatory, Q4 Saturday, Sep. 23 Curator and creator of the worldrenowned radio show out of New York, Beats In Space, Tim Sweeney is a deeply respected authority on dance music in all its inflections, and one of the Big Apple’s most sought-after DJs. Get down to this to find out just why. Support comes from Hibiya Line. Doors are at 8pm and entrance is free before 9pm, VND150,000 thereafter. The Observatory is at 5 Nguyen Tat Thanh, Q4, HCMC or online at pg/theobservatoryhcmc

BBGV Annual Fun Run for Charity Phu My Hung, Q7 Sunday, Sep. 24 British Business Group Vietnam


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list HCMC

Award-winning Australian comic John Robertson will be bringing his show The Dark Room to Saigon on Sep. 27

September is going to be huge at the Caravelle Saigon

AusCham’s AFL Grand Final Scramble is on Sep. 29 in HCMC, Danang and Hanoi





(BBGV) is holding their annual fun run for charity again this year on Sep. 24. The event allows participants to have fun with their co-workers, friends and family, but at the same time contribute to raising funds for disadvantaged people throughout Vietnam. Since the first fun run in 2000, the BBGV has raised almost VND9 billion to benefit charities throughout Vietnam. Over 85,000 people have taken part in the event over the years. It’s expected that around 10,000 runners will take part this year with the aim to raise VND1 billion. For more details on how to participate, contact Anh at anh.ho@, call (028) 3829 8430 or click on

The Dark Room with John Robertson Game On, Q1 Wednesday, Sep. 27 Madness arrives this month as Stand-Up Hanoi and Saigon International Comedy present Australian comic John Robertson, who returns after smashing it here earlier in the year. This time, however, he will be performing his one-man show, The Dark Room. Here’s how it works.

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Imagine a comedian on-stage putting on a show where he becomes a live video game. That is exactly what Robertson has been doing since 2012. Says John in a recent article in Vice Magazine, “It’s a multiplayer text adventure starring a floating head that wants to destroy you. It’s a choose-your-own-adventure that breaks your brain. Options are projected onto a screen, and the floating head is me, holding a light and screaming abuse into your dumb, little face.” The idea is for players aka the audience to try and escape, but John stops them “through a combination of logic and the kind of insults my high school PE teacher used to mistake for encouragement.” Succeed, he says, and you’ll win US$1,000. Fail, and YOU DIE. Naturally such an unusual, interactive show has garnered rather a lot of interest. In fact, hundreds of thousands of YouTube hits worth of interest. And now it’s coming to Vietnam. So for a night of interactive, insane improvised comedy and retro gaming, get yourself down to Game On Saigon. This is dark, surreal and very, very funny. Entrance to the show is

VND200,000 in advance and VND250,000 on the door. For ticketing information go to saigoninternationalcomedy or email Game On Saigon is at 115 Ho Tung Mau, Q1, HCMC and doors are at 8pm

White Zumba Night Saigon Saigon, Q1 Wednesday, Sep. 27 Show up, smile and shake the stress away with a feel-good fitness party led by trainer and choreographer Anand Kanpet. With infectious Latin beats provided by the Living Cuba band, this is the perfect night for shaking your stuff. Just don’t forget to wear white! Saigon Saigon is on the top floor of The Caravelle Saigon, 19–23 Lam Son Square, Q1, HCMC. For more information, call 0906 900523

AusCham AFL Grand Final Scramble Vietnam Golf & Country Club, Q9 Friday, Sep. 29 AusCham’s AFL Grand Final Scramble returns on the eve of the biggest match of the season in Aussie Rules football. On Friday Sep. 29, AusCham will host simultaneous tournaments in Ho

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list HCMC

This year’s Heart Insitute Gala returns on Oct. 7

Nomadic yoga instructor Stephen Ewashkiw is running YOGAMAZE workshops in Saigon and Hanoi in Oct.



2 Chi Minh City, Danang and Hanoi. The format is a scramble (best ball) to maximise the fun and networking opportunities for those playing. In Ho Chi Minh City, the event will be held at the Vietnam Golf & Country Club in District 9. The cost for the day for is VND2.8 million (AusCham members) or VND3 million (non-AusCham members). Included in the cost are green fees, caddie fees, all meals, freeflow beer, wine, soft drinks and water, and other great prizes and giveaways. Proceeds from the day will be donated to a charity to be confirmed by AusCham. For player registrations and sponsorship enquiries, email events@ For further details, go to grand-final-golf-scramble-2017

Heart Institute Gala 2017 Park Hyatt, Q1 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. Taking place on Saturday, Oct. 7 at the Park Hyatt, this year’s theme will be Havana Dream.

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Held to raise vital funds to _finance the growing demands of deprived children needing heart surgery at the Heart Institute of HCMC, at present in Vietnam, 30,000 children are waiting to receive the cardiac surgery that can save their lives The mission started in the 1980s when Professor Alain Carpentier, an eminent French cardiac surgeon, was asked to develop a cardiac surgery programme for the high number of children suffering from heart disease in Vietnam. This led to the creation of the Heart Institute of HCMC in 1992, the first establishment able to treat heart disease in Vietnam. Very soon, it appeared that the families of a number of children could not afford the expense of the operations. A social welfare department at the Heart Institute was created to cover the cost for the most destitute patients along with CMI, a wellknown international standard medical centre, whose profits go to the Heart Institute. 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) 3827 2366/67

Nomadic Yogi HCMC: Oct. 7 & 8 Hanoi: Oct. 14 & 15 Yoga teacher Stephen Ewashkiw brings his YOGAMAZE/Adventure Yoga workshops to Ho Chi Minh City (Mandala Wellness) and Hanoi (Zenith Yoga) in October. Stephen’s inspiring journey to becoming a nomadic yoga teacher started when he and his wife sold their LA home, two cars and most of their possessions to embark on a round-the-world cycling trip. The coupled cycled 16,000km across 21 countries in 19 months, walked and cycled across the north of Vietnam, and climbed mountains on the Vietnam-Laos border. Since then, Stephen has achieved the highest possible certificate from Yoga Alliance, ERYT 500, and is also one of a handful of students certified in YOGAMAZE, an elite school of yoga known as the ‘Harvard of Yoga’. To reserve a spot in Stephen’s workshops, call 0902 774584 (HCMC) or 0904 356561 (Hanoi). For more information, go to | September 2017 Word | 35



Saigon-based men’s luxury clothing brand, Antonio De Torres, launched last month at its District 3 store

For luxury fashion goods in Saigon, look no further than Anupa in District 1

KOTO Saigon has moved to a charming new location in District 1




Two fashion brands launch, KOTO gets a new home, a new traditional medicine museum, and hot air balloon rides over Mui Ne. What’s new in the big city


1 2

Antonio De Torres Launch Saigon-based men’s luxury clothing brand, Antonio De Torres, launched last month with a VIP party at the store’s District 3 location. Evolving out of what was once Massimo Ferrari, Antonio De Torres will build on the brand’s previous successes and continue to forge its reputation in Vietnam and abroad as a men’s luxury clothing brand. While the brand name has changed, founder Antonio Torres has ensured that every detail maintains the quality for which his name is synonymous. Having worked for famous fashion brands such as Dior, Gucci and Armani, and having lived in

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Vietnam for well over a decade, Antonio is well-positioned to remain at the forefront of men’s fashion in the region. Antonio De Torres targets the 22 to 35-year-old segment in Vietnam that appreciates high-end fashion and knows what it’s looking for. Antonio De Torres is located at 42A1 Tran Quoc Thao, Q3, HCMC. For more info, go to antoniodetorresofficial or call (028) 3930 6212

Anupa Cashmere Scarves Anupa currently has in-store a small range of cashmere scarves that douple up as wrap tops. So small is the range that only 10 pieces have been made. Naturally,

quality and beauty come with a price tag, and at VND8 million each, they really are a luxury. But as they say, you get what you pay for. Anupa’s flagship store is at 9 Dong Du, Q1, HCMC with a smaller boutique at 88 Dong Khoi, Q1, HCMC inside the Sheraton Hotel lobby. For more info, go to anupaluxury or

KOTO Saigon KOTO Saigon Training Restaurant recently moved to a new charming location in District 1. Not only is KOTO’s restaurant an exciting culinary experience for diners, it’s an important training ground where KOTO trainees

and staff from disadvantaged backgrounds get to develop their hospitality and culinary skills via KOTO’s hospitality training programme. Breakfast, lunch and dinner is available every day, with an extensive menu to choose from at competitive prices. KOTO is a great place to catch up with family and friends in a beautiful location, but at the same time contribute to the development of Vietnam’s youth who have a passion for hospitality. KOTO Saigon is located at 19 Nguyen Dinh Chieu, Q1, HCMC. For more info, go to kotosaigon





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The Studio Saigon, an unconventional part-bar and part-art gallery, has opened on Ly Tu Trong in District 1

Take flight in a hot air balloon over Phan Thiet and Mui Ne with Vietnam Balloons


New luxury beachwear label, Saigon Shores, launched last month and is proudly made in Saigon



Nguyen Shack, a museum, bar, teahouse and restaurant all rolled into one has opened in District 1


Nguyen Shack Now with a new location in District 1 down a small alley off Cach Mang Thang Tam Street joining other locations in Ninh Binh, Phong Nha and Can Tho, the Nguyen Shack concept is a combination of museum, bar, teahouse and restaurant. Nguyen Shack’s main focus is on traditional medicine and its healing properties, of which owners Maxime and his wife have a wealth of information about this lesser known aspect of Vietnamese culture. Not just that, however, Nguyen Shack serves up fruit-infused rice wine tipples and herbal teas making it an excellent option to escape the afternoon heat, or as a place to meet up with friends for a quick drink before a night out on the town. Says Maxime: “People can learn something different about Vietnamese culture in an interactive way by tasting our different products, but people who are just interested in the museum aspect are more than welcome.” Nguyen Shack also has accommodation options in all of its four locations. Nguyen Shack is at 6/15 Cach

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Mang Thang Tam, Q1, HCMC. For more info, call (028) 3822 0501 or go to homestay or

Saigon Shores Beachwear Label Launch New luxury beachwear label, Saigon Shores, launched last month with its first collection of beach kaftans. Saigon Shores offers feminine resortwear with its designs inspired by the most beautiful and vibrant destinations in Asia, but proudly made in Vietnam. From the picturesque beaches of El Nido in the Philippines to the party junk boats of Hong Kong, Saigon Shores’ apparel is made using the finest quality materials and is ethically produced in Saigon. Saigon Shores began when two Londoners met in Hong Kong several years ago, together developing a vision for Saigon Shores, which is to pay homage to everything that they love about Asia. For more info, go to saigonshores or

The Studio Saigon The Studio Saigon, the brainchild of British bartender and artist Richie Fawcett, has opened in District 1. Unconventionally part-bar and partart gallery, Studio Saigon displays Richie’s intricate pieces of artwork depicting Saigon’s landmark streets, districts and markets. The Studio Saigon also serves original cocktails named after Saigon’s streets and personalities — both respected and notorious — finely styled and garnished, reflecting Richie’s eye for detail as both an artist and an inventive mixologist. His passion for cocktails, art and Saigon, is quickly putting Vietnam as a destination for cocktails in the spotlight. The ideal time to visit The Studio Saigon is late afternoon when you can view the gallery then sip on a signature cocktail on the balcony while the frenzy of Saigon’s street life unfolds below. The Studio Saigon is on the first floor at 42 Ly Tu Trong, Q1, HCMC and is open Monday to Saturday from 12 noon to 10pm. For more info, go to

Vietnam Balloons Lifts Off For the first time in Vietnam,


adventure seekers can ride in hot air balloons thanks to new company, Vietnam Balloons. Tourists can now take flight over the southern coastal towns of Phan Thiet and Mui Ne, just a few hours from Ho Chi Minh City. The area is known for its beaches, sand dunes, kiteboarding and dragonfruit. Now thrillseekers can see it all from the air from US$136 per person for a four-hour adventure. The balloons lift off at 5am daily either from the centre of Phan Thiet city, or close to the famous sand dunes nearby, depending on wind conditions. The price includes transport to and from your hotel, a light breakfast after landing, champagne and a certificate designating you as a hot air balloon flyer. Vietnam Balloons also caters for special occasions like birthday parties in the air, weddings in the clouds and corporate events. For more info, call 0903 922551 or click on

ToDo list Hanoi

A Savage line up, hotel mid-Autumn promos, a market day, comedy, art shows, gigs and Quest Festival beefs up. There’s tons to do in the capital

Savage September Sessions Savage Hanoi, Tay Ho Throughout September Savage has a massive line up coming your way this September. Here’s what’s up: Sep. 1 — Mo:Sa:Ic Night w/ Magico (Korea) / Hlib Sep. 2 — Min8 / TrungD / Quan (Live) Sep. 8 — JonnyVicious (Malaysia) / Ouissam / Nark (USA) Sep. 9 — EJ Missy (Singapore) / Agata / Ali Sep. 10 — Alex from Tokyo (France) / Alex Who DJs / Sunnee Sep. 12 — FKJ (France) / Quan / Dustin NGO Sep. 15 — Francis Inferno Orchestra (Australia) / Miya Sep. 16 — Juliano (France) / Omar Jayyusi Sep. 22 — Color Night: Graz / Tim Sweeney (USA) / Quan (Live) Sep. 23 — 1 Year Savage: Skatebard (Norway) / Ouissam Sep. 29 — Slowz / Jauge / DJ Okapi (South Africa) Sep. 30 — Acid Camp Night (USA) For the latest updates, go to facebook. com/savagehanoi. Savage is at 112 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Hanoi


Pullman Hanoi September Promotions Pullman Hanoi, Dong Da Throughout September

A two-day pool party in a secret location in the mountains? Sounds good to us!

Maison de Tet hosts Maison Market on Sunday Sept. 10

Mosh to your heart’s content at the School of Mosh Festival at Hanoi Creative City


Melia Hanoi has a host of promotions running this month, including a seafood extravaganza



The British tradition of high tea lives on at Pullman Hanoi this September


Moon Cakes


Trung D & Min8 help kick off a massive month at Savage


This September, Pullman Hanoi is offering weekly opportunities for you to wine and dine at pretty much any time. Here’s what’s on: Continuing on from August, Pullman Hanoi is offering up their traditional moon cakes to celebrate the Full Moon Festival. The cakes are handmade by the hotel’s chefs and come in boxes inspired by the artworks of local artists.

Mango High Tea The British tradition of high tea will never fall out of style for meet-ups with friends or business partners. From 2.30pm to 5pm each day, Pullman Hanoi’s Mint Bar serves up its Mango High Tea, a lovely mangothemed afternoon tea featuring savoury and sweet treats. The price is VND395,000 per set. For reservations, call Mint Bar in the Grand Lobby on (024) 3733 0688

Italian Wine & Buffet Dinner A sumptuous buffet dinner with a wide selection of true Italian delights and free flow fine Italian wines. With a menu designed and

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prepared by Pullman Hanoi’s Italian cuisine expert, executive chef Filippo Morelli, and imported ingredients from Italy, you can’t go wrong. The price for adults is VND540,000. For children it’s VND340,000. There is a special offer of 10% off for advanced bookings and payment. For Accor Plus members there’s a 20% discount on the buffet rate. For reservations, call La Cheminée Restaurant on (024) 3733 0688. Pullman Hanoi is at 40 Cat Linh, Dong Da, Hanoi

September Promotions at Melia Hanoi Melia Hanoi, Hoan Kiem Throughout Sep. There’s plenty to get you going this month at Melia Hanoi with a slew of promotions running. At the hotel’s El Patio Restaurant, there’s a birthday promotion where guests celebrating birthdays can enjoy a discount percentage equivalent to their age. Every Friday and Saturday

evening from 6pm to 10pm, the El Patio presents the largest gastronomic selection of seafood in town with its seafood extravaganza. There’s a ‘Dine 4, Pay 3’ promotion which allows four people to dine for the price of three, with prices ranging from VND825,000 for one adult without drinks, to VND905,000 for one adult with free flow red and white wine. Also, ask about the international daily buffet dinner, which runs every Monday through to Thursday from 6pm to 10pm. Then at the Melia’s Cava Lounge, try out the summer refresher menu that offers refreshing mocktails, infused iced teas and sorbets to cool you down. From Tuesday to Friday from 6.30pm to 8.30pm sway to the tunes by the lounge’s in-house band with the charming voice of Tina from Cuba every Wednesday and Friday from 7pm. And of course, there’s happy hour every day from 6.30pm to 8.30pm. Start your evenin goff with one complimentary drink when ordering from the Cava Lounge’s




selection of drinks. For more info, call speed dial number *7666 or (024) 3934 3343. Melia Hanoi is at 44B Ly Thuong Kiet, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi

Mystery Mountain Pool Party Secret Location Near Hanoi Sep. 2 to 3 250 People | 24 Hours | 2 Stages | One Epic Party. So goes the tagline for the Mystery Mountain Pool Party, a two-day event being held at a secret location near Hanoi. Put together by some of the team behind Quest, Tay Ta and Techno. vn, magical mystery bus(es) will collect party goers from Tay Ho and whisk them to a secret location around an hour from Hanoi. From there, the party goes all night with 24 hours of music across two stages: a daytime pool party and a late night amphitheater for when things get dark and dirty. Reasonably priced food, drinks, and camping rentals are available on site. Tickets are available at

VND500,000 each from Tay Ta (including return transport) and are strictly limited to just 250. So don’t be left behind. For more info and ticketing click on or head to Bia Tay Ta at 32/52 To Ngoc Van, Tay Ho, Hanoi

Maison Market Maison de Tet Décor, Tay Ho Sunday, Sep. 10 Held in a French villa on the corner of West Lake, Maison Market will bring together a varied showcase of locally sourced art, craft, ceramics, edgy fashion, craft food items and organic vegetables. Maison de Tet’s popular healthy weekend menu will be available to keep you going. The market will also be an opportunity to chat with local artists and, naturally, pick up some great locally-made items. For more info, go to Maison de Tet Décor is at Villa 156 Tu Hoa, Tay Ho, Hanoi


School of Mosh Festival Hanoi Creative City, Hai Ba Trung Saturday, Sep. 16 An outdoor music festival focused on punk, hardcore, hip-hop and metal, School of Mosh combines live performance with other street culture activities such as skateboarding, DJs, BMX, graffiti, street art and streetwear. The brainchild of First and Last Records founder, Todaka Koremoto, this will be the second rendition of the School of Mosh Festival — last year’s festival attracted bands from Thailand, Hong Kong and South Korea, along with local bands and other street culture vendors and enthusiasts. This year the organisers have locked in five regional bands from Japan, South Korea and Thailand, along with 10 national acts from Hanoi, Saigon and Hue. On the day, it’s expected that well over 500 people mainly between the ages of 16 and 23 will converge on Hanoi Creative City | September 2017 Word | 41


The first edition of Intransmission, a series of experimental, multidisciplinary live art shows, begins on Sep. 29

Vurro is one of the new acts added to the line-up at Quest Festival in November


Madness arrives in Hanoi this month when Aussie comic John Robertson cuts loose at Standing Bar



British singer-songwriter Lucy Rose will be performing at Hanoi Rock City


list Hanoi

to mosh out on the live music and activities. For more info on ticketing, go to

Lucy Rose Hanoi Rock City, Tay Ho Thursday, Sep. 21 Much lauded indie singersongwriter Lucy Rose will be performing at Hanoi Rock City on Thursday, Sep. 21. Brought to Vietnam by Kindassault and described by Vogue Magazine as “one of indie music's breakout stars for 2012,” Lucy’s first album Like I Used To was released on Columbia Records. It led to numerous TV appearances, a tour of the UK and North America, and performances at the top festivals in the UK. This was followed by her second album in 2015, Work It Out, which peaked in the UK album charts at number 9, and then a backpacking trip to South America in 2016, a journey inspired by the number of tweets and Spotify streams coming from the region. For two months, Lucy took her guitar and backpack around Ecuador, Peru, Chile, Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay, Brazil and Mexico, playing free shows and staying with fans. While on this tour, she made a documentary of her experiences — the 20-minute short film will be screened at her show in Hanoi. The journey also led to much of the content of her third album, Something’s Changing, released in July on Communion Records. Lucy will be performing at Hanoi Rock City with her band. Expect it to be both an unusual and a fantastic show. For more info on the event, search for Lucy Rose Hanoi on Facebook. Entrance is VND250,000 (before Sep. 3), VND300,000 (in advance) and VND350,000 on the door. Hanoi Rock City is at 27/52 To Ngoc Van, Tay Ho, Hanoi. To see an interview with Lucy Rose, turn to page 18

The Dark Room with John Robertson Standing Bar, Ba Dinh Thursday, Sep. 28 Imagine a comedian on-stage performing not your typical set of stand-up comedy, but instead putting on a show where he becomes a live video game. That is exactly what UK-based, Australian comedian John Robertson has been doing since 2012 with his show, The Dark Room. Says John in a recent article in

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Vice Magazine, “It’s a multiplayer text adventure starring a floating head that wants to destroy you. It’s a choose-your-own-adventure that breaks your brain. Options are projected onto a screen, and the floating head is me, holding a light and screaming abuse into your dumb, little face.” The idea is for players aka the audience to try and escape, but John stops them “through a combination of logic and the kind of insults my high school PE teacher used to mistake for encouragement.” Succeed, he says, and you’ll win GBP1,000. Fail, and YOU DIE. Naturally such an unusual, interactive show has garnered rather a lot of interest. In fact, hundreds of thousands of YouTube hits worth of interest. And now it’s coming to Vietnam. So for a night of interactive, insane improvised comedy and retro gaming, get yourself down to Standing Bar on Thursday, Sep. 28. This is dark, surreal and very, very funny. Support comes from Dan Tackage. Entrance to the show is VND200,000 in advance and VND250,000 on the door. For ticketing information go to or email Standing Bar is at 170 Tran Vu, Ba Dinh, Hanoi

Intransmission Heritage Space, Cau Giay Sep. 29 to Oct. 1 The first edition of Intransmission, a series of experimental, multidisciplinary live art shows exploring individual perception and collective experiences, will take place this month in Hanoi. Intransmission aims to provide an immersive experience for attendees, thus, details of the content of the shows have been kept secret in an effort to enhance the experience. There will be two separate spaces, each containing its own site-specific art installation and distinct music act, but still connected in some way with audio and visuals streamed from each space into the other. Tickets for Intransmission are VND150,000 and will be on sale via Ticketbox and selected locations in Hanoi from Sep. 1. Heritage Space is in Dolphin Plaza at 6 Nguyen Hoang, Cau Giay, Hanoi. For more info, go to facebook. com/events/634375040096383/?hc_ location=ufi

Quest Festival Adds to Line Up Son Tinh Camp, Hanoi Nov. 10, 11, 12 The organisers of Quest Festival



have just announced they have added more than 60 new acts to the line-up for the festival in November. Leading the way is Spanish one-man band, Vurro, who will bring his keyboards, cowbells and singnature LED cow skull to Southeast Asia for the very first time. Hip-hop lovers will be rapt with the inclusion of Vietnamese super act, Jaunty Maniacs, who will deliver their trap-laden, hip-hopelectro jams to festival-goers this year. While Saigon-based, New Fame ft. DJ Skulz, will keep the crowd moving with their hardhitting hip-hop, dance, trap, reggae and dancehall mashups. Others expected to light up the festival includ, Chemo (UK) following his most recent collaboration with Kendrick Lamar; cross-cultural outfit, The Steezies; and Zamina will blend Afrobeat, reggae and Asian rhythms into an intoxicating blend. Phase Three tickets for Quest Festival are on sale until Oct. 2 and are priced at VND1.6million (US$70) for a three-day adult pass, inclusive of general camping. Transport and full camping packages are also available at

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Just Hanoi

One of Hanoi’s best-loved vegan restaurants, Loving Hut, has moved to Au Co

Cela in Tay Ho offers clean eating, healthy food and fast service

The Alchemist, a brand new cocktail bar in the Old Quarter, is for lovers of the fine art of mixology

Hanoi’s first Mexican-style restaurant, Tacos — Fresh and More, has just opened its second restaurant in Ba Dinh

Oriberry Coffee in Tay Ho is on a mission to help fight poverty with great coffee and tea






New restaurants, art spaces, restaurant awards and boutique accessories stores. What’s new this month in the capital



Loving Hut One of Hanoi’s best-loved vegan restaurants has moved from Quan Thanh to a new address on Au Co. The new interior is bright and spacious, although regulars from the old location may recognise some of the décor, such as the framed photo collage of famous vegans. There are two floors of seating, and the kitchen is fully visible from the first floor dining area. The menu is unchanged, so anyone hoping to find their favourite com xuat (mixed vegan rice set, starting at VND35,000), won’t be disappointed. There’s plenty of fake meat, tofu and mixed vegetable dishes to choose from, as well as vegan versions of popular street foods, such as bun nem (VND45,000) and mi xao (VND45,000). On the first day of the lunar month, the restaurant puts on a vegan buffet (VND100,000 per person), featuring around 25 dishes to choose from. Located at 147 Au Co, Tay Ho, Hanoi. Open daily from 7.30am until

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9.30pm. For more information, visit or call 01645 897748 / 0944 323317

Cela Cela was founded with three basic principles at its core; clean eating, healthy food and fast service. Founder Nguyen Quynh Nga has brought those principles a bit closer to Tay Ho, with the opening of another new restaurant. Situated on Xuan Dieu, it has a small outdoor courtyard and a smattering of indoor seating, at which customers can enjoy a guiltfree lunch. The food menu is dominated by wraps, salads and baguettes, ranging from VND43,000 to VND86,000, which can all be delivered to your home or office. Popular wraps include the pumpkin chicken, BBQ pork and salmon and egg. The chicken Caesar baguette and Hawaiian BBQ chicken salad are other menu highlights. Even the drinks menu follows the healthy route. Look out for the 250ml detox juices, such as the spice

secret (VND55,000), which combines carrot, beetroot, apple and ginger. Located at 66 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Hanoi. Open daily from 8am until 10pm. For more information, visit or call 0946 508788

The Alchemist A passionate owner is always a good starting point for any new business, and that’s exactly what Do Hai Nam brings to The Alchemist, a brand new cocktail bar in Hanoi’s Old Quarter. With a love and understanding of the fine art of mixology, Nam has created a place for cocktail lovers to gather and indulge in a diverse collection of popular and rare brands of spirits and liqueurs. The bar is hidden inside an old house with classic French architecture, and aims to bring visitors an extraordinary experience courtesy of a combination of fine drinks and classic music. Sparkling cocktails start at VND120,000 and include the Champagne Cocktail and the classic Mimosa. Cocktails using a range


