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Chuyên đề du lịch, ẩm thực HO CHI MINH CITY EDITION

MAY 2013

e h t g n i r u t y p e a n C r u Jo one 5 ra: iPh f2.4 Came m m 8 App 4.2 mera+ Lens: nt: Ca e m t a Tre

Nhà Xuất Bản Lao Động

ISHCMC students are


A truly international learning environment with 49 nationalities represented and the only school in Ho Chi Minh City fully accredited to teach all 3 IB programmes for ALL students aged 2 to 18 years.


MAY 2013





006 | The Prelude

columns 098 | Road Rules

THE TALK 009 | The Big Five 010 | Just In 016 | The Drink Robert Sabitzer shakes


Of Heaven and Earth

A grandmother to all of Vietnam, we follow Le Ly Hayslip on an emotional journey

up perfection

018 | The Business Dalat’s new ‘club car’


030 | Calendar 032 | Overscene INSIDER 034 | The Belly Dancer Helping to make

the Middle Eastern art as Saigonese as apple pie

036 | Extinction

The Dodos fight fate to inspire our music scene

044 | The Runner

300km in seven days isn’t the only challenge Chi Nguyen faced

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In our cover story, we snap away on the many roads life takes us down

020 | The Buzz 028 | In the Papers



Hidden Bangkok

Bangkok’s Chinatown exists both in the past and in an uncertain future


Calling the Bluffs

The shoreline of Ho Tram has already changed irrevocably. Now it’s set for more


Who’s Got the Noodles?

Breaking down the city’s staple dishes


The Ultimate


Pack Bright

Who knew that Frisbee-throwing could become a sport of champions?

Travel style from those who don’t necessarily pack light

100 | Job Search 104 | Rising Sun 106 | Top Eats 110 | Decks ‘n Drums 112 | Night Watchman 114 | Top Shelf 124 | Body and Temple 132 | Window Shopping 133 | Through the Keyhole 142 | Crazy Kids 148 | Travel Promos FINAL SAY 156 | Generic Saigon

Where those ‘gateway lattes’ will lead

160 | Dark Chocolate

Not every girl’s best friend

164 | Last Call Chef Boyer takes us

up 51 storeys, and into the deep side of top- end cuisine

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225 Nguyen Van Huong, Thao Dien, District 2, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam Phone: (84 8) 3744 4551 Email:

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May 2013 Word | 5

The Prelude W

ith the summer on its way and travel plans now entering the minds and conversation of this city’s residents, this month we wanted to do something on travel. The first thing that came to mind was beaches, but with city temperatures going off the barometer in March and April, the last place anyone felt like hanging out was by the sea. In a mountain getaway or perhaps in a Tibetan Buddhist retreat, yes, but certainly not on the shores of overheating Vietnam. We changed tact and decided to do our main feature on

Journeys. We had already run a similar story in our Hanoi edition last year, with a particularly memorable set of interviews from the capital’s train station. Here was a repeat. But for some reason our reporters didn’t quite get the juice that our namesakes managed to extract up north. So, leaving Vietnam’s rail system behind we headed for the airport. A place that starts and ends many a journey, the concept of meeting loved ones at Tan Son Nhat has become a social affair that sees people travel the length and breadth of the country just for the occasion. It provided a great

INBOX Lifestyles What a load of tosh (Lifestyles, p43, April 2013). Except for the article on the bia hoi lady and the piece about BiBi — it’s good to see what he’s doing now — I thought that was a thoroughly unappealing and badly written cover story. Do you have any jobs available? I could come and help you out with your writing. — AH I really enjoyed that long feature of yours last month. The story about the bia hoi lady was really interesting and I thought that overall you gave a really good portrait of the different types of people living in Ho Chi Minh City. Although, who is that pilot? It’s interesting to understand why some people live in places like The Pearl. It would drive me insane. — MA

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start to our own journey in trying to put together our cover story. What has come together tracks the range of different voyages that we experience in life. From journeys to hell through to life-changing missions, short rides on the back of a xe om, longer road trips and commutes in rush hour. We hope you enjoy reading the stories as much as we enjoyed putting them together. As ever, if you have any comments, suggestions or ideas please email editor@ We look forward to hearing from you.


MAY 2013

the ring u t Cap rney Jou 5 iPhone Camera: mm f2.4 4.28 era+ App Lens: nt: Cam Treatme


THIS MONTH'S COVER Photo by Alexandre Garel

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

From North to South As always, thanks for the continued attention to the arts in The Word. It has been a big help to us. I hope you won't think me ungrateful, but I wanted to just mention a few things about the piece published in the April issue. (A Tale of Two Cities, p80, April 2013) I suggested a piece on the bifurcation of the two art scenes in Vietnam and the increasing appearance of Hanoi artists in Saigon back in June 2012. Full disclosure, my reason for suggesting the piece was because I believed it was really a story about Craig Thomas Gallery and that we were the leading force behind bringing Hanoi artists to Saigon. In the last 18 months or so, five of our six solo exhibitions have featured Hanoi artists and in our two group shows during that time, Hanoi artists have predominated. I think that is probably more than all the other Saigon galleries combined during this period.

I am a big fan of the professionalism that Galerie Quynh and San Art bring to the Saigon art scene from which we all benefit. What I regret is just that on this one movement I feel that [Craig Thomas Gallery] has been the leading force and has invested significant time and money in the process. Someone reading that article, however, would have the impression that it was the other way around and we were following a trend started by other galleries. I know it is not a big deal, but I wanted to get it off my chest since it was eating at me a bit. I still appreciate that we were mentioned at all and am sure the publicity will benefit us as it has in the past. — Craig Thomas

May 2013 Word | 7

The Talk

thE big 5 / Just in / the buzz / calendar / overscene

A Degree Above The city is getting hotter. How can we cool it down?


ast month’s heat wave in Saigon even had the city’s born and bred wiping the sweat off their brows. With temperatures soaring to over 40°C, the metropolis seemed to slow down, if not stop. That Ho Chi Minh City has become noticeably hotter in the past decade has yet to be confirmed by any official statistics, but look at other cities around the world and you can see this urban area following a similar trend. Take Tokyo, for example. Its average temperature in September over the past 100 years has increased from 21.5 °C to 24.5 °C. This is a result of the urban heat island (UHI) effect, where human activity and the modification of the land surface due to urban development makes the city become significantly warmer than its surrounding rural areas. There are a number of causes. Building materials, such as concrete or asphalt, effectively retain heat as do dark-coloured pavements or roofs, thus causing a cauldronlike effect. Waste heat generated by energy usage is another contributor, something that can be measured with the growing use of air-conditioning. In Saigon at the turn of the millennium, few families could afford the luxury of these cooling machines. Now, especially in the city’s central districts, the

8 | Word May 2013

air-conditioner has become the norm rather than the exception. While it cools air indoors, by spitting out hot air, outdoors it warms it up. Another reason for the hotter city is the lack of evapotranspiration, something that results from not having enough vegetation. The sum of evaporation and plant transpiration from the earth’s land surface back into the atmosphere, this process is responsible for 15 percent of the water vapour in the earth’s atmosphere. Like sweat, it’s a cooling process. Drive through the park on either side of Truong Dinh or Le Duan, and thanks to the vegetation and the canopy caused by the 100-year-old trees, you instantly notice a cooling and dampening of the air. A lack of vegetation means that there is no natural cooling process installed to cool down the city when it gets too hot.

Green it Up, Baby What this all means is that to cool the city down, Saigon really needs to start going green and find a way to counteract the heat island effect. Yet much damage has already been done — trees and green areas have disappeared to make way for new developments. And many of the latest constructions in this metropolis are far from green. Nonetheless, it is not irreversible

and over a period of time, steps in the right direction can still be taken. One route would be to move towards using white or reflective materials to build houses, roofs, pavements, and roads, thus increasing the overall albedo, or surface light reflection, of the city. Using light-coloured concrete has proven effective in reflecting up to 50 percent more light than asphalt. This in turn reduces temperatures. A second option is to increase the amount of well-watered vegetation and trees along roadsides or highways, and to ensure that areas being developed have parks. Green roofs are also a good option. Excellent insulators during the warm weather months, the plants cool the surrounding environment and help improve air quality by absorbing and converting carbon dioxide to oxygen. More shaded walkways, buildings constructed with better airflows, reflective glass and less dependency on airconditioning — all would contribute to the decreasing of the temperatures outside. But until there is a solid movement in place and a whole-hearted, universally accepted desire to green up this city, the dry season will continue to be excruciatingly hot, with the heat waves becoming unbearable. — Nick Ross



watch out out for for this this month month Things to watch



Bob Sinclar

Google ‘bob sinclar hottest dj in the world’ and you’ll get 5,890,000 results, plus assorted pictures of a slim, bearded French fashion-plate in a leather jacket — some with attractive ladies licking his moustaches. But hey, no need to inspect digital images, as Blanchy’s Tash is bringing the legend to town on May 9 to play his very own brand of electro-house. Sinclar is from the Paris of the west — Paris — and he’s been alleged to be everything from a jewel thief to a Riviera playboy in his time. Nowadays he jumps through genres as easily as he jumps through time zones, and he’s finally coming to ours. VND400,000 general admission tickets don’t actually get you standing face-to-face with the legend — only VND2.1 million (US$100) VIP ticket holders can get onto Blanchy’s middle floor, where Sinclar will be performing — but they might be the safer bet, if you’re taking a date easily swayed by pure animal magnetism. Bob Sinclar is playing at Blanchy’s Tash (95 Hai Ba Trung, Q1) on May 9, going 10pm until late. There’s no admission after 11pm. For VIP and table bookings, contact Andres at 0907 242757

Chasing the Fun Fighting Extinction May 19 sees the biggest indie act to land in Ho Chi Minh City since Ratatat — San Franciscan rattle-folkers, The Dodos. The band’s two central members blend weird backgrounds of West African Ewe drumming and heavy metal to create music in which “drumming could be a centre role and help bring out the syncopated rhythms coming out of the acoustic guitar”. At the Saigon Outcast event they’re headlining, Extinction, they’ll play alongside Timekeeper, Joy Oi!, Brian Wilson’s Brain and all the mudfired pizzas the Totoro-shaped earth oven can cough up. Extinction: The Dodos starts at 4pm, May 19 at Saigon Outcast, 188/1 Nguyen Van Huong, Q2. Tickets are VND300,000 in advance from Outcast or deciBel (79/2/5 Phan Ke Binh, Q1), plus a free drink, or VND350,000 at the door



For anyone who enjoyed the recent theatrical treats offered by TNT — Macbeth and Oliver — the UK-based theatre company will be returning to Vietnam this May with Gulliver’s Travels. The stage version of this epic will be performed on May 8 at the Hanoi Opera House and May 10 and May 11 at the Ho Chi Minh City Opera House. Doors open at 8pm and tickets can be purchased in advance from both opera houses (VND600,000 for adults, VND300,000 for students). For further enquiries email at the Vietnamese Performing Arts Centre or Grantly Marshall on

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The all-night rave party series up in the Mui Ne Hills has tried mixing things up with fire, water and lots and lots of skin. On the May 25 iteration, Chasing the Sun is going psychedelic — with some crazy projections and 3D mapping covering a human canvas swaying to the sonic landscapes of DJs Pe Dro of Spain, Jonathan Glaser of Sweden and C-SAK of the home side. If you’re wondering where all the hedonistic pool parties have gone, best to check Chasing the Sun at 6am. This is a true, 700 people all-nighter. To catch a glimpse, go to, or head to the real thing on May 25 at Mui Ne Hills, 69 Nguyen Dinh Chieu, Mui Ne. Entrance is free of charge

Saigon Comedy Nights Prepare for another dose of bellyache with the Tuesday May 7 return of Saigon Comedy Nights to Hard Rock Cafe. Now entering its fifth outing, the international standup line-up will include Silky (UK) and Daniel Kinno (US). As ever, two of the Saigon scene’s local comics will also be taking to the big stage — Chris Baker and Craig Armitt. So prepare yourself for a unique mix of both Vietnambased and international material. Entrance is VND250,000 and doors open at 7.30pm. Tables can be reserved in advance by calling (08) 6291 7595. Hard Rock is in Kumho Link, cnr. Le Duan and Hai Ba Trung, Q1

Just In

Vietnamese Halal VDelights Restaurant, which aims to be one of the best Halal restaurants in Vietnam, has recently undergone a revamp. The restaurant’s curious blend of culinary cultures serves both local and Malaysian dishes in Halal style. In their modern take on centuries-old cuisines, they’ve unearthed some interesting parallels — emphasising the strong vegetarian tradition of Vietnamese cooking, as influenced by Buddhism. In the new smart casual setting, VDelights is looking to keep the attention where it should be kept — on the food. VDelights Restaurant is at 174 Le Lai, Q1, and at

Kids Travel Logbook How long is this going to take? When will we be there? Where are we? How many minutes left? Travelling isn’t a kid’s favourite thing when it’s just about getting from A to B, and thinking of ways to keep them occupied can be difficult. The Travel Logbook might be the solution. Caroline Istas has published it specifically aimed at these most impatient of pilgrims: children who travel. It’s a 64-page book with activities centering on everything from flight details, weather conditions, the view out of the window, food, travel time, altitude and more. If that’s not enough, there are also pages of stickers to keep them focused. There’s space for seven trips, and at VND350,000 it’s reasonably priced, too. Find copies at Rainbow Divers, Buddha Bar, 7 Thao Dien, Q2, or directly from Caroline at

Next Level of Luxury If you want to celebrate your dream wedding Beverly Hills-style and have the bank balance to match, The Adora Grand View is just for you when it opens in District 5 this August. The latest plush palace of the prestigious Dong Phuong Group, which also has the Adora in Nguyen Kiem, takes luxury to the next level. Its pre-booking office is open, with prices starting from VND3,850,000 per table for a 20-table booking. For more information, click on

A Café Grows in Saigon Swords Multiply Katori Vietnam, the nation’s exemplars of the Japanese sword art Katori Shinto-ryu, is moving into District 1 with a new dojo and half-price promotion for the first month of enrollment — or two months if you commit to both upfront. The rate for the three-time-aweek classes is VND800,000 per month before the discount, although students can lop off 50 percent of that, while kendo practitioners are able to slice off 25 percent. The offer lasts until Jun. 1. Katori Vietnam’s District 1 dojo is at 212/C79 Nguyen Trai. Learn more at

The Need for Speed Leaving behind the staid comforts of the usual river cruise, Saigon River Express’s Les Rives line takes the intrepid through the rivers of Vietnam and Cambodia on their fleet of eight luxury speedboats, which are able to access the shallow, jungle-fringed local canals without disturbing the environment. Tours go to the Cu Chi Tunnels, Mekong Delta, Can Gio Mangrove Forest and many more places. Sexy sunset cruises are also available. For more info, click on

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Song Xanh Café — just off touristy Bui Vien — is proving to be up to the English translation of its name: ‘Green Living Café’. It’s a crowdsourced little pocket of java, with experts from the Green Architect Club kicking in design ideas and others contributing furniture and the solar water heating system. It’s taken on a role as a community hub, contributing to the “green discussion” with bi-monthly afternoon tea meetings, and also functioning as a secondhand exchange. Founded by a former student abroad in Sweden, it’s become one of those out-of-context examples of a better, cleaner Vietnam — available right here in this one. Song Xanh Café is at 64 Ho Hao Hon, Q1

May 2013 Word | 11

{ nerd's World} **

Tamagotchi L.i.f.e. — A Retro-Digital Tale


underwater Bikes cycle into Vietnam


y tama has taken to smiling after making a poo. I named him Brian. He’s not especially well-trained. I tried an experiment with him that I’d never try on a real pet or child. I fattened him up with candy until he reached the max weight for his age — 99 ounces. I never play with him, as the candy both fattens him up and increases his happiness rating. I don’t know where this cruel impulse came from. Here’s a disclaimer: I’m not the kind of nerd who really gets into this. I never had a tama to have fond memories of. A couple of hours into Brian beeping his discontent or poop pride, I shut the sound off. When I do play games with him, I play to win. I poke him on my iPhone’s touch screen to make him jump around. The app is a re-release of the classic beeping keychain, playing on the memories of the international kids craze that saw over 76 million of these virtual pets sold worldwide. It was so widespread at one point that schools had bans on them. People wrote fan-fiction about them — “They sounded like an undiscovered species of fantastic digital birds,” said Troy Blackford in Proper Care and Feeding. It is clearly playing on some heartstrings.

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Nerd Time Machine Taking my fat little tama around town, I watched as he elicited coos and smirks. It triggered a few memories. After posting screenshots of his progress on Facebook, some girls wrote giggly comments like, “i like to play with him again hihi^_^”. One smirking friend called me Brian’s ‘host’. Another said, “It’s boring Eddie. It’s a digital bullsh_t you waste your time on.” I fell somewhere in the middle. At first he amused me. I wouldn’t say I developed emotional attachments. I diligently cared for the first, unnamed edition until he died at the age of five. It didn’t phase me too much. Then I started turning the lights off on Brian while he was still awake. But here’s the thing — raising a Tamagotchi isn’t an activity for my 31-year-old self. It’s an activity for my 15-year-old self (still too old) to live through again, for the lunch table I sat at every day in high school. To a generation who lived through its eggshaped tsunami, it’s a chance to remember the easier days, when losing to a dozen-pixeled creature at rock-paper-scissors was enough to keep everything right with the universe. — Ed Weinberg

Aquabiking, a total-body underwater regimen that originated in Europe, has finally come to town. It combines the exercise benefits of stationary biking with the many advantages of water training: resistance, joint and spine protection, and a kind of underwater massage brought on by the hydrostatic pressure. Also, you are in a pool, so it’s pretty comfortable as well. Aquafit is holding daily classes in Districts 2 and 7 featuring this new fitness approach, and some of the areas’ best pools. For more info, click on

A Breath of Fresh Air A new type of avian influenza, H7N9 has started its spread into China with several cases already reported, killing at least 13 people. To prevent the cross-border spread of this deadly virus, the Vietnamese Ministry of Health has issued a number of precautionary measures. One way to protect your family and loved ones is with an IQAir air purifier. It can filter down to the finest particles (below PM10, PM25) that exist — 0.003 micron — which means that thanks to its hospital grade HyperHEPA filters it is also effective against bacteria and viruses. Ultra-fine particles are the most dangerous threat to your health, as they are small enough to be inhaled and they can enter directly into your bloodstream and cause allergies, asthma and even cancer. In 2003, Hong Kong Hospital Authority (HKHA) selected IQAir’s advanced air filtration systems as a new tool for combating the SARS virus. In fact the IQAir HealthPro 250 was the only standalone air purifier that the HKHA certified and authorised to be in patients’ rooms. The HKHA’s selection of IQAir marks the first time specialised room air cleaners were used as a control measure against such viruses. At the final filtration stage, the air cleaning system removes even the tiniest airborne particulates, including avian viruses, from the air. For inquiries and daily air-quality reports from Ho Chi Minh City, visit

May 2013 Word | 13

Bambou Adds Another Store

QuanNuong 47 This newly opened, outdoor DIY barbeque restaurant in the Skygarden side of Phu My Hung aims to bring an unpretentious yet seasoned menu to the area. Catering to all palates, the setting is suited for romantic couples as much as it is for dining in large groups. It is also kidfriendly. The menu includes a wide variety of imported meat and seafood. Also catering to the early birds in the area, the restaurant is open for breakfast from 6.30am with a super breakfast for VND60,000 and Buon Me Thuot coffee going for VND20,000. The restaurant also stocks the award-winning Red Rock Lager on special. QuanNuong 47, 47 Hung Phuoc 2, Phu My Hung, Q7

San Art’s Interpersonal Experiments After six months of San Art residence, the artists Tran Xuan Anh, Ngo Dinh Bao Chau and Nguyen Huu Tram Kha are holding a group exhibit on May 9. The show, named San Art Laboratory — Session Two in blank canvas style, will play to the strengths and curiosity of these three young female artists. Tran Xuan Anh eschews her own preoccupations to focus on Vietnam as a whole — questioning her countrymen’s comprehension and appreciation of art with challenging, playfully interactive artwork. Ngo Dinh Bao Chau works strange materials and structures into her sculptures, telling the story of her childhood memory of erratic village electricity conduits through spatial geometry and the shadows of city lights. Nguyen Huu Tram Kha’s techniques revolve around her play with printing techniques, sculpture and embroidery — weaving these elements together in the delicate obeisance of traditional femininity, but with an explosive yearning for freedom within. The group show will open May 9 at 6pm at San Art, 3 Me Linh, Binh Thanh

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Homegrown, fashion clothing company Bambou has opened up a flagship store on Le Loi. With a presence that now expands the length and breadth of Vietnam, the clothing company was established in 2001 and sports a number of Vietnamthemed iconic designs for men, women and children. They have also recently launched a new collection of high quality, embroidered jeans. To see more of Bambou, either pop into their store at 34 Le Loi, Q1 or check out their website at

Mama Lam’s Fancy some of that street food Northern Vietnam is so well-known for? And fancy it in District 2? Then hit the newly opened Mama Lam’s (40 Quoc Huong, Thao Dien, Q2). The brainchild of Brenda Lam, the well-known spa owner behind Jasmine and Just Men, the cuisine here focuses on some of the harderto-find northern dishes that are so popular in Hanoi but not so widely available in Saigon. Included on the roster here is bun dau, a dish concocted of homemade tofu, white rice noodles and, if it’s your thing, shrimp paste. Also available is the excellent bun moc — rice noodles with mushroom and pork meatballs — and in a testament to Hue, bun bo. The joint uses recipes prepared by Lam’s mother. So, this is home cooking at its finest. Taste the broth and you’ll understand.

Smarter Phones, Smarter Passengers Sick of being ripped off by taxi drivers pretending they don’t know where you are going, or deliberately taking you the long way round? Well, apparently, Tappxi is your savior. The app for iOS and Android allows customers to contact taxi companies to request a taxi and obtain live information on route. Whereas most taxi applications are limited to showing a list of phone numbers, Tappxi relies on the internet feature of the smartphone to provide precise details of the route and cost of the journey. Having put in an address, the user can show it to the driver and avoid common misunderstandings. The application features the display of the most effective route and a fare calculator. Through a combination of GPS and internet methods, Tappxi ensures a pleasant journey by making it easier to spot rogue taxi drivers. Tappxi can also help taxi firms who treat their charges fairly stand out. For more information check out

the pizza company Thailand’s premiere pizza players are bringing the party to Vietnam, with a new location in Vincom A. Back in the 1980s, The Pizza Company was the first to introduce pizza to Thailand, and now they have 240 locations across the country. These dudes know how to do it right, with a thick-crust approach based in richer and heavier toppings, with 30 to choose from. In addition, they’re also pretty keen on hospitality — offering various combo deals for pizza pioneers to chow down on. The Pizza Company’s Ho Chi Minh City flagship is at Vincom A, 171 Dong Khoi, B3 Basement, Q1, or visit

gh u ro y th Ma d f Offer is valid until 31st May 2013. Conditions apply. de d o n te en x E to May 2013 Word | 15

The Drink

Mr. Shakedelik

stoking the flames

Robert Sabitzer shoots his way to unconcsiousness

Vesper Bar is on the ground floor of the Landmark Building, 5B Ton Duc Thang, Q1

16 | Word May 2013


t was after a round of five cappuccino shooters that the idea of doing a photo was first breached. Robert was only in Saigon for the month of April, but the Bavarian-born, Austrian-raised self-styled Mr. Shakedelik is such a fun and gifted mixologist, that we decided to try and do some ‘tails with fire. But first was that cappuccino shooter. “Don’t swallow it at once. Keep it in your mouth and mix it up like you’re brushing your teeth. When it’s warm, then swallow.” I was the only one who followed the instructions, and hell did I enjoy this devil. It went down warm, just like the iconic cappuccino, but with a dastardly kick. Certain other of his concoctions knocked

me for more than just a six — we’re talking out of the ground here, not just the boundary. In particular there was his SOS Blue, a four-layered potion made out of lemon juice, liquid sugar, blue curacao and tequila. There is a real pleasure having an experienced mixologist in town, especially if you like your alcoholic drinks to come with more than just some beer bottle bubble. And to all those bar owners out there and fivestar watering holes, we need more of them. Fortunately, at least one we know will be returning. Robert Sabitzer will be back at Vesper Bar in November. Time to get those juices rolling and those shakers shaking. — Nick Ross

Shang Palace Chinese Restaurant 1st Floor , 17-19-21 Ly Tu Trong St., Dist. 1, HCMC, Vietnam Tel: (84 8) 3823 2221 - (84 8) 3822 6111 Ext: 164 - Fax: (84 8) 3822 6116 Email: - Website:

Elegant surroundings, great location, professional service and finest cuisine... All you can find at Norfolk Hotel. 117 Le Thanh Ton St., Dist.1, HCMC, Vietnam Tel: (84-8) 3829 5368 - Fax: (84-8) 3829 3415 - Email: - Website: Managed by Norfolk Group

May 2013 Word | 17

Trainspotting The Dalat Train Villa is 100m from Dalat Station at Villa 3, 1 Quang Trung, Dalat. Both the carriage and the villa are presently being renovated and the site is due to open for business in June. For more information email dalattrainvilla@ or click on dalattrainvilla. com. The photos and the whole move were documented by Dalat-based photographer Francois Deslauriers

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magine moving a train. No, we’re not just talking about plonking it on its rails, firing up the engine and heaving on the accelerator lever. We’re talking about transferring a 1910, French-built carriage from the Di An Train Company ‘graveyard’ in Binh Duong to its destination in Dalat, a 250km journey along narrow winding roads up the hills to this 1,600m altitude city. It may sound crazy to some. What would anyone want with an old train carriage? Especially in modern-day Vietnam, when it’s all about destroying the past and living for the future. But to the couple behind this project, it all makes perfect sense. Having rented a villa close to Dalat Train Station, the owners of V Café (1/1 Bui Thi Xuan) in Dalat, Curtis and Thuy, are expanding their business interests by converting both the villa and carriage into a café and a bar. There will also be a mini-hotel and apartment thrown into the mix. The villa itself was a former railway hotel, and together with the carriage, which has been assigned to its gardens, Curtis is

hoping that the carriage-cum-café-cumwatering hole will not just provide a unique new dimension to the food and beverage scene in the city, but will also become a tourist attraction. “The views from the carriage are spectacular,” he explains. “You can see Lang Biang Mountain, the Lycee Yersin, and the surrounding old colonial buildings.” But while the Ho Chi Minh City leg of the move was fairly straightforward — the carriage was put on a massive truck without a hitch — parking it in its final resting place was a tense affair. “The truck arrived late at night in Dalat,” explains Curtis. “It was too late to install it at the villa, so they parked it at the Dalat Train Station. The actual movement from the train station to the villa, and the actual installation of the carriage at the Dalat Train Villa, was extremely tricky. “I’ve never seen cranes, trucks, pulleys and people working so creatively. Fortunately, the train carriage was properly installed. But there were definitely some tense moments.” — Nick Ross

Photos by Francois Deslauriers

The Business

The Buzz Audi’s Iron-Born Park Hyatt Cooking Classes If you think your cooking opportunities in Ho Chi Minh City are limited to Asian dishes and ingredients, Park Hyatt would beg to differ. Taking a different direction than the many cooking classes on Vietnamese cuisine, Park Hyatt’s master chefs offer you classes on authentic Italian dishes, grilling steaks to perfection and even baking desserts. The groups will be limited to eight people, providing an intimate environment to work in and really take in the kitchen tricks presented by Executive Sous Chef Marco Torre on the Italian classics, Square One’s Chef de Cuisine Soren Lascelle or Pastry Chef Bertrand Sommereux. Besides the authentic experience, the chefs incorporate creativity and flair to make their classes an entertaining environment. These are your options: Marco’s Rustic Italian VND1.8 million++ per person, including a glass of prosecco Soren’s Premium Cuts VND3.3 million++ per person, including matching red wines Bertrand’s Bakery VND3.7 million++ per person, including one glass of champagne For more information, check restaurants.

Audi has crowdsourced their promotions again — but this time, instead of asking Justin Timberlake for help, they’re asking you. The worldwide contest asks you to match chops with the creatives who’ve sketched out an Audi-propelled Iron Man saga at steerthestory. com, with a jury of three Marvel Comics editors out there judging the returns. The winning artist will be published alongside the pros as a co-creator of the finished digital product. Check for details, faithful fanboys! But hurry, this contest off-roads on May 3!

PechaKucha’s Last Stand? PechaKucha Nights, where presenters talk over 20 images flashing by for 20 seconds each, are fun gatherings for creative people to get together and share whatever they feel like sharing — ideas, work, snapshots, thoughts. Ho Chi Minh City is holding its 3rd edition on May 16, organised by Stacia Maiorani at ca phe GOC PHO in Phu Nhuan, her neighbourhood. Stacia is leaving Vietnam in June, which makes it her last PKN here. The topics include architecture and design, yoga and leaving the corporate world, photography, tree planting, silly student sayings, art, music and more. ca phe GOC PHO is at 48 Hoa Hong, Phu Nhuan, hosting the last Stacia-run PKN on May 16 at 7pm. Entry is free

AcroYoga is back in Saigon! It’s very possible you’ve seen two smiling people balancing effortlessly on each other’s feet and hands. Perhaps, upon seeing this, you’ve thought, “That’s impossible! I could never do that.” From May 3 to May 5, there are a series of workshops that will teach you to do exactly that. AcroYoga blends the wisdom of yoga, the loving kindness of Thai Massage and the dynamic thrill of acrobatics. Challenge your core, stretch your body and do some alignment work while you play with gravity in a safe and supportive environment. It’s a wonderful way to condition your body, mind and heart. Introduced last year, the series is taught in five unique workshops by yogis Marc Bauchet and Daphne Chua. All levels are welcome, and no partner is necessary. Take just one of the workshops for a taste, or gain the full benefit of this amazing practice through all five. For more information or to sign up contact Daphne at yogadaphne@ or 01266 626467. The classes will be at Saigon Outcast, 188/1 Nguyen Van Huong, Q2 and YMC, 335/31 Dien Bien Phu, Q3. The fee is US$25 (VND525,000) for each workshop, US$95 (VND1,995,000) for four or US$115 (VND2,415,000) for five

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Future Music The future is coming to Darts Darts Darts, and it’s not even that far away. This is a future disseminated by the UK/US trio Sonic Uprising , dubby practitioners of Jamaican-infused UK bass music and the “hardcore continuum”; DJ Hugh, the mind behind the drum-and-bass party Friday Fix; and DJ Ewan, a multi-genre expert in electronic dance. The future is disarmingly straightforward: push the bass, run the rhythms and dance like you did at those raves you don’t quite remember. Future Music is at Darts Darts Darts (224a Pasteur, Q1) on May 11 from 9pm. VND50,000 buys you entry and a free drink

Adesse-y A mysterious stranger has moved to the north of Vietnam, and he lays some primo deep house cuts. Adesse is his nom de guerre, but he’s already made a reputation for himself under a different name, in a different world. It should say something that his firstever DJ appearance was on, an internet production that’s dedicated to the best international DJs of the moment. The other thing, in the words of DJ Hibiya Line, who will support his May 4 gig at Broma, is “he only played his own productions and dubplates — what a purist!” He’s releasing music on the UK’s Prime Numbers label — labelmates with Trus’Me, a former Sound Adventures headliner. His

newest joint Untitled Love EP, released in March, features “dubbed-up 1990s-esque” sounds, “mesmerising, metronymic vocals”, “low-slung bass grooves” and “breathy, reedy horns” — just to give an idea of the range of this savant. After a three-year hibernation following his 2009 debut, it looks like Adesse is finally ready to take Southeast Asia by storm. The week after his Vietnam debut, he makes his Bangkok debut at Grease, and then…? In a month where Bob Sinclar is getting all the shine, the cheaper ticket might have the higher upside. Catch Adesse, Superkid and Hibiya Line at the May 4 Sound Adventures at Broma, 41 Nguyen Hue, Q1. VND100,000 entry includes one drink

Beers, Bands and Banter Beerfest Asia is just hitting its stride in its fifth edition, to be held from Jun. 13 to Jun. 16 in Singapore, a four-day festival of the beer lifestyle and the other fun stuff that goes along with it. On tap for the weekend are comedy and music performances, beer auctions, tasting workshops, a craft beer experience in which brewers take attendees from hops to home brew and 300 different kinds of beer from all over the world. There will be funky beers (UK’s Hollows Ginger Beer), overwhelming malts (Germany’s 11 percent EKU 28) and everything in between. Melbourne’s premiere Creedance Clearwater Revival tribute band The Fortunate Sons will be on hand to ensure it all keeps on rollin’. Tickets to the Jun. 13 to Jun. 16 festival go from S$15. Check for more info

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Performing Arts Festival Saigon Players and McSorley’s Ale House are getting together from Thursday May 16 to Sunday May 19 to present the second Ho Chi Minh City Visual and Performing Arts Festival. Entitled The Hand that Rocks the Cradle, the festival will feature an art exhibition by local and international visual artists, live performances from The Saigon Players, members of The International Choir and Orchestra of HCMC, and teachers and students from Inspirato Music Centre and The Performing Arts

Photos by James Domingo

Academy of HCMC. In addition there will be local and international musicians, poets, dancers and choreographers. From May 16 to May 18, the art exhibitions will be open to the public from 4pm (free entry) with the live performances at 6.30pm. On May 19, the exhibition runs all day with the performances commencing at 5.30pm. Entrance is VND300,000 and includes one drink. All proceeds go to charity. For inquiries and bookings, please email saigonplayers@gmail. com. McSorley’s Ale House is at 4 Thao Dien, Q2

Centre MĂŠdical International

All of our benefits are dedicated to the Alain Carpentier Foundation which carries out operations on deprived Vietnamese children at the Heart Institute of Ho Chi Minh City. May 2013 Word | 23

Charity Bazaar Step up to the The Deck on May 18 for the biannual charity bazaar benefitting the VinaCapital Foundation program Heart Beat Vietnam, which funds crucial heart surgeries for children from disadvantaged backgrounds. What started in 2006 on the shoulders of two Dutch ladies and 10 vendors has become a community event in the years since, with crafters and charities such as Vietnam Quilts, Mekong Creations, Grace Cookies and Operation Smile among the 45 vendors who will be present. Small entrepreneurs with local and unusual products are encouraged to participate, as well as a few of the local shops that help make Thao Dien the shopping oasis it is in our fair city. The bazaar takes place on May 18 from 9am to 3pm at The Deck, 38 Nguyen U Di, Q2. For more information on the charity it benefits, click on

Melting Pot The multi-disciplinary art / dance / music / henna / make-your-own-t-shirt / performance festival Melting Pot is coming back to Saigon Outcast this May, aiming to build on the success of the March edition — which drew around 1,200 people through the weekend. Last time they raised money for art supplies for children from three schools recommended by Saigon Children’s Charity, to the tune of VND28 million. “We divided

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‘Fyah in the Hole

Kids Fight Cancer

The monthly reggae banger Mad Fyah is hitting Cargo Bar this May with unprecedented depth, bringing in the Philippines’ biggest and baddest raggas Tropical Depression, throwing in some more of the archipelago’s talent in the form of I-dren Artstrong — former Reggae Sunday headliner — and mixing in a liberal dash of Japanese new-school from Kudohman and Monkey Ken, in Vietnam for the first time. This will all be wrapped up with some native knowhow from Saigon Rockers DJs Jase, TKO, Jabok, Di Veteran, Z-Kat and more. Put this all together and you’ve got the biggest reggae party to hit Saigon since forever. Check Mad Fyah on May 25 at 8pm, at Cargo Bar, 7 Nguyen Tat Thanh, Q4

The children at ABC International School in Ho Chi Minh City have learned to take an interest in their community at an early age. Through the student-centric fundraising efforts, the school raised VND15.3 million to donate to the Kids with Cancer Foundation of Vietnam. Like many of his charges, the charity’s head, Michael Doyle, has been diagnosed with an incurable cancer, and has dedicated his last years to helping the children of Vietnam. The survival rate of Vietnamese children with cancer is currently 15 percent — through efforts focused on early detection and effective treatment, Doyle hopes to increase survival to nearer 50 percent within three years. To learn more about KWCF’s mission, click on

that between the three schools,” says Emily Navarra, who spearheads the concept. “Just bags and bags of art supplies. The kids were really excited… it was Christmas.” This time they’re raising money for an orphanage of mentallyimpaired children, some of whom are “really talented musically. They even have a blind girl who plays Bach [by ear], on a keyboard. But the keyboard is crap.” Like last time, admission is VND30,000 or a donation of something that supports the mission, “like a little shaker egg”. Emily thought about setting up this artistic crossroads after seeing all the pockets of creativity scattered around the city. “There’s a lot of art and music and dance,” she says, “but they all happen separately. And I felt like that’s something that needs to happen in Saigon, all these arts coming together under one umbrella.” This time, they’re moving the artform that Emily is most passionate about to Sunday

— dance. Anh Pham and Huong Pham will be exhibiting some Latin styles, All the Way Live Vietnam will be folding their arms in the b-boy style and presumably more, and Ngo Thanh Phuong and Emily will be dancing separate modern dance sets. The music featured will be from the likes of the reunited UGWAE, newly-formed Joy Oi!, a band that played their first show at the last Melting Pot, Brian Wilson’s Brain, dubmeisters Echo Monkeys, soulful songstress Tess Amelia, The Marmalades, Van Thanh Trung and James and Me. 12 DJs will be hitting the decks in “East meets West” teams, pairing westerners and Vietnamese like Hibiya Line and Nic Ford, Bong and Glaser, Dan Lo and Samurai, Starchild and Solidmachine, SAAFE and superkid, and Craggle and Antoine Ha. And food will be more diverse this time, with Agnes Café on the premises and Baan Thai bringing in veggie options along with their usual fine Thai cuisine, and possibly Snap Café as well. But the experimentation doesn’t end there. “This time,” Emily says, “Sunday is going to be more kids-oriented in the afternoon… we’re going to do a music workshop, [facepainting]. We want to target more families.” Melting Pot is happening on May 25 and May 26 from noon until late at Saigon Outcast, 188/1 Nguyen Van Hung, Q2. Admission is VND30,000 or donation of a music supply, with all proceeds supporting the musically-inclined of this city

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Art Talk in Town Finding a Piece of Holland in Vietnam In the lead up to the launch of Holland Village 2013 — which will be an actual piece of Holland in Vietnam — the Netherlands Consulate General is challenging locals to take part in a photo contest with a scene showing a similarity or contrast between the two countries (hint: check the flower market). Winning photos will be exhibited in large format at Holland Village in November. For more info, click on

VinGallery introduces Art Talk on May 9 at 7pm, with three exciting young artists sharing the different paths they took to their love and passion for art. Each talk will touch on the artist’s inspirations and current works. With Pat Bradbury, Will Whitehouse and Zbyszek Dabrowski. VinGallery is at 4 Le Van Mien, Q2

Heaven is a Place Hanoi heavyweight Ha Manh Thang will be staging his first solo exhibition in Ho Chi Minh City, and it’s a doozy. Heaven is a Place explores the connections between the buildings around us and the ideas they’re built on, and the energy they give off. Thang reduces architectural monuments like the Bitexco Tower to its elemental form — appearing as a silhouette foregrounding an almost apocalyptically empty scene. The question Thang — the only artist from Vietnam profiled in the 2009 Phaidon publication Painting Today — seeks to answer is, ‘Are these structures’ iconic statuses derived from their physical natures, their symbolic natures or something in between?’ The exhibit goes until May 25 at Galerie Quynh, 65 De Tham, Q1

Annam’s 11-year Cheer This May marks the 11-year anniversary of Annam Gourmet bringing the organic products, gourmet deli, tiny pickles and stinky cheeses you know and love from all around the world into your Ho Chi Minh City life. To celebrate, Annam is filling their three local stores with all the food and wine tastings, cooking demos, promotions, lucky draws and “surprises” they can cram into the first two weeks of May. Stop into their District 1 (16-18 Hai Ba Trung), District 2 (41A Thao Dien) or District 7 (SB2-1 My Khanh 4, Nguyen Duc Canh) locations until May 12 and see what Annam’s passion for fine foods continues to produce. For more info, click on

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The Bretons of Vietnam Idecaf (31 Thai Van Lung, Q1), a hotspot of French culture, is hosting a variation on the theme around the Breton National Day. On May 17 the arts centre will host Lang Du, a conglomeration of pipes, accordions, Breton and Vietnamese songs. The story behind this spectacle is about four Breton adventurers winding their way through Southeast Asia, where danger and glory awaits. On May 18, the Brittany festivities take to the high seas, as local Breton band Gwennili plays contemporary and traditional songs aboard a ship sailing from the Hotel Majestic (1 Dong Khoi, Q1) at 7pm. And for the national day itself, May 19, wannabe and actual Bretons will descend on Binh Quoi Village 2 in Binh Thanh at 11am, for a full day of games, music and cultural curveballs thrown by the loud and proud race from Northwest France. For more information, click on

Saigon Charity Bazaar

May 18

the Deck

Over 45 unique vendors bring their newest collection for the best shopping experience in town. An event not to be missed!

Saturday May 18 from 9:00 am till 3:00 pm

HCMC: +84 8 3933 0065 HaNoi: +84 4 3941 0805 E:

Location: the Deck 38 Nguyen U Di, Thao Dien, Dist 2 Ho ChĂ­ Minh 08 37446 632 Proceeds go to:

Sponsored by:

For Bazaar enquiries contact: Ina, Ingrid, Celine

BAMBOU since 2001

For bazaar enquiries contact: Dominique, Ingrid, May 2013 Word | Barbara 27

In the Papers The Best of the VietnameSe Press

Smartening Up A plan has been approved to provide VND2.070 trillion (US$96 million) for training officials and young talent abroad over the next seven years. Under the plan, Vietnam aims to provide Master’s degree educations to college lecturers at higher education institutions, employees of research centres and those working for government ministries and other state agencies. The country will also send gifted young people in science and other specialisations to undergraduate programs in foreign countries. It is hoped that through this scheme, 1,650 such people will graduate with a Master’s from overseas institutions and a further 150 others will graduate with a university degree. Priority will be given to universities in the US, the UK, Canada and Australia.

Books are for Life The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism revealed last month that Vietnamese people read a mere 0.8 books a year on average. The announcement was made in the run-up to the Festival of Books and Reading Culture 2013, titled The Book that Changes Life. Deputy Minister Huynh Vinh Ai made a passionate speech about the importance of books, and Nguyen Thi Thanh Mai, of the ministry, said that compared to other countries in Southeast Asia, Vietnam was lagging behind. Nguyen Quang Thach, who initiated the project to bring books to the countryside, said that he conducted a survey in 2011. All 253 respondents, farmers, said they did not read any books. Rural children read 0.2 to 0.8 books per year, compared to five books per year for urban kids. The third Festival of Books and Reading Culture was held at the Temple of Literature in Hanoi on Apr. 20 to mark the World Book and Copyright Day.

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Sign of the Times Authorities in Ho Chi Minh City say they will remove banners and neon signs with illegal designs to ensure urban traffic safety in the city — and punish those responsible. They will also set more regulations on banners, including requiring them to show names of management entities or producers, in line with business registration licenses, along with their addresses and telephone numbers. Horizontal banners will be fixed at a maximum height of two metres while the length is not allowed to be longer than the home front width. Vertical banners’ width and height is restricted to one metre and four metres respectively. The height of the signage is not allowed to surpass that of the building where they are installed. In addition, writing on banners must be in line with Advertising Law — which regulates the size of a foreign language not to be scaled at over three-quarters of that of the Vietnamese part. When broadcast on radio, television channels or in other media, Vietnamese advertising content must be expressed before foreign content.

XP (Dark Ages) Users Beware Microsoft announced last month that support for Windows XP — which it is believed to have surfaced in the late 19th century, but due to some technical issues is still being used by millions around the globe — will end on Apr. 8, 2014. With this announcement, there is one year left for Vietnamese users to upgrade to newer operating systems instead of the 11-year-old Windows XP. If users are running Windows XP after the support ends, they’ll truly be left in the wilderness.

Aussie beef is Tops The Australian Embassy in Hanoi has rejected information that beef imported from Australia to Vietnam did not meet food safety and hygiene requirements. Australia pledges to continue to ensure food safety and beef quality when exporting to Vietnam.

10pm Curfew Rejected by City Authorities in Ho Chi Minh City have rejected a proposal to ban sales of beer and wine after 10pm — not surprisingly, as it would destroy the local economy. This is despite growing issues policing the streets after dark and dealing with drink driving. According to statistics, in the first quarter of this year there were 213 drink-related incidents in the city, resulting in 178 casualties and 70 people injured. Compared to the same period last year, that’s 55 more cases, 34 more deaths and five more people injured.

InterCon Danang splashes on Conde Nast InterContinental Danang Sun Peninsula Resort is the first Vietnamese resort hotel to be featured on the front page of the world-famous Conde Nast Traveller. The plush resort, which officially opens its doors to the public on Jun. 1, is one of the 16 properties from Asia to be featured on the Hot List this year in the prestigious global travel magazine’s UK and US editions. The magazine annually chooses the best hotels around the world, and this year the flagship of IHG’s resorts in Vietnam is among 154 honoured. The An Lam Saigon River Private Residence in Ho Chi Minh City and Banyan Tree in Lang Co near Danang also made the list.

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Liberation & Labour day brunch. @ Legend Hotel Saigon. Call (08) 3823 2833 for reservations.