4 of spirits vary from VND120,000 to VND180,000, and include classics such as the Daiquiri and the Old Fashioned. Look out for signature cocktails, including the Skye Patron (VND300,000), which blends Patron Reposado tequila, Talisker 10 Scotch, Angostura bitters and agave syrup. Located on the 2nd floor, 19 Nguyen Quang Bich, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi. Open daily from 6pm until late. For more information, visit thealchemistcocktailbar or call 0968 713442

TACOS — Fresh and More When founder Trang Cong Thang opened his first restaurant, it was out of a love for a type of cuisine he’d only been introduced to later on in life. Over the years, the menu gradually expanded from offering simple, hard-shell tacos, to including fajitas, burritos, quesadillas and nachos. Fast-forward to today, and Hanoi’s first Mexican-style restaurant has just opened a second location in

Ba Dinh, and Thang is already preparing the next menu addition — enchiladas. The new location is in a stunning position, overlooking Truc Bach Lake. With a large second floor dining area plus balcony, it’s the perfect place to pig out on wellpriced Tex-Mex cuisine. The menu is the same as in the original location (54 Dao Duy Tu, Hoan Kiem). A double decker taco (hard shell inside a soft shell tortilla) is just VND45,000. A serving of sizzling hot beef or chicken fajitas is VND159,000, and is enough for two people. Cocktails, churros and salads are also available. Located at 45 Truc Bach, Ba Dinh, Hanoi. Open daily from 9am until 10.30pm. For more information, visit or call 0972 383560

Oriberry Coffee Originally founded in 2010 by Dao Tran Phuong, Oriberry Coffee has a mission to help farmers fight poverty by producing great coffee and tea. As a social enterprise, they have

worked with many not-for-profit projects to help ethnic minority groups around Vietnam. By creating more jobs for smallholders, offering fair-trade coffee and tea products, they have created a sustainable development solution for the people they work with. Their café on Xuan Dieu has just moved a few doors up, and is now situated inside a much larger property, with comfortable new furniture and a warm, red colour scheme. Spread across three floors, with a large balcony and an even larger rooftop terrace, the new space is the perfect place to soak up some caffeine, get some work done or just hang out. The menu is unchanged, so your favourite regular lattes (VND45,000), green teas (VND35,000) and frappuccinos (VND50,000) are all still available. Located at 21 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Hanoi. Open daily from 7am until 11pm. For more information, visit oriberry or call (024) 3718 8076 | September 2017 Word | 45


Just Hanoi


1. Bay la Bato, a new space for arts enthusiasts and travellers, has opened in Tay Ho 2. An Store has just opened a new, bigger space in Hoan Kiem close to the Opera House 3. Don’s Bistro is just one of five Vietnam restaurants selected as winners in the World Luxury Restaurant Awards 4. ‘Tis the mooncake season, and this month JW Marriott has them in style


Bay la Bato As unique concepts go, Bay la Bato is definitely up there with the best of them. Founder Thang Dinh has created an open space for arts enthusiasts and travellers, where a number of free services are provided. There is free support for disadvantaged artists, such as those suffering from terminal illnesses or disabilities. For travellers, there is the possibility of a free homestay experience, which includes staying with the local family who live downstairs, going fishing in the morning and learning how to make local food. There’s a painting camp held every week, and the space is freely available to use for events and workshops during weekdays, as requested in advance. It’s staffed by a majority of volunteers and artists. Currently, there are also artworks and other trinkets available to buy. Coffee, tea, beer and snacks can be made by request. Located at 58/52 To Ngoc Van, Tay

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Ho, Hanoi. Open any time by prebooking. For more information, visit or call 0939 991369

Chàouen Lounge Born out of a desire to have a place to chase away those Sunday blues, owners Phuong Qui Ngoc and Luis Coelho have created a new restaurant–lounge in Tay Ho. The food focusses on a meeting of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern, something Luis learnt about during his world travels. The laid-back atmosphere is created by beautiful bright colours, comfortable sofas and a chilled international vibe. Guests will find a food menu of cold plates, both hot and cold, plus kebabs and salads to choose from. Falafel (VND70,000) and grilled halloumi (VND120,000) make an ideal snack before digging into a beef kofta kebab (VND160,000). Cocktails start from VND85,000, while mocktails, hot drinks, smoothies and beer start from VND30,000. Look out for the special Chàouen

shisha (VND260,000). Located at 8/12 Dang Thai Mai, Tay Ho, Hanoi. Open Sunday to Thursday from 2pm until 11pm, and Friday to Saturday from 2pm until midnight. Closed Tuesdays. For more information, visit or call (024) 3266 9173

An Store Originally opened by Nguyen Mai Phuong as a small store inside the Hanoi Boutique Hotel, An Store has just opened a new, bigger shop in Hoan Kiem. From just the exterior alone, it’s clear this is no ordinary shop. The antique wooden frames around the all-glass front, combined with the warm shades of yellow, create a welcoming and vintage vibe. The goods inside are lifestyle and fashion-orientated, with original designs and hand-made unique products. Look out for leatherwear, bed sheets and one-of-a-kind clothing items, with mid-range prices starting at around US$30. Postcards are around


4 VND30,000, or you can pick up some new ceramics starting at around VND100,000. Whatever you’re after, it’s the ideal place to find a little gift, souvenir or new centrepiece for your home or wardrobe. Located at 8 Ly Dao Thanh, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi. Open daily from 9am until 9pm. For more information, visit an1708 or call (024) 393 92667

Luxury Restaurant Award for Don’s Bistro Don’s Bistro in Tay Ho has just been recognised for its dining experience by taking out the award for best luxury scenic setting ahead of thousands of nominees from more than a hundred countries in the World Luxury Restaurant Awards held at the JW Marriott, Hanoi in July. Don’s Bistro was one of just five restaurants selected in Vietnam as winners, voted on mainly by guests, but including industry professionals,

well-known gourmands and food press. Nominations for awards are based on food quality, interior design and service reviews. Chef Patron, Donald Berger, on being congratulated for winning another award said: “This distinguished award is dedicated to my fantastic team and local and global guests who support us, especially to Vietnam, my adopted homeland.” Don’s Bistro is at 16 Quang An, Tay Ho, Hanoi. For more info, call 0913 001359 or go to facebook. com/donsviet

JW Marriot Hanoi Moon Cakes It’s mid-Autumn festival time and that means moon cakes in Vietnam. The season brings together families to celebrate the full moon with colourful lanterns, dragon dancing, and of course, sumptuous moon cakes. To celebrate, JW Marriott Hanoi has put together a

healthy, hand-made moon cake collection as a special gift for families for the month of September. On offer are all the traditional favourites beautifully presented in boxes made especially for the season. Prices range from VND400,000 for a box of two, to VND850,000 for a box of six. To place your order, call (024) 3833 5588 or 0936 408036

Melia Hanoi New Speed Dial Number In response to the growing length of telephone numbers and recent changes in regional telephone codes, Melia Hanoi has launched a new speed dial number to make life easier. By calling *7666, you will be connected directly to the hotel. Melia Hanoi General Manager, Guillermo Pantoja, says: “It’s about taking one step closer to our customer.” Melia Hanoi is at 44B Ly Thuong Kiet, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi. For more info, call *7666


Many Faces: Tri Minh / Celebrity Wax Museum / Bohemian Vietnam / The Analogue Experience / Niche Photography / Street Cred / Theatre Groups in Vietnam / Behind the Bun / Organic Hanoi / P for Picnic / Getting Your Phil / The A-Z of Steak / Mystery Diner Hanoi / Banh Bao / Mystery Diner HCMC Photo by Julie Vola

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Tri Minh Known for his celebration of all things electronic, Tri Minh is one of the country’s foremost musicians. He has now returned to his professional roots and teamed up with Danish jazz singer Nanna Bottos to form the Bay Collective. Words by Hai Vu


ri Minh has always had music running through his veins. Coming from a lineage of Vietnamese musicians, Minh’s father, Thuan Yen, and mother, Thanh Huong, were both prominent songwriters for the resistance and ultimately the unification of Vietnam during the American War. His sister, Thanh Lam, is also currently known as one of four Vietnamese musical divas. There was little doubt that Minh’s life would be destined to include music as well.

Making Sacrifices Minh first began learning classical piano theory at the age of six; although begrudgingly at first, Minh would eventually be grateful of the sacrifice. “For most kids, when you are that young and see friends outside playing, I did not find the piano enjoyable,” Minh says. “I felt forced to play, but when I grew up, I saw that I had to trade off some part of my life. I am very thankful now I have the ability to play and create music.” Embracing his gift for music, Minh has spent the better part of three decades performing in Vietnam and overseas. Throughout his long career, Minh has seen many musical trends come and go. It is this ever-changing musical shift which would be paramount in defining Minh’s own musical style. “During the 1980s, new influences came to Vietnam from the Vietnamese returning from overseas, and the expat community. I started to play jazz with some of the local musicians, and that’s when I shifted from a more classical background to contemporary music.” Minh spent much of the early 1990s helping create Vietnam’s first jazz band. It wasn’t until the late 1990s that Minh began experimenting with electronic music and collaborating with electronic musicians from both Vietnam and Europe, a transformation he was prepared for. “I don’t think changing [musical genres] is difficult, but changing and still making good music is very difficult,” Minh says regarding his transition from analogue to digital. “Having a background in classical training is a plus.”

Taking Note Minh now calls Copenhagen home. Far from Vietnam’s borders, he has the ability to see the country from an outsider’s perspective; a point of view that he says has given him new inspiration in his current musical endeavours. “There are a lot of opportunities in

Vietnam, but it is also very limiting. There’s not a lot of ‘you’ in Vietnam,” Minh explains of the country’s ability to assimilate its individuals. “You cannot expand your skills and techniques there. When I first moved to Europe, I faced a lot of difficulties, but at the same time it was very good. I learnt a lot from it. In Vietnam, it is very easy to make a career and money, but it is good to go out and challenge yourself. People should go and explore.” Minh has been doing just that, performing on both sides of the planet. He has also noticed differences in the way Vietnamese audiences and overseas audiences react to his compositions; both having their own distinctions. “The Vietnamese fans are curious and very open. They want to know more, but the problem is they shift a lot,” Minh explains. “Today, they can see a very cutting-edge contemporary artist, but the next day they can go to a rave party. They have no distinction of both genres. Unlike in Europe, the market is already developed. The people come because they know what to expect, but at the same time, since it’s so developed, it is also very fragmented. People [in Europe] are not curious enough and open to new things.”

Music Without Borders Recently, Minh has once again returned to his love of jazz, this time incorporating what he has learnt while in the world of bits and bytes. He is currently collaborating with Danish jazz singer Nanna Bottos. The duo formed The Bay Collective, a group of rotating musicians with jazz and pop sensibilities. “The Bay Collective are two people, but we also ask a lot of our musician friends to participate as well. We are a very open platform and want to input more musicians into our live show.” Releasing their first album Landscape, The Bay Collective is music free of borders. A goal that is also evocative in the band’s name. “The Bay Collective has two meanings,” Minh explains. “We are based in Copenhagen, we have many harbours and bays, and in Vietnamese, bay also translates to flying. We are aiming high, and that is the meaning of crossing different cultures together.” The Bay Collective will perform at the upcoming Quest Festival, Hanoi’s two-day music and visual arts event taking place from Nov. 10 to 12 at Son Tinh Camp. Minh will also debut some of his new electronic works as well, which explores the boundaries of his music both aurally and visually. For more info on Quest Festival click on




Celebrity Wax Museum

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An impressive new celebrity wax museum has recently opened in Ho Chi Minh City, offering a Vietnamese slant on London’s famous Madame Tussauds. Words by Thomas Barrett. Photos by Mike Palumbo


hen you think of wax museums the place that comes to mind is Madame Tussauds. Though the recently opened museum in Saigon is not affiliated with the famous brand, Nguyen Thi Dien of the Tuong Sap Viet Company, is hoping that the attraction will become a destination for visitors to Ho Chi Minh City looking to learn something about Vietnam. She is also confident that the uncanny quality of the waxworks matches those seen in London. Indeed, the idea to open the museum came from a trip to the UK capital over a decade ago. “At first the idea came after my husband visited Madame Tussauds in London,” she says. “He was impressed at how well made the sculptures were and how they looked like real people. We researched how to make them, but we weren’t very serious.”

Out Waxed The idea stayed with them until the first waxwork museum opened in Thailand a few years ago. They felt a twinge of national shame that there was a sculpture of Ho Chi Minh, but he was not in his home country.

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“‘In Vietnam, we didn’t have anyone who can build these, so we had to learn ourselves. Slowly, we made a sculpture of each other — it took three years’” | September 2017 Word | 55

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“Next to each waxwork is a biography in Vietnamese and English describing the subject; there is a diverse cast of characters to learn about� | September 2017 Word | 57

“‘One artist was worried when we asked her if we could make her sculpture. When the sculpture was finished we invited her to see it and she cried because it was so well made. She had cancer and sadly she died shortly after’” “Ho Chi Minh is a symbol of Vietnam, so we felt like we needed to finally open our own museum,” says Dien. “He shouldn’t be in another country. So we started to seriously research it.” The couple began to explore which materials they would need as well as learning the process behind the making of the waxworks. They were previously owners of a factory that produced plastic fruits for displays, but building a human being was in a different league. “In Vietnam, we didn’t have anyone who can build these, so we had to learn ourselves. Slowly, we made a sculpture of each other — it took three years.”

Waxing Miracle When building a sculpture, they begin by taking the measurements of the person as well as photos of every facial detail from multiple angles. Then, after the head and the body parts are completed, they attach them together to create an accurate representation of the model’s proportions. Real hair is used, and the celebrities donate their

actual clothes for their models to wear. All the models in the museum are of Vietnamese people who have made some sort of cultural mark during the 20th and 21st centuries, and they are a mixture of artists, musicians, comedians, actors and singers. The museum has over 100 different waxworks. All those chosen for a waxwork give their prior approval, and Dien has been happy with the responses once they see the finished product. Celebrities are perhaps tough to please, and Vietnamese pop star and TV celebrity Dam Vinh Hung jokingly told a newspaper that he would destroy the waxwork if he was not happy with it. “One artist [Ut Bach Lan] was worried when we asked her if we could make her sculpture,” say Dien. “When the sculpture was finished we invited her to see it and she cried because it was so well made. She had cancer and sadly she died shortly after.” Next to each waxwork is a biography in Vietnamese and English describing the subject. From Van Cao, the songwriter who wrote the Vietnamese national anthem, to

Mac Can, a popular comedian, to Thuy Nga, a famous singer and sketch show comic; there is a diverse cast of characters to learn about. One waxwork that stands out is of two brothers and circus performers, Giang Quoc Nghiep and Giang Quoc Co, who earlier this year broke the Guinness World Record for most consecutive stairs climbed while balancing a person on the head. No mean feat, and the prospect of making their wax sculpture was similarly gravitationally challenging, as like the two brothers, they have to balance. The staff at the museum double up as musicians, and there are regular performances of traditional instruments as you look around. Spending a couple of hours here is something a little different, and it provides a Vietnamese history lesson with a twist. The museum is located at Hoa Binh Theatre, 199 Ba Thang Hai, Q10, HCMC. Tickets are priced at VND120,000 per adult, and VND50,000 per child. For more information, visit | September 2017 Word | 59

Cover Story

Bohemian Vietnam eatnik, hippy, left-field, Bohemian. These are all words used to describe people who are unconventional, whose actions, thoughts and ideas are not run-of-the-mill. The nature of Vietnam attracts people who are unconventional and artistic. Once a pariah state, and still the only country to defeat both America and China in war, this country’s location, outlook and history of resistance makes it unique. So living in Vietnam, a nation sitting on the far edge of Asia, requires a certain outlook, a certain way of seeing the world that may at times be at odds with what we would deem to be normal elsewhere. After all, how many countries on this planet still


have a Communist government? Not many. Over the next few pages we look at the artsy people who’ve chosen this country as their home. Who are they? What do they do? What makes them tick? We also delve into the lives of those Vietnamese who are doing something unusual, something unconventional and against the grain. There are many. Through the stories we have put together, we have tried to get a sense of the Bohemian, underground yet artistic nature of this country. In the 1990s it was Prague and Berlin. A long time before that it was Bali. Chiang Mai has also had its day. But for the past few years, if you want somewhere in this region that is truly Bohemian, it’s Vietnam.

Danny.Dao Painter, tattooist and some-time graffiti artist anny refuses to give his real name. He doesn’t want his identity to be revealed. “I’ve kept my Vietnamese name to myself for a long time,” he says as he blows another puff of cigarette smoke into the air. The air in the small room we are in is already heavy with humidity, there’s just one electric fan to share among the four of us. Two of his friends, also fellow members of the art collective, All-In-One-Studio, that Danny has helped to co-found, are working close by. “From the time I started tagging buildings in Saigon, I thought it best that not many people know my name,” he says with a grin. His tag, the alias he uses when he ‘signs off’ on his graffiti, is well-known in the underground circles he mixes in. He writes his tag on a piece of paper for me to see. It looks familiar. “In the beginning, I used to destroy every wall I saw,” Danny recalls of his teenage years that he says were filled with angst. “We spent our teens on the streets, drinking, smoking and doing stupid things that young people do sometimes. But after 10 years of behaving like that, I decided I needed to slow down and focus on what I love, drawing and painting — I’d played around enough.” The angst Danny was dealing with, he says, was borne out of “family problems and the people around us, the city and this country.” His family’s roots are in Hanoi. However, now 27, Danny was born in Saigon after his parents moved south as business opportunities began to show promise. “He’s a businessman and is focused on making money,” says Danny in a tone that leaves very little doubt of his feelings


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towards his father. To this day, they remain estranged. All he says is that his parents divorced when he was a teenager, he was raised by his mother and says he doesn’t want any contact with his father. “I didn’t like it [that my parents separated]. I love my mum, she understands me. When I told her I don’t make enough money to support her right now, she was okay with that, because she knows art is like a fire inside me.”

Marvelling At Comics

It was comics that first sparked Danny’s ambitions. By the time he was 16, he was creating his own. So good were they, his talent caught the attention of a Japanese comic book publication that invited him to work for them. “I love manga and have many books about it.” He was one of 10 applicants chosen out of 300 who answered a Vietnamese newspaper advertisement. Ultimately, his parents encouraged him to finish high school, which he did, eventually leading him to Van Lang University in Ho Chi Minh City’s Binh Thanh, where he studied interior design (his father wanted him to be an engineer or architect). It took him six years to complete, instead of the usual four, because he had to juggle compulsory military service, study and part-time jobs to pay the bills. “Not long after I graduated, around 2014, I landed a job working at a tattoo parlour; that’s where I learnt how to tattoo, and that’s how I met the guys I’m living with right now.” There are five young men sharing the small dwelling that is a home, studio, tattoo parlour and headquarters for their collective. The place is strewn with pieces of art, clothes and bedding, a

housemate is sprawled out asleep on one floor, an unbranded star-shaped bass guitar circa-1980 rests against a bookshelf on another. After 18 months working 10 hours a day, Danny called it quits at the tattoo parlour and with some of his workmates decided to move in with them to make a go of his art career. Since then, Danny has exhibited his paintings in a recent solo exhibition, while along with the others, he’s been able to attract clients wanting tattoos. Most of the time, however, they practice on their friends. On this day, a young friend of theirs is getting prepped to have a large tattoo inked across his stomach that says, ‘Mum & Dad.’


But it’s painting that Danny wants to be recognised for. His subject is animals, or anything from nature. He hands me some of the ideas he’s working on, one is of a wolf. “I was drawn to wolves originally because they are like me, lonely, but still care about each other,” he says. His metaphor hints at how he sees his relationships, especially those with his housemates, society, his culture, and his father. He says what he’s trying to express through his paintings is “freedom... and the nature that is inside of me.” Nature is something Danny speaks a lot about, noticeably when he discusses Saigon. “People need to chill more, do more gardening, slow down. They care less about values. They just want to get rich.” And when pressed on his freedoms as an artist, he has this to say: “Yes, there are restrictions in place, but I’m not political. My art is just about me.” — Matt Cowan



Lilly.Wong Artist and teacher


he idea is to keep evolving, growing, and then expanding. One shouldn’t stop at a finished piece,” says Lilly Wong when asked about her work. An artist and a teacher, she exemplifies what Vietnamese art culture is — resilient and progressing. She has made the most of what she has, followed her heart’s desire, and traced her roots to impart her knowledge and experiences on others. At a very young age, Lilly loved drawing and painting; but back then it was only a hobby, untill a teacher took notice of her work and saw something special in her. She was six years old when she became aware of her gift for the arts. Born in Hanoi and raised in the UK, Lilly took up a degree in textile design and was taking her MA in fashion when an opportunity came to move back to Vietnam. She flew to Dalat to be a knitwear designer. It was a struggle choosing between being in the commercial industry and pursuing her passion. Still quite confused, she then decided to go back to the UK where she gained a secondary school teaching degree in art and design. She gained a lot of positive feedback from her teaching stint, especially as her students got into the universities of their choosing. This experience became a turning point in her career.

Art and Teaching

Art, in general, can be intimidating. It seems as if art is only for those who have money and innate talent, but Lilly stresses that talent and money leads nowhere if you aren’t doing art with the idea of progress: “You must record; you must document your work. Sometimes the finished piece is never as interesting as the sketchbook or the documentation.” It is common to see the artist’s original compositions hung or displayed on walls or shelves in their studio, but entering Lilly’s studio is different. Like a proud mother to her child, she hangs her students’ works of art. “I love seeing their faces glow when they’ve achieved something; no matter how little the task or result may be.

It’s all about encouraging and building their confidence to keep them going,” she says. “I tell my students that they shouldn’t be so bummed about perfection.”

No Plans, No Problem

Having her own studio and giving workshops weren’t part of her original plan. To her dismay, her initial plan was met with prejudice and discrimination. “It wasn’t all a loss. You pick up lessons in life as you go along,” she explains. Seventeen years of going in and out of the country, Lilly has now settled in Saigon and is building her career as an artist and doing what she does best, teaching. She facilitates workshops like portraiture, life drawing, and stencil printing at different galleries, and has just concluded her first proper workshop at her studio, which is a Japanese dyeing technique called shibori. Being her own boss has its ups and downs. She shares the pros of not having to report to a nine-to-five job, including being able to travel wherever and whenever she wants. “Sometimes I just get up and go. I like the spontaneity; it builds character which is why I encourage that to my students as well.” Being the positive person that she is, the cons don’t really affect Lilly that much. She takes drawbacks and criticisms with a grain of salt, they actually drive her to continue to be better at what she does. It has only been a year since Lilly moved to Saigon, but her days have been filled with a lot of travels for inspiration, meet-ups with other artists, and conducting workshops and private lessons with her students. She describes it as a roller-coaster ride as she has had to move and settle in different places, and get accustomed to facing each day with no fixed schedule. From leaving Vietnam to live in the UK and back, Lilly says: “I feel lucky to have gone through the whole ordeal despite the trauma my parents and a lot of people have gone through. It definitely provided me with advantages that I felt that I could only like if I came back here and try to give back to the community.” — JB Jance | September 2017 Word | 65

Fred.Serra The comic strip artist


f you think my story is interesting, sure,” says Fred Serra when he’s approached for an interview. His reply is casual, like his attire. He’s wearing a faded pair of denim jeans and a black t-shirt with the name of his venue, Ruby Soho, emblazoned across it. “I don’t see Ruby as a bar,” he says, “it’s an extension of me.” Photos and posters from movies and television series cover the walls. His place is named after a song by a favourite band, 1990s American punk rock outfit, Rancid. “It’s more for me and my toys. I change it all the time to show what I like and who I am. I hope people like it.” Now 48, Fred is a father and happily married to a Vietnamese woman whom he met 16 years ago when he was first sent to Vietnam for a brief time by a French animation company. His job was to oversee the quality of animation production at their studio here. “I was in my early thirties and I loved the energy of this country,” he says. Fred has also lived and worked in China and South Korea, supervising animation projects for television and feature movies, in an industry where much of the creative work is done in America or Europe, and then shipped to Asia for final production. “Vietnam isn’t really the best place for animators, though, because we don’t have a lot of studios here,” explains Fred.

Building an Industry

Although the 3D animation industry is growing rapidly in Vietnam, 90% of the animation work done here is 2D. It’s the type of animation that has given Fred a name in the industry the world over. His work in producing Oggy and The Cockroaches, a popular animated cartoon television series,

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has won him many fans, some tracking him down to meet him, something he attributes to his very proud daughter. “Sometimes adults come in here looking for me and say: ‘You’re the creator of Oggy and The Cockroaches! I heard this from my child.’ And I say, ‘Um, no, I’m just the designer.’ But sometimes Olivier Jean-Marie, the creator of Oggy and The Cockroaches, drops by to see me. He’s a very creative person, he never stops. He’s 55 years old with the energy of a 25-year-old.” Fred’s experience in Vietnam has made him the foremost animator for studios in Europe and America to approach for projects. To have one of the biggest names in animation like Olivier Jean-Marie coming to hang out with him is quite an endorsement. Although he stopped working almost 12 months ago for Armada TMT, the largest animation studio in Vietnam, Fred is still very much involved in the industry and is working on a project to establish his own arts school. He’s hoping his venture will improve the quality of graduates entering the animation industry in Vietnam — he estimates there are 5,000 people working in Saigon alone. “And that’s just in the animation industry. If you include the design industry as a whole, it could be somewhere between 20,000 to 30,000 people just in Saigon,” he says. While the arts industry is growing fast in Vietnam, there aren’t currently any schools solely for animation which means that when young designers finish art school here, studios needs to spend 12 months training them, which Fred says is costly. “During my 13 years in the industry here, we were looking for designers all the time, and we could never really find what we were looking for,” he explains. “All of the

studios have the same problem, so I think a good art school is necessary here.”

A World of Images

For the time being, Fred has no plans to move back to France. “I love this country. I think it’s my place,” he says, peering back through his trademark thick seeing glasses. “If I went back to France, I wouldn’t have this kind of freedom to be creative.” At times, people ask Fred to sell some of his collection to them, but nothing is for sale. “If I find out someone really likes something and they come here all the time, I give it to them.” When he does give an item to a lucky customer, or when he decides that Ruby needs a makeover, the space is filled with photos or posters from his stockpile at home. “I have thousands and thousands of images lying around my house,” he says. “I love every kind of image. It’s not just animation and fun, it’s about music, photography and cinema, so my inspiration comes from everywhere, especially cinema and comic books. I try to find them online, anywhere, it’s just a question of finding the right ones.” It’s clear that Fred still has unfinished business to tend to, even after all these years. At an age when perhaps most people might be thinking about slowing down a little, it seems he’s only just getting going. “I’ve created a lot of characters for companies in my life, but not for me yet,” he says. “I have a superhero in mind, a girl, but I want her to represent the essence of this country, someone that has a combination of the traditional, historical, and the energy of now. She has to be someone that would make the Vietnamese proud.” — Matt Cowan



Hubert Leong

The custom guitar maker rom Bob Dylan to Jimi Hendrix to Joni Mitchell, the guitar has long been the musical instrument of choice for a wannabe Bohemian. It’s portable, it’s relatively easy to learn, and it’s forever tied to countless songs of non-conformist rebellion. Hubert Leong has been building custommade guitars in Saigon for six years, and he strives to help guitarists find their signature sound. Today, a young Vietnamese guitarist is leaving his home after Hubert helped fine-tune his guitar ready for a gig in Vung Tau at the weekend. He’s just one of many examples. Chances are, if you’re serious about guitar playing and you live in Saigon, you’ll know about Hubert and his work. “There’s no school that can train you how to listen to tone,” says Hubert. “I know if there’s something wrong with a piece of music. That is God’s gift to me. I pride myself on that.”