La Prudencialerico Pork dinner. 7pm @ Square One, Park Hyatt Saigon. Call (08) 38241234 for reservation


Art talk. 7pm @ VinGallery. See The Buzz


the ghost inside asia tour. @ Darts Darts Darts. Visit for info



Annam Gourmet Market Anniversary. Until May 12 @ Annam Gourmet market. See The Buzz



breakfast club hcmc. 7am to 9am @ Jaspas (33 Dong Khoi, Q1). Email for info



Nha Art Exhibition. Until May 16 by Liar Ben and Sautel Cago @ deciBel

Pechakucha vol.3. 7pm @ Goc Pho Coffee(48 Hoa Hong, Phu Nhuan). See The Buzz


Heaven is a place exhibition. Until May 25 @ Galerie Quynh. See The Buzz

game of thrones. 8pm, every Mon. @ deciBel





memorial day



29 free mystery dish. Every Tue. from 8pm @ deciBel

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


SAT sound adventures featuring adesse. 9pm @ Broma. See The Buzz

mind body and soul. 9pm @ Cargo Bar








Gulliver's travels. 8pm @ HCMC Opera House. See The Big Five


First International Seasports in Vietnam. From May 17 to 19 @ Vung Tau city, Ba Ria – Vung Tau




friday fix. 9pm @ Darts Darts Darts. See The Buzz

italian breakfast. Every Sat. and Sun. @ Pendolasco

Mother's day.


saigon charity bazaar. 9am to 3pm @ The Deck. See The Buzz

extinction: the dodos live. From 4pm @ Saigon Outcast. See The Big Five


mad fyah! 8pm @ Cargo Bar. See The Buzz


iLA Annual charity Fundraiser. 1pm @ Cargo Bar

The Beats Saigon presents DJ D-Styles. Visit for info

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Six is the Magic Number

Photos by Francis Xavier

Everyone’s a DJ celebrated six years of parties and great music at Lucca, Retro Bar and Broma

The Loud Minority

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Photos by Harvey Morrison

British musician Frank Turner got some attention at Q4

Junk in the Trunk

Photos by Harvey Morrison

Cargo Bar just over the bridge in District 4 got off to a loud and welcoming start at its opening party

Motown Gets Down DJ Dastardly had the shaggin’ wagon pumpin’ and jumpin’ at deciBel

Photos by Francis Xavier

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the belly dancer / extinction / the runner

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The Belly Dancer As unlikely as it seems, belly dancing has taken Vietnam by storm. Matt Dworzanczyk meets one of the country’s leading dancers, Do Thi Hong Hanh


hen thinking of belly dance, Vietnam is probably not the first place that comes to mind. Yet in the last decade, this Middle Eastern-style of dance has exploded in popularity across the country; from Hanoi to Saigon and everywhere in between. Do Thi Hong Hanh, arguably the most accomplished and recognised belly dance teacher and performer in Vietnam, began her belly dance adventures in Hai Phong. “I heard about belly dance from the press, I was curious,” she recalls. “So I researched the history of the dance, the music. I found costume photos and very soon I had my first belly dance costume and my own belly dance choreography.” Colourful, with a silk dress, a shelldecorated bra-top, diamond bracelets around her wrists and glitter decorating the big smile on her face, the metamorphosis from a traditional business student to a Middle Eastern princess was complete and impossible to miss. “My costume was too sexy. My parents were very worried, they thought it was not fitting for Vietnamese culture.”

Start of a Craze But Hanh continued on with her passion regardless. After studying with a wellknown American belly dancer in Singapore, she returned to Vietnam and connected with other women interested in the art. Hoping to organise a free, community dance class, she was overwhelmed as nearly 100 people showed up for the first meeting. Word spread quickly and Hanh was invited to teach belly dance at the Culture and Sports Centre in Hai Phong. She worked with students, children, charity and government workers as well as business people. It wasn’t long before she felt ready to do her first public performance. “After the dance, my parents showed up and despite their initial concerns, they were overwhelmed with the audience’s positive feedback. Since then, they’ve always

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supported me.” Destiny led Hanh to meet some powerful people who helped her turn her passion into a business. With strong support from her entire community, she began teaching private classes all over Vietnam. An art form that used to be a niche in the country rapidly began to turn mainstream, with Hanh at the centre of it all. From over 2,000 of her students, Hanh selected the strongest 10. Together she began preparations for a major international belly dance competition. “Competition judges look for inspiration,” she says, “for sharp technique and truly artistic performances. Being graceful is not enough. The dancer needs to discover themselves through this art to really shine.”

Changing Perceptions And discover herself she did. While many others might lose their authenticity once in the spotlight, Hanh worked hard to make her performances truly stand out and represent her country. “I don’t just imitate. I want to learn through my dance and I want to show off Vietnamese culture.” Through uniquely designed costumes, characteristic music and Vietnamese culture-inspired choreography, Hanh created a fresh and original fusion resulting in her own vibrant and feisty style. Aside from the judges, however, Hanh’s primary audience were still often traditionallyminded Vietnamese. Some simply didn’t want to accept the sexy dancing and revealing costumes as a norm. But Hanh believes people’s ideas are quickly changing. “Many of my students’ parents initially

worry about their kids performing, sometimes they’re critical of belly dancing, yet they end up falling in love with it after seeing their first show,” she explains. “It’s not the style of dance that’s an issue, it’s what message you want to convey to your audience and how you communicate it. When people see me dance, they understand it’s an art and not just a girl showing off.”

Refreshes Parts Other Dances Can’t Reach Hanh is evangelical about the benefits of belly dancing; she says she feels changed by her dancing career. “I feel healthier physically and spiritually. My skin is brighter, smoother, I feel younger. I feel more confident and I feel I have a bigger purpose and a closer relationship with the society.” In Vietnam today, belly dance is no longer considered an exotic art. It’s become a part of the culture, an activity enjoyed by many next to fitness, yoga or jogging in the park. “People of any age or level can practice belly dance and when they do, they get to train their body, refresh their mind, release the stress after a heavy work day. Their memory improves, they feel happier and they feel empowered.” Hanh’s youngest student is a mere oneand-a-half years old. She might not yet be able to walk properly, but apparently she’s already showing passion for belly dancing. The oldest student is a 73-year-old grandmother. Hanh laughs. “She tells me dance makes her feel and look 10 years younger.” Hanh’s studio is at 1A Yet Kieu, Hai Ba Trung, Hanoi. You can contact her on

“It’s not the style of dance that’s an issue, it’s what message you want to convey to your audience and how you communicate it. When people see me dance, they understand it’s an art and not just a girl showing off”

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Extinction — Or a New Beginning? In what will be a rare treat, one of the hottest and best-loved indie bands, The Dodos, will be performing in Saigon this month. Karen Hewell looks into how the Ho Chi Minh City music scene can ride their tail feathers. Photos provided by Lix Bae


o be honest, Saigon is a great city,” she says, leading. “But I think people are getting sick of all of the DJ music.” Lix Bae is over it. “I think a lot of people like me [who love music] give up on searching for good music, and settle for less.” When it comes to finding great live music in Ho Chi Minh City, people like Lix are usually left wanting. While the city is inundated with more than its fair share of heavy dancehall music, international touring acts rarely make landfall in Vietnam. Instead, music lovers are faced with shelling out hundreds for tickets and flights to more readily toured cities like Singapore, Bangkok and Hong Kong. City natives and expats alike are making efforts to bring some flavour to live music — coffee shops continue to draw in droves of iPhone-toting hip kids with the promise of live acoustic covers of radio hits — but paying for the real thing, playing real instruments on a real stage, is still a risk that few here are willing to take. “A lot of venues are not very keen on getting bands from other countries,” Lix says of bands on international tours. “They don’t want to take risks on bands not many people have heard of.”

Taking a Chance on Love An opportunity, though, has presented itself. California indie twosome The Dodos posted an offhand Facebook message announcing that they’d be in Southeast Asia, namely Bangkok, and were looking for other destinations since they “were going to be there anyway”. Soon after, an email was sent — Saigon Outcast, music venue and grotto of choice for the city’s creatives — the recipient. “I walked into Saigon Outcast, and [coowner] Ha showed me an email,” says Lix, continuing. “[This Shanghai-based music promoter] wanted to know if [Outcast] was

interested in The Dodos playing there. I got super excited instantly when I saw the name.” Lix is a long-time fan (“I’ve been listening to them for four years and I’m not sick of them!”) with almost no experience in doing promotion, but the promise of The Dodos bringing some much needed colour to a stale live music circuit was more than enough incentive. And colour they’ll bring — The Dodos have a fresh sound, regardless of geography.

Shake, Rattle and More Rattle While the San Francisco-based duo is regularly billed as the band without a bass drum, what really sets them apart encompasses a lot more than just the instruments they play — or, in this case, don’t. Coming from progressive metal roots, drummer Logan Kroeber had more interest in the soaring BPMs of metal, hardly someone you’d expect to find under the indie-rock umbrella. His decidedly experimental take on rhythm, though, matched former solo singer-songwriter Meric Long’s eclectic instrumental range. Long had been trained in West African Ewe drumming — which uses bells and rattles along with standard drum rhythms — and played every instrument on his EP Dodo Bird, from which the band eventually drew its name. After some work blending the two styles together, Kroeber traded in his drum kick for a tambourine taped to his foot, and developed a penchant for playing on the rims of his drums rather than the batter head. The result is a sound with the driving energy of Kroeber’s metal and the soaring, dreamy vocals of indie rock that will send hipster hearts a-flutter.

Beware of the Maniacs Regardless, bringing The Dodos to Saigon still isn’t without risk, as they haven’t broken onto the mainstream music scene,

and consequently aren’t on the Asian radar at all. Instead, the folks of Saigon Outcast pulled out all of the creative stops to get people talking — posters and fliers were all designed from scratch, drawing on the DIY expertise of artists-turned-promoters who wanted a hand in making the concert happen. The entire process has been a labour of love for everyone involved — who, it’s assumed, have their fingers crossed too. The risk bodes well for both Outcast and the city itself in terms of music. “I’ve had several independent music promoters email me to see if I wanted to collaborate in the future,” says Lix. This out-of-left field move has gotten people thinking about the possibilities, and hopefully playing catch-up. And The Dodos’ appearance at Outcast might just boost its profile among choice venues in Southeast Asia. If this came off on the strength of a Facebook connect, imagine what some good indie rock word-of-mouth could do. Lix has taken the wheel, noting that she is already talking to new bands about playing in the city. The Dodos’ appearance will hopefully put Ho Chi Minh City more on international bands’ radar when they’re in the neighbourhood. For a city inundated with acoustic nights and open mics, the lack of original rock music coming from local voices is striking. The hope is that an influx of international tours will bring local bands out of the woodworks and onto the main stage. Kids with guitars could have worse role models. Lix, whose respect for the business has only grown with the hard work of putting on a show like this, relies on a love of music for inspiration. Regardless of the effort that goes with starting something from scratch, she remains upbeat. “I’m hopeful for the music scene here,” she says. “People just need to be a little bolder.” The Dodos play Saigon Outcast May 19, along with local luminaries Timekeeper, Joy Oi! and Brian Wilson’s Brain.

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Of Heaven and

Earth Fabiola Buchele spends three days with writer and humanitarian Le Ly Hayslip on her most recent trip back to her hometown. Photos by Harvey Morrison


e Ly Hayslip’s double bed, in a modest hotel room in Danang, is a sea of sparkly pink. Stacks of polka dot leggings, frizzy skirts and Disney princess-adorned t-shirts take up almost her entire sleeping space. They are donations from her two American granddaughters — girls whose lives are almost a perfect opposite to the one Le Ly chronicled 20 years ago. It is a life that has brought her from war to peace, from poverty to comfort. When Le Ly told the girls about her trip they raided their wardrobes, wanting to give her some things to take to give to the children here. Their grandmother seems to have succeeded in passing on to them what she has made her life’s work; sharing what has been granted her with people less fortunate. Born during the French war and

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experiencing adolescence at the centre stage of the American invasion, Le Ly left the country for the US in 1970 aged 21. Upon returning to Vietnam 16 years later, she wanted to give back something to those she left behind. Helping alleviate their poverty became her focus. Her deeply personal account of life during the war served to raise awareness and Le Ly has poured every penny she can spare back into her ‘motherland’. She founded two NGOs — the East meets West Foundation and the Global Village Foundation. Between them they have funnelled millions of dollars into Vietnam’s education and health care development.

A World Away Today, a strong-willed woman of 64 and full of energy, Le Ly strolls along a stretch of beach which bears no resemblance to its former self, the one 3,500 Americans

landed on Mar. 8, 1965. Danang has long since embraced progress and development; the seafront is lined with five-star resorts and top-end restaurants. As she meanders through the sand she talks of the childhood home that she has watched shape-shift. It is almost impossible to imagine that the life so vividly described in her autobiography When Heaven and Earth Changed Places took place close to this now prosperous holiday destination. “Each time I come here I see the city progress, they think I will be very happy to see [the difference from] what I saw back then and what I see now. [Indeed] I was very sad and very disappointed when I saw what I saw 25 years ago,” she says. But she is also weary of the pace and nature of the change. “I really do want Vietnam to change, I really want Vietnam to progress. But it turned out those things happened, no doubt, but then

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“As long as people will listen she will share the wisdom she has gained from the exceptional feat of turning a life of war and turmoil into one of peace and tranquility. Her life, she says, has come full circle”

what is the price? I want to see how we protect our motherland, keep our tradition intact and keep our people going with a better life.” But Le Ly is not the kind to lament too long over such city developments; she cannot be sure its impact on the local community is all negative, and she has no say in it either way. After an early morning meditation and a 6am swim in the silvery shimmering water of the East Sea, it is back to her schedule. She has been invited to talk at Green Shoot International School in Hoi An. 14 kids are sat on cushions, eager to meet the lady whose story has been part of their curriculum. Their classroom is lined with posters of people who have prospered against the odds. Amid images of suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst and antislavery activist Harriet Tubman, Le Ly tells her story, painting a picture of yet another exceptional woman, one who grew up in a place physically close to the children’s homes but many miles away from the reality of their lives. When Le Ly first embarked on the project of jotting down her memories she had no clue just how irreversibly it would alter her life. “I didn’t know how powerful the book would be. I didn’t understand that the

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book would be [translated into] 17 different languages or that it would take me from A to Z on all different levels,” she says. But never does she tire of retelling the story that first hit the bookshelves 23 years ago. “Each time I tell my stories in a different way. If the audience is young, like today, I talk about my water buffalo, my duck, my chicken.”

Friends, Family and Ancestors It is 6am of a new day, and time for breakfast. Le Ly wants to get some banh cuon before joining the family celebration in honour of Hung Vuong, founder of Vietnam. She wanders the streets of central Danang looking for the woman who used to roll her delicate rice parcels, by the hotel she was a regular at; Le Ly is loyal to people she has taken a shine to. As during numerous other encounters with old friends there is a tangible love for Le Ly at this breakfast joint, despite her pleaded insistence that she is an outcast and regarded as uncomfortable and perhaps strange. But it seems she has managed to find enough other fringe dwellers and people who have a deep-rooted respect for her to give her the support she needs. Just how seriously she takes her duties to look after her ancestors becomes clear when she starts prepping the family temple she

built on her father’s land 20 years ago. It is huge, similar in size to the bamboo-rimmed family home behind it, with ample space to accommodate not just her own ancestral line, but the spirits of the home plus nameless family members twice removed, without offspring of their own, to offer them the occasional pineapple and look after their needs in the afterlife. Le Ly has prepared for this with a trip to the market — a long shopping list in hand and a niece in tow to make sure she gets local prices and the best produce. She is purchasing offerings for her ancestors. “You have to look after them, so they look after you,” she says explaining what she has bought. There are gorgeous banana bundles, which her late mother loved; the plumpest mangos; incense sticks; stacks of candles and paper offerings to the family members that have long passed away. Le Ly is a highly spiritual woman. She says she has felt the protection of more than one spirit during her lifetime — especially when she and the war around her got her into some tight spots.

Full Circle Le Ly grew up as the youngest of seven children. Her oldest brother and sister, who have both seen their 80th birthdays come

“Her deeply personal account of life during the war served to raise awareness and Le Ly has poured every penny she can spare back into her ‘motherland’”

and go, are alongside her, getting ready to invite the spirit side of the family to join them for the country’s founding celebrations. A calm settles over the little compound as incense is lit, a table is laid and the three Phung siblings make their offerings. Amid her family, with a simple ao dai thrown over her comfortable western leisurewear, this Viet Kieu gentlewoman seems at ease. “If I could I would live here like a nun. I chant, I pray, I teach classes for kids to behave well,” she says. A wish reflected in the words she exclaims, as she passes through the lush patch of nature between Danang and her village, “How can you not love it here? You get the fish, you get the snail, the shrimp. You get the greens from your garden. Rice paddy. A water buffalo as your pet. What more do you want?” Although, Le Ly occasionally mentions old age and has started to think about where she will one day rest her weary bones, she is not there yet. There is still work to do. She still has more libraries to donate, she needs to coordinate her volunteers, she needs to give more talks. As long as people will listen she will share the wisdom she has gained from the exceptional feat of turning a life of war and turmoil into one of peace and tranquility. Her life, she says, has come full circle.

The Story Behind the Woman Le Ly Hayslip is a Vietnamese American author and humanitarian. Born in 1949 in a hamlet just outside Danang she experienced the end of the French occupation as a child and was 12 when the first Americans soldiers arrived. The period that followed is one of personal horrors — these are later recounted in her autobiographies — and survival against the odds. She married her first husband,

an American civilian, and left Vietnam for California in 1970. After returning to Vietnam 16 years later she wrote her two books, one of which was turned into a movie by Hollywood director Oliver Stone, Heaven and Earth. She has since founded two humanitarian organisations — East meets West and the Global Village foundations. Le Ly is both a three-time mother and grandmother. She lives in Los Angeles.

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The Many Faces of Saigon

The Runner 300km in a week, a marathon a day. Ed Weinberg catches up with Chi Nguyen in the aftermath of her epic run to Dalat. Photo by Mai Tram


hen Chi Nguyen first told people she would be running to Dalat, a lot of people told her “you’re crazy”. It didn’t

stop there. “When I was running, a lot of people looked at me,” the 31-year-old Unilever media manager says. “They checked my boobs all the time to see if I was a boy or a girl.” But Chi laughs that off — that’s the attitude you need to take if you want to run 300km through the hinterlands of Vietnam. “They never thought we were Vietnamese,” she continues. “In Vietnamese [they said], ‘Look at those crazy guys!’ And… ok. We just focused on running.” Chi’s mother also felt the heat. “My mom told me [her friends said], ‘Your daughter must be crazy! At this age she should have kids… not be running outdoors like a crazy girl!’” For the other runners, it was the same. “It’s something we want to tell the community,” she says, “to have a different view of people doing different things. Not that they are crazy.”

The Mission At the end of last year, Mai Huy ran 2,000km down Vietnam next to legendary Australian ultra-marathoner Pat Farmer — the guy who ran 21,000km from the North Pole to the South Pole in 2011 — and he wasn’t fully satisfied. “He posted on his Facebook page that he would like to do something similar, but over a shorter distance,” Chi recalls. “Just only Saigon to Dalat, 300km. So every day instead of 70km it’s only 45km… yeah, more than a full marathon per day.” Chi read his Facebook status and got in touch. The two set up a team of six — three on bicycles, Huy and Chi running, and one motorbiker to carry the luggage. As much as it pales next to Huy’s previous run, it was a wild step into the unknown for the rest.

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“I had only one time doing a halfmarathon in Siem Reap,” Chi says, “My running profile is quite low. I go to the gym every day, 5km, just that.” Mai Tram, Huy’s girlfriend, had never ridden a pushbike before. “She decided to go to Dalat on her BMX.” Do Truong An, a beatboxer from the first season of Vietnam’s Got Talent, went along. “He’s also not a sporty guy,” Chi says. “He wanted to change himself.” It wasn’t preordained, Chi says, and that was a big part of it. “All of us, we wanted to do something new, something that we thought we would never do.”

A Rough Start Day One was uneventful. On Day Two, Chi wrote this status update on Facebook: “I finally survived Day Two… My legs, chest, arms all yelled, ‘Please stop’... I ran with my mind more than my legs.” She rested that night, soaked up Huy’s running tricks, and went out again for more punishment. “I nearly gave up on Day Three,” she recalls. “I walked for 30km. I was not tired at all, but my legs couldn’t move. “I don’t know how to tell you that feeling. I was walking along the road, under the sun, in a strange land. People looked at me, some felt bad.” She brushed most of them off, but one was persistent. “There was a tiny little kid on a bicycle,” she continues. “‘Hey sister, where are you going?’ — Ah yeah… — ‘Are you running for something? An award or something?’ — No, I just want to run — ‘Where are your friends? All gone? I tell you, take a bus, only VND10,000.’” At this self-doubting moment, she saw a poster outside a small village they were passing: ‘Try to get out of poverty on your own.’ The slogan moved Chi, and she realised she could only depend on herself. She made her legs move. But the little boy didn’t understand. When she explained it to him he frowned,

and said, “Ok, but whatever you do, you should take a bus.”

Different Strokes She changed her strategy after Day Three. “I knew I couldn’t run with [Huy], so I woke up two hours earlier than the kids. I did not have breakfast.” She released her stress on those early mornings, and began looking around more. “There are some lessons you can learn along the way,” she realised. In Bao Loc, they stopped at Huy’s house, and his mom cooked them dinner. On the menu: dog. At first she was horrified. “I see people eating dog meat in a restaurant,” Chi explains. “To me all of them look like apes, running, drinking and swearing. I could never imagine that one day I would sit at the same table as people eating dog meat — but it happened that night.” Chi ate just a little, but her mind was changed. “The husband was so knowledgeable, the wife was so nice and they were so kind to us. It’s all about perception.”

Dalat “I was nearly crying when I saw the sign — Dalat 99km,” Chi says. It was still two days to the finish, but the end was in sight. One more mountain pass was all it took. They got into town, posted Facebook pics at the post office — a counterpoint to the Saigon branch they started at — the boys shaved. “We need to be handsome,” they said. And then Chi got a nice surprise. “My trip was so incredible,” she says, “that one guy decided to sponsor the trip back to Saigon, business class for me. I went to the lounge, everyone was staring at me… they saw this girl — dirty backpack, runners, sh_tty face, burning hair.” Chi smiles. “Seven days, I opened my mind, changed my perceptions. It makes me feel that I’m more alive.”

“I nearly gave up on Day Three. I walked for 30km. I was not tired at all, but my legs couldn’t move. I don’t know how to tell you that feeling. I was walking along the road, under the sun, in a strange land”

The Tricks B listers

“You use a needle and a thread. You put it in the blister and leave the thread there. The thread will take all the liquid. Because if you don’t do that right away, the foot is going to explode… I got like 10 [blisters] like that.”

O ne M ore S tep

“[On Day Three] I took tiny, tiny, tiny steps. And I felt like my whole body was yelling at me — ‘Feet, stop doing that! Let me relax, let me rest…’ And then, telling myself, ‘Well, a lot of people are watching you. Just one more step.’”

G ames

Guessing the distance to a landmark. “I think it’s going to be 500 metres, and [Huy] said, ‘No, I think 600 metres.’ And when we get there he says, ‘Ok, you were right.’”

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Camera: iPhone 4S Lens: 4.28mm f2.4 Treatment: Camera+ App


igital technology has forever changed the way we record and memorise our lives. Everywhere you go, on every journey from boarding a plane to eating street food, people’s phones or cameras are out, documenting their experiences. The notion of travel photos, indeed the whole notion of photography, has changed beyond recognition. It was this experience that we tried to encapsulate as we wound our way through this story; a documentation of journeys, both long and short, a documentation of people’s lives, the experience that has taken them from A to B, with so much in between. The idea was for all our photos to be taken with phones. It didn’t quite work. On one trip that inadvertently became a ‘journey to hell’, the road was too bumpy, and the risk of dropping the phone too great to use it to snap the various parts of the journey. On another encounter we were confronted with that most Saigonesque of experiences — a phone swiped directly from our photographer’s hands. But if photos and the equipment that takes them are very much a part of today’s journeys, so is the road itself. As Robert Louis Stevenson once wrote, “I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel’s sake. The great affair is to move.” Indeed, while for many of us commuting to work, long-haul flights and periods of unwelcome transit feel like periods of necessary but unwelcome travel that move us from one scene to the next, as Stevenson would be glad to hear, it’s not always that way for everyone. What follows is an insight into the lives of many of this planet’s travellers. From the myriad of passengers found waiting at Tan Son Nhat Airport to journeys from hell, life journeys, globetrotting couchsurfers and journeys that have helped some people heal troubled pasts or even troubled physiques. It’s not just about the final destination, but also what it took to get there. So, time to stretch out, put your seat back and enjoy the ride. Time to enjoy what’s in between, and perhaps snap a photo or two along the way.

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Camera: iPhone 4S Lens: 4.28mm f2.4 Treatment: Hipstamatic App

Bon Voyage! Ed Weinberg heads to the airport to see what’s replaced popping champagne sendoffs in the world of travel. Photos Alexandre Garel


ocumented in TV series, a part of the vernacular, Vietnamese families make a day out of wishing their loved ones fond farewells and warm welcome-backs. Every day, extended families ply the seats of Tan Son Nhat airport from Burger King to the arrival row, enjoying the cosmopolitan atmosphere and connection todistance the arrival area affords. Some travel great distances just to get here, and they’re in no rush to leave. Many bring food from home and avoid the expensive drinks or food options. As one welcome party told us, it doesn’t make

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much sense — go next door and everything’s cheaper and better. And we can probably discount the grim, stone-metal-columnedglass architecture filled with plastic orange hard seats as a reason for coming. So what’s the draw? If you look at the welcome parties when a flight arrives, the way their attention goes to the flood of bag-wheeling arrivals like it’s the red carpet, you get it. In a country as familyoriented as this, it’s no surprise that these far horizons aren’t treated as just-a-Skype-away, but as something more significant — full of peril and success and tearful goodbyes, and of course, lots and lots of pictures.

T ravel

facts :

Number of Chinese people who still live in caves: 35 million

Uyen, 39

Uyen and her family came three hours early to the airport to see off another part of their family. I’m sitting at a table facing Burger King when one of the entourage — a grinning Vietnamese guy in his mid-20s — sits on the chair next to me and motions for Uyen to snap a picture with his mobile. More of the team crowd around us, peace signs go up. And the pictures don’t stop. On the marble planter across from us, a beautiful scene is occurring. The little boy who’d just been orbiting us has been caught, and is now receiving some neck nuzzles from his aunt and a juice from his cousin. This cousin won’t see him again until he, too, moves to the US (Uyen says “America” in the way hopeful immigrants from the last century said it in movies — as a blessing, an incantation), later this year. This family of 12 — soon to be split apart by three of its members moving halfway across the world, and by another four who in a few months will join the ones they are seeing off today — is not engaging in any desperate goodbyes or last-minute confessions. Instead they are checking mobile phones, smoking cigarettes, pinching cheeks of the three little boys with them. They’re just being a family, together, in a way they won’t be for a long while.

The receiving family brought their own food, and needed it through consecutive flight delays. As far as the arrivals, their tower of bags is full of presents, perfume, sherry. They’ll have to wait to eat. “Look at her!” our photographer says about Rhylie’s mother. “She’s so proud that her daughter can speak English!” “Oh,” Rhylie says, “she can speak English, too.” Still, she’s there, beaming on at her daughter.

Le Duc, 79 Hiep Nguyen, 24

Hiep is one of five in his aunt’s family who came to meet her on her arrival from the US. They all came together, not too early. It’s the first time in five years she’s visited, although Hiep’s stayed with her three times in Texas. Although this Saigon-based family isn’t engaging in a long reunion at the airport, there will be ample time to catch up at Hiep’s house. And it’s a happy change from the usual reunion. “Normally,” Hiep says, “we meet together on my grandfather’s death day.”

Rhylie and her parents have just landed from Adelaide, Australia, for their annual visit, and their entire family has converged on the arrival area. Two grandmothers have travelled to Ho Chi Minh City to welcome them, and are now huddled by the baggage cart, anxious to set off. It’s much the same scene in Adelaide on the rare occasions one or another of the Vietnam branch of the family makes it in. It’s a family reunion, starting from the touch.

Duc is waiting for his younger brother, who is 73 years old. This is the first time they will meet since last time his brother came, six years ago. Duc has never visited his brother in the US. He’s travelled the 1,000km from his home in Hue to Ho Chi Minh City by shuttle bus, leaving the morning before, waiting here since early this morning. His brother is four hours late. And after his brother lands, it’s a long journey back.

Julie Le, 45 Minh Nhan, 34

Rhylie Nguyen, 20

is different. “They don’t have friend in Vietnam,” Nhan says, “so I take care of them when they stay.” Does she ever eat at the airport? “The food here is very expensive, and not good, not really make sense. Because you can eat outside, more better and more delicious-er.” She prefers a more place-specific solution to her visitors’ hunger pangs. “Maybe,” Nhan says, “I will take them for some pho.”

Nhan has some new friends visiting from Korea. She’s 30 minutes early. She doesn’t want to make a bad impression, as this is the first time they’ll meet. She’s meeting the arrivals as a favour to her friend, but it’s not her first time picking up strangers at the airport. This is something she often does with business travellers, on behalf of her company. The arrivals from Korea will know her face, as they’ve become acquainted over the internet. Usually she’ll deliver a guest directly to the hotel they’ve booked, but this time

Julie and her husband flew in from Dallas, Texas this morning, one of two trips they make a year. Julie’s mother and uncle were waiting. Her husband picked up a flower basket on the way. The visitors sell electronics, and plan to be here for three months, maintaining their business online. And it’s clear that she misses some things about her homeland. When I ask her what food she’s most looking forward to eating — pho? bun thit nhung? — Julie laughs and conferences with her mother. Turning back, Julie says, “Hey, give me a secret. Do you have a Vietnamese girlfriend?” Her mother smiles mischievously behind.

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Journeys from Hell We’ve all had them, all been through some of the worst travel sufferings one can imagine. Here is a selection of forgettable, or in fact not-soforgettable journeys. Photos by Nick Ross

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T ravel

facts :

Shortest airline flight: 2 minutes, between Scottish islands Westray and Papa Westray


The Tuk-Tuk

The Green Route to Everest

The Road to Angkor


e were in Phnom Penh but didn’t have the time to make it to Angkor Wat. So, I came up with the idea. There are Angkorian-era ruins near the city. Why don’t we visit them instead? It was then that the mistakes started. I love travelling by tuk-tuk. I love the open air, the closeness to the streets, the affinity with the outside world that is so lacking in a car or a bus. My family feels the same. So, we asked the question. Could we get to the ruins by tuk-tuk? Would this most saintly of air-polluting vehicles be able to travel 100km there and back? Wouldn’t it be too slow? When I asked the driver, he seemed in no doubt. I even showed him on the map. How long I asked? Two hours, he shrugged. Two hours to take in three Ankgorian-era ruins to the south of Phnom Penh? We were in. But tuk-tuks in Cambodia — the ubiquitous motorbike-pulled, open-air carriages that are found the length and breadth of the country — travel at 30km to 40km an hour at max. And on bad roads, even these speeds are compromised. The going was slow. I made another mistake, too. Our driver Ali didn’t have the standard plastic covering to seal passengers in from the rain outside. With the daytime, early April temperatures sweltering at over 40 degrees, it didn’t occur to me to ask in advance. The plastic covering not only blocks out the rain, but the sun, too. And as we journeyed south out of the city, my error became all too evident. The sunshine was scolding. And keeping out of it became as much a priority as avoiding the layers of dust spat out by the traffic and the sand-crusted road. Tempers got raised, my lack of foresight brought me a torrent of journeying companion abuse, and as we got closer to our first destination, I just hoped that the rickety, bumpy, grimy journey would be worth all the discomfort.

As journeys go our ill thought-out excursion opened some eyes. Cambodia is as similar to Vietnam as it is different. For all the beauty out there, you have to encounter the ugliness, too. From decrepit bridges through to horn-conking trucks lurching along at high speed, to ramshackle huts along the road and litter paving the side of the highway. It’s as unattractive as many parts of Vietnam, yet the subtleties make even the lack of visual appeal something to look out for. From the design of the stilt houses to the political party advertising signage and pagoda-like village entrances, everything is just done differently. But such was the discomfort that, having reached our first destination, a smaller version of the Ta Phrom found at Angkor Wat, we decided to head back. The ruin itself was worth the trip — a typical, falling-down Angkor-era temple, with a Buddhist aura to match. But the hassle onsite from children selling incense sticks, flower offerings and candles was more than we could bear. Even as we knelt to say our prayers at the first of many in-temple altars, the attempted a-dollar-for-this, a-dollarfor-that rape of the tourists continued. The children, seeing their opportunity to make a quick buck, wouldn’t leave us alone. I lost my temper. And so did one of my travelling companions. All destroying any desire to head 20km further out of Phnom Penh to the second and third temples. I kept trying to tell myself that it was a worthwhile journey. Worthwhile in that it took us away from the Cambodian capital for half a day. And worthwhile because the travel itself provided a pleasant if hot and dusty visual insight into the look and feel of this country. Yet I was wrong. Our retreat to the city was done in silence. And in terms of my family, silence usually means disappointment. — Nick Ross


n my trip through Nepal with dad — tourist class buses and US$30-a-night hotels — I’d occasionally see old men perched on top of buses at highway rest stops. In my innocence I would snap pictures and marvel at them, as they bobbed their heads this way and that with a stoic, sleepy calm. Sometimes they’d have goats with them. It seemed one of those experience leaps beyond my ken. Flash forward one month. Dad’s left and I’m headed for the mountains — you know, the big ones, the tallest, most monk-crawling mountains there are, the Himalayas. I decided on the local bus to Jiri, the green part of the trail to Everest that most people skip over. I got on early, sitting next to my 15kg bag in a seat tiny even for my 1.72m frame. Before even departing the station, a crush of people found their way into the aisle. I offered my seat to an older woman, but 10 hours of standing later, it didn’t seem like such a good idea. People climbed on the roof, but I stuck to my aisle, leaning on people’s armrests, making new friends bum-first. It was so crowded, the ticket inspector had to climb through a window like Spiderman. I made a pit-stop at a mountain village, where I’d been invited to watch the goatsacrificing festivities that everyone was travelling to see. Two days later, I tried my luck again. It didn’t work, and for the first time in my life I found myself sat on the roof of a bus. Me and thirty other ‘bus surfers’ were treated to sheer drop-offs and low-slung electric cables. Four people hung off the ladder on the bus’s rear. We pitched to and fro on rangy roads, occasionally interrupted by vehicles looking to pass in the opposite direction. In the end it wasn’t all that bad — in retrospect it seems ridiculous that I was scared at all. But if what matters is really the journey and not the destination, then Nepali public transport has a lot to answer for. — Ed Weinberg

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Camera: Nikon D700 Lens: 24-70mm f2.8 lens Treatment: Lightroom filters

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T ravel

facts :

Record for most people on a motorbike: 54, India

The Motorbike

The Boat



After Midnight

aking up after a brief nap, I took a long hot shower before setting out on the road again. It was midnight in Dalat. The market was still open and business was brisk. We even bought into the late night shopping experience. A scarf was purchased out of necessity as we were not prepared for driving late at night. Despite Vietnam’s tropical climate, Dalat gets cold after dark. With a full moon lighting up the nighttime sky, in our minds we envisioned an easy ride back to Saigon, observing the sleeping countryside in peace and quiet. Our perfect vision was dented immediately — the unlit streets revealed potholes deep enough to put us two feet under. My lights, too, were not up to the mark, failing miserably to give us the illumination we needed to travel at higher speeds. Moving downhill — much of the route to Highway 1 takes you down slopes — we began to enjoy the after-dark scenery. But this was soon shattered by something unforeseen —traffic. The last thing we expected on the road was company — little did we know that intercity buses take high-speed advantage of the midnight hour. Looming down on us at ungodly speeds they were a hazard we had to avoid. So we devised a system. As soon as we spotted headlights to our rear, the spotter would yell “incoming” and the driver would execute an evasive manoeuver. This meant slamming on the brakes, and moving as far out onto the hard shoulder as possible — all while hoping for the best. At first our system worked, until suddenly we spotted a huge pile of gravel on the asphalt, blocking our path. Preparing to swerve out the way, almost instantaneously we realised we were being passed by three buses, two of them overtaking the third. Somehow we narrowly avoided both the gravel and the passing vehicles — they didn’t even see us. But the margin for error was tiny. It was a heart in your mouth moment. Never again will I drive between Dalat and Saigon at night on a motorbike. — Mads Monsen

Full Moon

y girlfriend would get seasick on even the lightest of boat journeys. Just a river trip was enough to send her guts wild. But it was a seasickness entwined with fear. Some people get vertigo, some people are agrophobic. For her it was spiders and even worse, aquaphobia. But when we boarded the boat taking us from Koh Samui to Koh Pha Ngan in the Gulf of Thailand, we realised we had no choice. It was December 1999 and we were desperate to make the last full moon party of the millennium. Something to tell the grandchildren, we laughed. But to get there meant traversing the stormiest December seas that had been seen for years — even the Thais were bemused. But we were stuck. Day after day the boats between the two islands had been cancelled. Now, finally we could make the trip. There was a lull and we had 24 hours to spare. The packed boat departed. There were no seats, standing room only — surely unsafe — and the size of the vessel coupled with the ferociousness of the sea immediately made my girlfriend go green. Then the screams started. One wave was so violent that it hit the wheelhouse, smashing the glass in front of the captain’s eyes. The boat was immediately pulled to a halt. Listing from side to side like a trackless rollercoaster, panic ensued. We had to go back. We had to go back. Go back now! The boat’s crew calmed us down. “We’re only half an hour from Koh Pha Ngan,” they told us. “We’ll be fine.” We were. But it was no solace to my girlfriend. She had been sick for virtually the whole journey and when we got to the island, she remained sick. From shock, and from a stomach badly beaten up by the lull and tilt of the sea. The next night we went to the full moon party, but my girlfriend was still sick. I downed a few vodka and red bulls for the sake of trying to get into the mood. But it was impossible. As soon as it hit midnight we left. Early. And we never got married. So much for the grandchildren. — Nick Ross

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The Road Trip A little-visited Mekong Delta province of millennium-old Khmer Pagodas, paddy fields and seafood farms, Tra Vinh is just four hours from the chaos of Saigon. Donning his best leathers and thickest sunblock, Mads Monsen heads south


hen I think of travel, and travel by motorbike, two words fill me with anticipation: “road” and “trip”. By themselves they are regular and mundane. As mundane, for as example, as a short trip to a supermarket or a trip up the road to get some milk. But create a journey with distance, exploration and purpose, and the context changes beyond recognition. For our road trip to Tra Vinh we tried to prepare — we stocked up with sunblock, face masks, energy bars and bottled water. After being exposed to the sun over a threeday ride, a previous excursion had left me sunburned and with swollen lips. It was the first time I had ever had swollen lips. While I enjoy road trips, such after experiences are not enjoyable. Nor are sore buttocks, but that is the price you pay. Getting on the road is easy. Staying on the road is the challenge. The road itself does you no harm, unless you count the endless potholes. It is unpredictable behaviour that can catch you out, as it did to the brazen boy speeding past without a helmet. Five minutes later I found him laying motionless, 30 metres from his bike. An early start is safer. At 5am I pick up

Rush Hour 54 | Word May 2013

my friend and we are off. We’re in between harvests so there aren’t so many green paddy fields at this time of year. So we explore the numerous pagodas on the way. Pagodas have their seasons, too, when they undergo renovation. On a previous trip to Tra Vinh we entered what was more of a construction site than a pagoda. This time we got there in time to photograph it in all its renovated glory. Pagodas in Tra Vinh were mostly built by the Khmer. Over 140 of them are scattered through the province. The pagodas are colourful sights and a joy to photograph when the light is right. Morning and afternoon light is better. The weather only allowed us the mornings. Taking photos is not the whole experience, the journey is. So are the random bits of kindness encountered along the way. We had many. One man waved at us by the road, inviting us in to have a coconut drink, refusing payment before offering to slaughter a chicken for lunch. Some call it providence. Some just call it the spirit of friendship. Take all the precautions and do a road trip. Experience the randomness of Vietnam’s roads. It’s a memory worth capturing. And not just on camera.

It’s five in the afternoon and the streets are packed with vehicles — heading here, there and everywhere. Ed Weinberg stops at a gas station for a fill-up, and to find out exactly where everyone is going. Francis Xavier photos and translation

T ravel

facts :

The only person ever injured by a meteorite: Ann E. Hodges

T hong

Thong is going to a friend’s house on Dinh Tien Hoang before heading off for his night’s work as an accountant. He hasn’t been anywhere but his house today.

H oan


H ong

Hoan and Hong are headed to District 7, on a date. They’ve been studying all day, and now they’re off to have some dinner with a friend. This weekend they’re going to the hometown they both hail from, in the southern province of Binh Phuoc, which they last visited for Tet.

H oang


P hong

Hoang needs a haircut. He always goes to Go Vap because it’s “cheap! Suitable for me.” In Go Vap a haircut runs VND30,000, less than the VND50,000 they’ll charge in District 1. They’ll probably just come straight back.

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Camera: iPhone 4S Lens: 4.28mm f2.4 Treatment: Camera+ App

H uyen

Huyen is on her way to work at a clothing store, after a day spent studying. This weekend, however, she intends to cut loose. She’ll go to a concert at Acoustic with her friends, and research studying abroad in Thailand or Singapore.

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P hung


Vi is in a rush, heading into work right now.


M um

Phung’s mother has just been to pick him up, and doesn’t speak as excellent English as he does. At first Phung is a little shy, but his mum waves him toward us and he uncorks. Is he going anywhere exciting? “No, I just go home!” What is he doing this weekend? “Just stay home and study!” What was the last trip he took? “I don’t know,” he deadpans — “I don’t remember!”

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facts :

Average number of traffic-related fatalities per day in Vietnam last year: 27.08

Camera: iPhone 4S Lens: 4.28mm f2.4 Treatment: Photoshop Filters

H ung

Hung has been home all day and is just heading out now to pick up his son from international school. What is the next trip he will take? He hasn’t planned it yet. What was the last trip? “No.”

N goc



Ngoc and her daughter Vi just came from the children’s hospital, where Ngoc’s sister works. They’re taking a trip to Russia next month to discuss export arrangements for different embroidered products, like the one Ngoc holds. She made it herself.

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Camera: iPhone 4S Lens: 4.28mm f2.4 Treatment: Camera+ App

The Magical Mystery Tour It’s more than just a fad, it’s a way of life. Ed Weinberg opens his house to good vibes and wider perspectives — aka Couchsurfing.


’m on the back of a motorbike, hurtling down one of Ho Chi Minh City’s busiest highways. Dirt is blowing into my face, my legs ache and my bare arms are slowly turning a nice shade of lobster red from the midday sun... Where am I going? Some dot on a map I’ve never heard of before. What I am going to be doing? I don’t have the foggiest clue. Who is driving? A 20-year-old local guy called Thanh that I met last week. How did I end up here? Couchsurfing.” Mark Reynolds — 101 positive references, two neutrals, no negatives — is telling me about the host he’s staying with now, after five nights at ours. Those five nights were the kind of intimate buddy times you might remember from those endless teenage summers — night after night sprawling out before you, with only takeaway Chinese, bad movies and the occasional Ladies’ Night at Lush to tide you over. He sat at our kitchen table as I would pack in some pre-work calories, reading entries aloud from The Dictionary of Obscenities, Taboos

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and Euphemisms. I knew we’d get along the moment I read his profile — “From riding on the back of his bike to turtle orgasms, it was hilarious to have him around”.

It ’s a Small World After All

Through Mark, I met Ma Wemmie, a girl he’d surfed with in China, currently finishing up a work term in Singapore and in Ho Chi Minh City on business. I had her over for a cup of tea. Mark had stayed with her in Shanghai, and she basically gave him a set of keys and went about her busy schedule. They talked at night, she introduced him to some friends and gave him some tips on cool places. For Wemmie, it was a way of travelling without travelling. This time, Wemmie’s staying at a five-star, paid for by work. Before bedtime, though, she’s a couchsurfer, venturing out of the generic hotel bubble for some weird and funny experiences. She’s most interested in getting to know the rough edges of a place, the local spots most skip over on their travels

through District 1, the friendly meetings that often make the biggest impression on travel. You know, the “true ethos of Couchsurfing”. As Couchsurfing’s ranks have swollen to six million-plus in 100,000 cities around the world, some misconceptions have crept in. Some people get into it thinking it’s a “free hotel service” — sending internet strangers emails with their arrival date in the city they’d like to be hosted in and little else. But there are still enough open and truly interested people on the website to make it the sharing experience it’s meant to be. Wemmie’s one of these people, and at the end of our two-hour hangout session, I feel like I’ve made a friend. And, even though she can expense all the martinis she wants, she’s sticking to the street beers down 18A Nguyen Thi Minh Khai. “I travel a lot for business,” she explains. “I always stay in five-star hotels. But you know what, it’s really not my preferred type of travel… It’s nice in a way, but you don’t get to meet any local people, you don’t get any local insight. Anyways, Intercontinental,

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facts :

Number of groping arrests on Japanese subways in 2008: 2,169

Sheraton, they’re all the same around the world, right?” Her eyes widen as she references one of her past travels, a ramble through East Africa, Couchsurfing style. “When I stayed in Africa I stayed with people with no water,” she says. In her memories, the difficulties of that arrangement seem to have faded, and she’s left only with the raw knowledge of having lived in another world, for a while.

Choose Your Own Adventure

The story I’m telling here is about a few people I met and had some laughs with — it could easily be about transsexual bingo in Amsterdam or Filipino wedding showercrashing. Most people hear about the concept and immediately try to find holes in it — it seems too good and fantastic to be true. As Sherm Wong, a gay, nerdy-looking but absurd-minded 22-year-old Hong Kong native sitting at our kitchen table, tells us about hitchhiking through the continental US, my fellow American and I look at each

other. She asks him, “When? Like in the 1970s?” He answers, “No, last year.” And we silently nod our heads as we process this. I didn’t know that was possible, we both think. A lot of people have this reaction to Couchsurfing — surprise, mixed in with some disbelief. If this is possible, why am I not doing it? There must be a reason, right? Some get past all that and give it a try. Mark tells me another story of his time with Thanh, over email. He writes: “As the first non-Vietnamese to ever visit Thanh’s house, I’m definitely something of a novelty. With Thanh being the only family member who speaks fluent English, I’m quizzed on my favourite football team, how I feel about Margaret Thatcher’s death and several other UK news topics at the moment. The father calls another toast and then with a grin reaches for the bottle of brandy his cousin had brought from the US. After several shots of brandy and downed beers, the father introduces himself to me as ‘Mr. Louis’. Then pointing at his surrounding family members

he says, ‘Mr. Louis happy family’. An uproarious laughter joins his proclamation (mostly at him speaking English). I have tears in my eyes from laughing so much. “Thanh is currently practising guitar while I’m writing this email. I’ve taught him four chords and his enthusiasm for the instrument is growing stronger with every strum. We’re off to meet some of his friends later and then we’re off to the beach to enjoy the sunshine. If it’s one thing CS has taught me in the last few years it’s the ability to go with the flow, to not fight where the day may take you. CS is by no means perfect — just like real surfing, every wave is different and can leave you soaring on a high or crashing through the surf with a mouthful of seawater. “I can, however, safely say that throughout the next 12 to 18 months of my travelling, I’ll be using CS every step of the way. I’ve always said CS means you have a place to stay, a tour guide and most importantly, especially for solo travellers like myself, a friend everywhere you go.”