Against The Grain

Born and bred in Singapore, he first picked up the guitar as a teenager, but this wasn’t met with enthusiasm by his teachers and parents. “During my era, you were considered a rebel [if you played the guitar]. At school, they said, ‘What the hell are you doing playing this kind of music?’ They were brick-and-mortar guys, especially Asian parents, they want you to be a cop, and they want you to be a civil servant.” He built a successful career in advertising, but it was a trip to the US in the early 2000s that would change the course of his life. “I had time off in-between work contracts. I went to the States and enrolled myself into guitar-making school. After I completed seven months in Arizona, I stayed on and worked in guitar shops. I got bored and moved to California and worked in real guitar shops. I saw them up close and personal. California is the guitar heaven of the world.”

The Right Tone

After winding down his career in advertising, he was ready to put his training to use, and being a Fender-certified luthier (repairer) has helped set him apart from the many other guitar makers in Ho Chi Minh City. “Being Asian, it’s ingrained in you that you need to be certified to do anything. I don’t know if that’s a flaw or a trait. It gave

me a backup plan. “All my guitars are hand-made. There’s something about making a guitar that’s very personal. When you build a kitchen cabinet and when you build a guitar, it's two different things. You want a cabinet to stay there and not fall down, with a guitar you want to feel every inch of the wood.” One of the challenges of making a guitar from scratch is how to go beyond simple engineering and inject emotion or your own personality into what is essentially a piece of wood. “It’s a tough balance. I’m a custom builder. All my customers are mature guitarists. A beginner hasn’t found their tone yet or what they are looking for in a guitar. “Sometimes I get requests or designs that will screw the product up. I strike a fine balance between aesthetics. Most of the time I get my way. I try to earn the respect of every person. I don’t tell you how to play, but I will build something that is running in your head.” Hubert says that with a piece of wood you’ll never know what it’s going to sound like until it’s 100 percent complete: “The first strum is the most satisfying,” he says. During his time in Vietnam, he says he’s mixed with many characters who live an alternative or Bohemian lifestyle, but would he consider himself one? “I wouldn’t consider myself a Bohemian. I build an old-school way but I embrace technology. It’s a fine line. Sound is always divided into analogue and digital, and Bohemian is analogue,” he says. “My perception [of a Bohemian] is someone like John Lennon or Yoko Ono. I don’t identify with that.”

Living The Dream

But has the guitar become passé? And is what was once a symbol of rebellion now an accepted sound of the establishment? Hubert doesn’t see it that way. He believes the guitar is still as relevant as ever for those looking to express themselves through music. “A lot of young boys play the guitar to get girls, that’s been going on for years. But I was very surprised in Vietnam that there are many young guitarists who have international standard skills.” For as long as the demand is there, Hubert will keep busy as he continues to live his rock ’n roll dream in Vietnam. “I’m living the dream. I’ve got my own name on my own guitar.” — Thomas Barrett | September 2017 Word | 69

Allan.Kjaer The sketch artist rawn to Ho Chi Minh City for work and to fulfil a dream that was created after backpacking Vietnam, Allan Kjaer moved to Saigon nine years ago. Having lived in Indonesia for four years, he is originally from Denmark. His outlook on artistic expression and life in Vietnam are intertwined, creating a perspective of what it is to create in this up-and-coming part of the world.


Versatile Perspective

With a past rooted in music, Allan played in a band for many years before his creative outlet became channelled into paintings and, more recently, sketches. “Art is a lot of things,” he says. “I appreciate many forms and some of my inspiration comes from music. I still love to paint, lots of colours, I like lots of colours when I paint. But when I draw, it’s just black and white.” Channelling his creative energy into A3 ink drawings, the nature of his sketches means he can work anywhere — on holiday, in a café on a balcony, any place that gives him a space to create. It allows him to interact with his environment, an environment he finds to be a constant inspiration. “The art scene [here] is growing and buzzing, but is still in the beginning stage,” he says, referencing places such as Saigon Outcast as giving people a location to meet other like-minded individuals. “It’s people who can come and express themselves in terms of what they are wearing, what they are painting or what they are singing, or sell what they want to sell or do what they want to do. It’s this free space in the city where nobody is chasing you for being different.”

Exploration for Inspiration

One of Allan’s passions is to ride his

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custom-made tracker motorbike around the outskirts of the city. Listing the endless sites including dark alleyways and eyesores you see along the way, it’s a landscape that inspires him. “It comes in waves,” he says. “There can be months where I don’t do anything in terms of sketching and paintings. It can be I’ve just been to an event or on a destresser bike ride, and I’m in a good mood. So I try to sketch something. When I start, I'll do five pieces at the same time, I can’t wait till the paint is dry. Then in a week or two it will calm down.” But when it comes to his social circle, there are fewer people engaging in the same creative form as he is. “Some play music, some show art, some do street art and graffiti, but it’s not many. I don’t have any really close friends who are into paintings,” he says.

Future Pulse

To pay the bills, Allan works in the furniture business. Product developing indoor and outdoor furniture is a job he has held for the last nine years. It allows him to engage creatively. Despite loving his job, he hopes to cultivate a more flexible schedule to allow more time for his art. Whereas in the past he has been inclined to work alone, working with others has led to a desire to create something bigger and be a part of the process that helps young artists exhibit their work. “I’m seeing myself working with others,” he says. “In the year to come I definitely see myself doing more with companies and creating something fun in the art scene — like pop-up art and wall art.” He adds: “There’s a big movement for this and I’m just excited for it and the people involved.” — Bridget Griffin



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Maida.Gayle The abstract artist

espite being only in her mid-20s, in June 2016 Maida Gayle suffered a minor stroke. “I woke up and the whole left side of my body had gone numb,” she recalls. “I realised something was wrong when I couldn’t get up. I was telling my leg to move but it wasn’t moving. Finally, I got to the bathroom. My heart rate started going up; I was rushed to the hospital.” According to Maida, the doctors had no idea why she had a stroke at such a young age. She was healthy, and the only guess was it was due to some pills she was taking for her well-being. It didn’t make sense. “I recovered overnight and they let me out,” says Maida. “But since then I’ve experienced nerve pain throughout my whole body. It’s something I have to work through, but it’s taught me a lot.” So, when one year on she was able to hold her first solo exhibition of abstract art at Creative Artillery in Hanoi, she was amazed. “This exhibition [is] not only a milestone in an art career that I hope to pursue,” she wrote on Facebook in mid-June, “but proof of the endless... possibilities available if we simply give respect to this life we are given.”


From Music to Art

Born in Toronto to Filipino-Canadian parents, and a graduate in Childhood and Social Institutions, Maida’s introduction into creative arts started young. “My parents brought me to piano lessons from an early age, since I was about seven years old,” she says. “And then singing lessons. That opened up music for me. All

my family is very musical — I ended up performing.” However, her move into abstract art didn’t happen until 2014 when she began her journey on an apartment rooftop in South Korea. In the same way that she had always used music to express her feelings, now she chose art. “At the time I had moved into a smaller city in Korea,” she says. “I’m a city girl but here we were in the countryside so I was like, ‘What am I doing?’ Our apartment was small, we didn’t have a piano and I needed something to do. I knew that I was going to be leaving in a few months and I guess there were big emotions happening inside. So, I needed another means to manage my emotions.” With the encouragement of a friend from Canada, she started with a small 4x6 canvas that she found in a local art shop. After that she started experimenting. She says: “With most forms of art there’s a set image that you look at — it’s like this is a tree, this is a flower and this is how you interpret it. Abstract art allows you to really look inside yourself and see what you see. “I’m constantly seeing colours in my head but it’s not a distinct image. I find that it allows for people to find within themselves what the answer is on the canvas.”


In just three years, besides her first solo exhibition, Maida has received commissions — in Vietnam, Korea and Canada — and has also worked on wall murals in Hanoi with fellow artist, Cat O’ Brien. Even though the after-effects of the stroke

mean she has a daily battle with pain — she’s tried to offset it by practicing Vipassana meditation and yoga — she knows she is lucky and it could be a lot worse. Now she is focusing her attention on another goal, one she’s had since her mid-teens. “My aunt works for International Justice Mission in Cambodia,” she says. “She works with women and children who’ve come out of sex trafficking. She came home one summer and described to me the work she does. I’ve always wanted to do that.” Maida has already made a start. She volunteers at Hagar International, an NGO with offices in Hanoi that aims to rebuild the lives of women and children in Afghanistan, Cambodia and Vietnam who have been ‘torn apart by human rights abuse’. “Every other week I go to the shelter and I teach the children and women different styles of abstract art. We create it together,” she says. Her dream now is to develop this teaching into a form of art therapy and to take it to other areas in Southeast Asia and in particular India, a country she feels heavily drawn to. “I love that anything can be art,” she explains. “I love that everyone should have the freedom to create. I love that it’s so individual to each person. I love that anything is possible with art. It allows for people to express themselves for without art I think there would be no expression. This is very vital in what it means to be a human being — to be able to express yourself. Because if we kept everything bottled in, we would go crazy.” — Nick Ross | September 2017 Word | 73

The vintage clothing store owner at in her vintage clothing store, with her short boyish hair and tartan headband, the first thing that strikes you about Le Dan Sam is her look. This is not the kind of image you regularly see a Vietnamese woman sporting in Hanoi. Like the vintage clothing she sells, where no one piece is the same as the next, she stands out as an individual. The daughter of a well-known architect, at first the 28-year-old mother of two followed in her father’s mould, studying architecture. Her work even won her an award for the design of a children’s hospital. But since then she has trodden her own path, one that has deviated from the route laid out by her father. “My father was very strict,” she says, choosing her words with care. “He always wanted me to be a good girl. He’s oldfashioned, a patriarch, and he’s Asian. He has rules and everything has to be his way. You only live once and I need to live for myself.” The result is a rupture that has lasted four years, the last time father and daughter spoke. And the result is also a marriage that has seen Sam marry her former professor at university and follow her own path. She is one of the founders of Hanoi Flea Market and also runs the boutique, second-hand clothing store, Rosie Vintage. In between university and finding premises for Rosie Vintage — she originally started the business online — she worked for a lacquer company and also joined her husband in Japan while he was studying for a doctorate. It was an eye-opening experience. “Japan is very clean, but the people are unhappy, very stressed,” she says. “I am not stressed — I enjoy my life. But the Japanese people work hard, and there are many rules in society. So, I decided to come back.” And yet, there was something about living in Japan that made her feel at peace. “[When I was there], every day I went by bicycle with my baby daughter, and nobody knew me,” she recalls. “We shared many peaceful moments. In Japan no-one cares about who you are — you can wear what you want and do what you want.” Rules and convention are concepts that Sam struggles with. To survive, she has to be her own person.



Sam’s fascination with second-hand clothing, however, comes from another source — her mother and grandmother. “When I was a girl, my mother, my grandmother, went to the second-hand Kim Lien Market,” she says. “Everything is unique. That’s what I love about it.

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Second-hand things have a particular smell — in my memory it’s very unique.” Yet it was her exposure to the flea markets in Japan that gave her the idea of doing something similar in Hanoi. “I have two friends of the same age,” she says. “We thought about a flea market because we went abroad and saw many flea markets and we thought, we need to do something about that in Vietnam. Then it became reality.” According to Sam, flea markets in Japan are held in temples and stadiums, and are like bring-and-buy or garage sales, where people bring their things to sell. “But in Hanoi it’s more like a market where people show the products of their company rather than old or second-hand things.”

Quality Over Quantity

Rosie Vintage, however, fulfils a different need. The shop allows her to genuinely work with clothing that is second-hand. Sourcing most of the clothes from Cambodia — prior to that they were imported from places like America, Japan and South Korea — once she gets the items to her shop in Hanoi, her mother washes every piece of clothing by hand. “A lot of the items have been worn many times, but the quality is still good,” she says. This is in contrast to the material and clothing produced locally. “In the market, when you buy clothes made from Vietnamese material, you wash the clothes once and they lose colour. But old clothes are made from better material and they last longer. The material is stronger. You can feel it.” The result is a customer base that spans all sectors from young to old, men and women to children. In fact anyone who likes high quality clothing at a cheap price. There’s another reason why people like vintage clothing. “Fashionable people like unique clothing because with industrial clothing — all the brands — each season you see many people wearing the same clothes,” she explains. “But vintage clothing is different. No one piece is the same as the next.” She adds: “I also like the story behind vintage clothes. Sometimes I find something in the pocket — maybe it’s money or a letter. Or just a note. ‘You should come home soon’. It’s so cute. Sometimes I find a coin or even some jewellery. And sometimes I see where people have sewn their dresses to mend something. They obviously loved that dress.” — Nick Ross Rosie Vintage is at 49D, Ngo 49 Trang Tien, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi | September 2017 Word | 75




X.Lan The cartoonist


his is the first time someone’s used ‘Bohemian’ to describe me,” laughs X.Lan, the name she uses in the artistic community. “I don’t think I follow social norms, but I also don’t categorise myself as something more special than anyone else.” The candidness and modesty of X.Lan’s words are just as present throughout our chat, as they are in her work. With a cute, cartoonish, comic-like style of drawing, she uses art to communicate where words fail.


X.Lan has been drawing since she was very small — originally just because she thought it was the subject she could do best at in school. However, that all changed after a visit to a coffee shop four years ago. “I had a goofy conversation with my friends,” explains X.Lan, 28, “and instead of writing a Facebook status about it, I tried drawing a cartoon status instead.” Surprised at how positive the responses were to that initial cartoon, she decided to take drawing more seriously. “I just found out naturally, that drawing and sketching is the way I express myself best,” she says. “It’s a tool for communication, to tell my stories; because I’m not good with words!” Her Facebook page ( xlan) now has nearly 30,000 followers, where she shares her own drawings based on events in her daily life, as well as taking commissions from people who send her photos or a concept to base a sketch on.


“I feel privileged that people believe in me to help them recreate their personal moments,” says X.Lan. “It feels good when they allow me to use my own language to interpret their memories.” Her parents used to dismiss her artistic endeavours as just something to do for fun; it’s not a career, they’d say. After a fouryear grind of teaching English at university, X.Lan threw in the towel and spent a year working as a freelance artist. “When a company contacted me to draw a small project for them, I freaked out,” recalls X.Lan. “I didn’t think I was good enough to get money for my art.” This marked the beginning of a new chapter, as it helped her to realise that if she just took herself more seriously, it would be possible to make a career in art. After this initial year of freelance work, combined with her new job of managing a network of local artists for Tired City (, a start-up company which sells souvenirs and stationery printed with art, her parents finally made their peace with her choice to not give up on art. “I don’t think I’d ever give up drawing, even if I couldn’t make money from it,” X.Lan says. “When it’s your biggest hobby, you can’t just get rid of it easily.”

Vietnam and Art

As a Hanoi-born artist working in Vietnam, X.Lan is well aware of the challenges facing creative or unconventional individuals producing art and other media. “My work has never been censored (yet), but I know others who have faced that

problem; living here makes it quite normal, so we got used to it,” X.Lan says. “But with the development of the internet, it’s getting harder for the government to control or block people from their source of art.” The other problem she finds is the way local people value art. No matter how low the price is for a commission, someone will always find a reason to complain it’s not cheap enough. “They don’t realise they’re not just paying for my time drawing,” X.Lan explains, “but they’re also paying for all the hours I’ve spent practising.”

Grunge Girl

As Vietnam is still a traditional country in many regards, X.Lan thinks it’s actually not so difficult to be considered ‘Bohemian’ here. “It’s usually just small groups, though,” says X.Lan, “who might think about something new or rebellious.” A few years ago, for example, X.Lan was playing drums in a punk/grunge band, which went on to become quite famous in the underground community. “I couldn’t keep up with them though, because I had to start working,” X.Lan says. By her own definition, however, even keeping rhythm for her band was a kind of art. “I believe everything we do in society is a kind of art; it’s not just about drawing, singing or music,” says X.Lan. “Everything has its own beauty, even scientists and businesspeople can be performers in their own field.” — Edward Dalton | September 2017 Word | 77

May.Cortazzi The fashion designer

ashion is not usually synonymous with ethics, but May Cortazzi is working hard to change that perception. After May graduated from Northumbria University — an established fashion university in the UK that is difficult to enter — her streetwear collection was selected to show at London Graduate Fashion Week. She caught the attention of the industry, helping to launch her career. After working for established brands like Boxfresh, Maharishi and Maria Chen, May was offered a design role from Bono — of U2 fame — and his label Eden, which specialised in eco-fashion. It was here she discovered that it was possible to combine fashion with making a difference.


Life-Changing India

“I decided to move to India and work for an NGO — the Barli Institute For Rural Women. I dedicated my time to training women who live in severe poverty and teaching them tailoring, embroidery, batik and other skills to make money to survive.

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“I became active in ethical fashion from living in India and seeing the poverty and exploitation within the industry. I knew I wanted to work in fashion but I wanted work in an industry with more purpose, by finding a way of working that didn’t exploit anyone and was more environmentally conscious.” In India, she was awarded a scholarship to complete a Master of Arts in fashion design and marketing, specialising in ethical and eco-fashion, where she created a line of men’s streetwear and tailoring made from organic bamboo, hemp and cotton. May returned to the UK and set up her own creative collective space, art gallery and fashion label while lecturing in fashion styling, business and design. “I was nominated by the British Council as a fashion entrepreneur and ambassador for my work in the UK at London Fashion Week, and sent to Madrid and Indonesia to help train and develop the industry.”

Vibrant Vietnam

Offered a three-month job at the London College of Fashion and Design in Hanoi, six years later May is still here. Her work in Hanoi is focused on developing the fashion industry — training designers, large businesses and companies about design, fabrics, quality and branding. “In some ways, I’m making a larger impact here [with disadvantaged youth and women] through the number of designers and companies I’ve worked with and what I’m doing. “Fashion is a powerful industry here in Vietnam. It can be used in amazing ways to enrich people’s lives and harness traditional techniques, which may be lost if we don’t create sustainable and ethical businesses to

support workers and train them. And it’s so easy here to buy fabric, make your own clothes and pay a tailor a fair price. You can control your own fashion process.” Seeing others flourish and succeed is where May finds purpose. “Many designers I have taught have gone on to develop sustainable, ethical and eco-brands, or are young pioneers in the fashion industry. She adds: “I love the fast pace of Vietnam, and as fast as you can think of an idea, you can make it happen. I’m inspired by empowering people to dream big and make their vision come true. “Right now, I have three jobs, my organic skincare brand Happiness Beauty & Skincare, which will be extended to fashion and lifestyle. I work as a consultant/creative director for a Vietnamese fashion brand. I am also a freelance fashion designer and business consultant, and produce catwalk shows in Hanoi.”

Boho-Beach Chic

May is hesitant to call herself a Bohemian, preferring the term boho-beach chic. “The place I feel happiest is by the ocean. It makes me feel balanced, and when I see the blue skies meet and kiss the ocean, it feeds my soul.” Selective in the friendships she nurtures, May surrounds herself with those who have similar values, creative and empowering individuals who don’t take advantage of her energy or devalue her purpose. “You can only be the best version of yourself by trying to find balance, and through attracting the right tribe. I think who you spend time with has a massive influence on how productive and happy you are, and how wholesome you feel. Where attention goes, energy flows.” — Diane Lee



Travis.Risner The psychedelic artist

lthough he may have started down the conventional English teaching route, it didn’t take long for Hanoi-based American artist Travis Risner to carve out a more unique niche for himself. After three years of teaching English, including a two-year stint in South Korea, Travis, 30, arrived in Hanoi two years ago expecting more of the same. However, he soon turned his attention to art on a full-time basis and became a self-described freelance artist. “At the moment I’m focussing on events, workshops, graphic design and teaching art,” says Travis, “but my main focus is on inspiring creativity.”



“I have no idea why I chose to be an artist. It doesn’t really feel like I chose it,” says Travis. “It just started happening; my initial idea was to create my own colouring book, and that led me into creating these events and workshops.” There aren’t many people in Hanoi doing what Travis does. Of course, there are other artists; but Travis is one of the very few creating large event pieces. Much of Travis’ own art is based on spirituality, often resulting in mind-bending psychedelic designs, a style which no one else in Hanoi is doing. “I started by doing art for music events, such as psych-trance nights,” explains Travis. “It’s the kind of art which messes with your head; it grabs you, tricks you and sucks you in.” It’s a common theme throughout much of his work; repeated patterns, psychedelic portals creating 3D optical illusions, and images which swallow each other. “Generally, I think the art I make is not something people have had much exposure

to out here,” he says. “It makes it harder to sell, but it also challenges me to create art in a way that local people can appreciate.” As a result, some of Travis’ work can be found on traditionally-made Vietnamese paper from Zo Paper, and he also tries to implement more Vietnamese and Asian designs into his work.


When he’s not making his own art, Travis leads art workshops. Art Night for Grown-ups has been running for over a year, is usually held at ClickSpace, and has elicited nothing but positive responses. Travis encourages people to just be creative for the sake of itself, and to let go of thinking “I’m not good at this.” He believes that once people just start doing it, they will find their fear of creating falls away. “They don’t come to create a masterpiece; but it’s still art,” explains Travis. “Having a chance to experiment without repercussions is a lesson people can then apply to other areas of their life.” The events and workshops Travis runs are the main things he wants to expand on; his hope is to connect the creative community in Hanoi as much as possible. “Hanoi is a great proving ground for creative types,” Travis says. “There are opportunities to experiment, and a lot of freedom to explore new things and just do it.”


Perhaps the best example of the strength of Hanoi’s creative community is the enormous success of the Quest Festival — now the biggest music and arts festival in Vietnam. “I’ve helped at the last two Quests,” says Travis, “setting up art installations and helping to build one of the stages. I give a lot of advice in multiple areas, as far as the art is

concerned.” This year, Travis is aiming to use more natural materials, such as making bamboo structures on which to display art. “I also want to make a psychedelic art area,” he says. “I want to create art that people can interact with.”


Finding time to meditate daily, Travis has been on a few meditation retreats. “I try to apply what I learn from reading about Buddhism, and apply it to my art,” he says. One of his most recent workshops is called Mindfulness through Creativity, also held at ClickSpace, and occasionally at The Secret Garden. The goal of these workshops is to help people break down their creative barriers, and become aware of their own creative process. “We start out with a little meditation, to calm and mellow people,” Travis explains. “Then we go through really basic drawing exercises, staying aware of things like our breathing while drawing, for example.” Through these exercises, Travis helps his attendees to stop judging themselves and work through the fear of expressing their own creativity. “One of the attendees said it was like a combination of meditation, art and therapy,” recalls Travis. “It’s all about learning how you enjoy being creative, and then just putting energy into it.” The workshops are silent, aside from a few instructions and essential questions. “It’s weird, people seem to like drawing for fun when they’re kids,” says Travis, “but when they get older, they stop doing it because they don’t think of themselves as artists.” — Edward Dalton For more info on Travis’s workshops, click on | September 2017 Word | 81


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The Analogue Experience While every Thong, Duc and Ha has a digital camera or an iPhone this days, many others are returning to analogue photography. Thomas Barrett explores the world of film photography. Photos by Mike Palumbo | September 2017 Word | 83

“Official figures reveal film makes up for less than 1% of total worldwide photography sales, which still places film firmly in the category of the niche, but these figures don’t necessarily tell the whole story”


oang apologises for the mess when I enter Croplab. There are negatives hanging from the wall, and bits of photography paraphernalia are scattered about the place. People in Vietnam are returning to film precisely due to its imperfections when compared with the polished experience of shooting on digital, and the mess here is somehow fitting. Croplab is hidden down an alleyway in Phu Nhuan and stands humbly opposite a small hairdresser’s in a no-frills part of town. It feels a world away from the glossy high-end camera stores of District 1. Part of the quiet 35mm revolution that is happening in Vietnam, Croplab as well as other vintage camera shops, cafés and labs such as Darkroom Café and Llab have started to pop up around the city. A Facebook group that showcases analogue photographic talent, Film Photo Club, is growing at a rapid rate. To say that Vietnam will soon be discarding their DSLRs and camera phones in favour of analogue would be plain wrong. Official figures reveal film makes up for less than 1% of total worldwide photography sales, which still places film firmly in the category of the niche, but these figures don’t necessarily tell the whole story. Young people might pick up their first camera from their parents’ attic, or buy it second-hand online.

A Developing Trade Croplab is the hub for analogue photography in HCMC. On a normal day they will develop 50 rolls of 35mm and

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120mm film, with the future looking only positive. Until recently, analogue film like vinyl records was seen as a relic of the 20th century. So for an enthusiast like Hoang, he opened Croplab in 2013 as a necessity. “There was nowhere in the city to develop good quality film,” he says. “Since I opened Croplab, more and more young people are discovering film.” What’s old is once again new, and Hoang guesses that business has probably doubled since the early days of Croplab. People send in their undeveloped rolls of film to the team from all over the country, with Hoang promising to get colour photos scanned and uploaded onto Google drive within a few hours, with black-and-white taking a few days. The machines they use in the back of Croplab to develop the colour films are massive, and Hoang says this was the biggest difficulty when trying to establish the business. For an industry that has been pronounced dead so many times, where on earth do you get the equipment from? He struck lucky, and found someone who was selling a film processing machine in Cambodia. This makes Croplab one of the few places left in the entire country that can develop colour film.

A Different Image To Nam, who works in Croplab, the colours that are created with colour film trigger an emotional response that is simply lacking in digital. “The classic colours of film. I can’t feel anything when I see an image on digital. It’s a feeling.”

“I love how film renders… With the whole digital or film debate, to me, one is definitely superior. The imperfections of what analogue gives is what makes it for me” 86 | Word September 2017 | | September 2017 Word | 87

“Film is more difficult for sure, I’m still learning. One year ago I shot only on colour film, now I try shooting black-and-white and slide film — both are completely different. This makes it more rewarding. There are more surprises because film isn’t always perfect.” Dominic is over in Ho Chi Minh City from Los Angeles, and is using Croplab to develop the film that will chart his journey up the country via motorbike. “The whole process of film attracts me,” he says. “I have a digital camera but it just sits in the drawer back home.” We are constantly told that life is now lived at a quicker-than-ever pace, and that includes photography too. A DSLR fitted with a 32GB SD card encourages a gluttony of quick-fire shooting. But with just 24 or 36 exposures per roll of film, Dominic believes you are forced to slow down and to really think about what you are shooting. “I like the fact that it’s not instant,” he says. “I love how film renders,” he adds. “With the whole digital or film debate, to me, one is definitely superior. The imperfections of what analogue gives is what makes it for me.”