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Camera: Canon S90 Lens: 28-105mm f2.0 lens Treatment: Photoshop

…And the Magic Beans

The Tamarack

Entering the Exit

Host: Selene Where: The Catskill Mountains, New York

I was staying with Selene in upstate New York. She went to work, and left me some coffee and a sweet note. I went exploring. When Zoe’s kids caught me trespassing on the land their Mohawk Native American grandfather had claimed for their tribe, they offered to take me around. Of primary interest to me was the sprawling Tamarack Lodge Resort which covered most of the land, and had been out of business since 2000 — one of the last remnants of the 500 hotels in the area that had allowed Jews to stay before the enactments of the Civil Rights Act in 1964. On our wander, the kids casually dropped words like “haunted”, and told me stories about their mother seeing ghosts putting on lipstick in the mirrors. Walking up to the house later, I first saw Zoe holding a woodchuck. The animal was a tame critter, eating Pringle Stix in his two, person-like paws. We played a bit. Then I asked her about the ghosts. I subsequently arranged a trip back up

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Host: Slobodan Where: Novi Sad, Serbia

with a carload of friends. Of course Selene was cool with it; we camped on the floor by the L-shaped couch. The fat cat scampered through the valleys between our sleeping bags. And then all of us went back up to the Tamarack to take a ‘ghost tour’. Zoe had all of the ghost tools, plus a gaggle of high school-aged kids joking their way through fear. We sat on the bottom of the empty swimming pool playing Ouija, while Zoe tried to rouse one of the spirits by saying, “Eddie stole your watch!” Later, my friends and I added musical elements to this accusation, and the lines, “And he won’t give it back, he’s gonna sleep with your wife, you won’t get her back.” Selene’s boyfriend brought along his saw, unleashing an unearthly twang in the abandoned concrete mine that served as our concert hall. We didn’t see any ghosts, and The Tamarack took them their graves in 2012, when it burned down in a catastrophic fire that fortunately spared Zoe and her family.

“The tickets for Exit are cheap for people from the UK and Spain,” Slobodan told me in disgust. “But they’re a week’s wages for people in Serbia. That’s why there are so many Western Europeans there, but only Serbians working the gates.” That’s how the plan was hatched. 20 Serbians and a westerner travelling in local style (me) followed him down to the entrance of the labyrinthine tunnel network that protected the 15th-century fortress above from siege. But the tunnel builders couldn’t have guessed at our intentions — to get to the festival held in their fortress in time for Billy Idol. Slobodan was an architecture student, and unlike the 500 other people milling about in the clearing by the tunnel opening, he had an intimate knowledge of the tunnels’ twists and turns. His name means ‘freedom’, which sometimes means getting into somewhere, not out. Snuffing out our lights, we followed each other hand-in-hand for a while. We

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facts :

The fruit that kills more people every year than sharks: Coconuts

The Cave of Socialist Realism Host: Besnik Where: Tirana, Albania

didn’t intend to lead everyone in behind us. I quickly learned the Serbian words for ‘left’ and ‘right’. And after 45 minutes of stops and starts, we reached the cusp of the fun, just needing to cut through two metal grates on the way. People left five by five. By the time my place in the queue came up, a flashlight had replaced the opening, and I was summoned out with the rest of the stragglers. They gripped us roughly, yelling harsh Serbian word after harsh Serbian word. They said the word ‘Americanac’. Then they asked for money, but at a nice discount to the ticket-takers, only about €6 instead of the prescribed €30. “This is how things work in Serbia,” one of my co-conspirators told me. But then the real police arrived on the scene, and made the security guards return our money. We didn’t turn back until 6am, at which point we walked down the proper path, having gotten our dose of Billy Idol.

Besnik was something of a driver for Rubens — the director of the Albanian capital’s National Arts Gallery. I met them both at a Sufi tekke (like a monastery, but with satellite TV), where I had headed with another Couchsurfer, this one an archaeologist who was excavating the low-lying areas around the mountaintop tekke for evidence of a 6th-century paleoChristian city. When I told Besnik how I was travelling he was intrigued, and offered his couch if I felt the need. I ended up there a few days later, and had an excellent tour guide in Besnik, retired as he was from a successful club managing career in London — so successful Bill Clinton had once stopped in. He took me around the freneticallypainted downtown area, with buildings commissioned en masse by then-mayor Edi Rama — anyone with a paint bucket apply. Some buildings were adorned with slogans, others with South American pastels on their Eastern Bloc concrete.

I spent time with Rubens, too, at his gallery. One day he said, “Do you want to see something?” and asked me to follow him to a sub-basement. Since Albania’s despotic Stalinist dictator Enver Hoxha had died and new leadership had emerged, the country had been in a rush to remove any reminders of his rule. And this sub-basement — what Rubens proclaimed ‘The Cave of Socialist Realism’ — was where they all ended up. Heroes in stone and carpet filled the room, holding books or work tools, looking into a brighter tomorrow. One figure in particular stopped me in my tracks. His top button was buttoned, he was wearing glasses and holding a gun. He looked like a Slavic version of Clark Kent. He was a hero of the Albanian resistance in World War Two, which saw two separate Nazi occupations defeated. Looking into his determined eyes, I began to understand the power of these symbols — one that couldn’t be covered with cheap paint.

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Camera: Nokia Lumia 820 Lens: 26mm f2.2 Treatment: None

The Drive and Joe A hippie town in Arizona with land selling for sevenfigure sums, Sedona is an-end-of-a-journey kind of place whose residents have unusual yarns to tell. Karen Hewell takes a tour by jeep and learns all about her guide

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facts :

Only country to make its roads from coral: Guam


t’s a sopranino.” I’m inspecting a tiny French horn that’s wedged between the wobbly seats of a dusty Jeep, while a bearded man climbs into the driver’s seat next to me. His voice is heavy and booming, and although he says to call him Joe, he bears an uncanny resemblance to Yosemite Sam. Smiling at my confusion, he snatches it, throws the Jeep into drive and pipes out a piercing rendition of Call to the Races. It’s fitting, given what we’re about to do. I’m two hours north of my hometown in what is arguably one of the most beautiful places on earth. Buildings in Sedona, Arizona are literally constructed into the mountains, while most of the landscape remains virtually untouched. The result is captivating scenery difficult to find elsewhere on this planet. The best way to see it is on a Jeep tour that shirks the roads and navigates the trails instead. I have done this before, but never with a driver who plays a miniature instrument.

California Blues

“When I was about eight I moved to Los Altos Hills,” says Joe, swinging the wheel hard to the right to avoid a particularly massive boulder. I’ve asked him how he came to be in Sedona, and unsure where to start, he starts from the beginning. Joe chirps on while the Jeep rumbles violently up the side of a mountain, virtually un-phased. “We lived in this ugly duckling ranch house… and I rode my bike past where Steve Jobs was stuck in his garage building his computer.” Multi-million dollar mansions would slowly surround his family’s ugly duckling ranch house, and his neighbourhood would eventually transform into the most expensive in the infamous Silicon Valley. “[Los Altos Hills] attracted all of the young bright entrepreneurs,” he adds. I flail wildly while the Jeep scales a treacherous part of the trail along a precarious cliff. “I started a big band in high school,” Joe shouts over the rattling of nearly every part of the vehicle’s interior. “Really successful — auditioned people all over the Bay area.” He nods towards the tiny horn

now sitting on my lap. “I played the French Horn.” He muses about the eventually defunct band and his abysmal performance in school. “I didn’t do very well in high school and my band was defunct, and I didn’t do much besides running on the track team. But…” The Jeep slows — this time to assess how to pass a group of mountain bikers. His voice suddenly becomes more deliberate. “My kids love this story,” he says.

The Defining Moment

“I was backpacking in the Sierra Nevada,” he begins, raising a hand. “I walked over to the west side of the little camping ground we had, [during] sunset and looking west. You could see these lakes and a bit below, beyond the timberline, you could see the forest.” Moving at barely a crawl now, he continues, less invested in the road than what he’s about to tell me. “In a moment… you could [just] see the moon and a jet plane. It got darker and darker and darker, and then you could see the lakes again.” He pauses, facing me. “You know why?” At this point, the trail is alarmingly narrow, and thorny bushes slide past the doors with sharp screeches. I’m trying hard to listen, despite my racing pulse. “Because there were these little campfires around them,” he says. “All of a sudden it began to hit me, that at one time this was all man had — these little campfires — but he was able to ascertain that the moon and that jet plane, these were things that he could go out and touch and he touched it. I went back to my campsite knowing that I was going to go back to school to understand this stuff.” Joe looks back to the trail, now lunging forward towards a basin. “I swear to God, that was one of the happiest moments of my life.” Glancing at his watch, Joe is silent for a moment. “I put myself through school by playing jazz keyboard at late night bars,” he continues. “Texaco Oil hired me before I got my Master’s degree [in geophysics].” I wipe the dust from my eyes while he explains the connections between Ayn Rand, property theory and smart investing, his eyes glancing towards me regularly to check that

I’m following. “I recognised Steve Jobs right at the beginning… I knew what he was thinking, because it was consistent with this property theory, so I invested in Apple,” he says, pausing, then sweeping his hand in front of him nonchalantly. “I’m fairly financially independent,” he adds, pulling the Jeep to a halt. “So that’s why I can afford to drive a Jeep.”

Back to Roots

We reach the top of the trail, and through the window caked with dust, the sun is low and glows orange behind the shadowy outlines of mountains. The Jeep is stationary, and Joe takes a breath, hands resting on the steering wheel loosely. “I promised my wife I’d get her out of Los Angeles.” He tugs at the dusty handkerchief around his neck and gazes through the window shield. “We drove down [from California] planning to go to Denver, but I got sick and had to take a day off. She killed time looking for houses and found one — a log cabin.” Joe talks slower now, dimming with the sun on the horizon. “[Sedona] gets me back into geology,” he says, gesturing toward the mountains. “It gets me back in touch with my child because we camped and backpacked as kids, and now I’m driving around in it.” With a cool breeze rolling through the canyon, Joe makes a few knowledgeable remarks about a mountain in the distance before he resumes his story. “I mean, it’s nice to have the extra money to take my kids to a little bit better restaurant.” After a moment, he shrugs. “You know, it’s funny. Most people move to a place to make a livelihood and then try to love it,” he laughs. “But we moved to a place we love and now we’re trying to make a livelihood.” He readjusts in his seat and glances in the rear-view mirror. “So… is anybody behind me?” He looks at me before putting the Jeep into reverse. A cloud of dust rises up from the tires as they start to roll. Joe swings the steering wheel around deftly, pulling the Jeep around to head back the way we came.

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Camera: iPhone 4S Lens: 4.28mm f2.4 Treatment: Camera+ App

The Journey Back to Centre Two women brave the pressures of city living to find their balance. Photos by Chelsea Rose North and Alexandre Garel The Juicer

Who: Chelsea Rose North What: A 10-day detox regimen of fresh juice

and nothing else


iving in Ho Chi Minh City it’s almost impossible not to gorge yourself on greasy street food, rice and the omnipresent beer, but after a while you begin to feel the wear and tear of it all. The juice fast was a way to jump start having a more intentional and healthy diet. I wanted to prove to myself that I could exercise the self-control it takes to be responsible about what I put into my body. The ultimate goal was extreme health and fitness. I wanted to feel good, look good.

Easy Like Sunday Morning

The easiest part of the fast was buying all the produce needed for juicing. Ho Chi Minh City has an epic selection of fruits and vegetables and it’s all very affordable. Over the 10 days I learned a lot about the benefits of the different produce Vietnam has to offer and had time to figure out how I wanted to incorporate them into my diet. During the fast I spent a good part of each day reading about food and finding new recipes. It was the next best thing to actually eating. Since the fast my interest in cooking has grown immensely. My boyfriend will be the first one to tell you how excited I get when it comes to trying new recipes and finding ways to use all the awesome produce Vietnam has to offer: spinach, bitter melon,

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tomatoes, sweet potatoes, pineapples, pears, oranges, soursop, coconuts, squash, the list could go on forever. One of the most interesting aspects of the fast was my ultra-heightened sense of smell: just driving down the street I could smell every distinct dish that was being made by the different restaurants and sidewalk vendors I passed.

From Stricken to Fit

The first three days of juice-fasting were rough. My body wasn’t ready for the immediate pause on food consumption. I started on a weekend, which meant going out and doing typical weekend stuff — dancing, staying out late — but those first few nights I went home early feeling ill. It wasn’t until the third day that I started to feel better. I started waking up at 6am with no alarm clock and had tons of extra energy. I was also feeling good because a lot of people were into what I was doing. I had a group of students who would ‘test’ each juice I brought to school and throughout the fast I had people, both here and back in the US, tell me that I had inspired them in some way to do a juice fast or buy a juicer. The most difficult part was hanging out with people who were eating. I felt like a buzzkill every time I opened my mouth and said, “No thanks, I’m not eating food right

now.” Luckily, my friends were supportive — or at least curious — and after those first few days I realised that food wasn’t going anywhere and that 10 days isn’t really so long after all. In retrospect, I will absolutely juice again. We get one body in this life and I intend on making mine as near to perfect as it can be. During the fast I felt amazing and I looked amazing (I lost 3.5kg in 10 days!) and was reminded that I have the self-control and determination to do whatever I want. The fast kick started a completely new diet that is mainly fruits, vegetables and grains, as well as a gym regiment that’ll keep me fit and toned for as long as I keep it up. — Matt Bender

Juicing Recipes Rhymes with Orange

2 carrots 2 oranges 1 sweet potato Purple Draaank

1/2 head of purple cabbage 1 peeled beet 1 cucumber 1/2 a lemon, a handful of blueberries and some ginger

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facts :

Average number of people found mid-flight over the US at any point in the day: 61,000

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Camera: iPhone 4S Lens: 4.28mm f2.4 Treatment: Camera+ App

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facts :

Top bid for a berth on Titanic replica’s maiden voyage in 2016: US$1 million

The Yogini

Who: Daphne Chua What: A ten-day Vipassana silent meditation



n 2008, a Southeast Asian businesswoman was sat at her desk looking around herself in despair. She could see the barbed wire fence keeping her in and knew the security guards were downstairs trying to ensure there would be no escapees on this particular day. Well, that was what they thought. Singaporean communications executive Daphne Chua had had enough, and she was up and ready to go before any interrogation could take place. “I felt lost I suppose,” she says, “and I knew I had to get out of that lifestyle. I had a corporate job for a long time... I started travelling and didn’t know what I was going to do. I was really lost and was thinking, ‘Who am I?’” Without the daily pressure of a career, Daphne was free to explore what she wanted to do for the first time in her life. She chose yoga — she now teaches and practices Reiki at her studio ( on the outskirts of District 7. “I had always practiced yoga and I went to India and did teacher training, but even then I didn’t think I was going to teach,” she recalls. “For some reason the training really opened up my eyes to yoga, not just as an exercise but something deeper than the physical part.” As part of her inner journey she went to Thailand earlier this year to go on a ten-day Vipassana silent meditation retreat, which

she describes as a literally mind-blowing experience. She was not allowed to make a sound; no exercise, no reading, no writing, no music, no gadgets, no eye contact. Men and women were segregated. They meditated from 4am to 10pm. In her own words, “Meditate, eat, shit and sleep.” “It is called 10 days but you actually don’t speak for a total of 12 days,” she says. “Some people call it a mental prison because you surrender yourself, everything, even your soul. I actually coped okay with it. I like my introspective quiet moments — I live alone and sometimes go two days without talking to anyone — but of course it was tough. “When you are silent for so long your senses become so heightened — it is what Buddha calls ‘monkey mind’, as you are grabbing branch to branch. You do gain more clarity and your thoughts are not so crazy, not so chaotic anymore. As you gain more clarity you become more inspired about things. She adds: “It was a very insightful retreat. It was something I will do again, but it was the toughest thing I had to ever do in my life. There were 10 people I had never met before and we lived together in such close proximity that, even though you have your own living quarters you can hear every sound, every cough and bodily function. Maybe you can cough in codes.” — Derek Milroy

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Camera: iPhone 4S Lens: 4.28mm f2.4 Treatment: Camera+ App

Motorbike *Hug* Ed Weinberg finds out what the guys on the front of the bike are thinking. Photos and translation by Francis Xavier


t’s one of the first things a budget traveller experiences in Ho Chi Minh City — sweating on a stubborn walk out of the backpacker ghetto, finally stopping to consider the curbside caballeros yelling “motobike, motobike!” and throwing caution to the wind. But who are these smiling Samaritans that one surrenders all control to? And how did they end up deciding your fate? Xe om roughly translates as ‘motorbike hug’, and you probably have an opinion on them if you live in this city. One winner ramped up the sidewalk I was walking

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after an accident, the gash still fresh on my forehead, and got halfway through the word before pointing at his own forehead and making an awful frown. Another told me about being homeless, after I bargained him down to VND25,000 from VND30,000. Sometimes xe om drivers offer me rides as I put the key into the ignition of my own bike. In Vietnam, these jobs mostly go to the unskilled or the unlucky. When someone can’t get a job, it’s often said they take their bike to the streets and help others get to theirs. They “lam an o ngoai duong” as the saying goes, make their living on the streets.

T ravel

facts :

Largest Mekong giant catfish ever caught: 2.7m, 293 kg


52, Honda Dream 100 Crew leader, corner of De Tham and Pham Ngu Lao

In the lineup, Thang is the only one wearing shorts. Under a broad smile, there’s another stylistic difference about him — he wears a washed-out blue button-down, emblazoned with a green-and-yellow badge. As Thang shows me a stitched-up tear down his back, he apologises for the shirt. He only gets two shirts per year and, as crew leader, he must wear one of them every day. There’s a team for every section of this area, but Thang and his group have a good corner — right in front of Highlands Coffee, near the Sinh Café tourist dropoff. Even so, as Thang says, “working like this you only make enough to live.” Thang himself never works night shifts, as he has to take his daughter to school in the morning. The situation can get so bad that “sometimes [we] have to borrow money. And interest is like VND40,000 or VND60,000 a day.” The owner of the humblest bike in the lineup, it doesn’t seem that Thang is talking about himself. Indeed, he drove a Cub 50 for 17 of his 25 years working the streets — only switching to his Dream 100 in 2005. Before this life he was a butler down on the docks, who knew that a ship is only worth the cargo it carries. As the conversation turns to a previous night’s drinking at Quan Bao — their cheap beer hangout on Nguyen Thai Hoc — another crew member cuts down Thang’s smiling boasts, saying that he only has one beer and then goes home, every time. And how about tonight? “Not lucky,” the xe om driver tells me, “unless you pay.”



Originally from Can Tho, Cuong arrived in Ho Chi Minh City in his early 20s. A farmer back in his hometown, he came to Asian Tiger-central to try his hand at construction during the early 21st-century building boom. But soon after the building project he was working on was abandoned, he took his Honda Dream to the streets. He makes enough of a living, so it’s “fine” doing this. And he doesn’t have enough energy to try other things. He typically takes home VND200,000 to VND300,000 in a day spent outside the gates of Dam Sen Park, mostly catering to locals but also to the occasional tourist headed back into town. After occasional maintenance, that’s still more than he took home as a construction worker, and enough to send money home to his family in Can Tho. He’d like to get married one day, if he can earn enough. The Dream is 10 years old now, black and dusty. Cuong stretches his slim frame over it, getting ready to sleep through the afternoon heat.

Ngan and his 47-year-old set of wheels have both seen better days. “The business hasn’t been as good as in recent years,” he says. “Most foreigners have bikes, and the Vietnamese aren’t interested in old bikes.” Ngan sticks to the orbit around Bui Vien — where xe om drivers are free to shift territory, setting up shop wherever they please. But it’s not often that someone passes him on Tran Hung Dao without already having their transportation sorted. As far as the foreigners who don’t own their own bikes, they’re mostly in the unionised area closer to Bui Vien. And Ngan isn’t so jealous of their business. One time he picked up a drunk, a very heavy man, swaying this way and that. A slight man, Ngan almost fell over, and the VND30,000 he received at the end of that trip wasn’t enough to convince him to try it again. Never married, Ngan’s been driving since 1990 — the year he pressed his powder-blue, two-stroker into service. Before that, he sold electrical and bike parts, and before that he was a Navy man, on a very different sort of trip. It starts to rain, and Ngan turns away from us to pop open his boot and remove a raincoat. Instead of wearing it himself he instead leaves it folded, draping it over the handlebars of his old bike, over a drooping side-view mirror, over the bags held in the rack and the stuffed animal tied to the front.

35, Honda Dream II

71, Honda Dam, 1966 model

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Hidden Bangkok g The Chinatown area of Bangkok is a maze of fascinating streets that is undergoing constant change. Words by Kaitlin Rees, photos by Aaron Joel Santos May 2013 Word | 71


hop for watches by day, eat fish intestine soup by night. Bangkok’s Chinatown shifts its focus from the wrist and wallet to the mouth and stomach over the course of 24 hours. Yet it is the nighttime offerings that are bringing in the visitors. “Best food in all of Bangkok,” is the modest claim of one 58-year-old native Bangkokian who is carrying a shopping bag full of produce for the next day. “You can find everything here, depending on what you want,” is the cryptic yet somehow convincing follow up. His bold statement about the food refers to any number of delicious things: the aforementioned fish intestine soup (ca por pra), the squid/pork noodles outside the old Chinatown Rama cinema (qued theo lot) or the rolled-up-like-a-bugle fat noodle

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loaded with pork skin and black pepper (cuay chap). Though cuisine is the decided draw for this area of an already food-obsessed city, it wasn’t always. Bangkok’s Chinatown is one of the oldest parts of this metropolis, first established as a trading point from the Chao Phraya River between Siam and China in the late 18th century. The winding streets — constructed about 100 years later, during the reign of Rama V — resemble a dragon’s curving body, and were the beginnings of a business aesthetic that until recently predominated the area.

All that Glitters Yaowarat Road, with Sam Peng Market in the centre, is the main thoroughfare of what is a historically wealthy part of Bangkok. Because of the limited amount of

land space, the real estate around Yaowarat Road is some of the most expensive in not just the city, but Thailand too. Upper class Thai-Chinese families have traditionally inhabited the area, controlling businesses that are noteworthy even in the late night street food eating frenzy. Gold, jewellery, and watch shops flood the main road and the surrounding streets that include Charoen Krung Road, Mongkon Road and Song Sawat Road. But an apparent side effect of the area’s collected wealth is the flight of internationally educated young professionals away from the local family business. According to one young man who was raised in Chinatown but studied photography abroad, it can be difficult to return to the family jewel shop. He recently relocated to the city centre, as many of

“An apparent side effect of the area’s collected wealth is the flight of internationally educated young professionals away from the local family business”

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“However, this is not the whole story. Some of the younger generation sense the new opportunity resting just beneath the surface of this historic area�

his generation have, leaving their home neighbourhood in the hands of street food vendors and out-of-towners. However, this is not the whole story. Some of the younger generation sense the new opportunity resting just beneath the surface of this historic area. One business that sticks out for not being a delicious street food stall nor an abandoned bank is called Double Dogs Tea Room.

Body and Mind Though you may just wander in because it looks like one of the few places in Chinatown that offers a clean bathroom at night, you’ll want to stay once you realise the gem you’ve stumbled upon. If your tour of the tea room starts in the back (by the bathrooms), you’ll notice the second half of the building is an open calligraphy

workshop, where the owner and his friends practice their hobby to break up the evening. The large tables, paper, ink, and swaying curtains set the relaxed vibe for the front of the house, which serves drinks and dessert. ‘Serving’ in the sense of providing nourishment, but also in providing an education. The menu doubles as a teaching text that could be entitled An Armchair Expert’s Guide to Tea of Thailand, with a breakdown of region, ideal oxidation level and a how-to-pour-it for each of the dozen blue, green, red and black teas available. In addition to all this smartness, ‘hip’ is written into the menu with the list of tea and coffee cocktails and traditional treats. From business to food, over the years Chinatown has seen a shift in the nature of its magnetic pull. But if Double Dogs Tea Room and the young guys behind its

counter are any indictors, a shift back to a new generation of innovative business owners may be in store. If you’re interested in checking it out, Double Dogs Tea Room is at 406 Yaowarat Road between Mongkon Road and Yaowa Pahnit Road and like everything in this world, you can find them on Facebook

Information Getting to Bangkok is one of the easiest journeys available out of Vietnam. When you’re in the Thai capital, go to Hua Lamphong Railway Station to get to the Chinatown area. Charoen Krung Road runs directly to the station.

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Calling the Bluffs

After the overly public departure of MGM from Vietnam, what is in store for Ho Tram Strip, the massive coastal development 45 minutes north of Vung Tau? Nick Ross visits the resort formerly known as the MGM Grand and discovers a taste of Las Vegas on the coastline of Vietnam

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t is easy to make judgments from a distance without knowing the true facts. And such was the case with the Ho Tram Strip development. From the comfort of my office or the sounding-off box of my bar stool, like others I have criticised the billion-dollar investment coming to an area that just seemed too remote and too blessed with natural beauty to make it all work. My biggest issue was not the logistics or the lack of local facilities, but the ecosystem. One step mangrove, the next desert and suddenly rainforest, Ho Tram just seemed too fragile to support such a mass ‘repurposing’ of the environment. And

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then there was the situation with MGM, the management company that had thrown its name and expertise into making it all work. But having departed both the property and Vietnam amid much media furor, an invitation that gave me the promise of seeing what was left behind provided an enticing reason to join a press entourage out to Ho Tram. The reason for the press trip, at a time when the development had yet to contract a new management company, was the arrival of the Great White Shark, that white-haired golfer who was putting his name to the course being constructed out there. The epitome of determination — everyone who

has ever watched him play will remember that never-say-die attitude — he was the designer of Danang Golf Club, which in 2011 was rated the best new golf course in Southeast Asia and in 2012, the best in Vietnam. Greg Norman had already been booked in for his latest inspection of the site. The timing, it was admitted, was not the best — the MGM branding was still visible all over the as yet, unopened property — but as they say, the show must go on. And in his case it was certainly a spectacle. Norman was flying in by helicopter, and then after a day inspecting humps, fairways, bluffs, and bunkers to be, was flying out again. A bit like an eagle chasing an

albatross. We would have 30 minutes with him at a press conference. Not the perfect opportunity to get some choice comments. But with all the background, the whole set up made for interesting viewing.

Viva, Las Vegas! We arrived the afternoon prior to Norman and were quickly ushered to our rooms. Later on with cocktails, dinner and drinks at the bar — there is a plethora of both Asian and western dining and drinking establishments in this place — we were given the lowdown. “It’s like you’ve taken a wing out of Las Vegas and dropped it in here,” said one

member of the PR team about the resort. And he was certainly right. From the grandeur — this place is truly cavernous — through to the kitsch of the Vegasinfluenced, Asian-themed décor, everything cries out the words Las Vegas. Even the casino, which we were to get to see the next day, has that Nevada Desert largesse written all over it, with all types of gamers catered for. But what was most surprising was the quality of the finishings. When one particularly auspicious downtown five-star in Ho Chi Minh City opened a few years ago, you could see the shoddiness of the work in an attempt to finish for a 9/9 opening. Here, while there was naturally a

lack of perfection, so much had been done well. Every area is different — from the gargantuan lobby (it takes five minutes just to walk to the elevators) through to the extensive corridors, design of the food and beverage outlets and the gaming area itself. With all the growlings about MGM, with criticism placed on the billion-dollar investment that has been ploughed into this strip of land, the property itself gets swallowed up in all the talk. This place is extravagance personified. And as resorts go, the yet-to-be-named property now completed on Ho Tram Strip is unique for Vietnam. Seeing, as they say, is believing. As the CFO of the property, Michael

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Santangelo said over a cocktail or five, they are “Bringing Las Vegas entertainment to the beauty of Vietnam.”

Massage, Karaoke and Golf The next morning saw the arrival of the big event, or let’s say, the big man. Norman. Ushered out to the property’s helipad, an entourage of press, management, golf course designers and PR staff waited in the grueling sun for the helicopter to arrive. “You won’t get a chance to shake his hand,” we were told. “He wants to get straight out on the course. He’s only got until 3pm this afternoon.” And thus he landed with us, the welcoming party, crowding round like a babble of mosquitoes attracted to the smell and taste of his blood. In fairness, Norman acquitted himself amazingly well, with decorum and a workmanlike attitude throughout the whole

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day. Later when we joined him walking sand dunes on the course-to-be, his strength and determination was commented on time and time again. He inspected the whole 18 holes in the heat of the searing sun without breaking a sweat, his white, tennis-court attire remaining perfectly starched. He would often re-walk areas for a second or even third look. He also had an uncanny ability to avoid the attentions of two nearby photographers, veering subtly out of their path as they attempted to get face-on shots. The golf course, as we were told the night before, had been named ‘The Bluffs, Ho Tram’, a name which Norman himself is said to love. As the course general manager, Ben Styles, explained, “Loads of courses in this region have the name Dunes. We wanted to do something a bit different. A bluff is a windy steep piece of land by the sea.” And of course, then there’s all that bluffing in games like poker, a fitting

reference to the Vegas-like attentions of the resort close by. But from walking the dunes one thing became clear. With so much sand, changing the land’s topography and replacing the natural vegetation would cause mayhem. The vegetation holds the sand in place, and prevents the wind from blowing it over the fairways and greens. All meaning that out of necessity, the environment remained the biggest concern. Norman put his own thoughts to both the course and the environment in a press conference later in the day. “I was pretty much awestruck when I came in 2007 to 2008,” he started. “We rarely get the chance to work with a property as magnificent as this… Because of the topography, the setting and the wind that blows around here, it is going to be a wonderful setting. “I am the Chairman of the Environmental

Institute for Golf. Our practice is developing fertilisers and our priority now is to understand water usage. So, we’re studying grass, by working with the grass we can reduce water usage. On a golf course we are trying to control our runoff — we have the water run into an irrigation-controlled lake. We then purify the water. We are at the forefront of making sure that we will never contaminate the environment.” He added: “If the environmentalists truly understood the time designers put in to trying to keep the native vegetation, they would say less. This is a priority for us — to keep the natural environment.”

Controversy and Reality That night after I returned to Ho Chi Minh City, a Viet Kieu friend added his own skeptical take to the melting pot that has stirred itself up around Ho Tram. Talk is one thing, he explained, but “this is Vietnam”. For

“all their good intentions, the environment will never be preserved out there”. He could be right. But I certainly left impressed not just by the property, but by the intentions of the people who had put their weight behind it. Maybe you could say that the PR had rubbed off on me. But then, I’m not naturally a skeptic and I tend to find good in things before I find bad. But what is clear is that all the controversy surrounding this billion-dollar development — MGM, the environment and the location — has masked the reality of what they’re trying to do out in Ho Tram. Yes, with the location, attracting hotel, golf and gaming guests may be a challenge. At least at first. And yes, there have been issues. But the reality is that for the Vietnam of 2013 this is a unique development. And before forming your own opinion, you should go and see it for yourself. It’s spectacular.

The Property Through its subsidiary, Ho Tram Project Company Ltd, the Canadianborn Asian Coast Development (ACDL) is the developer of the Ho Tram Strip. Although presently containing just one property, the strip will eventually become a group of integrated resorts located on more than 400 acres of land and more than 2km of pristine beach. The first resort is scheduled to be opened in the third quarter of 2013 and a new management company is presently being recruited to take over its running. The grand opening of the golf course is planned for early 2014. For more information go to

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Who’s Got the Noodles? T Oodles and oodles of noodles are the key to truly knowing Vietnam, as Harry Hodge explains. Photos by Kyle Phanroy and Alexandre Garel. Additional reporting by Nick Ross

The Manager Bun Cha


hen Vietnamese food writer Vu Bang stated in 1959 that Hanoi was “transfixed by bun cha,” it’s easy to see why. Bun cha is grilled pork noodles with a fish saucebased soup on the side. And it’s fitting that it comes from the capital — you can’t manage running a country like Vietnam on an empty stomach. Served with a plate of bun (white rice noodles), grilled fatty pork, Vietnamese-style bacon and fresh herbs, the fish sauce dip or broth, whatever you choose to call it, comes hot. You can eat it like Hanoians and put all the ingredients in the broth. Or you can go Saigonese, and add the ingredients to a separate bowl. The choice is yours. “Saigon people like bun cha Ha Noi because of the different aromas and tastes,” says Nguyen Xuan Thuy, owner of Quan Ho Tay (20B Tran Cao Van, Q1). “We bring in many of our ingredients direct from Hanoi.” She adds: “[The dish is] popular here because in Hanoi it’s everywhere, but in the south there are not as many places that serve it.” And true to style, in the south there are also not that many places that serve it with that to-die-for, authentic northern taste. Quan Ho Tay is one of them, as is Song Nam (17 Dinh Tien Hoang, Q1) and Bun Cha Ha Noi (26/1A Le Thanh Ton, Q1).

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he key to one’s heart is through the stomach, and in Vietnam’s case, the quickest ride to get there is on the noodle express. Few nations can claim such a variety of different kinds of noodles and their assorted fixings, each reflecting their region of origin and the traits of their people. So let us take you on a national tour, from north to south, and let the noodles be your guide. After some April Fool’s madness spent trying different noodles, here are our pick of the top four, with some added extras at the end.

The Scholar Bun Bo Hue


un bo originated in Hue, a former capital of the country and widely considered the nation’s intellectual mecca. The broth is prepared by simmering beef bones and shanks with lemongrass, before seasoning it with fermented shrimp sauce and sugar. Spicy chilli oil is added later during the cooking process, because when you’re an academic, you’ve got a lot going on. Bun bo usually includes thin slices of marinated and boiled beef shank, chunks of oxtail and pig’s knuckles. It can also (but only rarely) include cubes of congealed pig blood, which can be an acquired taste, even after being born and bred in the ‘Nam. Served with lime wedges, coriander, green and white onions, chilli sauce, red cabbage, mint, basil and sometimes bean sprouts, this is a spicy but wholesome dish that should be a part of all regular diets. That’s how good it is. Le Thi Thu Thanh, owner of Bun Bo Hue Gia Hoi (19 Bis Tran Cao Van, Q1), tries to explain. “It’s not sweet, it’s a bit salty,” she insists, saying that when she first opened her business in Ho Chi Minh City 13 years ago, there was not a lot of competition on the bun bo front. But the city is now considered a hub for different kinds of food from all over the world, and especially all over Vietnam. “Bun bo, pho, com tam, you can eat everything here,” she adds. “Foreigners, people from Hanoi or Danang. Everyone can find something good.” And if you want the best of the dish from Hue, then try Bun Bo Hue 3A3 (39A Ngo Duc Ke, Q1), perfect for soup served in aircon, Nam Giao (136/15 Le Thanh Ton, Q1) or O No (29 Cong Quynh, Q1).

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The Southern Belle Pho Sai Gon


he country’s national dish consists of rice noodles and beef or sometimes chicken, with several other ingredients such as bean sprouts and scallions. Often eaten for breakfast, a good bowl of pho can really be eaten anytime. A boiling stock is poured over noodles and vegetables, poaching the paper-thin slices of raw beef just before serving. The name may have been derived

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from the French dish pot-au-feu, which is a beef stew. Saigon’s pho generally comes with more sides and additional ingredients, helping it stand out from its northern cousin. However, many say that the broth up north is better. It’s certainly saltier. Often the first Vietnamese dish travellers savour when they visit Vietnam, many make the mistake of eating at Pho Quynh (323 Pham

Ngu Lao, Q1) and thinking that it is the real deal. The city offers much better. The ubiquitous Pho 24 will give you a more Californian-style version of the dish, while the following joints are said to register more than high fives on the pho richter scale: Pho Hoa (260C Pasteur, Q3); Pho Le (303 Vo Van Tan, Q3); Pho Thanh Binh (18B Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, Q3) and Pho Cao Van (25 Mac Dinh Chi, Q1)

The Accidental Tourist Hu Tieu Nam Vang


southern staple noodle soup, hu tieu nam vang actually traces its roots to, erm, Phnom Penh. A Cambodian-Chinese concoction brought over in the late 1970s when Year Zero saw the rise of a Khmer diaspora, Nam Vang is Vietnamese for Phnom Penh. Known as kuy teav in Cambodia, this robust devil of a dish consists of rice noodles with pork stock and a range of toppings. Prepared with partially dry, thin, squarish noodles cooked by quickly being immersed in boiling water, the noodles are then strained, placed into a bowl, and moistened with garlic oil. After dressing with a sticky brown liquid made of oyster sauce, soy sauce and a pinch of sugar, the bowl is filled with a clear broth made from pork bones, dried squid and sugar, before being seasoned with a touch of fish sauce. “I like hu tieu because it’s easy to eat, and it tastes different from bun and pho,” says Tra My Dinh, a spa manager in Ho Chi Minh City who originally hails from Bac Ninh in the north. “It has seafood, pork and eggs, so it’s very delicious.” Besides Ho Thi Ky in District 10, which remains a Khmer part of town, the best joints to try the ‘real’ hu tieu are two adjacent eateries along Nguyen Trai just by the roundabout with Pham Ngu Lao — Hu Tieu Nam Vang Quynh (A65 Nguyen Trai, Q1) and Hu Tieu Nam Vang Nhan Quan (A67 Nguyen Trai, Q1).

The Other Guys There are so many variations on the noodle soup theme that it’s impossible to know where to start, let alone finish. Banh canh Trang Bang (thick glutinous noodles with boiled pork from Trang Bang in Tay Ninh Province) is one of the better options, as is bun cha ca (rice noodles with fish cake, tomatoes and pineapple from Danang) and mi Quang (a Chineseinfluenced yellow wheat flour noodle dish from Quang Nam). But for us guys believing we’re somewhat in the know, you’ve got to go for some bun moc. Originating from the north, this is rice noodles served with a range of pork cake and, if the mood so takes you, mam tom (shrimp paste). The eternally busy B un M oc T hanh M ai (14 Truong Dinh, Q1) serves a damned tasty southern version of this northern speciality, or to try the dish in its original glory, hit M ama L am ’ s (40 Quoc Huong, Q2) in Thao Dien. The stock, the pork cakes and even the mushrooms. Everything is here as you would find it in that grim place up north.

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The Sporting Life

The Ultimate What’s so ‘Ultimate’ about the game of Frisbee? Harry Hodge gives the pastime a spin. Photos by Alexandre Garel


ou start pumping your legs, trying to elude the defender. A quick nod to show you’ve broken free. The pass is up. Running… running… running. A diving one-handed grab in the end zone! What a play! Who knew throwing the Frisbee could be such fun? This is a common occurrence at Saigon Ultimate, every weekend at RMIT in District 7. The game incorporates scoring similar to American football, breaking the end zone line to register points. What makes the game interesting in this part of the world is its popularity throughout the region, with players pinballing between ‘hat’ tournaments (entry on an individual rather than team basis) in Cambodia, Thailand, the Philippines and, of course, Vietnam.

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Put in the simplest terms, you pass the disc to your teammates. Once a catch is made, the ‘handler’ may not advance further. Continue connecting with teammates in this fashion all the way down the field until you’ve tallied a score. An incompletion means a turnover and the other team can take over from the spot of the infraction (some hat tournaments in the US have taken to making players entering wear actual hats, calling turnovers for a loss of hat even on a successful catch). “I like it because it is a team sport mixing men and women, which makes it rare,” says Trinh-Gin Nguyen Ha, who has played for three years. “People are friendly most of the time, [so] you don’t need a referee, and people are pretty honest about the rules and cooperative in deciding the calls.”

“Ultimate mixes features like running in soccer, jumping in basketball and the strategic play of American football. Only the throwing comes naturally as part of Ultimate Frisbee”

Something For Everyone A big draw for many of the players is the camaraderie that you find in every team sport. Playing against a lot of the same players from around the region also breeds familiarity. As a novice playing at the 2011 Hat Tournament, I had a number of teammates pointing out “who is who” in the Southeast Asian Ultimate scene… Inexperience aside, we still managed to get a rhythm going during the two-day, eightgame tournament, and lost by a point in the finals. “Ultimate mixes features like running in soccer, jumping in basketball and the strategic play of American football. Only the throwing comes naturally as part of Ultimate Frisbee,” says Vu Anh Vu, one of

the main organizers for the Saigon Ultimate Club. “As a matter of fact,” he goes on, “I don’t know which skill is the most important. But in order to play Ultimate, you should able to run, catch and [have] basic throwing skills.” The ultimate game should be the ultimate combination of skills, but it is also a pretty inclusive crowd mixing it up weekends down in District 7. For would-be competitors preparing to try it for the first time, probably the best advice is to remember three words: Never. Stop. Running. Saigon Ultimate Club plays every Sunday afternoon from 4pm to 6pm at RMIT in District 7. Click on for other days and times the group plays and for further info.

Ultimate Terms B omb

When one team breaks up an advancing team’s offense and throws the disc to nobody on the opposite side of the field. This tactic is used to reset the team’s offense and clear out of your own end zone.

C hilly

Used to remind a player to stay calm with the disc, so that they do not rush a throw. Ska-hippie slang origins.

H ack Foul.

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k c Pa t h g i r B The most important decision of a travel is often made before you travel — namely, what do you pack? We’re not only talking practical here. Ugly Americanism is catching like wildfire in the world of comfy Southeast Asian fashion, like Crocs, non-Havaianas flip flops and those ubiquitous baggy pants that miraculously shrink into leggings upon return to travelers’ home countries. We headed down to Dong Khoi and Bui Vien, snapping pictures of those tourists who didn’t look too lost — with one modern local woman as control. Here, we break down their fashion selections, and why they do the things they do. 88 | Word May 2013

Eilon Tsalik 26 — I srael


S outh A frica

“I don’t have a ticket back home”

S unglasses — “These are real Oakleys,

US$180. They don’t make them anymore” S tubble — “Oh, that’s always” W atch — “It’s an exercise watch — altimeter, chrono, heart rate monitor” B elt — Observe the system: no clasps, only friction S horts — “Got given this by a friend. He said, ‘Oh I don’t wear this kind of colour, it’s way too tight, way too…’” A nklets — “That one’s from Guatemala, that one’s from Colombia” F lip flops — “They are originals. I like to wear originals, I’m from South Africa”

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Willie Euers 29 — A msterdam , T he N etherlands

“When you’re traveling you just get bored with the stuff you have. So you just throw away some stuff and buy new stuff… that’s what I’ve been doing”

S unglasses — “I usually lose my

sunglasses when I travel with them. So I thought I’d buy more expensive ones and then I’ll be more careful” W atch — “It is real! But everybody thinks it’s fake. I got it for like £60 or £70” S hirt — Fashion tips? “Instead of going shopping in Europe you should go to Bangkok” S kirt — “I just got this skirt two days ago in Phnom Penh. So it’s my favourite of the moment” K nee area — “They’re really conservative here, so they’ll have stuff over the knee, and for me it will be ok”

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Satoko Ozaki 42 — T okyo , J apan

“I always buy in cheap shop”

F anny

pack — A theft deterrent — and style points if handled in the right way C argo pants — Keep cargo elsewhere for a more streamlined yet still casual look A rm wear — When employed on the confident wrists of a mature woman, they go from hippie clutter to globetrotter cred H at — Everyone’s allowed one crazy misfire

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Thien Trang 25 — H o C hi M inh C ity , V ietnam “I usually get my clothes tailored”

T he


out later”

— “Just normal, it’s for going

T he

shirt — Tailor-made, it cost VND300,000 T he shorts — Bought from a thrift store. Shows off her waistline B ag — Shaped bags are a big trend these days. The floral pattern is also a good look R ed nails — Vietnamese girls love red. She wanted to wear red lipstick but was afraid it would be too much

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Hannah Robathan [ sidecut ] 19 — L ondon , UK

“We didn’t think we were [big shoppers], but apparently we are”

H air — “We got to Nha Trang at 7am, and

couldn’t check into our hotel. We were a bit delirious and we did it!” E yes — “I was trying to find some makeup, so I put my finger in one. I think I might be sweating it off” N ecklace — “I got it in Hoi An. I like elephants, I can’t lie” D ress — “I thought it would be cool — as in I wouldn’t get hot in it — but today has proven me wrong” S hoes — “I just always wear trainers. These are my favourite”

Rebecca Moore [ pink

hair ]

18 — L ondon , UK

H air — “My favourite colour is blue and

my least favourite is pink… but I figured if I got blue on my hair it might look like mould” S unglasses — “Oh they’re fake. Basically, I stole my brother’s friend’s glasses, then got out here and realised they had purple lenses” M id - riff — “It’s because I can’t wear any of my tops at the moment, because I burnt my shoulders” F annypack — Cigarettes in the cell phone pocket S horts — “I thought they were cool, but then didn’t really like them. But they’re kind of useful out here” S hoes — “She bought those in Hanoi for like £10, and in London they’re £60”

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City Guide BUSINESS 096 / EAT 103 / BARS 113 / CAFES 117 / ARTS 121 / LEISURE 122 / WELLNESS 127 / FASHION 131 / INTERIORS 134 / ELECTRONICS 136 / GROCERIES 137 / GENERATION V 138 / TRAVEL 143 Photo by Alexandre garel


Job Search Top Eats Decks, Drums Night Watchman The Coffee Cup Body & Temple Crazy Kids

100 106 110 112 118

124 142

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

Accounting & Audit BUREAU VERITAS

E-Town Building, #4.4B & 4.5A 364 Cong Hoa, Tan Binh, Tel: (08) 3812 2196 Auditing, technical services and solutions in all major industrial service sectors. Provides management system certification and related training for IS0 9001, ISO 14001, SA 8000, OSHAS 18001, HACCP, ISO 22000 and BRC.


11th Floor, Saigon Trade Center, 37 Ton Duc Thang, Q1, Tel: (08) 3910 0751 Provides audit, tax, consulting, and financial advisory services to public and private clients spanning multiple industries. A member firm of Deloitte Touche Tohatsu.


ecutive search and selection.


7th Floor, E-Town Building, 364 Cong Hoa, Tan Binh, Tel: (08) 3812 5562 odyssey– One of the leading mid-tier accounting services firms in Vietnam. Odyssey provides accounting and management consulting services, along with tax advice and Australian tax agent services.


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


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

6th Floor, Me Linh Point Tower, 2 Ngo Duc Ke, Q1, Tel: 0938 220 255 Specialising in U.S. personal income tax returns preparation, this firm is IRS Enrolled Agent qualified with big 4 experience. Also provides Vietnam tax and business legal consulting.