“Among our thousands of members we have some highly experienced photographers... The group has indirectly inspired many excellent photographers to return to film”

Image and Movement Over in District 3, Duy started up Darkroom Café in mid-2016. He is part of the new younger generation of film lovers in Vietnam who are shunning digital methods in favour of analogue. They work together with Llab upstairs, which like Croplab, is a place to get your film developed. Darkroom Café is a dream space for DIY shooters and lovers of analogue, and vintage cameras decorate the walls alongside other 20th century artefacts like the transistor radio and portable television. Duy believes that it’s precisely this physicality of analogue that is behind its appeal to many of his customers. “With film we can do analogue printing and we can do it all by ourselves. On digital, there is Lightroom, not a darkroom!” says Duy. The décor on the second floor of the café has been kitted out to replicate a living room from the 1960s. It’s pretty uncanny, and walking in gives the effect of stepping into a time machine; it was clearly designed as a love letter to a bygone age. Two girls are sat at a table handling a vintage camera and they look deep in conversation about it. —“It’s a place where different shooters and their friends come and interact,” says Duy. For Duy, however, his relationship with analogue photography is more than mere nostalgia. He wants Darkroom Cafe to help foster the analogue movement within Vietnam. “I want to build an analogue community. There are two kinds of film shooters, some who learn from the past, then some who don’t like the past, they want to revolutionise film. They will use many new techniques, double exposure, multi exposure or they might use chemicals to destroy the film and create special effects.”

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For anyone hoping to wean themselves off digital and move into analogue, Duy stresses the importance of patience. “We need more patience. In medium format there are only 12 exposures, 35mm has 36 exposures so you have to be precise. You have to calculate everything, from the light metering to film processing.” The social media age has provided a new platform for those looking to share their work, as well as giving budding film lovers the opportunity to connect with fellow enthusiasts to learn more about the art form. Darkroom Cafe can also have your negatives scanned and uploaded digitally, meaning those craving that online ‘like’ need not to worry, with many of the photos developed at Croplab and Darkroom Cafe ending up on

the Film Photo Club group on Facebook.

Part of the Club Huy set up Film Photo Club on Facebook five years ago, and it has grown to have, at the time of writing, over 33,000 members in Vietnam. Most of its members are Vietnamese, and if Croplab and Darkroom Cafe is the bricks-and-mortar home of analogue in Vietnam, then Film Photo Club is its heartbeat up in the digital cloud. “When we started, the community of film photography was not very big, there were some small groups of people who had done film photography for a long time — but it was quite a closed group,” says Huy. “At first, with about 30 members, the evolution of the Facebook group was quite

slow. But, we met offline every weekend. We would go for a walk and talk to each other in a café. Now we organise some events and invite those with more experience to discuss techniques and processing advice regarding film.” From just a few members, the group has grown considerably, and for its creator this is a great source of pride. “Among our thousands of members we have some highly experienced photographers as well as having young people with true passion, who are very enthusiastic and want to learn and study very carefully. The group has indirectly inspired many excellent photographers to return to film. I am proud of this.” With the group continuing to expand,

Huy sees the reasons behind 35mm’s revived popularity as simple. “The film camera is both light, easy to carry, stylish and most importantly — cheap.” “You get a feeling of butterflies as you anticipate the photo being developed in the darkroom. It’s one of the reasons that there are more people turning to film — go slowly, and live every moment in this fast and busy world.” The community of analogue shooters in Vietnam is still growing, so for those daunted by the prospect of shooting on film, there is a solid community out there willing to help and advise newbies, or give tips to those who are deciding to dust off their camera after a lengthy absence away.

Information C ROPLAB

541/29 Huynh Van Banh, Phu Nhuan, HCMC


30/1F Ngo Thoi Nhiem, District 3

F ILM P HOTO C LUB groups/285092744860966/ | September 2017 Word | 89



Niche Photography

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Improved camera technology has made taking better photos easier, but as Diane Lee discovers, there’s reward for anyone who wants to take things just a little bit further. Photos by Julie Vola


nterest in photography has grown at a rapid rate, particularly with smart phones and cheap digital cameras lowering the barriers to entry. It is conservatively predicted that one trillion photos will be captured and stored in 2017 alone. Be honest. Who hasn’t taken a picture of their food or the odd selfie, or the cat behaving strangely? And while apps like Instagram and Facebook make it easy to “retro” our photos through filters or create 360 degree panoramas, a small number of photographers in Hanoi are taking niche photography — that which requires significant effort — to a whole new level.

The Right Chemistry Other than the one installed on his smart phone, Tam Nguyen doesn’t own a digital camera. What he does own, however, is

a passion for large-format cameras, and collodion wet-plate processing. Beginning with medium format cameras around 10 years ago, he moved into large format two years ago, and then on to collodion processing. Entirely self-taught, Tam — a 40-year-old banker — learns from books and YouTube, and finds inspiration in other photographers. “Apart from telescopic lenses, digital has not reached the level of quality [of large-format cameras]. The bigger the negative, the better the quality. “And with large-format cameras, you can move perspective, change the shape and the depth of field.” While taking pictures of landscapes was primarily the reason Tam moved into large-format photography, he is now more interested in portraits, and collodion processing in particular. Invented around

1851, this process involves painting a chemical — silver nitrate — onto a stable surface, for example, glass or aluminium. The image is “positive” so there is no need to transfer it to paper. So far, Tam has made 20 portraits this way, mostly of his friends. The resulting monochrome image is incredibly sharp, yet soft. “You can use black aluminium or coloured glass.” It’s not an easy medium to work with. “There is no flash. [The subject] needs to stay perfectly still. [The film] is sensitive to colour. Red and yellow are difficult to expose for.” While he says his photography is just a hobby, Tam’s studio with its azure walls begs to differ. It houses two large cameras — one over 60 years old — a large light, and an upholstered chair in a floral brocade for portraits. His bathroom serves as a darkroom and he keeps film in the freezer. One of his lenses is worth thousands of dollars. And one photo takes around 30 minutes to make and costs US$10. This is serious business for a hobby. Indeed, the silver nitrate is so difficult to come by in Hanoi that it has to be imported from the US. Tam does have plans to exhibit in the future, which means making more portraits, but in the meantime, he is committed to honing his craft. “I just want make it better,” he says.

“One of his lenses is worth thousands of dollars. And one photo takes around 30 minutes to make and costs US$10. This is serious business for a hobby” 92 | Word September 2017 |

Unpredictably Beautiful Polaroids Boris Zuliani has had a love for polaroid photography — instant analogue film — since he was 16. The evidence of this love permeates his apartment, which is home to thousands of pictures stored in military boxes packed onto shelves. Favourites, in monochrome hues of pink and black and grey, have been printed and hung on the exposed brick walls. A selection of polaroid cameras, delightfully old school, are within easy reach. The genial 39-year-old Frenchman, who has been living in Hanoi for 10 years, began working with polaroid when he was a photographer’s assistant for an advertisement studio. “I was so bad at school, I had to do something.” Before

filming advertisements, the set-up was checked with polaroid and he “fell in love with it.” That love has had to overcome major obstacles, particularly the bankruptcy of Polaroid, which subsequently made the film impossible to get. Boris bought as much of the original film as he could — over 120kg of it — which he has stockpiled. “The polaroids [film] are out-of-date, so the end results always change. The colours are surprising. You don’t know what you are going to get. Mistakes make things beautiful.” Well-known in photography circles, Boris was one of only a few photographers asked to create a series for the Impossible

Project in 2010, an organisation dedicated to preserving and reviving polaroid. “They have tried to recreate it, but it’s not like the original,” he says. While Boris exhibits and has personal projects on the go, his latest is probably the most ambitious, he is building his own camera — a 50cm x 50cm black box with a lens — and loading it onto a jeep that has its own laboratory, and travelling the coast of Vietnam. As always, he will give away many of his polaroids on his travels. “It’s the way I communicate with people. I shoot [take their picture] and give them away.” And that’s something you can’t do with digital photography. “It’s just pixels,” says Boris. | September 2017 Word | 95

Send in the Drones Graduating with a degree in communications and new media in 1995, and keen on experimenting with technology, it was inevitable that Lindemann — a laid-back 41-year-old American — would find his way to drones. “I like my toys,” he says. His fascination with drones and drone photography began around seven years ago with the waterproof point-and-click digital cameras he used for diving. That led to stitching shots together to form panoramas, and also dabbling in flying remote control planes. After gaining his Google Earth certification, Lindemann was drawn to aerial photography, and, as they became more available, drones. “Drones started with quad copters and unmanned aerial vehicles. In 2014, Chinese companies made the technology more accessible. No one freaks out [about them now],” he says. It wasn’t hard to learn and was relatively

cheap to do, apart from the camera. “Learning the technology wasn’t difficult. The buttons were different, but the concept was the same. And no other Englishspeaking person was doing it [this kind of photography].” Prior to drones, aerial photography was — and still is — an expensive business, requiring not just a decent digital camera and lens, but also an aeroplane and a pilot. But at least they had airport clearances. Lindemann says he rarely flies his drones in Hanoi, with the airports, military and government buildings making it essentially a no-fly zone. Villages, scenic locations and golf courses — and places with zero pollution or interference, fluffy clouds and blue skies — are his preferred locations. Locations like Hoa Binh, around 80km southwest of Hanoi. “Location matters. And it’s all in the planning. The equipment needs to be checked every time I go out; blades, rotor,

motors, buttress, SD card. I also check the compass and look at restrictions and no fly zones.” While some drones fly as high as 5km, he’s happy with his 1km kit, which also includes one on-ground monitoring camera. “Drones give a fascinating perspective — from take-off to up in the air.” Keen to push the envelope where photographic technology is concerned, Lindemann’s next foray is into virtual reality, particularly for virtual tours. “With sound, it’s a better experience.”

Information For more information about Lindemann and his drone photography, visit Much of Boris Zuliani’s work can be found online at


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Street Cred American Jazz and R&B singer Ladee Streeter. From small town choirgirl to backup singer for Stevie Wonder. Words by Matt Cowan. Photos by Olga Rozenbajgier | September 2017 Word | 99


his is a blessing,” says LaDee. “It’s my blessing to be here sitting with you right now.” It’s the second time I’ve dined with American jazz and R&B singer LaDee Streeter. The first was at the Windsor Plaza Hotel for dim sum. On that occasion, she turned heads in the restaurant when she arrived and made her way across the floor to the table. She has presence and smacks of showbiz. This time we’re poring over the breakfast menu at Jaspas when she asks our waiter: “What’s in the huge omelette?” “Three eggs,” replies the waiter. “Oh, it’s a regular omelette,” quips LaDee. Her sharp sense of humour is on display. “Does it have any cheese in it or what? I don’t want any bacon.” The waiter brings back an English-language menu. “Okay then, that’ll work!” she says before breaking out in laughter. “I’m trying to stay with my programme a little bit. I’m preparing for my

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photoshoot with you guys tomorrow.” My suggestion of muesli receives an equally snappy return volley. “What’s muesli?” she replies with a grin. LaDee is about to wrap up her residency at The Reverie where she’s been singing six nights a week to diners in the hotel’s Italian restaurant, Romeo & Juliet’s. It’s her second time in Vietnam after a short stint back in the early 2000s. “I’ve got some Vietnamese friends and they’ve been wonderful,” she says. “When I tell my friends in the States that I’m going to Vietnam, they think I’m coming to some third world place, but this here, Saigon, is a thriving metropolis, it’s cool.” A year ago in New York City, she was in a much darker place. “I woke up in the middle of the night to get some water from downstairs but tripped on the way down,” she recalls. “At the bottom, there was a mirror and my face smashed into it. There was a lot of blood.”

Understandably, LaDee is nervous about her shoot the next day because it will be her first since the accident.

California Dreaming LaDee was born into a Baptist family in North Carolina. Her mother has been a pastor for more than 30 years. From the outset she was surrounded with gospel music. “When they would say ‘Amen’ and ‘Hallelujah’ in church, I thought, ‘Hey, I kinda like this! This is great!’” Since then, she hasn’t stopped singing. When she was growing up, Motown was in full swing. “I’ve been around for a minute or so,” she says, alluding to her age that she keeps a closely guarded secret. “I loved the Motown sound and loved good old R&B, but when I moved to California to live with my uncle and aunty, they introduced me to jazz.” As a young woman, LaDee moved around

uncle is when I developed a love for jazz because they had jazz playing all the time, and I thought, ‘There’s something to this. Something just resonated with my spirit, whether it was the swing grooves or the boss grooves or the sultry ballads, I just wanted to sing it.”

The Wonder Years

a lot. After graduating from high school she couldn’t wait to get out of small-town America “to do something with my life.” “I didn’t just want to stay in a small town,” she explains. “I wanted to be out on my own and to use college to get out there — anything to get me closer to show business and showbiz people.” Her parents were divorced by then, after which her mother moved to Connecticut. LaDee is now based in New York when she's not performing overseas. “My mother was brave. She knew that life would be better for us up north where there were better jobs,” she says. “And she did it as a single parent. I’m really proud of her. She’s going to be 82 in September, still active in the ministry, preaching, teaching and driving her car. I want to be like her too. Age doesn’t just have to be a number when at a certain age you pull up a rocking chair. It doesn’t have to be that way.” At college, LaDee had aspirations of

being a broadcast journalist or in anything media related “because then I would be on TV and that’s part of show business”. So she enrolled in a communications degree at college in Ohio. Before that, she had been living in Connecticut after moving up from the south. A semester and a half into her degree, she quit. “I dropped out because I said to myself, ‘This ain’t me!’ I had this thing then that I wanted to be a model because I thought that it would get me closer to what I really wanted to do, which was sing, it’s all I ever really wanted to do.” It just happened that her aunt had a modelling school in California. LaDee quit college and packed her bags for the west coast. Before long she was living in Los Angeles with her aunt and her uncle, who was a saxophonist. “When I went to California, I had the Motown background and the gospel background, but living with my aunty and

The move to California turned out well for LaDee, but she regrets the many stupid mistakes she made along the way, something she’d rather not discuss. It coincided with her name change from Pamela Denise to LaDee, a portmanteau of her given names that came about during a studio session one day. “Everyone called me Pam, but to me it’s a boring name. I wanted something melodic, something more musical. LaDee is like singing do re mi fa so la ti do, that’s how it came about.” Around that time Stevie Wonder’s studio called. “I got this call at about two or three in the morning,” she recalls. “On the end of the line was Stevie Wonder’s assistant asking if I’d like to come and help him finish up his Hotter Than July album. I was in a daze. I was like, ‘Whoa, let’s back up a bit.’ I ended up singing on the Happy Birthday track off that album.” LaDee recalls the brief conversation she had with Stevie when she met him in a downtown LA nightclub. We exchanged pleasantries and I said, 'It's a pleasure to meet you' and everything like that. Someone told him that I was a singer and he asked me if I had any tapes of my singing he could listen to,” she remembers. “And I said, ‘No, I don’t have any tapes, but I have pictures.’ I wanted to crawl into a hole. I said to myself, 'You silly girl, Stevie Wonder can't see!" But LaDee’s most precious memories are those of Whitney Houston. “In the early 2000s I had a contract with a hotel in Bangkok. Whitney happened to be staying at the same hotel,” she fondly recalls. “Every night after her concerts she would come down and sit at the bar and listen to me sing. She was so down-to-earth. One day I ran into her by the pool and she said to me, ‘Hi, I’m Whitney’ and I said, ‘Oh, I know who you are!’ That’s when she invited me to one of her concerts.” Over the years LaDee has had some breaks, but “you get a break and then nothing, then nothing for a long time, then a little break, then more nothing.” But LaDee has faith in her talent and what is still to come. “There’s so much more in store. I’m getting older, but I’m not old, there’s a lot more to see happen in my career, so the prayers are still out there.” LaDee’s final performance in Vietnam is on Sunday Sep. 3 at Romeo & Juliet Italian Lounge & Restaurant, 57-69F Dong Khoi, Q1, HCMC. For more info, go to | September 2017 Word | 101




Theatre Groups in Vietnam Theatre and musical theatre in English is gradually gaining itself a larger audience. Here’s what’s on offer in Hanoi and Saigon. Words by Zoe Osborne and Malte Blas


or many foreign visitors to Hanoi, performance art seems limited to the water puppet theatre and perhaps a live cover band in one of the Old Quarter’s many dive bars. A similar thing could be said of Saigon. However, both Vietnam’s capital and its southern sister have proud traditions of highly developed

theatre, dance and music, which are experiencing something of a revival. As in many countries around the world, young people are often discouraged from pursuing a career in the arts, yet there are several venues, theatre schools and performance groups offering encouragement for young thespians.

Atelier de Theater de Hanoi


ATH is a performance art school founded by Marianne Seguin and Quentin Delorance. Together with a handful of teachers, they instruct over 150 drama students, ranging in age from four years old to adults. The school was founded with the aim of revitalizing Vietnamese theatre. “Vietnamese theatre is struggling to get an audience; everyone just wants to see movies,” explains Marianne. “The purpose is also to save performing arts, by teaching it and giving it to people, rather than showing it to people. We want to encourage kids, especially, to ask themselves questions, to agree or disagree; to make them have some kind of reflection. We work a lot in groups. But we want everyone’s opinion to be listened to and respected.”

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According to Quentin, teaching theatre has benefits far beyond the stage and should play a much bigger role in the Vietnamese education system. “In France and in French Canada, everyone in school does improv competitions,” he says. “I think it’s really good for kids to learn that. In improv or drama, the team/group mentality is the same as in sport; if someone is bad in your group, the whole team goes down. But if you all get up and work together, it’s because of all the team working together. By using the tools of drama, you can teach rapport and how to be fair to each other.” Atelier de Theater de Hanoi is at 12/2 Dang Thai Mai, Tay Ho, Hanoi. For more info, go to

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The Rotten Grapes Another performance group that firmly believes in the benefits of improvisational theatre is the Rotten Grapes. Teacher and co-organizer Brian Nathan explains how this comedy group is bringing people together. “Our members come from all walks of life,” he says. “Vietnam, America, France, England, South Africa and Germany just to name a few. We have members who are students in universities, business people and

even people who work at embassies. It doesn’t matter where you come from or what you do. At the end of the day we are all in this together.” Founder of the Rotten Grapes, Long Le, was inspired to start the first comedy school in Vietnam by comedy shows he watched on TV as a child. His calling to make people laugh and his desire to connect with people of different cultures has been the driving force

behind the groups regular workshops and performances. “We offer public speaking, screenwriting and improv comedy for beginners,” he says. “We also have comedy shows at least twice a month.” The Rotten Grapes is at Level 2, 101A Nguyen Khuyen, Dong Da, Hanoi. For more info, go to or therottengrapes



HITS Hanoi The Hanoi International Theatre Society has been active for almost 15 years and has become a much-loved institution in Hanoi. HITS is a non-profit organization run by volunteers, who come together to produce and perform a show twice a year. As a community theatre group they are actively involved in raising money to support local charities. “There is a lot of support, from the grassroots level to sponsorships from embassies and companies,” says HITS member Lois

Davis. “We are a non-profit association, so we donate a large portion of any profits to charitable organisations in Hanoi. We have supported several, usually focusing on children.” Besides raising money for charity, the members of HITS are firm believers in the inherent benefits of theatre: “Performing arts offer so much to society. From telling our traditional stories through dance, song, or puppets; from a busker giving us a smile, to the most prestigious theatre

company, they all allow us to escape for a brief time.” The theatre group is comprised of 12 to 15 active members and their performances attract audiences both young and old. Their latest show was based on The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter and included activities for children, but they also perform more adult-focused theatre, such as murder mysteries and classic Broadway musicals. For more info, go to | September 2017 Word | 105


Dragonfly Theatre Co. Dragonfly Theatre was founded in 2010 as a way of bringing thrilling, inspirational theatre to Saigon. “At Dragonfly, we specialise in making professional, Western-influenced theatre in Ho Chi Minh City,” says co-founder, Aaron Toronto. “We aim to make shows that entertain, challenge and inspire.” The theatre does at least two performances per year, depending on what their members and board are interested in. “See our website for [our] eclectic range of past performances,” says another co-founder, Bee Smith. “Ticket prices depend on the cost of production, but are generally about VND400,000.” All Dragonfly shows are determined based on what the group feels passionate about, both in terms of choice of repertoire and the way they present it.

“That generally means taking work by well-known and classic writers, and presenting it in a thrilling, emotionally compelling way,” says Aaron. “We’ve set The Little Prince to the music of Radiohead and placed an actual tree in the middle of the stage in Waiting for Godot.” Anyone can join the group, no matter their qualifications or experience, though Dragonfly does aim to maintain a certain level of performance. For Bee, working with the theatre company is all about the relationship of actors with the audience. “We want to make them laugh, cry, get nervous or fearful, or discover something about themselves or their lives through our performances,” she says. “I also enjoy the challenge of pushing myself to do these things.” For more info, go to dragonflyvietnam


Saigon Players Saigon Players was established in 2003 as a small group of foreigners who enjoyed theatre. Today, they have five active members on the steering committee, and around 20 actors, some of whom are regulars and some of whom join the players as their schedule permits. As a non-profit community theatre group, they work to uphold theatre arts while also giving to charity. “All the proceeds from our performances go towards a charity that the members choose,” says current chair of the steering committee, Jennifer Dizon Turner.

The Players are well known for their original comedy sketches and their raunchy Rocky Horror Nights, along with murdermystery dinner-theatre shows or Britishstyle pantomimes in December and more serious plays each year after the Tet holiday. “We entertain the public through live performances of well-known plays as well as original comedy sketches,” says Jennifer. “We try to have a variety of performances to reach a wider audience.” Their repertoire has included visual and performing arts festivals, audience participations shows, club nights, script nights, improv sessions

and actors’ workshops. To Jennifer, the performing arts offer something really valuable to society but many Saigon parents unfortunately do not understand or acknowledge this. “It has, at times, saddened me to see promising and even gifted students give up on the arts because of family pressure to pursue higher education in business or banking,” she says. “Parents still think that pursuing the performing arts is equivalent to not having a serious job.” For more info, go to or


SocioMuso An initiative rather than a theatre group, SocioMuso provides opportunities in the performing arts for young people. Founder Matthew Gardener set up the company in the summer of 2014. “My wife and I moved to Vietnam [at that time],” he says. “I thought it was the perfect opportunity to utilise my experience and knowledge, and give young people a creative outlet.” To Matthew, theatre, music, dance and other performing arts are an important part of any school curriculum. “I have witnessed the transformation in children’s personalities and confidence through performing arts classes,” he says. “I

think it’s great to remind parents that while academic subjects are important for a child’s future, performing arts are equally beneficial in helping them grow as people.” SocioMuso coordinates a range of programmes for kids via Saigon’s international schools and other organisations, from after-school clubs and summer holiday programmes to private piano and singing lessons and, of course, theatre programmes. “We specialise in musical theatre, an art form that combines singing, dancing and acting to tell the audience a story,” says Matthew. “We help students build their performance skills in all three disciplines

and we usually work towards performances at the end of each programme.” But while the SocioMuso team focus on creating exciting, top-quality performances with their students, they feel that the process of getting to the performance is much more important than the performance itself. “We believe that musical theatre helps students develop so many important personal skills which they can use in any future career,” says Matthew. “Confidence, creativity, communication, self-discipline and respect for others.” For more info, go to or | September 2017 Word | 107


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Behind the Bun

White rice noodles, barbecued meatballs and pork belly, salad greens, fish sauce, spring rolls, chilli and garlic. The ingredients for bun cha. But far more goes into this popular dish than just the ingredients. Words by Edward Dalton. Photos by Julie Vola


very day, thousands of people pull up a stool and dig into a bowl of bun cha, that quintessential Hanoi dish. Even American presidents such as Obama are susceptible to its charm, despite being invited to try one of its lesser examples, according to most. But let’s not argue about whose bun is best. Let’s instead meet one of the families working day in, day out, to make sure your nem are always crispy, your nuoc mam is always hot and your meatballs are always moreish.

Family Machine As with so many of Hanoi’s best eateries,

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our family-run restaurant of choice can be found tucked away down an inconspicuous alleyway. The restaurant was opened in 2010, and was the brainchild of Huyen Binh Ngoc, 49. “I’ve had so many jobs; I even worked in a government office,” Ngoc says. “But now I’m sure I will be working in this restaurant until I retire.” Ngoc’s younger brother, Tung, trained as a chef and used to work as a caterer; it’s his house the restaurant now operates out of. “I really love this job,” says Tung. “I love cooking. Here, I fry the fish and make the soup for our bun ca (fish noodle soup), and I make our chilli sauce.”

Tung’s wife, Hanh, prepares the vegetables and three varieties of noodles used across their range of dishes, which also includes mien hai san (glass noodles with seafood) and banh da tron (mixed brown noodles). Ngoc’s older sister Nga can usually be found on the all-important grilling duty, wafting delicious billows of BBQ smoke into the faces of passers-by; the most effective kind of advertisement. As a result of the attractive smells and word-of-mouth recommendations, every lunch time the restaurant is packed to the rafters with both locals and foreigners. “We don’t do any real marketing, and we’re hidden from the main road,” says Ngoc, “so I’m quite surprised we’re so popular with foreigners.”

Early Start Ngoc shows us a letter she was given earlier that week by a foreign woman who was sad to face the reality of never eating there again, as she was going back to her home country. “We’ve even had people crying that they won’t see us or eat here again,” Ngoc says.

“As long as people are that happy with our food, I’ll always keep working here.” Such good food requires a huge amount of effort, and everyone does their part. “We start preparing at 6am, and usually finish clearing up at around 4pm,” explains Tung. “We each stick to the same tasks every day, to make sure we work efficiently, and without too much stress.” Every morning, 10kg of fish and several bags of herbs, salad and noodles are delivered by a market wholesaler. Ngoc buys 10kg of pork belly and minced pork herself, which she prepares alone in her own home, before bringing it by motorbike to Tung’s house. “Good food requires good ethics,” says Ngoc. “I choose and prepare all the meat myself, marinate it and taste it; it can’t be served to anyone until I’ve tasted it and decided it’s good enough for my own children!” Once she arrives at the restaurant, there are around 120 nem (fried spring rolls) to make, which Ngoc also does alone. Everyone has a quick breakfast at around 7am, and they don’t eat again until 4pm, their last meal of the day. “After work, we usually just hang out; it’s a long day,” says Tung. “Sometimes we take

the kids to study somewhere after school, but usually we just rest.”