10th Floor, Sun Wah Tower, 115 Nguyen Hue, Q1 Tel: (08) 3821 9266 Worldwide firm specialising in auditing, accounting, tax and management consulting services. Also provides ex-

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Unit 501, 5th Floor, Saigon Trade Center 37 Ton Duc Thang, Q1, Tel: (08) 3910 2262 Headquartered in the Netherlands with over 100 offices in 75 countries, TMF provides accounting, tax and payroll

services. Specialises in helping international investors establish a presence in Vietnam.

Advertising & Mktg ADMAKER

Unit 2.4, 2nd Floor, 12M Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, Q1, Tel: (08) 3910 3500 A local full-service agency run by advertising professionals, dedicated to providing clients with results-orientated marketing communications via strong advertising concepts and excellent customer service.


Level 7, Vietnam Business Center, 57-59 Ho Tung Mao, Q1, Tel: (08) 3821 8632 A full-service marketing communications company that is part of the WPP Group. Focuses exclusively on the growing demands of Asian business, helping to build sustainable brands with global ambition.


74/3 Hai Ba Trung, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 6662 BBDO is an award-winning global advertising and communications company. Accolades include Network of the Year honours at Cannes four years running.


16th Floor, Bitexco Office Tower, 19–25 Nguyen Hue, Q1, Tel: (08) 3821 3064

Working extensively across Asia, Cowean specialises in brand strategy and brand design for both local and international consumer and corporate companies.


7th Floor, 246 Cong Quynh, Q1 Tel: (08) 3925 9000 DDB Vietnam Group is part of DDB Worldwide global community. Our talent, cultures and ideas are united by the fundamental belief that creativity is the most powerful force in business. Our creativity, along with our conviction and collaboration builds influential brands for our clients.

Dentsu Vietnam

AB TOWER, 23rd Floor 76 Le Lai, Q1 Tel: (08) 3821 9005 A 100 percent foreignowned advertising agency established in 2003. We provide through-the-line communication services from brand consultancy, creative concept and development, promotion, digital to media planning and buying for Toyota, Aji-no-moto, Canon, Panasonic, Kao and Abbott among others.


13D Phan Chu Trinh, Binh Thanh, Tel: (08) 3551 2202 One of the largest global advertising agency networks, with headquarters in both Chicago and New York, DraftFCB has more than 190 offices serving clients in 102 countries.


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


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

tional clients.


7th Floor, 11bis Nguyen Gia Thieu, Q3, Tel: (08) 3930 6777 An independent, creative–led communications company helps brands connect and grow across Southeast Asia. Clients include The Coca–Cola Company, Asia Pacific Breweries, Piaggio and UPI.


Melody Tower, 422-424 Ung Van Khiem, Binh Thanh Tel: (08) 3898 1005 A leading communications company, Purple Asia offers a wide range of services such as graphic design, branding, interactive media, video, photography and production.


113 Nguyen Thai Binh, Q1 Tel: (08) 3914 3615 Managing successful marketing campaigns since 2002 with four full-service offices and project management available nationwide. Marketeers Vietnam have designed and implemented locally and globally recognized campaigns.


12th Floor, Centec Tower, 72– 74, Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, Q1 Tel: (08) 3821 9529 Well–known marketing communications company combines local know-how with a worldwide network to leverage the brands of multina-

PBB graphic Studio

Tel: 01265 669632 Founded in 2002, with more than 10 years of experience in graphic design, PBB specialises in branding, interior graphics, signage, print design, POSM and web design. As of 2006, PBB has been based in Ho Chi Minh City operating as a graphic consultant for creative agencies, companies as well as private clients.


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

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


Tel: (08) 3925 2538 Communications network operating in Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, and Myanmar for over a decade, specialising in advertising, design, activation, digital, media, PR, research, training, premiums and production.

33 Dinh Tien Hoang, Q1 Tel: (08) 3911 1480 concetti– Consulting and research firm with a range of clients including the Vietnamese government, global US consumer products companies, infrastructure developers, oil companies and the World Bank.




3 Phan Van Dat, Q1 Tel: (08) 3824 1207 Ranked among the top 100 global advertising agencies, S&S has worked with over half of the 50 best–known brands in the world, providing advertisement planning, direct marketing, marketing consulting and graphic design.


Unit 603, Rosana Tower, 60 Nguyen Dinh Chieu, Q1 Tel: (08) 3824 5315 TBWA is a Top-Ten worldwide advertising agency, with marketing services including strategic consultancy, creative development, events and activation, direct mail, shopper marketing and public relations.


37 Dang Thi Nhu, Q1 Tel: (08) 3821 0779 A complete range of services and facilities for advertisement campaigns and public relations in Vietnam.

Business Consulting BDG VIETNAM

11th Floor, Capital Place, 6

69A1 Tran Ke Xuong, Phu Nhuan Tel: (08) 3551 2260 DL Technologies provides premium integrated technology solutions with emphasis on local “on the ground” support from a highly skilled international team. Services include home entertainment, security systems, air conditioning and energy-management systems.


8th Floor, Saigon Riverside Office Center, 2A–4A Ton Duc Thang, Q1 Tel: (08) 3824 5252 Provides a broad spectrum of services to help businesses capitalise on opportunities for growth, improve financial performance and manage risk. Works with a range of firms including private, state–owned and foreign.

GOLDEN SPEED SEO Helps clients get maximum exposure for their websites by improving rankings in search engines like Google. Contact Golden Speed SEO for a free session regarding your online project.


28th Floor, Saigon Trade

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


Villa 15, Duong 58, Phu Nhuan Compound, Thao Dien, Q2 Tel: (08) 0916 352573 An internationally accredited Master in Image Consulting, Huong Nguyen offers personal consultations and corporate workshops on developing a professional and confident image, modern etiquette and business behaviour skills.


8th Floor, YOCO Building, 41 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, Q1 Tel: (08) 3829 6416 A professional information technology services company offering expertise in data security, email, document management, web hosting, information and communication technology (ICT) relocation services and a full-range of other IT solutions.


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


161A/1 Nguyen Van Thu, Q1 Tel: (08) 3911 0965 Aids in the opening of representative offices and offshore bank accounts and

provides licenses and tax stamps, business and marketing plans, reports and English-language editing to offshore businesses based in Vietnam.


Fideco Riverview Building, Mezzanine Floor, 14 Thao Dien, Q2, Tel: 0904 410884 Powered by Haines Centre for Strategic Management, STRASOL strives to deliver superior results and sustained competitive advantage through the application of strategic solutions in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos.


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


35A-1-2 Grandview, Nguyen Duc Canh, Q7 Tel: (08) 5412 3402 An international human resource management consultancy specialising in organisational and professional development. Services include team building, corporate training, HRM audits and HR systems design.

Business Groups AMCHAM

New World Hotel, 76 Le Lai, Q1, Tel: (08) 3824 3562. An independent association of American and international businesses, the objective of the American Chamber of Commerce in Vietnam is to promote trade and investment between the United States and Vietnam.


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




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


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


12A Floor, Bitexco Building, 19–25 Nguyen Hue, Q1 Tel: (08) 3821 5423 Provides support for Nordic companies and individuals operating in Vietnam. A business and social network, members have the opportunity to meet, discuss, interact and share expertise.


40/5 Pham Viet Chanh, Ward 19, Binh Thanh A non-profit organisation that aims to promote and develop trade between the Philippines and Vietnam, to foster interaction and understanding and to serve as the voice of Filipino business entities.

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

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

Coaching & Training WE Link

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


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

Event Management EVECOO

Tel: (08) 0988 297990 Evecoo provides everything needed to plan, supply, organise, publicise, improve

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{ Road Rules} ** Road Trips and Imports * *

Pat Joynt of Saigon Scooter Centre has been in Vietnam for 15 years restoring classic bikes, importing and producing parts. Here he answers your questions

Dear Pat, I’m about to go on a road trip on my Yamaha Nouvo. Just in case it breaks down or there are mechanical glitches, can you recommend stuff I should take with me so I have no problems? The good thing about making any Vietnam road trip is that you’ve never got far to go before you can find a local mechanic. This means that you need to carry way less parts than in most other countries when you’re making a road trip. You can’t go wrong, however, by carrying a few basics including a small comprehensive toolkit with a spark plug spanner and a new plug, screwdrivers, adjustable spanner, small socket set, a pair of pliers and some gearbox oil. At least with these if your plug dies, or you need to clean the carburetter, check the filter or top up the oil, you’re covered. These are basics that you can expect to encounter on a Vietnam jaunt due to bad petrol and dirty road conditions. Also keep an eye on your oil level once a week — there is a dipstick on the right side of the engine above the exhaust, this is also the filler plug which is marked with a minimum and maximum level mark. Depending on which model you have, also bring with you either a spare inner tube or a tubeless puncture repair

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kit. Nothing worse than pushing a bike with a flat for an hour in the midday heat!

Dear Pat, A Viet Kieu friend says that Viet Kieu are allowed to bring one car or motorbike they own into Vietnam without paying taxes. I’m Australian but not of Vietnamese descent. Am I allowed to do this or is this a privilege reserved for overseas Vietnamese? The law with this is constantly changing. However at the moment there is a one-time offer for Viet Kieu only who are relocating back to Vietnam on a permanent basis. There were loopholes a few years ago whereby foreigners could import vehicles if they were imported in the name of their foreignowned company, but this also stopped. For a foreigner living here who wants to import privately, this is not possible. The only exception to the rule is for those with diplomatic status.

Dear Pat, I have a budget of about VND40 million. For the price, what is the best bike to buy that’s currently available on the

market? I presently have a Honda Wave and I only use it to travel around the city. I’m not looking for anything to go off-road or do long distance travel. But I do want something that drives well, doesn’t guzzle too much gas and looks nice. I personally like the new Honda Airblade. We’ve recently just purchased 10 of these for our rental bikes and the price on the road is VND39.5 million. The new 2013 model has been revamped and looks way better than last year’s design, and they come with a 20,000km or two-year warranty — but with any new Honda you can expect probably not to even need it. I’ve bought these new in the past and with only basic and regular maintenance we’ve got bikes in stock that have clocked up more than 50,000km without any major problems. These are rental bikes that are making constant Saigon to Hanoi trips. Another good feature of this model is that they’re fully auto, they have a bulletproof four-stroke, 125cc motor, electric starter, good suspension and hydraulic disc kits. Perfect for around town and good for highway driving and touring. And being a 125cc, they’re not fuel guzzlers. If you have any questions for Pat, please email roadrules@

and implement a successful event. Evecoo gives every client specific attention and adds the touches to make any event memorable.


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


50/8 Hoa Binh, Q11, Tel: 0165 6392 507 Mr Bouncy is an inflatable game hire company, hiring out a number of inflatables such as waterballs, bouncy castles and more inflatable items for parties and events.


268/3-5 Nguyen Thai Binh, Tan Binh, Tel: (08) 6675 2620 Wedding planning business offers comprehensive services for weddings of any size or style. Delivers high-quality, detailed planning and resources to create dream weddings.


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

Expat Services CHUM’S HOUSE

121/21 Bui Vien, Q1, Tel: (08) 3920 7237 Dedicated to helping expats find housing, Chum’s House provides an extensive list of properties that fit any price range and preference. Also facilitates motorbike rentals and visa acquisition, all free of charge.


32-34 Ngo Duc Ke, Suite 701, Q1 Tel: 01659 419916 Happy House aims to make


Saigon life easier by offering practical solutions to every kind of problem — including bill payments, repairs, motorbike rentals, visa applications, maid placements, plant watering and pet transportation.


Tel: (08) 2226 8855 The first dedicated relocation company in Vietnam, Resident Vietnam provides services from relocation and immigration to cross–cultural and business awareness training.

Housing & Real Estate CBRE

Unit 1201, Me Linh Point Tower, 2 Ngo Duc Ke, Q1, Tel: (08) 3824 6125 Property developers and consultants with both private and commercial properties for sale, lease and rent. Issues a monthly newsletter with the latest property news. Also does research and management services.


Bitexco Office Building, 7th Floor, 19-25 Nguyen Hue, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 3529 Represents property investors, developers and renters in all matters related to commercial and residential property.


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


Level 2, Pathfinder Building, 52 Dong Du, Q1 Tel: (08) 6291 4707 Global real estate consultants, specialising in commercial / residential sales and leasing, project management, valuation and research & consultancy.

EASY SAIGON The Easy Saigon website is a useful real estate website helping expats to find apartments in Ho Chi Minh City.

Tel: 6255 6774 HousingInteractive offers an easy-to-use, comprehensive website that only lists authentic apartments and villas throughout Ho Chi Minh City. The website allows users to make specific searches to narrow down properties in order to suit their exact requirements and save time. Upon selecting, HousingInteractive’s professional staff is available 6 days a week to introduce tenants to their future homes.

Tel: (08) 3914 7003 HomeConnect by Transpo provides a home search service to expats already living in Vietnam, specialising in finding high–end apartments and villas, with a full range of relocation services available to new arrivals as well.


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

Insurance BAOVIET INSURANCE Blue Cross Vietnam

8th Floor, River View Tower, 7A Thai Van Lung, Q1 Tel: (08) 3821 9908 Blue Cross Vietnam is part of the Pacific Cross group of companies with over 60 years’ experience in providing health and travel insurance to people and businesses who call Asia home. Their reputation for transparent, honest and reliable service means they are the strength behind your insurance. To make sure you are getting the most out of your insurance contact them for a free quote.


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


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


1 Thao Dien, Q2, Tel: (08) 6281 8516 Real Quest Vietnam staffs a mix of foreigners and Vietnamese to find house-seekers good homes at affordable prices.


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

Tel: (08) 3825 8416 Offers hospital costs paid up to VND40 billion with no hidden hospital sub–limits for anyone up to age 74. Also includes a routine heath check and dental care. No claims discount available.


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


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


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


Unit 25F, Saigon Trade Centre, 37 Ton Duc Thang, Q1, Tel: (08) 3910 0999 Operating in Vietnam since 1995, Prudential has over 70 customer care centres throughout the country.

Investment & Finance DRAGON CAPITAL

1901 Me Linh Point, 2 Ngo Duc Ke, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 9355 An integrated financial services provider, with an exclusive focus on Vietnam’s capital mar-


110-112-114 Street No. 2, Hung Gia 5, Q7 Tel: (08) 5412 3300 A fast-growing English language center in District 7’s Phu My Hung, UEC was founded in 2009. Now with 500 students drawn from 17 different nationalities, the classes are served by over 35 native English speaking teachers who are committed to providing a culturally diverse and engaging classroom atmosphere. Offers a wide range of classes from beginner levels through TOEFL, IGCSE, SAT and IELTS. UEC also provides support to students aspiring for a place in international schools. kets. Established in 1994, the group is one of the largest and most experienced asset managers in Vietnam.

THE ETHICAL INVESTMENT GROUP The Ethical Investment Group is dedicated to offering alternative investments to investors looking to make quality, above-average returns, while simultaneously expressing a social conscience with meaningful, measurable and sustainable environmental benefits.


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


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

M: 097 675 06 44 - M: 0122 514 1848 -


and lease around the world. Contact them to view high–end apartments, villas, resorts and island properties.

Hanoi: David Shinn HCMC: Joel Garbutt

Enquiries via their website are welcome.

Language Schools BELL VIETNAM

28C Mai Thi Luu, Q1 A partner of Bell International, BVN provides high–quality language education and related services worldwide. Focuses exclusively on language training for adults using the best multimedia materials.

SNAP Owners of Snap Café in District 2, Snap offers a web–based real estate search service with information on rental properties all around the city, as well as an advisory service for those averse to wading into the internet depths for their needs.


18/34b Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, Q1 Tel: 0903 955877 Native English speakers specialising in rentals and tenancy management.


Capital Place, 6 Thai Van Lung, Q1, Tel: (08) 3520 2000 Vietnam Sotheby’s International Realty has access to residential real estate both for sale

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{JOB Search} **

What to Say in an Interview


By Jeff Bonnin Photo by: Victor1558


t’s not just what you say in a job interview but also what you ask that matters. Answers tell an interviewer what you know, but questions tell them how you think, which is arguably more important. By asking insightful and engaging questions you can separate yourself from the pack and demonstrate more effectively your true value. It also provides you a chance to learn more and really make sure this is a place you want to work. Do your research beforehand so you are prepared. Walk into the interview with insightful questions that will provoke thought and discussion. Below are a set of five questions that help spark meaningful discussion.

1) What makes this company a good place to work? Beyond just the boiler template of how long they have been in business and how they are number one in their field, what makes the company a good place to work? The more articulate and insightful the answer usually means the more engaged and passionate the employees of the company really are.

2) What are the employee retention figures? As a potential new

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employee of this company, you want to know what their employee turnover is. Is it a revolving door where employees come and go or is it a stable and loyal workplace where employees stay for several years on average? This shows that you are concerned with the culture and work environment of a company. It also shows you tend to be a loyal employee, since culture is important to you.

3) What are the biggest challenges I might face in this role? This a key question. It shows you are engaged in the process and take success seriously. The answers will also provide you with an insight of what you need to do and what you will face if you join.

4) How would my performance be evaluated? Is there a standard procedure? Performance evaluation and KPI (Key Performance Indicators) are key to evaluating success. You want to make sure there is a standard barometer by which they gauge success. The more clear and transparent the criteria, the easier it is for you to measure your performance and the easier it is for you to succeed.

5) What is it about my background that interested you, and is there something specific in my background that you think could lead to success in this role? This is a great way to find out what an interviewer thinks about you and what their screening process is like. If a potential employer specifically mentions something about your background and why they liked it, it shows they have really spent time reading your CV. This means this person has actively screened your profile and likes what they see. If they seem vague on their answer or just say general responses like “your years of experience in sales”, it leads one to assume your resume hasn’t been screened all that heavily by the interviewer. There is better engagement between employer and employee when the employer has actively sought to recruit a candidate because of their specific skills or background and not just due to affordability or availability. If you require further information, please visit or email jeff. Jeff Bonnin is the Business Manager, Professional Staffing at Adecco Vietnam


51 Nguyen Cu Trinh, Q1, Tel: (08) 3838 6788 A foreign-owned education and training company that offers a range of educational programmes, such as English-language tuition, university pathway programmes, corporate training, teacher training and overseas study consultancy and placement services.


resource for English translations of over 3,000 Vietnamese laws. Also publishes a monthly Vietnam Legal Update.


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

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




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


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

18 Hai Ba Trung, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 8599 A leading international law firm with 19 offices worldwide. The Vietnam office offers clients high quality service that combines legal expertise with a highly commercial approach, across all sectors of business law.


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

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


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

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


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

Legal Services ALLENS

Suite 605, Saigon Tower, 29 Le Duan, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 1717 Australian law firm providing standard legal services to corporate clients, Allens’ website is also an excellent


Management Training BRAINBOX VIETNAM

5th & 6th Floor, Saigon Prime building, 107–109–111 Nguyen Dinh Chieu, Q3, Tel: (08) 6920 7405 An education and training firm with its HQ in Singapore that provides several business courses leading to internationally–recognised qualifications such as BAs, MBAs and doctorates.


4th floor, 4 Nguyen Dinh Chieu, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 4728 The first team-building provider established in Vietnam, Embers specializes in ensuring success in globally competitive markets. Embers’ HR performance management

services include excursions, strategic planning retreats, conference facilitations and training workshops.


88 Huynh Van Banh, Phu Nhuan, Tel: (08) 6292 9288 With campuses throughout Southeast Asia, ERC offers a comprehensive range of business courses from soft skills development programmes to tourism and hospitality, all the way through to MBAs.


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

specialist operating in the Asia Pacific region. Services include auditing and optimising research programmes, knowledge management, developing marketing plans and business models and assessing market opportunities.

company that works on competitive brand, product and customer experience strategies, Synovate combines global research capabilities with personalised service, local knowledge and flexibility to meet clients’ specific needs.



11th Floor, Dinh Le Building, 1 Dinh Le, Q4, Tel: (08) 3826 8989 Epinion is a European market research and business intelligence company operating the largest online panel in Vietnam. Offers solutions in brand equity tracking, ad and TVC tests, retail feedback and employee satisfaction.


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


Tel: 0128 3327472 Innovative Training 2020 provides tailored training courses combining soft skills with English, offering training and development in all industries — hospitality, banking, healthcare, IT and local government.

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




35A-1-2 Grandview, Nguyen Duc Canh, Q7, Tel: (08) 5412 3402 An international human resource management consultancy specialising in organisational and professional development. Services include assessment and development, team building, corporate training, HRM audits and HR systems design.

Market Research CIMIGO

9 Nguyen Huu Canh, Binh Thanh, Tel: (08) 3822 7727 An independent marketing and brand research

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


13th Floor, Room 1312, Kumho Asiana Plaza 39 Le Duan, Q1 Tel: (08) 6288 8785 A global market research

105–107 Nguyen Cong Tru, Q1, Tel: (08) 3821 5727 With over 11 years in the marketplace, TNS Vietnam offers all three major market research services — customisation, access panels and media monitoring — to a range of local and international clients.

Public Relations MASSO GROUP

30 Dang Tat, Q1 Provides professional marketing services and consulting for the Vietnamese market including integrated marketing communications, PR and brand-building consulting.


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


1201, Block A, Indochina Park Tower, 4 Nguyen Dinh Chieu, Q1, Tel: (08) 2220 2989 universalmanagementasia. com UMA is an Australian/Vietnamese promotional and representation company providing promotional marketing solutions for business products and services within Vietnam.

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

Recruitment & HR Adecco Vietnam

11th floor, Empire Tower, 26 - 28 Ham Nghi, Q1 Tel: (08) 3915 3430 Adecco is the world leader in human resources solutions. Established in Vietnam in 2011, Adecco offers a wide array of global workforce solutions and specialises in finance & legal, sales, marketing & events, IT, engineering & technical, and office.


1st Floor, Thien Son Building, 5 Nguyen Gia Thieu, Q3 Tel: (08) 3930 8800 hr2b. com Established in 2003, HR2B is one of Vietnam’s top three HR consulting firms, specialising in finding opportunities for senior level professionals. Other services include pay-

roll outsourcing, contract staffing and HR management consulting.


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


4th Floor, 8 Nguyen Hue, Q1 Tel: (08) 3820 3115 Provides a range of manpower services in a wide variety of industries, including executive search and selection, HR management and employment outsourcing.


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


2A Rolanno Offices, 128 Nguyen Phi Khanh, Q1 Tel: (08) 3827 8209 Established in Ho Chi Minh City in 2005, Opus services local and multinational companies seeking to recruit

high quality personnel. An Associate of Horton International, one of the world’s leading search groups.


39 Le Duan, Q1 Tel: (08) 3520 7900 Offers a professional recruitment service, specialising in sales and marketing, technical healthcare, accountancy and finance, banking and financial services, human resources, IT, supply chain, engineering and oil and gas.


Suite 808, 8th Floor, Sun Wah Tower, 115 Nguyen Hue, Q1, Tel: (08) 3821 9488 The first and only global HR consulting firm fully operational in Vietnam. Services include executive compensation, talent management, employee rewards and surveys, HR effectiveness and technology, data services and total reward surveys.


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

Relocation Agents AGS Four Winds (Vietnam)



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

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

Allied Pickfords

Santa Fe Relocation Services

Tel: 01225 141848 joel.garbutt@alliedpickfords. With more than 800 offices in over 45 countries, Allied Pickfords is one of the worldwide leaders in removal services. In Vietnam, Allied also provides tailored relocation services.


9th Floor, Unit 9.3, REE Tower 9 Doan Van Bo, Q4, Tel: (08) 3826 7799 Asian Tigers is one of the largest regional move management specialists, with services including door-todoor moving, housing and school searches, local and office moves and pet relocations.