Kids During the summer holidays, the restaurant gets some extra small hands to help out. “I like working here, my customers are very friendly,” says Vi, 12. “I like helping my parents, but I won’t help them forever… I want to be a painter.” Vi can be found ferrying tra da (iced tea) around, clearing tables and generally brightening faces. “We had a little chubby boy helping us too,” says Ngoc, laughing. “He’s the neighbour’s son, and used to eat here every day. I joked that he should work here, in exchange for free bun cha. He ran home and told his mum, who agreed… so we had to let him do it for a few days, just for fun.” Despite the variety on the menu these days, it’s the bun cha that most people come here for. Ngoc used to make it during family gatherings, and her recipe always attracted good feedback. “I always knew if I opened a restaurant, it would be to sell bun cha,” Ngoc says. “Even though my brother’s a trained chef, I’m pretty confident that my bun cha is the best.” Ngoc considers bun cha to be the perfect

dish for Hanoi. It’s not too hot to eat in the summer, like hotpot or other soups can be, and yet, the nuoc mam can be warmed up during the winter. “It has simple ingredients, but when you bring them together, it becomes something very special, and very delicious,” says Ngoc. Tung admits he loves hotpot, BBQ and other soup dishes just as much as bun cha, but he doesn’t go out often to enjoy them. “Because I have a good knowledge of cooking and hygiene, I don’t trust most street food restaurants,” says Tung. “If the price is too good to be true, it means you’re going to get sick.” With six days of hard work requiring the same level of intensity and high standards, Tung is confident they’ll be around for many more years to come; even with the daily “crazy hour” at midday to contend with. But how do they compare to Bun Cha Obama? “I don’t know who picked that place for the president to eat at,” says Tung, “but I don’t think it’s that special at all!” Ngoc’s bun cha joint is at 6/31 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Hanoi. They start serving from around 10.30am until the food runs out — usually around 2pm. Closed Sundays | September 2017 Word | 113



Organic Hanoi

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Tracing where food comes from is becoming easier, but it’s not 100% fail-safe. Billy Gray gives us the lowdown on organic food certification and a list of outlets and suppliers that you can trust. Photos by Julie Vola | September 2017 Word | 115


he global trend towards organic food has ensured that you can get almost your entire weekly shopping with an organic label on it these days. The tag ‘organic’ is supposed to ensure that food is free from agribusiness tampering, whether genetic modification, pesticides or other chemicals. In Vietnam, specific concerns include toxic chemical sprays which are banned elsewhere, and growth enhancers, not to mention worries about what’s in the groundwater itself. So, consumers in Vietnam want organic food. But are they getting it?

Certified Organic In the last few years, a number of outlets in Vietnam have been specialising in supplying organic food and consumables to the consumer, many of them operating online, but even still, consumer trust isn’t always there. As one Facebook pundit called out: “Organic is the most abused word in Vietnam.” The main problem is with certification. While there are many sellers claiming that they have organic stock, most of the time it’s not actually certified organic, so unless the consumer visits the farm or factory where the product is made, it’s nigh on impossible to know whether the claim is genuine. “If you want to have an international quality status, you first need to have a report,” says Nguyen Huy Minh, CEO of Midori, a Hanoi-based organic vegetable delivery service. “This requires at least three or four tests, and each test costs around US$200, so to have a report you need about US$600, and the cost of maintaining this

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standard is around US$10,000 to US$20,000 per year, for each farm.” Most farmers can’t afford this mammoth upkeep for the certification, so even if they’re following organic guidelines, their products will only get lost in a sea sprawling with shady vegetable dealers and false advertising. “In order for the situation to change, more funding needs to be spent on subsidising certification fees for farmers, but the financing isn’t there,” says Minh. In fact, if a farmer wants to gain international standard such as the USDA (US Department of Agriculture), they need to fork out hundreds of thousands of dollars. Even with the high price tag, though, some producers in Vietnam have achieved USDA certification. The first farm in Vietnam to achieve this was Organica in Dong Nai Province; they achieved this in early 2013 with the support of the Netherlands-based certification organisation, Control Union.

So Where Can I Buy Organic? Even with the lack of certification and vegetable-related trust issues going around, it’s still possible to source organic food in Hanoi at least. First off, it’s important to note that several farms around Hanoi are actually producing food grown by organic standards, but either can’t afford, or refuse to pay certification fees. These producers generally advertise their products as ‘natural’ or ‘clean’, and sometimes as ‘organic’. Trust is essential here, and if you can’t trust the seller, then it might be worth visiting their site of production to check for yourself what’s going on. But to save you the trip, here is a list of

trusted outlets and suppliers that you can rely on for your weekly shop.

Midori Midori delivers right to your door, in a cool box. They have about 400 products and target the expat community in Hanoi. Their menu labels products that are organic, and guarantees that the rest is natural and clean. They have a team that routinely inspects the farms that they work with to ensure that only the highest quality products are sold. Ideal for fruit and vegetables. And also craft beer (where isn’t selling that stuff nowadays?).

Naturally Vietnam 4, Alley 67 To Ngoc Van, Tay Ho The shop behind the organic weekend market on To Ngoc Van, a lot of people don’t realise that the shop is open all week. Ideal for vegetables, rice, and whatever the stalls are selling on the weekend. Most of their produce is supplied by the Thanh Xuan Cooporative — an organic farm near Noi Bai Airport.

Betterday 114 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho Betterday specialise in organic tea and coffee, honey, and a range of cosmetic products like shampoo and soap. Prices are reasonable, and their selection will make you realise just how much of your weekly shop you can source organically.

Betterworld 8 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho Not to be confused with the above. While Betterworld doesn’t specialise in organic products, they do sell chocolate and honey

“The main problem is with certification. While there are many sellers claiming that they have organic stock, most of the time it’s not actually certified organic�

from Viri, a company that specialises in natural and locally produced treats. They also sell a range of clothing from countries as diverse as Kazakhstan, Mongolia and Thailand, all of which is bought from local sellers or makers of the clothes and crafts. Ideal for gifts.

Market at Maison de Tet Villa 156 Tu Hoa, Tay Ho Maison de Tet use only natural and organic ingredients in their menu, and now they have a permanent market on the first floor where you can buy fruit, veggies and honey. They also have a monthly market full of organic and fair trade stalls.

Oriberry Café 25 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho A well-known and much loved café that also

sells up organic coffee and tea, most of it sourced from rural areas in Vietnam.

Klever Fruit Specialising in fruit, most of the products are imported from abroad and while not necessarily organic, meet international quality standards. Due to the fact the products are imported, they’re generally very expensive.

Greener Shops A Facebook group that suggests farms that produce natural and clean vegetables and meat. While not certified organic, they’re more trustworthy than buying blind at the market. Goods ordered via the group are delivered to your door for a fee.

Xtra There are a surprising amount of shops in Hanoi selling organic (huu co) and clean (rau sach) fruit and vegetables. Many of these have achieved the local PGS (Participatory Guarantee Systems) certification, an organic certification developed by Agriculture Development Denmark Asia and the VietNam Farmer’s Union in the late 2000s. This doesn’t mean all the products on sale are certified organic, but it’s a start. And of course, having a certification is one thing. Actually selling organic produce is something else altogether. For a list of shops with this certification, click on the following link. The info is in Vietnamese: chi-tiet-tin/182 | September 2017 Word | 119




P for Picnic Looking for somewhere to picnic? Here are some places in and around Hanoi where you can lay your blanket down. Words by Amelia Burns. Burns. Photos by Julie Vola

Quang Ba Park Whether you live in Tay Ho, work in the area, or have a spare day to make it here, Quang Ba Park is a perfect location for an afternoon picnic. The area is peaceful and beautiful, and suitable for dogs, friends, and families. This well-shaded park has plenty of grass areas suitable for a picnic blanket and a feast, as well as a playground for children. Right by the water’s edge, with beautiful views of the lotus flowers in bloom, this public park is surprisingly quiet and peaceful, with hardly any noticeable traffic driving by. Vinmart is just around the corner, so you don’t even need to come prepared. Hungry? Pop over to Home 38 or Anita’s Cantina just across the road. Located on Quang Ba, Tay Ho, or search Vuon Hoa Quang Ba to find directions on Google Maps

The Tay Ho Stairs All around Lake Tay Ho there are sets of stairs leading down into the water presenting beautiful views and a perfect flat surface to bring a few friends, beers, and sandwiches. In the evenings, you will find

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these stairs home to groups of teens, friends, and families, enjoying the cheap drinks from the vendors situated there. They bring their own mats, so all you need to bring is yourself and some money. You can find these stairs leading into the lake all around Tay Ho, however the most populated spot for it is around Ve Ho and Nhat Chieu streets

Nhat Tan Bridge (A bust) So much has been heard about the area under Nhat Tan Bridge, however it has now fallen victim to the infamous typhoons of Hanoi and the majority of the bank has been washed away, causing mudslides and extreme loss of potential picnic areas. Not recommended at all.

Dinh Chem A little way out of Hanoi, Dinh Chem is a beautiful pagoda by the Red River. Drive down the dirt road to get there and out of nowhere emerges the lake’s beauty, with colourful boats cruising by. The area has a little streetside café for all your cool

refreshment needs, but feel free to bring your own along with some lunch and snacks to enjoy in the fresh air. Weeping trees, the Red River, and the temple make this place a great photo opportunity. Picture yourself with a drink in your hand, the sunlight peeking through the vines of the trees, and friends surrounding you. Continue driving up Au Co towards Nhat Tan Bridge where the road turns to An Duong Vuong. From the bridge, continue 4.5km until you turn right at Thuy Phuong, and take an immediate left. Down this small road is where you will find Dinh Chem

The Botanical Gardens Right in the centre of Hanoi is this getaway park with ample space for a picnic. The relaxing atmosphere of the park almost lets you forget you’re in the middle of a capital city. The park is equipped with swings and other exercise equipment, a few small lakes to sit by or walk around, and even some monkeys and a peacock in large enclosures. Most of the grass areas around the park

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are forbidden to sit on, however if you climb the stairs to the top of one of the hills, you are able to pop a blanket down and enjoy your picnic from up there. If you really wanted to sit by the lake, there are ample park benches. Unfortunately, no dogs are allowed at this park. If you bring your bike to the park, parking will set you back VND3,000. Entrance to the park costs VND2,000. You can find this park by searching Botanical Gardens on Google maps. The address is officially 3 Hoang Hoa Tham, Ngoc Ha, Ba Dinh, Hanoi

would love, complete with a trampoline and a roundabout, and plenty of picnic tables made out of fake trees, giving not only shade, but also a convenient power outlet. There are vendors floating around the park selling banh products and fresh drinks if you are in need. This park is a fine place for a picnic if you have some spare time during the week. Find it by searching Vuon Hoa — Bai Da Song Hong on Google Maps or drive straight down lane 264 Au Co until you reach the entry gate

Hanoi Bridegroom Field

Long Bien Island

Not far from Hanoi’s centre is the Bridegroom Field, dubbed that because of the vast amount of people who come here each weekend to take their pre-wedding photos. During the week, this is a quiet park, but at weekends you can expect loud music, lots of families, and an abundance of brides and their photographers. The park costs VND50,000 for entry. From the gates you can explore the little roads and see many places for photo opportunities with structures such as little windmills, vibrant flowers, and old carriages. The park has a playground that any child

By Long Bien Bridge, you may have noticed an island in the middle of the Red River. Officially called Bai Giua Song Hong, it’s more commonly known as Banana Island. You can access this island by driving along the bridge and taking the ramp that sits about half way down it. Walk the island as you please but beware, there is a small portion of the island where middle-aged Vietnamese men enjoy their time on the island completely nude. Aside from that, there are plenty of places around the island where you can sit and enjoy other kinds of views and even vendors

selling drinks and some fruit. Mix with the locals (the clothed ones) and you might even get some rice wine shots given to you. To get to the island, enter the Long Bien Bridge from Yen Phu Street. About half-way down the bridge there is a ramp. Take that ramp and you will arrive at the island parking

Cau Giay Park Cong Vien Cau Giay is not only close to the city centre, but it is a beautiful park with fresh air and an exciting energy about it. The area is clean, and suitable for families. Adorned with fake grass, the park provides safe outdoor games and activities for children, as well as a large playground and rope climbing equipment. In the evenings, the park turns to a night-time playground, with children and teenagers alike enjoying their playtime together, and adults taking their aerobics classes, filling the park with their upbeat music. This picturesque and newly built park has loads of space to set yourself down for a picnic with friends. Free entry, or VND5,000 for parking, you can’t go wrong here. The official address for Cau Giay Park is Dich Vong, Cau Giay, Hanoi. Check Google Maps for more details | September 2017 Word | 125

Food and Drink EAT & DRINK


Getting Your Phil The pariah of Southeast Asian cuisines, Filipino, is not as bad as you’ve heard as long as it’s properly prepared and cooked. JB Jance samples the tastes of home with the best Ho Chi Minh City can offer. Photos by Bao Zoan


ith over 7,600 islands to choose from, Filipino cuisine cannot be defined with just one dish; the islands of Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao all have their own specialities. Add colonial influences from Spain, America and Japan, and the heavy influence of Chinese merchants, and you have a mixed dish indeed.

Halo-Halo There! Lechon, sisig, halo-halo and adobo are just a few of the many Filipino dishes missed by Filipinos and even known outside the country. They are served in various ways — traditional, fused with flavours from other countries, and even the

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hipster-deconstructed way, both in the Philippines and abroad. No matter how it comes, Filipinos crave it, especially when working abroad. With a rise in the number of Filipinos coming to Vietnam either for travel, work or business, Filipino restaurants are also popping up. Casa Manila in District 1, Loriekot’s Lutong Bahay in District 3, and Casba in Thao Dien are reflective of the different eating cultures of the Philippines. | September 2017 Word | 127

Casa Manila Formerly known as Little Manila, this is the longest-running Filipino eatery in Vietnam. In staying true to its name, Casa Manila, in Parkson Paragon’s food court, serves as a home to many hungry Filipinos seven days a week. “I want the customers of Casa Manila to feel as if they are in the Philippines,” says owner Maria Anabel Blanco Reyes. On Sundays, most seats are occupied by Filipinos enjoying their big serving of bulalo (VND148,000), a soup dish made by boiling beef shanks and bone marrow for hours that is served with cabbage, corn and potatoes. A Filipino meal isn’t complete without rice, and a good match for it is chicken inasal (VND50,000). Inasal is a grilled chicken dish that originated in the Visayan region and is marinated in a mixture of vinegar, lime, pepper, and atsuete — an orange-red condiment often used for colouring. The meal comes with a cold glass of sago’t

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gulaman, a sweet Filipino drink made with tapioca and jellies; it costs VND18,000 if ordered separate from the set lunch. Another thirst-quencher and dessert in one is halo-halo (VND58,000). Halo-halo is shaved ice with a mix of fruits, jellies, and sweet beans topped with ube, or purple yam, and leche flan, a milk-based custard. For an afternoon snack, otherwise known as merrienda in the Philippines, something that is enough to keep you full until dinner is a plate of pansit palabok (VND58,000), a rice noodle dish topped with shrimp, dried fish, boiled eggs, and chicharon (deep-fried pork skin). Another option is a bowl of dinuguan with puto (VND78,000), a dark-coloured savoury stew made with pig’s blood and innards paired with steamed rice cake that comes in many different colours. All this sounds horrific, but if it’s cooked properly, it’s a tasty experience. Then there is adobo, a staple in any Filipino

household, made by marinating meat in vinegar, soy sauce and garlic, and then simmering. There are different varieties — pork, chicken or squid — and they are equally delicious. The pork and chicken adobo are both priced at VND78,000, while an order of squid adobo will set you back VND98,000. Any adobo is best finished off with desserts made from glutinous rice, like suman, biko, and ginataang bilo-bilo which cost VND28,000 each, and are all sweet and filling. Casa Manila set lunches are great value. The business lunch deal (VND48,000) includes rice, a main dish that’s usually meat, a vegetable dish, and comes with a free soup. The set lunch menu is available for two hours beginning at 11am, from Monday to Friday. Casa Manila is in the food court at Parkson Paragon, 35-45 Le Thanh Ton, Q1, HCMC. For more info, visit Casa-Manila-796372767158136/

Loriekot’s Lutong Bahay Owner Marian Malit makes sure customers from any country feel as if they are part of the family, the Filipino community. Filipino cuisine isn’t just about eating it; it’s a whole experience, from the preparation to finish, and the stories in between. This place takes you back to the local carinderias or street-side eateries in the Philippines. Fulfilling the restaurant’s slogan — Every Day is Fiesta Day — Loriekot’s prepares numerous dishes each day depicting the fun and food-filled fiestas of the Philippines, a legacy from Spanish rule. Their menu includes pancit habhab, a specialty from Quezon Province, which is a noodle dish much like Vietnam’s mi hai san, but is traditionally eaten with your hands from a banana leaf, and can be shared for VND60,000 at Loriekot’s. Sinigang is another favourite. It’s a sour soup that can be made from fish, pork, or shrimp. Enjoy a bowl of this rich soup for VND70,000. A favourite with Filipinos is lechon kawali (VND70,000), which is boiled and deep-fried pork belly. It has crispy,

crunchy skin on the outside with soft, tender meat on the inside. They also have bulalo in pork (VND80,000) and beef (VND90,000). For those who want to try lighter yet still satisfying meals, Loriekot’s also has lomi, a Chinese-influenced noodle dish with chicken, liver, vegetables and egg; chicken sopas (chicken soup with elbow macaroni), chicken mami (noodles with wonton dumplings), arroz caldo (chicken rice porridge) all costing VND60,000 each. To complete the meal, sweet drinks and desserts are also available and are made fresh every day. They sell shaved ice concoctions like mais con yelo (VND30,000), halo-halo (VND60,000), which literally translates to mix-mix, and sago’t gulaman (VND25,000); turon (VND15,000), fried banana wrapped like a spring roll, dusted or coated with brown sugar, and the colourful sapin-sapin (VND60,000) made from glutinous rice and coconut. Loriekot’s Lutong Bahay is at 193 Dien Bien, Q3, HCMC. For more info, visit loriekotslutongbahay | September 2017 Word | 131

Casba Owners Bastian BlumenrÜther and a friend opened Casba to recreate their go-to foosball bar in Germany, which they considered as their second home. They added new features and turned a villa in Thao Dien into a restaurant, bar, and events place in one. Located where most expats inhabit, Casba caters to all nationalities. On their working menu, they serve French, German, Vietnamese, and — newly added — Filipino cuisine. The ambiance at Casba has the feel of a countryside townhouse by beaches or farms in the Philippines. It has indoor seating, and a wide open-space area with a pool at the back. This area of the restaurant

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is ideal for events like the fiestas in the Philippines where a variety of food is served. These include dishes like bulalo (VND180,000), a native dish to the southern part of Luzon and best enjoyed when the weather gets cold or for curing hangovers; the spicy Bicol Express (VND160,000), pork cooked in coconut milk and chilli, and a staple food in the Bicol region, the southern part of Luzon; and kare-kare priced at VND190,000, which is a thick stew cooked with peanut butter and peanuts. The main ingredients include oxtail, ox tripe, pork hocks, beef, vegetables and the dish is seasoned with shrimp paste. At

Casba, servings can either be for one or for sharing with family and friends. Other notable Filipino meals they serve are the silogs, which is a portmanteau of sinigang (fried rice) and itlog (fried egg). It can be served with tocino (sweet cured pork), longganisa (Filipino-style sweet sausage), daing (air and sun-dried fish), embutido (meatloaf), and corned beef. This meal sells best to Filipinos and Vietnamese as it resembles their com tam. A plate of this breakfast, lunch, or midnight meal begins at VND55,000. Casba is at 37 Xuan Thuy, Thao Dien, Q2, HCMC. For more info, visit CasbaSaigon

Food and Drink EAT & DRINK


The A–Z of Steak

The Vin Steak Meat: Australian M9 Wagyu Tenderloin 200g (VND1.75 million) Wine: Kaiken Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon, Argentina (VND145,000 / glass) Le Hoai Vy, the chef: “Our M9 steak is the highest grade for Australian Wagyu. This dish is special, not just because of the quality of the steak, but also the way it’s cooked; it’s marinated with a garlic and herb oil, and finished in café de Paris butter.” Summary: Nothing says “eat me” like a geometrically perfect chunk of tenderloin. The extra attention the meat receives before and during cooking results in a fillet which is both flavoursome as well as melt-in-the-mouth soft. The accompanying rocket salad and green peppercorn sauce are ideal partners to beef. Located at 7 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Hanoi. Open daily from 10am until 10pm. Call (024) 3722 4165 or visit for more information

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Want to know where to get good steak in Hanoi? Fancy it with a glass or two of wine? Then read on. Edward Dalton does the rounds. Photos by Teigue John Blokpoel


e feature 10 of the best steakserving restaurants, across a range of budgets — we have even included a wine pairing, so you don’t have to embarrass

yourself in front of the sommelier. All steaks were requested mediumrare. From the finest grade, well-marbled imported tenderloins to pan-fried slices of Vietnamese rump, we’ve covered it all.

RICO Steakhouse Meat: Six-week Dry Aged Australian Striploin 450g (VND779,000) Wine: Mapu Cabernet Sauvignon, Chile (VND140,000 / glass) Le Quang Hung, the manager: “Our beef is hung or rack-dried and aged for several weeks; something only the higher grades of meat can tolerate. Evaporation shrinks the beef, concentrating flavour and softening the meat.”

Summary: The juiciness and taste of this striploin is something to be savoured; zapped on the grill just long enough to make it hot, the thin cut still manages to be medium-rare. The chimichurri sauce really stands out, and elevates this gift of tender goodness to a whole new level. Located at 56 Tran Quoc Toan, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi. Open daily from 11am until 11pm. Call (024) 3200 9666 or visit for more information | September 2017 Word | 135

Don’s — A Chef’s Bistro Meat: Alberta AAA Ribeye 350g (VND750,000) Wine: Anakena Birdman Cabernet Sauvignon, Chile (VND99,000 / glass) Donald Berger, the chef: “I’m so excited to get Alberta AAA beef back into Vietnam again, after a 10-year absence. To me, it’s the tastiest of any beef I’ve had; Alberta has pristine air and water, and the cattle are finished on a barley feed, resulting in a cleaner, sweeter taste, and lingering flavour.” Summary: From the first bite it’s clear this is a special piece of meat. There’s a superb depth and complexity of flavour, in part due to those special Alberta conditions, but equally a result of the open wood fire cooking method and generous seasoning. The value is amazing, too, as this large ribeye comes with a pair of sides and a sauce. Located at 16 Quang An, Tay Ho, Hanoi. Open daily from 10am until 11pm. Closed on Mondays for lunch in summer. Call (024) 3719 3719 or visit for more information

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Botanica Meat: Australian Ribeye 200g (VND186,000) Wine: La Palma Cabernet Sauvignon, Chile (VND76,000 / glass) Ngo Van, the owner: “Our special ribeye is grass-fed, and from Australia. It’s a really well known cut, and very juicy when cooked

medium-rare. We grill both sides at 300°C and then rest for a few minutes. It’s just seasoned with salt, pepper and olive oil.” Summary: As the second cheapest option on our list, the quality of the steak was a great surprise. A thick cut piece, cooked to perfection and dripping with juicy goodness.

The skewer of vegetables on top is a great touch, and the pepper sauce and Caesar salad on the side make this an excellent allround meal. Located at 3 Thai Phien, Hai Ba Trung, Hanoi. Open daily from 9am until 10.30pm. Call (024) 3992 2326 or visit vietnam for more information | September 2017 Word | 137

El Gaucho Meat: Wagyu Grade 7/8 Tenderloin 200g (VND1.39 million) Wine: Alta Vista Premium Malbec, Argentina (VND180,000 / glass) David Timm, of El Gaucho: “Cooked on our speciality grill for about four minutes to

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achieve a perfect medium-rare, our Wagyu beef has just the right amount of marbling to combine tenderness, juiciness and flavour.” Summary: Steak this good should come with a disclaimer: “May lead to addiction.” The flavour from the grill, the quality of the meat — easily cut with the side of a fork

— it’s just all perfect. Served on hot plates, the complimentary roasted garlic bread and caramel vodka make this an altogether memorable dining experience. Located at G2, Ground Floor, Somerset West Point, 2 Tay Ho, Tay Ho, Hanoi. Open daily from 11am until late. Call (024) 3718 6991 or visit for more information

French Grill Meat: Japanese Wagyu A4 Striploin 100g (VND2 million) Wine: Robert Mondavi Woodbridge Merlot, USA (VND240,000 / glass) Jean Francois Nulli, the chef: “We select the A4 grade for our steak, due to its perfect marbling rate. Rapid cooking promotes

melting and caramelisation of the fat. The cattle are fed with remnants of pressed olive pulp, to improve the quality and taste of the meat.” Summary: There’s a real touch of class to this dish; it’s so much more than a steak. The slow-cooked onion purée, honeyed radish, homemade entrecote sauce and

stunning plating add up to something really special. Even the duck fat chips alone are worthy of a poem. Located in the JW Marriot Hanoi, 8 Do Duc Duc, Me Tri, Tu Liem, Hanoi. Open daily from 6pm until 10.30pm. On Sundays, also opens from 11.30am until 2.30pm. Call (024) 3833 5588 or visit for more information | September 2017 Word | 139

Grill 63 Meat: Beef Fillet Tournedos Rossini (VND950,000) Wine: Trivento Tribu Pinot Noir, Argentina (VND200,000 / glass) Vu Van Thanh, the sous-chef: “This dish features filet mignon with foie gras, asparagus and black truffle sauce. It’s a classic, perfect for special occasions. The meat is marinated and cooked sous vide for two hours at 57°C, before getting a quick sear to develop a crust.” Summary: The steak, cut from the most underworked part of the animal, is nothing short of divine. The seared foie gras balancing on top lends a rich, fatty note to a cut of meat often derided for a lack of flavour. The puddle of truffle sauce adds a warm, umami edge; it’s simply delicious. Located on the 63rd floor of the Lotte Hotel Hanoi, 54 Lieu Giai, Ba Dinh, Hanoi. Open daily from 6am until 10am, 11.30am — 2.30pm and 5.30pm until 10pm. Call (024) 3333 1701 or visit dining.asp for more information

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Cutisun Meat: Pan-fried Australian Rump 280g (VND120,000) Wine: Monastier Cabernet Sauvignon, Chile (VND28,000 / glass) Nguyen Hoang, the owner: “Our lean rump steaks are marinated for 24 hours before

cooking. We only use imported beef, which I personally inspect and select. It’s then cut and trimmed by our staff, and is always properly rested before serving.” Summary: By far the best value option in this guide, the steak comes up a perfect mediumrare every time. The meat is tender and

flavoursome, and there’s a strong selection of sauces and salads to choose from. The homemade bread rolls are a real treat, perfect for wiping up the leftover juices. Located at 3, 120 Hoang Hoa Tham, Ba Dinh, Hanoi. Open daily from 10am until 9.30pm. Visit for more information | September 2017 Word | 141

Hemispheres Steak and Seafood Grill Meat: Premium Japanese Hitachi Ribeye 150g (VND1.3 million) Wine: Banfi Col de Sasso Cabernet Sauvignon, Italy (VND220,000 / glass) Vo Anh Duc, the sous-chef: “The cattle for this beef are raised over 30 months in Ibaraki

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Prefecture’s natural and dynamic environment, in a grain-growing region. They are raised by hand, and given a strictly selected feed.” Summary: The marbling throughout the meat gives it a smoothness and flavour almost without equal; it’s so rich, that 150g is more than enough for one serving. The accompanying

truffle gratin is a diamond among side dishes, while the selection of Japanese condiments make this a truly unique dining experience. Located in the Sheraton Hanoi Hotel, K5 Nghi Tam, 11 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Hanoi. Open daily from 6pm until 10.30pm. Call (024) 3719 9000 or visit for more information

Cousins Meat: Côte de Boeuf approx. 1.3kg (VND1.3 million) Wine: Francois Labet Pinot Noir, France (VND110,000 / glass) Mimi, the chef: “This meat is aged for 120 days. It’s a grain-fed OP Rib young beef (YG) Black Angus steak from Western Australia. Served rare to medium-rare unless specified differently. We carve at the table.” Summary: With a few leaves, and two pots of mustard, the simplicity of this dish gives way to allow the quality and finish of the meat to shine through. It’s a spectacular thing, both to behold and to devour. The side dish included is pretty flexible; baby garlic potatoes, chips, crisps or risotto. Located at 7/58 Dao Tan, Ba Dinh, Hanoi. Open daily from 11am until 10pm. Call 0949 925863 or visit facebook. com/cousins.daotan for more information | September 2017 Word | 143

Food and Drink



Fu Rong Hua A Hong Kong-styled restaurant on the lake that is constantly packed. So what does our anonymous food reviewer make of it all? Photos by Teigue John Blokpoel


u Rong Hua will only hold a booked table for 10 minutes — that’s how busy and popular this Hong Kongstyle eatery has become since opening late last year. This is partly thanks to the excellent location at Hoan Kiem Lake; but mostly it’s because of the quality of the dim sum and other

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Hong Kong specialities on offer.

Busy There is an air of quality as soon as you step into Fu Rong Hua; something which says that no corners were cut in its design. The large, glass front which stretches across two floors invites lots of natural light, and offers a commanding view of the

bustling street below. The furniture, solid dark wood, sits on a well-polished wooden floor, while the surrounding walls feature stylish black and grey bricks, below panels of tiles featuring embossed Chinese lettering. Despite sitting in a building shared by multiple businesses, Fu Rong Hua has a dedicated entrance lobby, where staff wait to greet patrons. Just be sure to book and arrive on time, or expect a fair wait for a table, especially in the evenings and on weekends. Even though staff were faced with serving a full capacity restaurant (including people eating on the awkwardly-positioned tables intended for waiting), our order arrived swiftly. Only getting the bill was an uphill struggle that I don’t look forward to repeating.

Steamed Specialities The menu is a hardback glossy affair, full of tempting photos and




12.5 DÉCOR

even more tempting prices. Ordering is done by ticking boxes and writing quantities on a sheet of paper, which is checked and whisked away to the kitchen when ready. Although the menu has a variety of noodle and rice dishes, as well as some Hong Kong specialities such as BBQ pork (VND145,000) and roasted duck (VND165,000), our order was dominated by dim sum. It’s always a pleasant surprise to find a drinks menu which doesn’t feel like an afterthought. From the selection of speciality teas and juices, we chose an iced Earl Grey tea with lemon (VND49,000), and a fresh coconut juice (VND55,000); they were both as refreshing as they were sweet. Similarly, there are some genuinely very interesting vegetable options to add something green to the meal. We opted for the wok-fried asparagus with garlic (VND65,000), as it’s one of those hard-to-find

vegetables. It was crunchy, full of flavour and generously topped with garlic crumbs.

Dumpling Breakdown There were four types of dumplings in our feast. First up, the special Teochewstyle meat and vegetable (VND55,000 / 3pcs). There was a creaminess to the minced meat filling, with a strong meaty flavour punctuated by the crunch of some finely diced vegetables. The second batch, a basket of striking green parcels, were the clear highlight. Shrimp and pork dumplings with spinach (VND110,000 / 6pcs), which contained a thick, tender chunk of prawn, tightly tucked in with some lean pork; the spinach-imbued casings had a recognisable spinach flavour, and weren’t just for show. The scallop and prawn with coriander dumplings (VND65,000

/ 3pcs) were more mild, but ideal for dipping in the complimentary condiments. The pork and cabbage dumplings (VND60,000), mysteriously categorised as buns, were extra meaty — they resembled well-seasoned sausages wrapped in cabbage. Very tasty. To add a bit of variety, we also got a plate of wok-fried beef and mushrooms in oyster sauce (VND170,000). The meat was magical; very tender, with a great stickiness and flavour coming from the savoury sauce. The food was faultless, and the drinks impressed just as much; service could have been a bit more personal, though that’s not doing much to dissuade the queues of people trying to get in during lunch and dinner. Find Fu Rong Hua at 9 Dinh Tien Hoang, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi. Open daily from 10am until 11pm. For bookings and more information, call (024) 3936 9797

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

Food and Drink

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Banh Bao They are warm, soft and steamy and can be found the length and breadth of Vietnam. Emily Arnsten takes a look at what’s inside these fluffy little treasures. Photos by Julie Vola


dapted from Chinese baozi or dim sum, banh bao are steamed dumplings typically filled with pork, sausage, egg and mushroom. However, their contents are usually a mystery until you take your first bite. In Mandarin, the characters for dim and sum mean “dot” and “heart” respectively, so as per tradition, buns are usually garnished with an orange dot of crab roe or carrot at the centre of the bun’s twisted top. Banh in Vietnamese means bread or cake, so naturally there are many dishes within the banh family. While banh bao is certainly not as popular as its cousin the banh mi, the dish can usually be found all over the city in travelling food stalls on busy streets. Look for a plume of steam escaping a metal pot to point you in the right direction.

20A Doc Tam Da, Ba Dinh If you’re not keen to bike around aimlessly until you find a banh bao stall, there are some permanent places to find the dish. Tucked away in a tiny enclave at 20A Doc Tam Da in Ba Dinh is a woman who makes delicious banh bao. Ingredients vary slightly from

day to day, but you’re always guaranteed some kind of egg (chicken or quail), pork and mushrooms. If you’re lucky, you might also get glass noodles. As the name suggests, the dough is a cross between bread and cake — soft and slightly sweet. There are no set prices, but generally one dumpling will cost no more than VND10,000. Her shop is only big enough to accommodate a chair, a fan, and a steamer, so customers must take their banh baos to go. If you’re looking for a scenic place to munch on your dumplings, you’re in luck. Nearby you can either enjoy your snack with a lovely view of West Lake or on a bench in the botanical gardens just down the road.

51 Yen Phu, Tay Ho Unofficially stationed on the sidewalk near 51 Yen Phu in Tay Ho, you can usually find two women in folding chairs serving banh bao hot out of the steamer. Not only are their dumplings excellent, but these women are always extremely amiable and appreciative of your business. Usually, these banh bao are filled with pork, egg, mushroom, and some kind of dried fruit to add something sweet.

Again, these snacks don’t have a set price, but they typically ring in at about VND10,000. If you’d rather not stand on the sidewalk and eat your dumpling, you can walk a few buildings down to Café Duy Tri at 43A Yen Phu. Here you can enjoy your banh bao with a strong coffee and a secondfloor balcony view of the bustling street.

71 Yen Phu, Tay Ho Occasionally the women at 51 Yen Phu will run out of banh bao, but luckily there is a permanent shop nearby at 71 Yen Phu that sells a variety of snacks, including dumplings. Here you can find dumplings on display in an enclosed glass box. Prices are fixed at either VND12,000 or VND15,000 depending on the size. The larger dumpling has all the typical fixings — egg, pork, and mushroom — with one unique addition, cinnamon. — Emily Arnsten Disclaimer: Do not be alarmed by the texture of a steamed egg. For those of us accustomed to fried or hard-boiled eggs, the powdery consistency of a steamed yolk can feel strange, but this is normal — you’re not eating a bad egg. | September 2017 Word | 147

Food and Drink



CCCP Saigon Our mystery diner chews the fat over dinner at one of Saigon’s Russian restaurants. Photos by Bao Zoan


hen we entered this two-floor establishment before the lunchtime rush, the lights were dim, the furniture wooden and the tablecloths delicate and white, with embroidered red flowers. The overall effect was a simulated entry into my grandmother’s homely kitchen, if she was really into Russian decor of course. Red-and-yellow babushka dolls

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and propaganda posters line the walls. It’s not tacky, it’s engulfing. The menu is written in Vietnamese. This is no problem as big coloured pictures of the dishes are there to help you make your choice. The pictures are an almost exact representation of what you will get on the table. Service is on hand to assist you with translation, and most dishes are offered in small and large sizes.

Starter Up To start, we tried the shuba salad. A round, three-tiered salad made with shredded potato, fish and purple cabbage. Mayonnaise is laden between the layers and zig-zagged on top. It is a substantial portion and lasted throughout the courses. Depending on where my fork sliced, the taste varied from mild to intense fishy. It is priced at VND90,000 which, considering its size, is






reasonable. A large serving of black bread accompanied the dish.

Traditional Picks Determined to try out the traditional Russian cuisine, I looked through the menu to see what was on offer. There was a lot. Served with a dollop of yoghurt and sprinkled with light herbs, the borscht — a beetroot-based soup — was hearty. With tender carrot and potato mixed through the purple soup, I found no need for salt or pepper. It cost VND35,000 for a small bowl. The pelmeni was another good pick. We were asked to wait 10 minutes for this one, which suggested the dish would be made fresh. This was confirmed, as the Russian dumplings arrived in a steaming hot pot. Costing VND65,000, the tortellini-shaped bites of beef were light on the stomach compared to other types of dumplings — not too oily or

doughy. The blinchiki were next up. The thicker-than-usual, pancake-styled crepe was folded onto itself and smothered with what we assumed was smetana, a type of sour cream sauce popular in Russia, offset with dill. Stuffed with a subtle layer of minced pork, this was my favourite dish of the meal, at a light VND39,000.

Meat, Fish, Potato and Dessert Flicking through the menu you see a number of recurring themes. Shashliks are available in a range of meats; whole fish is carved into easy-to-eat pieces and many different forms of potatoes make up the savoury mix. One sweeter option was the blinchiki tvorog, a dessert version of the Russian pancake. Served with cream and a red berry sauce and priced at VND35,000 per pancale, the

blinchiki itself was not sweet, but the accompanying sauces helped to push it into the dessert realm. To drink, kompot is available by the glass, or by the jug at VND75,000. This red drink tastes like liquid strawberry jam and is drunk during the summer months in a Russian setting. My small glass lasted the entire meal as a sip at a time was enough. Russian beers and vodkas are plentiful as well, with brands such as Beluga. CCCP Saigon provides what it says it will, a taste of Russia in Ho Chi Minh City. With an appropriate thank-you in Russian from the waiter, we left full and satisfied with the experience. CCCP Saigon is located at 48A Nguyen Binh Khiem, Q1, HCMC and is open Monday to Sunday from 7.30am to 11pm. Lunch is served from 10.30am to 2.30pm and dinner from 5pm to 9.45pm. For more info, go to

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


Tam Dao Town Photo by Sasha Arefieva

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Tam Dao Town Open up the throttle through some of Vietnam’s most beautiful scenery on a road trip just 70km from Hanoi. Words by Edward Dalton. Photos by Sasha Arefieva | September 2017 Word | 153


anoi is rich in options for when city life gets overwhelming and a retreat into nature is required. Hanoians are blessed by a close proximity to mountains, national parks and sea. You could recharge your batteries in Sapa, although that would mean contending with construction traffic and gap year students fighting for selfies with someone looking a bit “tribal”. You could unwind in Hạlong Bay, if you can overlook the skyrocketing levels of pollution and congestion. Or you could take a trip up Vietnam’s answer to the allegorical Stairway to Heaven…

Lonely Highways Located in Vinh Phuc Province around 70km northwest of Hanoi, Tam Dao Town is a quaint mountain gem. Only accessible by a single road, the town sits at the end of a ribbon of automotive perfection which snakes and climbs around acres of lush green valleys. The journey is half the reason to make the trip, so expect the 90-minute travel time by motorbike to be increased by frequent stops to take clichéd photos of your vehicle with a

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dramatic background. The initial section of the journey just outside Hanoi features a series of small villages, where the children riding their bicycles to school, point and shout greetings at the rare sight of a two-wheeled Tay. Linking these villages together are vast stretches of almost unused highway, where it’s not uncommon to be the only person around. Depending on when you go, you may not see another vehicle for 10 minutes or more. The second part of the journey is the reason you need to bring a good camera. Once you clear Tam Dao Golf Course, the road leading towards the town starts to climb. As you edge around each new corner of that delicious mountain road, a whole new view unpacks itself, with Mother Nature adamant on filling up your Instagram account. Eventually, the forest begins to swallow up the road, and rows of tall trees create a canopy, which covers large swathes of the tarmac. The effect is both dramatic and serene.

Mountain Town Tam Dao Town was established in 1907, and

contains various relics and buildings left behind by French colonialists. One of the most beautiful is the old church, built by the French in 1937. Most of the surrounding buildings have long succumbed to their war wounds, but the surviving church, with its impressive stone tower, is worth a visit and provides a clear view of the town below. Dotted around the town are various villas, some painted in bizarre colours, which helps to enhance the unique character of this peaceful mountainous retreat. Many of the houses are adjacent to small plots of land, where local people grow their own food in those pristine mountain conditions. Aside from visiting the cultural sites, Tam Dao is also home to a number of regional specialities. The freshness of the chayote here, or su su, is unlike anything served in Hanoi. Usually stir-fried with garlic, it’s perfect on the side of some plump mountain chicken. Most of the meat in Tam Dao is free-range and organic; if boiled chicken isn’t your cup of tea, you can find restaurants serving a whole lon man (wild pig), with an 8kg pig setting you back around VND2.5 million. Located close to the centre of the town | September 2017 Word | 157

is Thac Bac (Silver Waterfall). Found at the bottom of a steep stone stairway, the waterfall emerges from the thick vegetation and resembles a shard of glistening silver, thrust into the rocky pool below. Tam Dao is more popular with domestic tourists, who are inclined to visit on weekends or during spring and summer. Visiting outside of these times almost guarantees you will have the waterfall to yourself, allowing for a peaceful moment in which you can sit and zone out for a while, taking in the crisp fresh air.

Into the Mist With an elevation of around 1,000m above sea level, it’s fairly common for a dense mist to descend over the town and surrounding area. This Stephen King-like filter may inhibit your ability to enjoy the distant views, but it also lends the area a mysterious atmosphere. Some of the crumbling

buildings become even more beguiling when set against a backdrop of the unknown. If a single day trip is insufficient to bring your blood pressure down to safe levels, there are a few decent hotels throughout the town for overnight trips. However, there is only one pharmacy and no real petrol station, so plan accordingly. The town also serves as a great base from which to enjoy some hiking or camping. The Tam Dao National Park covers an area of nearly 370sqkm and includes more than 20 peaks boasting altitudes of over 1,000m. Large expanses of tropical evergreen along with many other types of forest fill more than 70% of the region, which is home to more than 800 species of animal. If there’s time, the return journey to Hanoi is best enjoyed by visiting the Vietnam Bear Sanctuary at the foot of the mountain. Run by Animals Asia, the rescue centre houses moon bears and sun

bears saved from captivity. Prior to their rescue, many of the animals are farmed for their bile and are housed in tiny cages that prevent them being able to move. With a small diversion you can also head to Tay Thien, a nearby Buddhist site, which includes the Quoc Mau Tay Thien Temple. After a day or two of crisp mountain air, picturesque roads and fresh food, an hour of reflection in a beautiful mountain temple will be the perfect end to the trip.

Getting There Head north out of Hanoi on the AH14 towards Noi Bai International Airport. Turn off and head west along the CT05 in the direction of Vinh Yen City. Just past Vinh Yen City, turn off north once again and follow the QL2B all the way to Tam Dao.

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.

HOI AN & DANANG CUA DAI $ 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, pre–programmed iPod and both indoor and outdoor showers.

HUE & LANG CO ANGSANA LANG CO $$$$ 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.

BANYAN TREE LANG CO $$$$ 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.

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.


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 night.


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.

$$ Son Trach, Bo Trach, Quang | September 2017 Word | 161


Book Buff / Day Tripper: Hung Yen City / The Therapist / Bar Stool / Coffee Cup / Top Eats / Women's Fitness / Pets' Corner Photo by Julie Vola 162 | Word September 2017 |



everal of our regular customers are fans of the novels of Kent Haruf. His five tales are all set in a fictional part of Colorado, which novelist Ursula K. Le Guin describes as not at all like “the Colorado of the mind, and the posters, which is all peaks and picturesque ski lodges. But if you ever drive into Colorado from the east you may begin to wonder where they keep the Rockies. The slope of the plains rises imperceptibly, immense, monotonous, with an ugly little town now and then. One of those ugly little towns, Holt, was invented by the novelist Kent Haruf.” The series begins in the 1980s and concludes in 2014, when Haruf died. Le Guin describes Haruf’s text as a restrained voice, a quiet music, and his characters — often loners in a harsh landscape — as people who inhabit her mind. And like all Haruf fans, she loves the extraordinary presence of the town and its countryside, built up detail by detail in each book. The people of Holt, Le Guin says, “are subject to the repressive conventionality of small-town America that sometimes is expressed in acts of violence, and sometimes in acts of outreaching compassion. The violence is common in novels at present, the compassion less so.” The concluding short novel Our Souls at Night has two main players in their 70s. One morning Addie Moore, a widow, visited the house of one of her neighbours, widower Louis Waters, and proposed that they sleep with each other. “I wondered if you would consider coming to my house sometimes to sleep with me.” “What do you mean?” “I mean we’re both alone. We’ve been by ourselves for too long. For years. I’m lonely. I think you might be too. I wonder if you would come and sleep in the night with me. And talk.” He stared at her, watching her, curious now,

cautious. “You don’t say anything. Have I taken your breath away?” she said. “I guess you have.” “I’m not talking about sex. I think I lost any sexual impulses a long time ago. I’m talking about getting through the night. And lying warm in bed, companionably. Lying down in bed together and you staying the night. The nights are the worst. Don’t you think?” “Yes, I think so.” And thus begins a special, brave relationship. But happiness can be fragile and all the hope and warmth that encompasses the two is fraught by prejudices and misunderstandings of conservative community and immediate families. Novelist Peter Carey calls Haruf one of the great poets of the modern novel and The Times describes Our Souls at Night as “simple, low key and absolutely beautiful”.

Sexual Taboo Australian author Dorothy Hewett died in 2002. For most of her 79 years she was a fierce feminist who challenged societal norms and her poems, novels and plays prickle and mock. Her novel The Toucher is about an ageing, belligerently independent, wheelchairbound, though wealthy, female author who lives alone on the densely wooded outskirts of a conservative coastal fishing town where everyone is aware of their social status and the faults and sins of their neighbours. The setting is gothic: “There was something elemental about the place — the black salt-streaked granite, the foaming sea, the shrieking birds — something brutal and absolute, like death or murder.” Like the author, the novel’s protagonist, Esther La Farge, sets herself above petty, moral confines. “All her life she’s been haunted by the


image of a boy with green teeth who gave her a muttonbird feather. At 67, sitting in her wheelchair with a garden full of ghosts, she falls in love with his delinquent grandson: the devious charmer, Billy Crowe.” Hewett challenges her readers with vivid descriptions of intimate, even violent, sexual encounters between Esther and her teenage lothario. She allows Esther to masturbate and writes about it in celebratory manner. In the end she loses her lover to the law, her independence to carers, but she is able to remain an inhabitant of her rambling house and its gardens that slope down to a tidal inlet.

The Beautiful Boy Colleen McCulloch’s 1974 novel Tim is another book that deals with a societal taboo when a 60-ish spinster lawyer marries an intellectually handicapped, but very handsome, labourer. Feminist Germaine Greer got a beating with metaphorical male and moralistic sticks when her 2003 coffee table book The Beautiful Boy was released. Greer, the catalyst, stirred up worms with her description of the book as “being full of pictures of ‘ravishing’ pre-adult boys with hairless chests, wide-apart legs and slim waists. I know that the only people who are supposed to like looking at pictures of boys are a subgroup of gay men. Well, I’d like to reclaim for women the right to appreciate the short-lived beauty of boys, real boys, not simpering 30-year-olds with shaved chests.” Greer was labelled a paedophile, but swatted that slur aside and immediately gained more notoriety by posing fully clothed with a naked young man reclining across her lap. Truong Hoang is behind the bookshop, Bookworm. For more info click on or visit their shop at 44 Chau Long, Ba Dinh, Hanoi | September 2017 Word | 163

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.


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

ST. PAUL AMERICAN SCHOOL HANOI Khu Do Thi Bac AnKhanh, An Khanh, HoaiDuc, Tel: (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.

w ne r fe f o

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.


Read in Comfort

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.

We know, we all make tough choices every day.


But, we know you will make the right decision.

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.


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6 mon th s VND 5 0 0, 0 0 0 or 12 mon th s VND 1, 0 0 0, 0 0 0 Email: *Only valid for central Districts of Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi. | September 2017 Word | 165


Running adjacent to the Red River, the road less travelled to this onceimportant port town is the best. Words by Edward Dalton. Photos by Julie Vola


ung Yen City is around 70km southeast of Hanoi. Situated in the Red River Delta, it’s the perfect destination for a day trip. It combines underused highways ideal for motorbike cruising, with plenty to see and do.

The Right Road The first lesson of the day is this; never rely solely on Google Maps. All three routes it suggests for Hanoi to Hung Yen are equally awful. The best road to use is the lesser-travelled DT378; the same road which goes to Bat Trang. After passing the famous ceramics town, the road really comes into its own. It’s a wonderful journey. The thoroughfare

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is set on top of a minor embankment, as it runs adjacent to the Red River. This affords a commanding view of the land either side, which you will be free to enjoy as there aren’t many other road users around to dodge. Every few kilometres along the road are little yellow rest stops. Many of them now lie abandoned, with others commandeered by drinks sellers, xe om drivers and people waiting for buses. On a bright day, and with a single, irresponsible earphone blaring your favourite road-trip tunes into one ear, this is a journey guaranteed to create a sore throat; although the look on the faces of the local population upon seeing a fat white guy belting out a tone-deaf rendition of Don’t Stop Me Now from his motorbike makes it worth it.

Fruit and Demons The first item on the agenda should be the acquisition of some fresh qua nhan long, or caged longan fruit; so named from the technique of covering the fruit trees with cages, to protect them from birds. The fruit is a speciality of the province, and there are roadside hawkers all over Hung Yen City, selling longan from beneath their umbrellas throughout the day; 1kg of fruit costs around VND40,000. Once the fruity souvenir shopping is done, get yourself over to Van Mieu Xich Dang; a 185-year-old Temple of Literature. Found on Le Quy Don Street, it was restored and embellished by Minh Mang, one of the Nguyen emperors. Apart from the flat-cap wearing old

Hung Yen City


chap who shows us where to park, it’s completely empty. The silence is a marked difference from the Temple of Literature in Hanoi; although, as another Confucian temple, there are obvious similarities. Just 1km down the road is Chua Chuong, or the Bell Pagoda. However, after just a few minutes inside, a new name suggests itself; Hell Pagoda. The walls inside this gorgeous complex are covered with murals depicting terrifying scenes of souls being tortured in hell; look out for the moustachioed demon cooking up some people-soup, or the poor chap being nailed to a table by an obese demon with some spectacular earrings. Instead of the typical garish yellow-gold paint job and lashings of nosebleed-red

found in most Vietnamese pagodas, the statues and murals inside Bell Pagoda are covered with a warm shade of orangeybronze; it’s a beautiful place, which once again, is almost completely empty.

Mini Hoan Kiem The final stop of the trip is to Ban Nguyet Lake. Surrounded by trees and a few rogue fishermen, there are lots of drink stops all the way around. It’s the perfect place to take a walk or chill out, sipping from a fresh coconut and reimagining all the hellish scenes from Chua Chuong. Near to the lake is Mau Temple; a runof-the-mill complex, except for the bizarre triple-tree formation in front of the main building.

On the other side of the lake is Hung Yen Museum — closed, but with a few pieces of industrial hardware sitting in the courtyard, serving as a reminder of the time when this city was called Pho Hien, and was an important merchant port town.

Getting There Take Chuong Duong Bridge out of the city centre, and immediately turn off right onto the DT378 — as if heading towards Bat Trang. Follow it south, past Bat Trang, until it merges with QL39A — follow this for the remainder, straight into Hung Yen City. | September 2017 Word | 167




Dear Douglas, I am the mother of a 23-year-old daughter who has been studying in the US for the past four years. When her father and I went to her graduation we found out that she has a boyfriend there. It is her first boyfriend. She told us that they have been together for about one year. Now she is back in Vietnam, but we are having many arguments and she is behaving like we have never seen before. She is shouting at us and saying we are trying to control her life. It is true that I do not agree with her choice of a boyfriend. My husband seems to be less worried. She wants to go back to the US to study more and to be with her boyfriend. We don’t know whether to support her when she is disrespectful to us and does not agree to listen to what we tell her. What can we do? — Worried Parents Dear Worried Parents, I can see why you are feeling so much fear. You are afraid of losing your daughter by seeing her make the choice to stay with a man that you do not approve of. It is painful to imagine that your daughter, whom you have loved and supported, would decide to do such a thing. You are in a difficult situation. It is important to understand how intense fear can be part of the problem. It is important that both you and your daughter calm your fears because then you will see a broader perspective and be able to listen and understand one another better. Her anger is a reflection of her fear; an attempt to gain control when she feels she is losing control of her life. Your situation is not uncommon at this time in a family’s life. Your daughter has moved from childhood to adolescence and is now crossing into adulthood. The younger a child is, the more they depend on their parents to make decisions and guide them. The older they get the more they take on the right to choose who they are and what is right for them. Ideally, a young adult accepts responsibility and incorporates the values of their parents and makes decisions that are in line with those values. But often, young adults do things and decide things that their parents might not agree with. This is more likely when they live abroad, where the peer influences might be outside the cultural norms that exist within their own country. When disagreements occur, it is not

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uncommon for young adults to hide it from their parents because they know it will cause conflict, which they would rather avoid. This was true for your daughter. By not telling you about her boyfriend, she has been avoiding conflict. In this kind of conflict the question becomes, “Whose decision is it?” If the parent makes the decision by cutting off support or pressuring their child to do what they want, they are putting the young adult back in the role of child. It often leads to more conflict, resentment and more secrets. The truth is, often, young adults will make their own decisions, even when those decisions are in disagreement with what their parents might want. It is natural for young adults to want to be in control of their life. Yes, they will make mistakes and do things their parents do not agree with. If parents can offer their opinions, ideas they can think about, and then step back to say, “It is up to you to decide about your life,” it will be more likely that the young adult will listen and incorporate what they can learn from their parents’ advice. It is the difference between influence and control. Letting go of control is very difficult when we see our

adult children making, what we believe are, mistakes. The opposite is the recipe for a power struggle. When we are calm, we can see this all better than when we are in a panic. When we are extremely afraid, our imagination becomes more a part of our thinking and we start to future-trip. It is your daughter’s first boyfriend. Most people do not marry their first boyfriend or girlfriend, but it does allow them to understand what, and who, they want in their life. She deserves the chance to understand this for herself, and to be trusted to assess what is right for her. Your opinions and advice can help her in that process or they can cause her to push against what you want if it feels too much like it is controlling her life. I hope this is helpful. I know this is painful and difficult. I hope that your family can find a more calm way to communicate your love and care, and your fears and worries. I wish wellness for your family, — 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 | September 2017 Word | 169



e Cocktail Bar is the newest cocktail and wine bar from awardwinning bartender Pham Tien Tiep. Located on Tong Duy Tan — Hanoi’s popular late-night food and drink street — this quaint little bar is a welcome spot for relaxing, casual conversations, jazz music and of course, cocktails. “Ne is short for Negroni,” Tiep explains. “It is my favourite drink, and is also the nickname I gave to my son.” Ne offers a variety of flavoured Negroni cocktails (VND120,000 to VN130,000). One example, the chamomile and jasmine-infused Negroni, requires the gin and tea to permeate for 10

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days before it is ready to be mixed and served.

Pho-nomenal Cocktail It is Tiep’s invention, the pho cocktail (VND160,000), which won him the best bartender in Vietnam award at the Diageo World Class Competition in 2012 that he is best known for. Transforming the Vietnamese noodle dish into a cocktail may not sound like a winning recipe, but after trying it, I have to say something about the drink just works. The cocktail’s pho taste is achieved by sifting gin and Cointreau through cinnamon, anise and cardamom. A hot

flame is used to infuse the flavours of the spices and alcohol together. These spices, which are normally used to give the pho broth its alluring aroma, are now used to instill its fragrance into this sweet-scented cocktail. For an extra boost of authenticity, you can also add chilli and lime. Tiep’s story began in a small village when he was barely a teenager. “When I was 15, I finished school and I went to Hanoi to find a job, I worked in construction, at a pho restaurant and in a factory making uniforms. Then at age 19, the KOTO restaurant gave me a chance to work in their bar.” It was there that his fascination with

Ne Cocktail Bar


mixology began. Now 29, Tiep has accomplished much in the decade since coming to Hanoi. Besides opening Ne Cocktail Bar in May this year, he also moonlights at The Press Club and teaches classes in the art of cocktail making to would-be mixologists. “I worked in a small bar in the Old Quarter for three years before I moved to The Metropole.” Tiep says. “I worked there for almost five years, but I moved out to open my own business. My first bar was too big, this was The Mojito Bar in 2014, so in 2015, I opened another bar called Unicorn, but that one was too small,” Tiep recalls.

Vietnamese-inspired Through trial and error, Ne Cocktail Bar seems like the perfect size for Tiep. He is now free to focus on bringing world-class cocktails to Vietnam, and most importantly to Hanoi. “In Hanoi, I really want to make different-style cocktails inspired by Vietnamese culture,” Tiep says, beaming with pride. Many of Ne Cocktail Bar’s signature cocktails are influenced by his upbringing. The botanicals and ingredients Tiep uses for his drinks seem more fit for a kitchen than a bar. Besides the pho cocktail, his other Vietnamese-inspired creations include the O

Mai Cocktail, which uses the popular dried apricot candy as a garnish and The Pickles (VND140,000), a tipple made with tomato and pickled mustard — two ingredients used in the Vietnamese soup canh dua. “When people come to Vietnam, they really want to try the salt of Vietnam. It’s not about drinks like the Singapore Sling — you can find those everywhere,” Tiep explains. Ne Cocktail Bar does still serve Singapore Slings (VND120,000) if you absolutely need one, but if Vietnam is so renowned for its cuisine, it’s Tiep’s hope that in the future, the cocktails will be sought after in equal measure. — Hai Vu | September 2017 Word | 171



n stark contrast to its bleak, neo-Gothic neighbour St. Joseph’s Cathedral, Eden Coffee’s aesthetic is vibrant and Bohemian. As the name suggests, the café is supposed to serve as an oasis for people to escape the hectic city. But the biblical allusions end there — the name and the location are just coincidence. All standard Vietnamese and Western coffee variations are offered ranging in price from VND35,000 for Vietnamese coffee and VND50,000 for a latte. The café uses Impress Run Coffee beans and grinds all their coffee in-shop. Non-coffee drinks like smoothies,

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cocktails, juices and tea, are also available.

Against The Flow One of their new and rather unconventional drinks is the doughnut choco ice blended (VND69,000), which is a chocolate shake with whipped cream, chocolate syrup, sprinkles, and a chocolate doughnut on top. If you’re in the mood for something less decadent, the tofu ice blended (VND55,000) is a healthy alternative. Albeit an acquired taste, this drink is a refreshing blend of raw tofu, soy milk, sesame seeds and rose essence. For something fruity and not-too-sweet,

try their hibiscus mango iced tea (VND60,000). The twinge of tartness in the tea is deliciously balanced with the sweet pieces of mango. Eden Coffee also serves a variety of beer cocktails like coffee beer (VND69,000), peach and mango beer (VND69,000), and passion fruit and pineapple beer (VND69,000). Aside from beverages, the café also serves snacks both sweet and savoury. Choose from their selection of cakes like tiramisu or lemon mousse for VND50,000 each, or try a salty snack like a bowl of dried chicken, also VND50,000.

Eden Coffee


In Your Face When you first walk into the café, an enormous rainbow-coloured mural of a peacock and the smell of incense will greet you. The first two floors are indoor spaces sectioned off into little nooks perfect for groups of people who would like more privacy. In line with the café’s atmosphere, people can choose to sit on floor pillows or lounge in ornate couches while they enjoy their beverages and snacks. Nothing about the décor is subtle. A lively mix of striking textiles, richly coloured walls, and Indian and African-inspired art

decorate the walls. To add to the allusion of a sanctuary, one of the café’s walls is entirely covered in leafy vines. Also matching the café’s garden theme, the third-floor outdoor rooftop is covered in fake grass and decorated with hundreds of hanging plants and succulents. The roof has a perfect view of the cathedral, and during mass on Sundays you can hear the church bells ringing. Flower-shaped weather vanes spin freely in the wind, and at night, fairy lights illuminate the deck so that customers can sit outside long after dark. This café is a fine place to go on a date,

get some work done, or host a group meeting. Originally, the owner opened Eden more than a year ago in the hope that it would attract teenagers, who she thinks do not have enough places to hang out in the city. Located adjacent to a primary school, the café is frequently bustling with school kids. If you’re feeling suffocated by the helterskelter of the city, visit Eden for a delightful break from Hanoi’s chaos. — Emily Arnsten Eden Coffee is located at 2 Nha Tho, Hoan Kiem, Hoan Kiem and is open every day from 8am to 11pm | September 2017 Word | 173



he entrance to Tinh Tam Tra told me this restaurant was something special. Golden paper lanterns swung gently from the fascia, while small cypress trees in pots and driftwoodlike artwork framed the doorway. I walked in and was greeted by soothing music, the subtle scent of cinnamon, and I relaxed into the experience of Hanoi’s newest vegan restaurant.

A Mother’s Vision Twenty-four-year-old Vy Chu, who still works part-time in fashion, manages Tinh Tam Tra on behalf of her mother, Thuy, and

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another investor, a friend of the family. The restaurant was Thuy’s idea. Vegan for 12 months, Thuy — a youthful and vibrant 66-year-old — could not find anywhere suitable for breakfast, and she wanted to avoid dubious lunch buffets. Thuy was a home cook — a good one — and decided, based on her own vegan needs, to open a family-run restaurant. Her son Trung also works there. Aimed at Vietnamese clientele — especially the younger people who are turning to veganism in increasing numbers — the restaurant is also attracting its fair share of foreigners and expats because of

its Ba Dinh location. I drank a tra sen (VND60,000) in a delicate, lidded ceramic cup from Bat Trang village — a naturally sweet tea infused with fresh lotus. I munched on kho chay (VND30,000), a spicy vegan jerky, and a treat that is not available anywhere else in Hanoi. The restaurant is cosy but not small, with dining areas occupying the first and second floors. The kitchen is on the third floor. Hand-painted murals adorn the walls, and greenery, fresh and healthy, play a prominent part of the decoration, which also includes an indoor waterfall. Upstairs, one of the rooms has a Japanese feel, with

Tinh Tam Tra


green floor cushions, low, wooden tables and tasteful minimalism.

Tried & Tested Tastiness With only 10 dishes from which to choose, the menu has been kept small for a reason; the dishes are Thuy’s personal recipes and firm family favourites. Thuy even trained the chef in how to cook them to perfection. And perfect they are, generous portions, beautifully presented and bursting with flavour. I have been in Hanoi for nearly nine months and, as a vegetarian, I have never eaten bun cha and nem, until today. At Vy’s

insistence, I tried the bun nem (VND50,000) with nem truyen thong (traditional spring rolls) and nem hai ngu (vegan fish rolls), which arrived on a banana leaf-lined bamboo platter accompanied by a generous serve of sliced “beef”, noodles, herbs, chilli and lime wedges. The dipping sauce was perfectly balanced with exactly the right amount of sugar, the chopped dill an inspired inclusion. Both varieties of spring rolls were crisp and flavoursome. If I hadn’t have known otherwise, I could have sworn meat was a key ingredient. Ditto the “beef”, which had a flawless meaty taste and texture.

I also tried the pho (VND50,000) and was impressed. The fragrant, clear broth was served in a large bowl, and brimming with noodles, herbs and “beef” slices, which looked and tasted like real beef — a notoriously difficult task to pull off. I finished my meal with sliced orange mango, ripe and sweet. Attention to detail is often an overused term, but it is this that sets Tinh Tam Tra apart. — Diane Lee Tam Tinh Tra is located at 126/26, Alley 32 Phan Ke Binh, Ba Dinh, Hanoi and is open daily from 8am to 10pm. For more information visit | September 2017 Word | 175

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.

M M M EAT — ITALIAN 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

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

PANE E VINO 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 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



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!


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


ONLY VND250,000 / GUEST (MINIMUM OF 4 GUESTS) Includes pumpkin soup, caesar salad with smoked salmon and poached egg, crab vermicelli, Canadian AAA ribeye with fries and Dalat greens, seasonal fruit plate, coconut and mango che, complimentary Hanoi beer or soft drink, unlimited ginger and lemongrass iced tea or hot tea 16 Quang An - Tay Ho - Hanoi | Tel: (84-24) 3 719 2828 | 3 719 3719 | | September 2017 Word | 177




omen tend to carry a higher percentage of fat around the hips, thighs and butt while men carry fat deposits around the stomach. On average women have 18% to 20% more body fat than men, though this figure can vary depending on the individual. A study by the University of NSW in Sydney some years ago found that although women eat fewer calories than men, their ability to store fat more efficiently than men is linked to the hormone oestrogen. Studies have shown that oestrogen reduces a woman’s ability to burn energy efficiently after eating, thus resulting in extra fat being stored. The storage of fat is possibly linked to childbearing. On the other hand, high oestrogen levels allow fat to be utilized as energy during exercise faster than men, but it doesn’t decrease at the rate as it does in men — a paradox that frustrates women who work out.

Good and Bad Influences Having a healthy eating plan also influences oestrogen and fat storage levels. Processed foods, genetically modified organism (GMO) food, fatty meat products, and food high in fat will increase and promote fat storage. Although certain plant compounds called flavonoids and indoles serve to modulate oestrogen production and fat storage, make sure each week you include these foods that are high in these oestrogen-inhibiting compounds, such as salmon, citrus fruit, onions, garlic and vegetables, such as cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower. Restricting your calorie consumption, such as going on a liquid diet or only eating one meal a day will have a counter-productive effect and actually increase fat storage. A rapid decrease in calories triggers your body to go into starvation mode, storing more fat to be used as energy. After menopause, fat storage and distribution changes as the body starts to produce more of the male hormone androgen to counteract the drop in oestrogen. Because of this hormone change, women start to store more fat around the stomach region like men. Increased fat around the abdomen means you have a higher risk of health problems, such as heart disease, stroke and arthritis. However, fat stored in your hips, thighs or bottom isn’t necessarily an indicator of poor health. There are several other factors to consider why women gain weight during

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menopause. A change in lifestyle can also play a major role during this time, going from being relatively active pre-menopausal to becoming less active during menopause. This results in less energy burned, loss of muscle mass and an increase in fat storage. Menopausal women also have an increase in insulin levels and insulin resistance, which increases weight gain and risk of heart disease.

HRT for Me? Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT), though controversial due to the increased risk of breast cancer, does assist in reducing abdominal fat, insulin resistance and new-onset diabetes. A reason why HRT is effective in weight control is because it helps to stabilize and increase oestrogen levels thus letting your body know it doesn’t need to store extra fat. A more natural alternative to HRT to decrease unwanted weight gain and increase lean muscle mass is to maintain a healthy eating plan high in organic fruit

and vegetables that are GMO-free along with eating lean meats, omega-3 fatty acids found in fish, such as salmon, combined with a regular exercise routine. It’s important to understand that fat is essential for giving your body energy and supporting cell growth. Fat fills your fat cells, insulates your body to keep you warm and protects vital organs. Fat also helps your body absorb certain vitamins and nutrients along with producing hormones. With regular exercise and a healthy eating plan, and learning how to work with your body’s changes through the different stages of your life, it will help you reach your health and fitness goals. 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



uppies are exuberant little whirling devils when it comes to play and friendly greetings. Unfortunately, when they become adults, these same noisy and enthusiastic behaviours are often considered a nuisance. Puppies who jump up eagerly to be petted by people are later admonished when they jump up as adults. Sadly, by unintentionally encouraging these unwanted behaviours when they are young, dogs receive considerable abuse simply for expressing their joy when older. Instead, let’s teach our furry companions that they can show their enthusiasm and reap all the rewards for doing so, channelled through trained behaviours we would prefer to see instead.

Trick and Treat To begin teaching impulse control, briefly show your dog a treat and then enclose it in your fist. The little guy may attempt to poke it free, nudging your hand, pawing at you, licking, and barking. Just be patient, ignore it all. However, the moment he pulls back to pounce again, say “Yes!” to that quick movement, open your hand, delivering the treat or letting it drop to the floor. Repeat until your pup begins backing away from your fist, at which point you

can then increase the delay before saying, “Yes!” and rewarding. This will start your pup on the road to choosing self-control as a way for him to win. Then you can practice this same idea with different commands for all situations where your little one becomes pushy, such as...

…jumping Asking your pup to “sit” when guests, or strangers greet them is an easy impulse to control behaviour, since your dog can’t sit and jump at the same time. It’s known as an incompatible behaviour for this reason. She has to choose, but she only gets rewarded for choosing correctly. Don’t teach your pup to “sit” when she’s already excitedly greeting a stranger; she won’t be able to focus and learn. Instead, practice “sit” by the door or the street during quiet moments until she’s learned the behaviour with you. Then, you can show off her “sit” when people approach. If she jumps, no need to yell, or knee her in the chest, simply turn around or go further away and wait until all four paws are on the floor. Once she does, reward her with treats, or the thing she wants most — to say hello. If you’d like, once your dog is sitting reliably at the site of guests, they can bend down to her so she can sniff and lick her greetings without having to jump


up. Your pup gets everything she wanted in that moment, by doing the opposite of what she wanted.

Door Rushing A “wait” command at the door will teach your pup to hold still instead of rushing out into the busy street. His reward for waiting? The door magically opens! If, however, he attempts to bust through, you can say, “Sorry!” and gently close the door instead. Open the door a crack and wait for him to hesitate just a second, if he does, say, “Yes!” and let him proceed. Practice this over and over again until he’s hesitating for longer periods, eventually keeping still with the door fully opened until he hears you say, “Good boy!” By installing behaviours you’d rather see from your pup, the focus changes from telling them, “No!” all the time, to telling them, “Yes! Do that instead!” Rather than plunging about in a desperate scramble for what they want, teach your beloved pup that they can still get all the good things in life, simply by being patient. Maria Skorobogatov is an animal behaviourist with 10-plus years of applied training and behaviour experience. Focusing on family pets, she uses humane, science-based training and behaviour modification techniques that can be easily followed at home. For more info email | September 2017 Word | 179

Ho Chi Minh City

Day Tripper: Bo Cap Vang / Body and Temple / Medical Buff / Bar Stool / Coffee Cup / Top Eats / Know Your City Photo by Olga Rozenbajgier 180 | Word September 2017 | | September 2017 Word | 181

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

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

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




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.


DAY TRIPPER Not far outside the city limits you can still find a slow and easy life. Words by Matt Cowan. Photos by Mike Palumbo


aytripping doesn’t mean you have to be up with the roosters, bags packed the night before, with hours spent on dodgy roads getting to your destination. Bo Cap Vang in Dong Nai Province is an ecotourism park approximately an hour and a half by motorbike and ferry from District 1. It’s easy to find and has something for everyone for an enjoyable day trip. The park is on the banks of the Keo Canal, a tributary of the Dong Tranh River that snakes its way southeast from Saigon towards Vung Tau and acts as the border separating the provinces of Dong Nai, Ho Chi Minh City and Ba Ria-Vung Tau. Bo Cap Vung offers food, camping, team building opportunities, swimming and water activities, wedding parties and, dubiously, quadbiking, although it’s not immediately clear where that takes place at the site. There’s

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oodles of shade and the river has some of the cleanest water you’ll see in these parts.

Pay the ferry, man Bo Cap Vung is accessible via the Cat Lai ferry from Cat Lai Port and is the closest ferry to people living in District 2. However, the best route for people living on the opposite side of the Saigon River — most of us — is to get yourself to Binh Khanh Ferry Terminal at Nha Be, right by District 7 at the end of Huynh Tan Phat Street. This street connects (in a roundabout way) to Nguyen Tat Thanh Street, the street that runs alongside the port in District 4. We arrived at the ferry station at about 7.15am and were onboard by 7.30am, ready for a 7.35am departure. A ticket for the 10-minute ride across the river costs VND4,500 per motorbike. They are simple to buy, like at most ferry terminals in Vietnam.

Pull up alongside a ticket seller, pay and then hand over the stub as you move your way to the platform. The ferry on the day we went, a Tuesday, was only half-full with motorbikes, small cars and a small truck or two. At weekends, the deck is usually jammed with daytrippers, so if you can, take that day off work you’ve been wanting and enjoy the more laid-back conditions during the week.

Quay Lai On the other side of the river, we realised that we had taken the wrong ferry. It turned out that we had departed from the wrong terminal. A quick check of Google maps showed us that we should have arrived at Phuoc Khanh Ferry Terminal, not the terminal at the beginning of Rung Sac, which is a long stretch of road that goes all the way down to the ocean through Can Gio forest.

Bo Cap Vang

After a quick turn around and another VND4,500, we were back on the ferry that had brought us. It turned out that there is a much smaller terminal nearby where a ferry with a capacity of about 30 motorbikes and some small vehicles takes you the 20-minute ride across the river to Phuoc Khanh. Say Phuoc Khanh to the ferry staff and they will point you in the direction of the terminal just two minutes away. The ferry ride across the Nha Be River was enjoyable with all types of vessels plying the waterway. At one point the skipper backed off the throttle, slowing the old diesel engine to a chug, as the bow waves of a small Vietnamese naval destroyer cruising by threaten to breach our bow.

Ship To Shore At 8.40am, an hour after riding our first ferry, our tyres were ready to hit the tarmac

again. Phuoc Khanh is a surprisingly quaint fishing village worthy of a proper visit. Just outside of town is Pham Thai Buong Street, which is almost 5km long, and doesn’t take too long to ride — take note however, at the time of writing, roadworks ran the length of it. The small dirt track to the side is a much better option. Pham Thai Buong runs into Hung Vuong Street at its end where you turn right and travel approximately the same distance to the turnoff to the road that takes you all the way to Bo Cap Vang. At around the 6km mark, there’s a large green and yellow sign indicating that Bo Cap Vang is just 2.7km away. From here it was an easy ride to our destination, on the way passing some idyllic rice fields and crossing over a quaint bridge, although at one point the vistas were bullied by towering electricity pylons and their power lines that supply electricity to Saigon.

As much as anything, a trip to Bo Cap Vung is a nice reminder of how rural Vietnam is still on our doorstep despite the development that goes on unfettered around us.

Trip-O-Meter Time taken to destination: 90 minutes Kilometres ridden: Approx. 53 (roundtrip) Ferry cost: Two-way VND18,000 Fuel cost: No more than VND40,000 Park entry: VND50,000 per person Parking fee: VND5,000 Lunch: VND160,000 for two people Menu at destination: Vietnamese quan favourites ranging in price from VND30,000 to VND230,000 X-Factor: Clean river water for swimming Trip tip: Go on a weekday | September 2017 Word | 185




he two most frequent topics we get asked about are belly fat and lower body fat (specifically cellulite). In this article, I want to discuss and clarify the issue of lower body fat with specific reference to the cellulite phenomenon. What is cellulite? Why does it appear and how can you get rid of it?

Snake Oils Some argue that there is nothing you can do about cellulite. Genetics play a part in predisposing people to having cellulite, due to the type of collagen fibres one possesses. But no matter what your genetics, the aesthetics of cellulite can always be improved. Suggested remedies are, as you would expect, far and wide. A quick Google search throws up things like dry brushing, cayenne pepper, coffee grounds, apple cider vinegar scrubs and concoctions, as well as seaweed baths. All of which are mostly a waste of time. Understanding what cellulite is and how it is formed is the first step to actively reducing it. Cellulite is the combination of two factors; fat deposits and collagen fibres. The reason women predominantly get cellulite and men don’t, has a lot to do with genetics. Genetics relate to how the collagen fibres are distributed (vertically or criss-crossed in layout). Some women can also possess the criss-crossed layout.

Lucky Genes Female fat and collagen in the lower body is a little different to that found on a man’s body, and even different than fat found on different areas of the female structure. When fat is stored, it gets tightly packed inside the collagen fibre pockets creating the characteristic dimpling effect. The criss-cross layout doesn’t allow this dimpling effect. The collagen fibre layout explains why some overweight people don’t have as much cellulite as some skinny people. We cannot change this genetic layout, so dealing with cellulite is not just an issue of losing or gaining fat, or doing massage or exfoliation, it is a matter of doing something to address fat loss as well as collagen strength and health.

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Lower Body Reluctance Vertical collagen fibres, a general tendency to store fat in the lower body, along with higher density of eostrogenic alpha-receptors, is the triple whammy of female cellulite. In general women have a harder time losing fat from their lower body. This is mainly due to the type of receptors found in the fat of the area. The mechanism of burning fat in this area relies on understanding how the adrenergic receptors work. Dr Jade Teta explains: “Women have about nine times more alpha-adrenergic receptors associated with their (lower body) fat tissue compared to beta-adrenergic receptors. Adrenergic receptors are bound by the body’s most potent fat burning hormones catecholamines. When the catecholamines interact with beta-receptors, fat is released from fat cells. When they bind to alphareceptors fat release is drastically slowed.” To simplify, think B for burn and A for antiburn. Women possess a lot of A-receptors in the thigh region, making it more difficult to lose this fat. Now that you understand the situation of how and why cellulite is formed we can proactively plan to improve these factors. The four factors for cellulite loss are: Fat, Fibre, Flow and Firm: Fat The need to lose fat is obvious. Reducing the amount of fat in the collagen fibre columns will reduce the dimple effect. Controlling

insulin is a major key for fat loss in this area. According to Dr Teta: “Keeping total carb intake under 100g for the day and exercising on an empty stomach using a mix of intervals, then weights and then followed with a long slow cardio session, like walking, is what delivers best results.” Also avoiding exposure to oestrogenic properties is important. Firm The second most important factor is to increase lean tissue. A lower body resistance workout that concentrates on muscle growth is essential. Bigger muscles means tighter muscle fascia, which increases the tightness and tone of the connective tissue in the skin. This is one of the reasons lifting weights tightens the body even when fat is not lost. Fibre Strengthen and remodel the collagen fibres. This is the hardest part and where all the Google remedies of body scrub, deep tissue massage, as well as heat, vibration and light therapy come into play. Collagen remodelling is an important step, but most provide only short-term results. Flow Here we are talking about increasing blood flow to the lower body. This is very common in spa treatments. The major ways to increase blood flow to an area are to move that area and to heat that area. Exercise does both and so does massage. Increased blood flow to an area means increased ability to move released fat to be burnt for fuel. 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. | September 2017 Word | 187




here are many things that can go wrong with the cardiovascular system, leading to a cardiac event. As a cardiologist, it’s important to keep information I share with the public, as simple as possible. When cardiac events occur, there are only a few minutes to respond. There’s no time to figure out if a victim is suffering from a myocardial infarction (heart attack) or a pulmonary embolism (clotting of blood vessels in the lungs). It’s best to leave the technical details to the doctors. The most urgent issue for a bystander is to call an emergency number and perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) if needed. It’s important to stick to the basics.

Shocking Facts CPR is not a treatment for cardiac arrest itself. The heart muscle is a pump controlled by electrical impulses, delivering oxygen-enriched blood throughout the body. Death comes quickly if the pump fails. Many of the body’s systems will shut down within minutes without oxygen. CPR is performed to squeeze blood through arteries by putting pressure on the heart’s chambers. While this may not do anything toward fixing the pump itself, it can delay the shutdown of the rest of the body for long enough to allow a doctor to arrive with the equipment to get the heart working again. One of those pieces of equipment is the defibrillator. Often seen in the movies, it is used in the most dramatic cases. What isn’t well known is that the defibrillator is the most critical lifesaving element in heart attacks. Contrary to common belief, the cause of most fatal heart failures is not that the heart has suddenly stopped beating; it’s actually rhythm trouble. It’s like a drummer who can’t keep time, and the music just can’t go on without that regular pulse. We call this ventricular arrhythmia — an electrical storm in the heart. There’s a lot of electrical activity, but no mechanical coordination. To save a patient’s life, the storm must be stopped immediately — no one can survive without circulation for long. To beat the storm, a powerful electrical attack must be administered to overcome the chaos within the heart. The defibrillator will paralyse the heart, then everything will reset, and the heart’s normal electrical activity will resume as things start up again. Defibrillators should be everywhere. It’s often the case that bystanders will manually pump a patient’s heart with CPR until a

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specialist arrives with a defibrillator. Sadly, however, most bystanders have no idea how to perform CPR properly. Cardiologists like myself now recommend that defibrillators be installed widely, just as fire extinguishers are often found in public buildings. They’re now found on planes and private yachts. Five-star hotels should definitely have one as travellers nowadays tend to have vacations where this kind of medical equipment is available. Vietnam is sometimes left off itineraries because resorts here rarely have appropriate medical facilities. I would go further and suggest that defibrillators should be installed in public places and on any business premises.

Putting Your Heart Into It When I see a patient who has recently suffered a cardiac event, I need to follow a whole diagnostic process to understand what course of treatment needs to be administered. Following that, I use a number of tools at my disposal to narrow things down. I can perform a Doppler ultrasound to check the carotid arteries for clots from the heart or a build-up of plaque constricting the blood flow. I can run a Holter Electrocardiogram (ECG) to detect rhythm trouble that could manifest in another attack. I can also perform a cardiac echo test to check for damage in the heart muscle itself and assess the extent of that damage. This, combined with a thorough physical examination, is usually enough to know what treatment is required. I may need to perform an invasive procedure to insert a

small balloon into the carotid artery to push out a blockage, or I may need to prescribe a series of medicines to dissolve clotting in the blood. Besides that, a recovering patient may need to make significant lifestyle and dietary changes to avoid further stresses on the heart and its systems, in particular regarding cholesterol intake. The key is to avoid a situation where you’re at risk of a heart attack or cerebral stroke. Call for help if you start to experience symptoms of an impending attack; it’s better to get to the emergency room before you drop than leave yourself at the mercy of bystanders who may or may not know CPR. Make those lifestyle changes before you need them for recovery; before your life is threatened by a cardiac event. Eat better, quit smoking, and fit some exercise into your day. Manage your blood pressure, as high blood pressure remains one of the leading causes of mortality worldwide. If you’re over 40, visit a cardiologist to have a cardiac assessment done so that you know your risk. There are so many factors that can cause cardiovascular disease, and you want to avoid them as much as possible. Dr. Guillaume is in charge of cardiology at Family Medical Practice’s clinic in HCMC. He has had 25 years of experience in both cardiology and intensive care units in France, and has been in Vietnam for over a decade. In case of medical emergency, dial *9999 in HCMC only. Callers will receive advice, rapid emergency response, and in cases such as stroke or myocardial infarction, medical treatment begins immediately upon doctor arrival

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.

T | September 2017 Word | 189



hoai isn’t your run of the mill bar. Tucked away in a corner of Binh Thanh District, its design has an unusual inspiration and it can stake a claim to be one of Ho Chi Minh City’s best-kept secrets. The owner, Hai, spent several years living in Budapest, Hungary, and the decor of the bar has been inspired by Budapest’s famous ruin pubs, and in particular the legendary Szimpla Kert.

Gritty Chic The idea behind a ruin bar is simple. During

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the early 2000s, abandoned and derelict spaces were transformed in the Hungarian capital to create new drinking spaces, and Khoai has lovingly recreated this style. There are tables hanging upside down from the roof, a mishmash of paint, graffiti and different-coloured lighting, with tin sheets making up the outdoor roof. It embodies a gritty chic that doesn’t take itself too seriously, and with it, it encourages a loose and friendly atmosphere. Beer fans will be kept happy with their diverse range of European bottled beers, with tipples coming from Germany, Ireland,

Holland, Denmark, Czech Republic, Slovakia and Belgium. Prices are reasonable; you can get a German Kostritzer for VND85,000 or a Belgian Affligem for VND80,000. There’s also a decent selection of beers from Vietnam’s Asian neighbours, such as Japan, Cambodia, Laos and Thailand. As it’s 2017, there is an extensive craft beer menu on offer too which includes favourites such as Platinum Golden Ale (VND50,000) and the East West Summer Hefe (VND75,000) as well as new additions to the menu, such as the CCraftbeer from Hanoi (VND75,000) and Dong Son Golden Ale (VND75,000).



Draft Hoegaarden (VND85,000) and Leffe (VND85,000) are also available. I go for a Lowen which was brewed nearby in Quy Nhon, and costs VND30,000 for a stubby bottle. Similarly, there’s Dung Quat from Quang Ngai also available at VND30,000. Both are light and refreshing summer sups. Khoai also serves food, and there are bar snacks, such as pickled chicken feet (VND40,000), spring rolls (VND55,000) or fermented pig’s ear rolls (VND65,000) as well as fresh sounding salads and Europeaninspired mains and pastas which range from VND70,000 to VND130,000.

Mixed Crowd There’s a healthy mix of young Vietnamese professionals stopping by for a gossip after work, and expats enjoying a get-together. Everyone seems to get on. It’s a cosy space without being poky, and all of the tables are full which always helps you loosen up and settle in. It’s great to see a bar thrive that isn’t in District 1 or 2. There’s a happy hour, which begins when the bar opens at 4pm and runs until 7pm, with 20 percent off all beer on the menu. In the evenings there are regular events, such as open-mic nights, acoustic performances, DJs

and bands. Bar manager Thanh tells me that they try and mix it up to keep things fresh and they’ve recently hosted performances such as belly dancing and saxophone playing. Look out for the friendly pet cats that make good use of the assorted bits of furniture that hang from the roof, as they climb and jump as you enjoy your drink. It’s that kind of place. — Thomas Barrett Khoai is located at 89 Pham Viet Chanh, Binh Thanh, close to the border with District 1. For more information on Khoai, visit nongtraikhoai/ | September 2017 Word | 191

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 | September 2017 Word | 193



new addition to the strip of cafés and restaurants along the tight street of Ngo Thoi Nhiem is making the street extra busy. Chanchamayo Concept is the result of putting together two of the owner’s passions, architecture and coffee.

White and Bright This new hangout place in District 3 is drowned out by lush greens on the outside, hiding the simple white facade with wooden accents of the café. It only has one floor, but it can seat plenty of people. To make the most of the space, tables and chairs are put up outside on the mini-garden and veranda, which is the most photographed part of the café. A swing set is also hung outside, and is popular with children and the young at heart. Chanchamayo Concept is a café and showroom in one. The interior is cabininspired with white walls, wooden furniture and shelves, leather cushions, and some succulents for more colour. The café is bright, lit up by one-of-a-kind wooden chandeliers, and the white glass wall allows in plenty of natural light.

Something Different Young adults meeting their friends

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frequent the café on the weekends and order a glass of houjicha for VND96,000. This rustic tea from Japan is its best seller, and it is great paired with a slice of Pick You Up, which is the café’s version of tiramisu, for VND96,000. The drink is quite similar to the taste of matcha and complements the sweet taste of tiramisu well. On weekdays, it gets packed with office workers having their lunch breaks or business meetings. Most of them order from the salad list, which has fruit, cereal and fruit, tuna fish, chicken and teriyaki sauce, and salmon and creamy corn sauce, from VND136,000 to VND189,000. Chachamayo Concept’s drinks menu also caters to the health-conscious. There are fresh, mixed juices, and healthy drinks starting from VND86,000. These drinks are good day-starters or after-workout thirst quenchers. Those who want to satisfy their sweet tooth can get a scoop or two from the list of gelato, crepes, waffles and cakes. Vietnamese and Italian coffees come either hot or cold, priced between VND58,000 and VND83,000. Tea sets for two cost from VND168,000, served with English fruitcake and muse, which is an original creation of the in-house

baker. This sponge cake with lemon zest comes in the shape of a mussel, and one side is dipped in chocolate. The baker recommends that the cakes be consumed right away to fully taste the rich flavours, and to wait for five minutes before drinking the tea. Reflecting the architecture and design interest of the owner, each drink is also served in glasses with embossed designs.

Multiculturally Inspired Fully operational since July, this café has already attracted a good following. Apart from the food and drinks, customers also enjoy taking photos in every corner as they are all Instagram-ready. The white walls and wooden tables make a good background for portrait or flat lay photos. Certain areas of the café can also be rented for photo shoots. If you are looking for a place to work or people-watch, Chanchamayo Concept is a new place that allows for it. But make sure you come in early as the place is packed from lunchtime until closing, especially on the weekends. — JB Jance Chanchamayo Concept is at 6A Ngo Thoi Nhiem, Q3. For more information, go to

Chanchamayo Concept | September 2017 Word | 195

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.

MEKONG MERCHANT INTERNATIONAL CAFE FARE / SEAFOOD 23 Thao Dien, An Phu, Q2, Tel: (028) 3744 6478 info@mekongmerchant. com The rustic looking, bananaleaf roofed Mekong Merchant has long been the place in An Phu. Set around a cobblestoned courtyard the cuisine includes gourmet seafood and pastas. Bakery-style Bistro out front.

NINETEEN INTERNATIONAL / ASIAN Ground floor, Caravelle Hotel, 19 Lam Son Square, Q1, Tel: (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.


Tel: (028) 3822 9838

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.

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 DECK MODERN ASIAN FUSION 38 Nguyen U Di, Q2, Tel: (028) 3744 6632 Set on the banks of Saigon River across from Thanh Da Island, this innovative restaurant serves up modern Asian fusion cuisine in a Bali-style atmosphere, complemented by great cocktails and a long wine list.

THE 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.


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 | September 2017 Word | 197


On the table at Gardenstadt

The schnitzel and sausages at BMV


ith the world-famous German festival Oktoberfest around the corner, there are a number of establishments dotted around Ho Chi Minh City serving up authentic German fare, where locals and expats alike can join the festivities.

Gartenstadt Restaurant With this 25-year-old institution on Dong Khoi, there is a distinct sense of walking into old-fashioned Germany. The wooden panels, long bar and the staff uniform draw in the local crowd on a weeknight. There is no modernist take on German food here, it delivers exactly what you expect. The bratwurst with sauerkraut and fried potatoes (VND220,000) is tasty, with a little kick of spice in the wurst. To finish with a apfelstrudel with ice cream

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and whipped cream (VND190,000) was a real treat. Gartenstadt Restaurant is at 34 Dong Khoi, Q1, HCMC and is open daily from 10.30am to midnight. For more info, go to GartenstadtRestaurant

BMV Beer Bar & Restaurant Nestled in the heart of Thao Dien and popular with the German community, BMV (Berlin, Munich, Vietnam) is owned and run by Willi, who is hugely passionate about his native food. “All the meat is imported from Germany,” he says, “and the ketchup is made in-house.” Only he gets to try it before it is released to the public. The result is a delicious curry wurst and french fries (VND105,000) with the in-house sauce, which manages to balance the flavours well. What makes this place

stand out is the variety of sausages (and beer) on offer. The German sausage schenke with mustard (VND125,000) is yet another highlight. BMV Beer Bar & Restaurant is at 38 Quoc Huong, Thao Dien, Q2, HCMC and is open daily from 10am till late. For more info, go to

Deutsches Eck (German Corner) Situated on Nguyen Van Linh in District 7, this is a friendly German bar and restaurant with a regular crowd of both Vietnamese and expats. Michael is one half of the husband-and-wife team running the show, with their establishment approaching its fourth anniversary later this month, just two weeks before Oktoberfest. The German meatballs (VND159,000) are more like small burgers, and are all the

Oktoberfest Fare

The German offerings at Confidant

The full monty at Deutsches Eck

The curry wurst and schnitzel fare at La Habana PHOTOS BY OLGA ROZENBAJGIER

better for it. Packed full of flavour together with a smooth texture, they’re about as delicate as you can get for such a meaty dish. The cheese sausage (VND189,000) was another wonderful addition, served by staff in traditional Bavarian dirndl uniforms. Deutsches Eck (German Corner) is at A001 Nguyen Van Linh, Q7, HCMC and is open daily from 10am to midnight. For more info, go to

Confidant Restaurant & Bar Also in District 7, this family-run restaurant and bar owned by German national Ludwig and his Vietnamese wife, Tiffany, has been open since 2015. Although the main focus here is on Malaysian and Singaporean food, a passion of Ludwig’s

from his years of working around the world, he couldn’t resist including a bit of German cuisine on the menu. It may be of Swiss origin, but the chicken cordon bleu and French fries (VND165,000) is a warm and filling dish that sends not just memories of Germany, but also suits expats from across northern Europe who may be feeling a little homesick. The curry wurst with French fries (VND145,000) is bathed in curry sauce with plenty of curry powder that provides a real kick. Confidant Restaurant & Bar is at R1-72 Hung Gia 2, Q7, HCMC and is open Mondays from 4pm to 11.30pm, and Tuesday to Sunday 10.30am to 11.30pm. For more info, go to

La Habana Heading back into District 1 on Le Lai

Street opposite 23/9 Park, you will find La Habana, which is better known for its paella rather than its schnitzel, but it does German food as good as anywhere. The jaeger schnitzel with homemade pasta (VND200,000) is very well done by owner Jane. The pasta adds a fresh touch to a usually heavy dish. The Nuremberg sausages with sauerkraut (VND95,000 to VND180,000) are equally well seasoned, bringing out some fantastic flavours. La Habana is at 152 Le Lai, Q1, HCMC and is open daily from midday to 1am. For more info, go to The vibrant German scene in Ho Chi Minh City is gearing up for Oktoberfest, so these restaurants will be offering a number of special dishes and beers to celebrate the festival as well as holding a range of events and competitions. — George Schooling | September 2017 Word | 199



ecently there has been an effort to clean up the sidewalks of Ho Chi Minh City. The general motivation behind this effort originates from the notion that Ho Chi Minh City sidewalks are messy and chaotic, reflecting a city that is undeveloped and uncivilised. Turning Ho Chi Minh City into a clean and orderly city like Singapore would render it more developed and civilized. To do so, motorbikes are restricted on the sidewalks, vendors are banned altogether, all physical obstructions including steps and canopies and balconies are removed, and all shop signs are to be made more consistent.

The City’s Character However, the reality is not that straightforward. First, Ho Chi Minh City is not modern Singapore. Ho Chi Minh City has its own identity that is defined by the diversity and the vibrancy found in its streets, sidewalks and alleyways. To heavily regulate the sidewalks is to diminish the vibrancy and the diversity that define the city. Second, the mess that exists on the sidewalks is not all bad. Instead of banning activity altogether, there should be an evaluation of the pros and cons of each situation. I agree that driving motorbikes

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on sidewalks should be banned and penalized if committed. As one of the last remaining pedestrians (I walk anywhere within Districts 1 and 3), I have witnessed not only tourists with children on strollers, but also locals like me, dodging for our lives against heavy motorbike traffic on the sidewalks. The recent enforcement of this restriction by the traffic police has been effective. Motorbikes can only be parked at assigned locations along the sidewalks. However, vendors and sidewalk cafes are not just a bad mess. They are the vital elements of Ho Chi Minh City’s character. Many cities welcome and regulate these activities successfully. Paris has its sidewalk cafes; Bangkok has its sidewalk food vendors; Ho Chi Minh City should be allowed to have its multi-function sidewalks.

Embrace Diversity With well-defined regulations, including connection to the city’s electricity and plumbing and sewage systems and modest taxation, vendors can be managed effectively. The recent proposal to move all vendors from the sidewalks to a few assigned city blocks seems superficial to me. These heavily orchestrated places would quickly attain a theme-park ambiance, like that of the existing Ben Thanh night market, which caters mostly to tourists.


Regarding the canopies and the balconies and the entry steps that stick out beyond the property line, there are situations where they are dangerous obstructions and, therefore, should be removed. However, the regulation should take into account situations where exceptions to the rules are more appropriate. It was not ideal when the steps in front of a historic theatre were removed after having been there for decades. Regarding the shop signs along the sidewalks, there have been discussions about regulating and systemising them. Though some systemisation can be helpful for safety reasons, the city planners must be careful not to over-regulate based on aesthetic reasons and risk turning our sidewalks into a homogeneous and sterile environment. We should embrace the heterogeneity and the diversity of Ho Chi Minh City sidewalks. They are physical evidence of the tolerance among Saigonese towards all types and classes of people. Heavily regulated city blocks in the newly built developments are not just boring, they are evidence of an exclusive attitude of one social class towards others. Hoanh Tran, PhD is a design principal of Hoanh Tran Archie Pizzini Architects. Educated in the US, Hoanh now lives, practices and teaches in Ho Chi Minh City. He can be contacted at


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

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

KOH THAI CONTEMPORARY THAI FUSION Level 1, Kumho Link, 39 Le Duan, Q1, Tel: (028) 3823 4423 Modern Thai fusion restaurant serving Thai

classics alongside tom yam cappuccinos and more. Koh Thai’s creative cocktails merge Thai flavours with local seasonal fruits and herbs.

EAT – VIETNAMESE 3T QUAN NUONG VIETNAMESE BBQ Top Floor, 29 Ton That Thiep, Q1, Tel: (028) 3821 1631 The original, on-the-table barbecue restaurant still goes strong thanks to its rooftop atmosphere, excellent service and even better fish, seafood and meats. An institution.

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

MSG-free traditional

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

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

HOANG YEN PAN-VIETNAMESE 7 Ngo Duc Ke, Q1, Tel: (028) 3823 1101; The Crescent, 103 Ton Dat Tien, Q7, Tel: (028) 2210 2304 If you’re looking for midrange, aircon Vietnamese

restaurants that just seem to do every dish perfectly, then Hoang Yen really is the place to go. The atmosphere may be a bit sterile, but its amply made up for by the efficient service and excellent cuisine. Now with a number of restaurants around town.

KOTO TRAINING RESTAURANT CONTEMPORARY VIETNAMESE 3rd Floor Rooftop, Kumho Link, 39 Le Duan, Q1. Tel: (028) 3822 9357 The restaurant associated with the KOTO vocational training school. All the staff — from bar tenders and waiting staff through to the chefs — come from disadvantaged backgrounds and are being trained on the jon in hospitality. Serves up tasty Vietnamese cuisine, to boot!

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

NAM GIAO HUE CUISINE 136/15 Le Thanh Ton, Q1, Tel: (028) 38 250261; 116 Suong Nguyet Anh, Q1, Tel: (028) 3925 9996 If you want to take friends, relatives or people out of town to eat Hue-style street food in a hygienic yet down-

to-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.



BANH KHOT 102 Cao Thang, Q3



COM TAM 40A Quoc Huong, Q2




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




PAN-VIETNAMESE 29-31 Ton That Thiep, Q1, Tel: (028) 3829 9244

‘LESBIAN’ BANH MI 26 Le Thi Rieng, Q1




VIETNAMESE BANH MI 107 Truong Dinh, Q3

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



BANH TAM 271 Nguyen Trai, Q1

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 BEEFSTEAK NAM SON 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


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






BANH CUON 11A Cao Thang, Q3


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 7751 | September 2017 Word | 201

The Final Say



Terrible Tourists Tit-for-tat. Edward Dalton finds out from tourism and hospitality industry insiders what we are really like away from home.


othing is better described by that old idiom, swings and roundabouts, than tourism. It’s essential for the survival and development of countless communities around the world; but every bit a destructive menace to just as many others. Vietnam, for the most part, is still in that golden era where tourism is on the increase, and most areas are yet to be irreversibly de-cultured by its impact. Over the last eight months, around 7.5 million tourists visited Vietnam; an increase of nearly 30% over the same period last year.

A Global Issue Tourism, and more specifically, its detrimental effect, is making international headlines more than ever before. “Imagine living with this crap,” was one eye-catching title from a Guardian story about the frustration of Venetians who are seeing their quality of life eroded, as visitor numbers to Venice continue to soar. “Tourists go home,” began an article in the same vein on BBC News, about angry Catalans fed up with the 18 million tourists who made Catalonia the most popular region of Spain for tourism in 2016. In Italy, tourists to Rome are now banned from snacking around its ancient fountains. Anyone plonking themselves down on the steps of Florence’s Santa Croce Basilica now face a battalion of street cleaners armed with high-powered water hoses. Reuters published a story in 2009 about Cambodians being forcibly evicted from their fishing villages by government authorities, to make room for foreign-built luxury resorts. Rio de Janiero’s romantic Ipanema beach, once the subject of songs and fantasies, has a new variety of semi-permanent resident, one that the Cariocas (Rio’s locals) are less than impressed by. “They drink. A lot,” said local man Alexandre Conceicao to New Zealand-based Stuff, in a 2016 interview about foreign tourists. “They get so drunk on caipirinhas,

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they fall asleep on the beach and their friends have to carry them home.”

A Local Issue So what about Vietnam? The following opinions and stories come from Vietnamese who work (or have worked) in the tourism, hospitality and F&B industries in Hanoi, with a bit of foreign feedback mixed in for good measure. To protect those individuals who are still working in those industries, all names have been changed. “There are many wholesale shops in the Old Quarter which get bothered by tourists, who spend so much time in the shop and try to bargain for everything; that’s not how wholesale works. We don’t want people like that,” says Mr S. “Brits come to get drunk, Asians just care about shopping and selfies, and Americans think everyone should speak English,” says Mr H. “Tourists think everything is cheap here. When I sell tours, no matter how cheap the tour is, they never think it’s cheap enough; they want something like US$30 for a threeday tour to Halong Bay with a perfect Frenchspeaking guide. With that money, they might just get some good ice cream in their home country,” says Ms O. “Germans ask too many questions, the Spanish are cheap, the French are obnoxious, Americans are arrogant and Brits are just awful — they drink too much, get up late for tours and moan at everything,” says Ms J. “I like Japanese tourists,” says Ms C. “They are quiet and hardly give any negative feedback; at least not until they’re home and can email the GM.” “I was in a temple, and bumped into some very loud Chinese tourists. They were so, so loud. Even people with limited awareness understand you should be silent and respectful in a temple. I politely asked one of them to lower her volume; she shouted at me even louder in Chinese, and then her friends surrounded me, pushed me and kept

shouting. I walked off, but even after getting 200m away, I could still hear their voices,” says Mr B. “Foreign backpackers very often shout late at night in the street; usually they are Australians,” says Mr P. “When they get drunk, they can be louder than Vietnamese or Chinese.” “Too much complaining from too many ungrateful people,” says Mr Q. “Without tourism, this country would crumble.” “We always want to share our culture with others, especially those who only associate our country with one historical event,” says Ms Y. “But it’s important that people learn a bit about our culture before they come, so they don’t offend or annoy local people. That’s what makes people hate tourists. But it’s so easy to prevent.” “I’ve seen Brits drink more than I thought was possible for a human,” says Ms W. “They always cause problems. Not just in Hanoi. Everywhere.”

Vietnamese Tourists Abroad “Many of us are noisy,” says Ms T. “Sorry, we can’t help it; we learnt from the best.” “Unless we can speak the language, we’ll just be huddled together with the Chinese,” says Mr H. “They spit and litter, steal and overstay,” says Mr L. “Our reputation has been tainted.” “I’ve been in hotels around the world that actually have posters up saying “No Chinese. No Vietnamese. Thank you,” says Mr R. “Many of us (like me!) always try to do the right thing,” adds Ms V, “so I won’t humiliate Vietnam too much.” “Vietnamese hotel guests don’t care about your procedures; they just want things done right away,” says Ms C.

Enfant Terrible



Shyevin S’ng The face behind VinSpace Art Studio and the recently rebranded Vin Gallery, Malaysian artist Shyevin S’ng has been spreading the artistic vibe around Saigon for more than five years. Photo by Olga Rozenbajgier What’s your background as an artist? I grew up in a small village with no real educational emphasis on arts or culture. Despite this, art has been important to me since I was very young. When I finished my high school education at 16, I decided to follow my passion and study art further.

How did the creativity, or lack of, in Malaysia affect your ability to develop as an artist? I wouldn’t say that Malaysia lacks creativity; it’s just my own personal experience of where I came from at that time. The lack of opportunities, which inhibited my creative development, in fact, helped create a strong curiosity towards art. My inner curiosity eventually led me to find my path to be an artist.

Why did you decide to set up first an art space and then an art gallery? How easy or difficult was it to get off the ground? As an artist, a studio is an absolute must! I had originally created the studio for myself but as it began to develop, I had a huge space which I thought I could share with others too, so why not? The studio business has flourished over the years, but it wasn’t enough for me to fulfil my dream of having a platform for artists to showcase their work. So then I started Vin Gallery. I didn’t find it difficult to get the business off the ground, it emerged from my passion for showcasing other artists. I just had to be patient and persevere through the inevitable trials of setting up any new creative business.

How important have VinSpace Art Studio and VinGallery been for promoting local art? There are lots of fantastic art spaces in Vietnam, Vin Gallery is one of the earliest established in Saigon and we’ve been promoting both local and international artists. This has created a beneficial relationship between the local and international market where each inspires the other by sharing different viewpoints and cultures.

Why rebrand the gallery? It’s Vin Gallery’s fifth anniversary this year! I decided to rebrand the gallery in keeping with a curatorial change. We are hoping to focus on exhibiting more contemporary art.

How difficult is it to make the gallery and art space pay for itself? Is there a conflict between commercial reality and the creation of art for art’s sake? Very difficult, as art and creative exploration

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are not considered an essential in life for a lot of people; it’s often a part-time hobby or neglected passion. Therefore, running art spaces as businesses becomes harder to sustain. But on the other hand, it means I constantly meet the people who are determined to sustain their investment in art and creativity, which makes my life more fun and interesting. It’s a real confl_ict between reality and creation, for gallerists, artists and collectors. As a gallerist, I constantly need to think about what sells, how I select artists to exhibit, and the balance of objective and subjective advice to give to art buyers.

Is art as much a way of life as it is a way of expression? For me, art is both. Life needs art, and I need to express myself though art.

Vietnam has a long history of copying the work of established artists — anything from Monet to Warhol. What are your thoughts on this? I wish I could change the history of copying artworks, but I understand that it grew this way for a reason. There is always demand and supply in the market. Emerging Vietnamese artists are now given many more opportunities to showcase their art and gain recognition. If they can survive creating their own work, they might not need to copy any more. And, of course, I am totally not a supporter for copying artwork for a living.

How is the scene for original art developing right now? Are you seeing artists from Vietnam starting to get international recognition? What about the local collectors’ market — is this starting to grow? The young Vietnamese artists today are amazingly creative and enthusiastic. I’ve seen a lot of interesting work over the past few years and it’s definitely growing. The late Vietnamese artist Le Pho has made a record breaking sale at Sotheby’s earlier this year with the auction of his piece Doi Song Gia Dinh (Family Life). It’s led a lot of attention back to Vietnamese art. I don’t deal with local collectors, but from what I’ve heard, the local collectors’ market is growing. For more info click on or

ISBN: 978-604- 77-3470- 2


Word Vietnam September 2017  

Everything you need to know about Vietnam and a little bit more. This month, Bohemian Vietnam.

Word Vietnam September 2017  

Everything you need to know about Vietnam and a little bit more. This month, Bohemian Vietnam.