48A Huynh Man Dat, Binh Thanh Tel: (08) 3840 4237 Crown Relocations services include expense management, policy consulting and programme administration, storage, transit protection and domestic and international transportation of household goods.


6th Floor, Saigon Port Building, 3 Nguyen Tat Thanh, Q4, Tel: (08) 3826 7655 Focused primarily on the international and local movement of household goods, JVK is a leader in the field.


396/4 Nguyen Tat Thanh, Q4, Tel: (08) 3941 5325 Specialists in international, local, domestic and office moves for household goods and personal effects through our global partner network. Experts in exporting used scooters that do not have documentation.


Tel: (08) 2226 8855 The first dedicated relocation company in Vietnam, Resident Vietnam provides a full range of destination services, cross–cultural training and immigration management

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

Serviced Apartments Apato

15B/107 Le Thanh Ton, Q1 Rooms for rent in Districts 1, 4 and 7. From VND5 million to VND9 million per month with laundry, cleaning and facilities included. Minimum stay of two weeks or one month available, no deposit required.


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


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


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


307/29 Nguyen Van Troi, Tan Binh Five minutes from Tan Son Nhat International Airport

and 15 minutes from the city centre, Jasmine Court is a boutique property with 12 apartments comprising one and two-bedroom suites of various sizes.


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


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


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


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

Somerset Serviced Residences

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


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




* *


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

French & Italian CIAO BELLA

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


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

la brasserie de saigon

FRENCH / PARISIEN 38 Dong Du, Q1 Tel: (08) 6291 3657 Chic art nouveau decor surrounds this dining experience ­– but the streetside seafood stand draws the focus back to where it should be, on the fresh, authentic Parisian cuisine.


FRENCH / MEDITERRANEAN 74/7D Hai Ba Trung, Q1, Tel: (08) 3520 4888 A romantic, indoor setting creates the atmosphere at this white tablecloth mainstay. Serving a mixture of French-influenced Mediterranean cuisine, it also boasts excellent desserts

and a great old and new world wine list.


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


and moules marinières, plus European fusion dishes, and competitively priced world wines.


CLASSIC FRENCH 31 Thai Van Lung, Q1, Tel: (08) 3825 8465 Unpretentious but tasty French fare in a relaxed garden setting within the French cultural centre. The robust, bistro-style cuisine is very well-priced, and excellent, cheap house wine is served by the carafe.

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

La Plancha


TRATTORIA-STYLE ITALIAN 88 Ho Tung Mau, Ben Nghe, Q1, Tel: (08) 3915 3692 A contemporary trattoria in the heart of Saigon, serving home-cooked Italian cuisine with New York flair in a beautifully designed space with high ceilings. The menu features both traditional antipasti and substantial main courses.



CONTEMPORARY ITALIAN 11 Le Thanh Ton, Q1, Tel: 01634 991625 Serving traditional Italian cuisine with a contemporary flair, Del Buon Vino (the Good Wine) also features a beautiful lounge on the 3rd floor for relaxing with friends and a glass of wine.

CLASSIC FRENCH / EUROPEAN FUSION 40 Thai Van Lung, Q1, Tel: (08) 3829 9263 A sociable and popular French bistro serving up 100 percent organic, traditional Gallic staples such as French onion soup, escargot,

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


ITALIAN, INTERNATIONAL 175/1 Pham Ngu Lao, Q1, Tel: (08) 3837 0760 A family-run restaurant selling excellent pizzas, salads and pastas to hungry backpackers for well over a decade. Amiable service and reasonable prices make a very pleasant eating experience.


FRENCH BISTRO 28 Do Quang Dau, Q1, Tel: 0903 852956 French backpacker area mainstay attracting a clientele made up of Gallic expats and tourists. Excellent food menu with daily specials backs up a long bar seating area perfect for cradling a Ricard.


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

International AL FRESCO’S

INTERNATIONAL 27 Dong Du, Q1 Tel: 0838 238424 The downtown outlet of one of Vietnam’s most successful restaurant chains, Al Fresco’s offers international, Australian-influenced comfort fare in a pleasant environment with efficient, friendly service to match. Excellent delivery service.

CONTEMPORARY ITALIAN Ground Floor, Park Hyatt Hotel, 2 Lam Son Square, Q1 Tel: (08) 3824 1234 Unpretentious, casual but elegant restaurant with a tried–and–tested Italian menu backed up by a compact wine list from regions like Umbria, Toscana and Veneto. Regular specials and impressive open kitchens.




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

PAN-ITALIAN 36 Tong Huu Dinh, Q2, Tel: (08) 6253 2828 Opening out into a large, leafy terracotta-tiled garden area, this trattoria-style Italian restaurant serves up quality homemade pasta, risotto, gnocchi, excellent pizza and grilled dishes. Another branch downtoan at 87 Nguyen Hue, Q1.

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


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

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


Black Cat

AMERICAN 13 Phan Van Dat, Q1 Tel: (08) 3829 2055 Creatively named burgers, tasty Vietnamese-styled sandwiches, spiced up cocktails, mains and more, all served up with a Californian edge at this small but popular two-storey eatery close to the river.


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


INTERNATIONAL / GRILL CR-2 3-4 107 Ton Dat Tien, Phu My Hung, Q7, Tel: (08) 5413 6592 Australian themed but Singaporean-owned eatery and bar on The Crescent with great terraced seating specializing in huge-portioned international fare, all set in a contemporary, spacious environment.


GERMAN / RESTOBAR Level 1, Kumho Link, 39 Le Duan, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 4206 The city’s first contemporary German beer bar and restaurant, Brotzeit offers well known German beer accompanied by authentic Bavarian Cuisine —sausages, schnitzels and more — in a relaxed yet chic drinking hall setting.

Central Parc Banh Mi

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

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{r i s i n g Sun}


INTERNATIONAL / VIETNAMESE 40/31 Bui Vien, Q1, Tel: (08) 3836 7622 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.

** Viet Moe * *


INTERNATIONAL / ASIAN Level 51, Bitexco Financial Tower, 2 Hai Trieu, Q1, Tel: (08) 6291 8751 Highest dining in the city. Modern international and pan-Asian fine dining cuisine with 360-degree sweeping views. Open theatre kitchen, mezzanine seating and 300+ label walk-in wine cellar.


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


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


he first time I met Erina — aka Yokusou Gyo (“bathtub fish”) aka Sakana-chan (“fish girl”) — she was dreamily twirling through spotlights at a body art exhibition at Saigon Outcast, with white paint and almost nothing else on, an ethereal, dreamlike performance set to jazz vocals. Later on, she dressed in a schoolgirl costume and ran around from one person to another asking, “Do you have Facebook?” I did. Some months later, I came across Erina’s life’s work on my Facebook feed — in maid-outfit-wearing style. The place is Viet Moe, roughly translatable as ‘Vietnam CYUTE!!!’ On walking in the door — two floors above a frosted glass door massage centre — all four maids on duty clustered around my entrance, hands pressed together into hearts. The rest of the daytime crowd, mostly teens from the neighbouring school, stared diligently into their laptops. The café itself is fairly bare bones, a couple of booths hemmed in by an L-shaped bar, a few anime posters on the walls, but the frenetic energy of the place is ever-present.

104 | Word May 2013

Just order some takoyaki and two ladies will deliver it, contorting their hands into hearts, swirling them around in what can only be described as a “cute blessing”. Rice omelets get pictures painted on them in ketchup. The maids strike random poses behind the bar. And where does all this energy come from? I’m about to find out.

The Amazing, Irrepressible Fish Girl As Erina walks in, she says something to one of the girls. Turning to me, she says, “They were playing no music. We need anime music!”

She’s wearing a schoolgirl costume — one she designed herself, along with half of the maid outfits present, having learned the craft on the mean streets of Harajuku — and passing me random manga books as I ask her about Viet Moe’s concept. There is a girl on the cover of one, pouring the contents of her canteen down her army-issue shirt. When I ask if she has some games, Erina clicks away on her pink high-tops, yellow laces flashing, and gets a pirate-ina-barrel game. We take turns stabbing the spring-loaded pirate until she triggers his jump, and lets me draw a picture on her hand as reward. After that, she tilts her head side-to-side and waves peace signs, sings a cute song. She’s full of random cute gestures like this, a chaos of moe impulse. I make a heart with my hands, and all is right with the world. — Ed Weinberg Viet Moe is at 203 Nguyen Van Thu, 2nd Floor, Q1. The café is operational from 10am to 7pm daily, at which time it turns into a Japanese businessmanentertaining hostess bar with slightly more risqué costume, staying open till midnight.


ARGENTINIAN STEAKHOUSE 5D Nguyen Sieu, Q1, Tel: (08) 3825 1879 A pleasant downtown eatery mixing an Argentinian steakhouse theme with pork, chicken, lamb, homemade spicy sausage, skewers, burger dishes and everything that can come off a grill.


AUSTRALIAN / INTERNATIONAL Ground Floor, Bitexco Financial Tower, 2 Hai Trieu, Q1 Tel: (08) 3915 6006 Mixing hearty pub grub such as burgers, salads and prime rib steaks with a sports bar atmosphere, this Australian chain also offers regular promotions and a 4pm to 7pm happy hour. Excellent outdoor terrace.


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

Le Banh Mi

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


INTERNATIONAL BUFFET Ground Floor, InterContinental Asiana Saigon, Crn. of Hai Ba Trung & Le Duan, Q1 Tel: (08) 3520 9099 Buffet restaurant specialising in a boutique selection of appetisers, local and imported seafood, succulent steaks from the grill, and hand-crafted noodles. Bakery operates throughout day to ensure that every dish arrives fresh.

{ } bad Egg


hen you miss what is part of your everyday life, you tend to yearn for it. And such was the case on a recent trip to Phnom Penh. It was the last morning and all four of us were desperate for a bowl of pho. So we rocked up to one of two pho joints close to the palace, serving Vietnam’s best-known dish. The ingredients were all there, perfectly mimicking the pho you find in Saigon — fresh noodles, bean sprouts, lime, fresh herbs, chilli sauce and even tuong ngot, the sweet sauce so favoured by the Saigonese. But the broth was all wrong. Sweet, made from a pork stock and laced with MSG, it had the taste you associate with Khmer-style Chinese kway teow soup (hu tieu nam vang). We ate in silence. It was later on the bus that the comment came out. Phnom Penh is only 220km from Saigon, yet while Saigon does a great job with Khmer-style hu tieu, in Phnom Penh the pho just doesn’t make the grade. — Nick Ross


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


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


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


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


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


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


TURKISH / INTERNATIONAL 25 Dong Du, Q1, Tel: (08) 6291 3677 Sumptuous, Turkish-themed restaurant close


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

to the mosque with Islamic-style white dome décor and comfortable, cushioned seating. Authentically Turkish cuisine with a sprinkling of western fare thrown in.


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


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


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


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

Sunday Brunch is Better when Shared Enjoy unlimited Moët & Chandon champagne with the most delectable chocolate buffet in town, a cocktail bar, free flowing wine and a delicious array of your brunch favorites. Let us entertain your children at the kid’s club while you enjoy your Sunday Brunch. Saigon Café, Level 1 Sunday Champagne Brunch Every Sunday 11.30 AM – 3.00 PM VND 1,200,000++ per person Moët & Chandon champagne

Cut this coupon to be entitled 15% off on Champagne Sunday Brunch buffet. * One coupon per table valid until 26 May 2013. SAIGON CAFÉ, LEVEL 1 Sheraton Saigon Hotel & Towers 88 Dong Khoi, District 1, Ho Chi MinhMay City2013 Word | 105 Tel: 3827 2828

{ top Eats } ** Lucca * *


arely has a restaurant gained such popularity with barely a whisper of its presence in the press. But Lucca is such a place. The secret? There are many. But it starts with the décor. Walk in downstairs, pass through the lightly lit, slim bar area, head up the stairwell and enter a cavernous space out of another world. We’re not talking strobe lights and Saturday Night Fever-era disco balls. Here the vibe is 1920s, speakeasy-era New York, all with an Italian edge — a pleasant distraction from the reality of the streets outside. So well has the dark brown, cream and maroon interior been executed, that at any moment you expect Al Capone to walk through the door. Not that he will, of course. Although Godfather author Mario Puzo may have felt at home here. Based on the well-known, New York French-Italian eatery Balthazar — the brains behind Lucca is the brother of the famous Stateside restaurateur — what Lucca has in abundance is space. Space not just for the décor — here the walls sport almost fulllength mirrors, musically influenced murals and some of the most visually attractive period floor tiles in the city. But space also to play with the menu. Stretching from quickand-easy bistro fare such as pizza, pasta and American-Italian mains to a more complex specials menu, the team of restaurant manager Matteo and chef Alessandro are mixing traditional Italian fare with modern New York influences. It works a treat.

106 | Word May 2013

Wined and Dined On my visit I was pushed away from the American influences of the bistro menu and directed straight to the specials, a chance for the chef to really push the Italian in him. The tuna salad (VND190,000) was a concoction of perfectly seared tuna set on a bed of mixed salad with fresh tomato, olives, orange and a balsamic vinegar reduction. Light and delicate, mixing subtle flavours to create an easy-on-the-stomach starter, this is a great way to commence any meal. The linguine porcini, asparagus and Serrano ham (VND220,000) was equally enticing. Piled up in a mound with Parmesan flakes on the side, this dish is as much about texture as it is about richness of taste. The asparagus provides the crispiness, the Serrano and porcini the softness and salt, while the al dente linguine middles off the two extremes. A moreish dish. And unlike so many other pasta options in this city, anything but heavy. I then tried the seabass cartoccio with basil sauce and roasted tomatoes (VND320,000). Baked in aluminium foil, the fish is tender — so soft, says Matteo, that he even had a lucca 88 Ho Tung Mau, Q1 Tel: (08) 3915 3692 Open daily, 10am to 11pm Free delivery — minimum VND100,000

customer complaining that the fish was cooked from frozen. It wasn’t — the sea bass is fresh. With salad on the side, once again, this was a light-on-the-palate affair, with heartiness provided by the sautéed baby potatoes. A dish that has summertime Mediterranean written all over it. Hitting the specials was an alternate experience to all the others I’ve had at Lucca. I’ve mainly found myself delving into the more American-influenced fare. But it was equally pleasant, if not more so. And it adds an extra dimension to a restaurant that has already surpassed more than the standard three. — Nick Ross


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


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


INTERNATIONAL / MEDITERRANEAN 9A Thai Van Lung, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 4798 Simple, unpretentious Greekinfluenced, international cuisine ranging from the zucchini carpaccio through to the saganiki, a range of dips, mousaka, osso buco and lamb chop skewers. Also has an excellent upstairs cigar room.


INTERNATIONAL/ASIAN Level 50, Bitexco Financial Tower, 2 Hai Trieu, Q1, Tel: (08) 6291 8750 All-day restaurant and events venue offering a panoramic view of Saigon. Food offered includes an express business lunch, high tea, and buffet dinner, along with an a la carte menu.


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


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


AMERICAN / TEX-MEX 169A Bui Vien, Q1, Tel: (08) 3920 3897 vietnamvespaadventures. com/cafe_zoom This corner-located Vespa-infatuated venue is a café and restaurant by day and a sidewalk drinking joint by night. Friendly staff and American deli-style and Cajun fare makes it a regular expat haunt.


fare alongside mainland staples. Does a great set lunch deal.

Blanchy Street

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


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


SUSHI / SASHIMI 4 Chu Manh Trinh, Q1, Tel: (08) 3829 0326 The restaurant of famed chef Ryoichi ‘Roy’ Iwashita, from Osaka, Inaho features some of the best sushi and sashimi in town, with faultless ingredients and presentation.


JAPANESE / FUSION 45 Mac Thi Buoi, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 2351 Kabuto Tokyo offers typical Japanese cuisine, and fusion dishes in a dramatic environment with Manga cartoons on the walls, golden ceilings, Japanese armour and huge carp steamer lantern displays.


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


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


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


JAPANESE / OKINAWA 13/1 Le Thanh Ton, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 8433 yamaneko– Funky Yamaneko — down an alley off Le Thanh Ton — offers delicious, unpretentious Okinawan

Pan-Asian ashoka

NORTH INDIAN / CHINESE INDIAN 17/10 Le Thanh Ton, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 1372; 33 Tong Huu Dinh, Q2, Tel : (08) 3744 4177 Long-running, award-winning Indian restaurant famed for its excellent kebabs, creamy curries and Chinese-Indian fare.


PAN-THAI 55 Thao Dien, Q2 Tel: (08) 3744 5453 Subtle lighting and comfortable sofa-like seating at this An Phu eatery. The menu has a whole page dedicated to tom yum soup as well as firey larb moo and Laotian som tam. Thai cuisine cooked up by no-holds-barred Thai chefs.


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


INDIAN MALAY 35 Dong Du, Q1 Tel: 0903 863114 Long running hole-in-the-wall halal restaurant opposite the Mosque selling a selection of Malaysian-style Indian cuisine. Simple fan-cooled dining area with all dishes costing well under VND100,000.


THAI / VIETNAMESE 185 Bui Vien, Q1 Tel: (08) 3837 1311 Owned by a Thai-trained Vietnamese chef this is one of the few eateries in town serving up very good pan-Thai cuisine. Great value, with mains generally around VND70,000.


CANTONESE / PAN-CHINESE New World Hotel, 76 Le Lai, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 8888 Elegant surroundings, top quality ingredients, attentive service and comfortable, roundtable dining makes Dynasty one of the top Chinese restaurants in town, with a classic dim sum menu.


NORTH / SOUTH INDIAN 15B4 Le Thanh Ton, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 3017 The ubiquitous mint sauce is thick and creamy and the curries are both authentic and smoky. Ganesh is rated by many as the best Indian in town. Very friendly service.

GOLDEN ELEPHANT CLASSIC THAI 34 Hai Ba Trung, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 8554

DELIVERY Ben’s Style

Tel: 0906 912730 restaurants-ben-style Healthy, calorie-counted sandwich and deli fare

Chez Guido

Tel: (08) 3898 3747 Vietnamese, international fare, pizza, pasta, sandwiches

A Taste of Authenticity

Domino’s Pizza

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

Eat.Vn Delivery service website for local restaurants

el gato negro

Tel: (08) 6660 1577 Californian-style burritos

HUNGRYPANDA.VN Delivery service website for local restaurants


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


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


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

Pizza Hut (PHD)

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


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

Taco Bich Homemade Mexican fare

willy woo’s

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

Vietnammm Delivery service website for local restaurants


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

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

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

{ food Promos } New World Hotel

** PROMOTIONS OF THE MONTH * * It’s the weekend again. The rainy season’s coming, so you know you’ve got to soak up all the outdoors you can get. A barbecue does sound good, but the weekends are for relaxing, aren’t they? Change it up at Splash Pool Bar at New World, in full view of that clear pool and equally clear sky. Every weekend, a grill-your-own BBQ option is available for VND380,000++ per dish, for either barbecue skewers or the hot stone grill. Burn it up before the rain damps it all down. If that doesn’t appeal to mum, though, take her to the brunch and dinner buffets at Parkview this Mother’s Day, May 12. They’ll have all her favourites, from eggs to salad, Asian specialties and of course dessert. Buffets are VND910,000++ with a free flow of wine and draft beer, VND1.2 million++ for all that plus free flowing champagne. Every mother will receive a takeaway box of fresh-baked cupcakes. If mum is more into Chinese on this particular day (and the day before, May 11), treat her to a health-conscious, fivecourse set lunch and dinner, filled with the best of the Chinese range of skinpurifying, system-cleansing elements. Dynasty will buy the meal for every mum in a family of four, and she’ll leave with a nice little calligraphic token of appreciation — VND530,000++ per person. If she’s a classical lady, perhaps she’ll enjoy the decadent “Asian Hi Tea” offered in The Lounge, with little sandwiches, scones and desserts, available May 10 to May 18 — VND380,000++ for two people. On the special day itself, mum will receive a complimentary box of homemade cupcakes and a glass of Prosecco.

The slightly smaller 'sexy' steak at NY Steakhouse

buffet from 6pm to 8pm, the only one in the city. For VND440,000 you get a classy all-you-can-drink opportunity, which includes a choice of their four best red and white wines — plus homemade chips and dips. Go on a Grape Escape at the fifth floor Atrium Lounge, the promotion ends Jun. 30.

deciBel Park Hyatt Square One is hosting a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to sample Armand de Brignac champagne, popularly known as ‘Ace of Spades’ and recognised by experts as one of the best in the world. The Champagne Dinner on May 17 at 7.30pm features a fourcourse meal and three variants of the brand, and comes in at a cool VND3 million++ per person.

From now to the end of June, the Renaissance Riverside offers a Sunday Brunch dedicated entirely to the cuisine of the Far East. The so-called Dragon Brunch serves everything from classics to new creations from noon to 3pm — VND640,000 without drinks, VND710,000 with beer and soda, VND840,000 with wine, VND880,000 with house sparkling wine. If you’re rather thirsty, enjoy their wine

108 | Word May 2013 The eclectic lounge café is getting more eclectic by the week — depending on who’s in the kitchen on Tuesday. That’s the day the community spirit kicks in, with guest chefs shoveling up mass meals for all comers, complimentary with a drink purchase. Recent weeks have seen chicken curry, frittatas and gazpacho all go down smoothly, and best of all — free.

New York Steakhouse

Renaissance Riverside Hotel

Orientica is offering a mouth-watering dim sum all-you-can-eat, and a lucky draw programme for mum — VND310,000++ each including tea. The follow-up, from May 13 to May 26, is a Peking duck special — VND750,000++ a head.

Hotel Equatorial Express your gratitude to your mother with all due love and respect by inviting her to a specially-designed buffet brunch at Chit Chat for Mother’s Day (May 12), with many tasty dishes such as roasted baby lobster, an oyster bar, roasted Australian beef rib eye and Yorkshire pudding with black peppercorn sauce — VND690,000++ per person. In response to the more miniscule, bird-like appetites of the typical female (hmmm…), New York Steakhouse has created a special selection of ‘slightly smaller’ but incredibly sexy steaks for all those ladies out there. Including the 160-gram skirt steak (VND250,000), the 125-gram petit fillet (VND375,000 and VND300,000) and the truffle-infused tournedos Rossini (VND980,000). Also new on the menu is the lobster thermidor.

* * * TOP 100

Want to know the best places to eat or drink in this city? Here is our pick of the top 100 restaurants in Ho Chi Minh City. Feel we're missing something or have included the wrong places? Simply email

Excellent, long-running restaurant with classic Thai decor. The fare includes laab salads, curries, som tam, fish cakes and dishes such as deep-fried catfish with mango salad. Three VIP rooms upstairs.


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


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


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


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


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


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


PAN-CHINESE / CANTONESE 1st Floor, Norfolk Mansion, 17-19-21 Ly Tu Trong, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 2221 (Ext: 164) Featuring over 200 dishes and 50 kinds of dim sum prepared by chefs from Hong Kong, Shang Palace has nine private dining rooms and a main dining area seating over 300. Good for events.


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


NORTH INDIAN 40/3 Bui Vien, Q1, Tel: (08) 3508 3777 Don’t be duped by the veneer, The Punjabi knocks out some seriously good North Indian fare at budget prices. Portions of both vegetarian and meat dishes are big, too.


TEPPANYAKI & BBQ 42 Le Anh Xuan, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 3232 This seven-floor restaurant is headed up by Thailand’s number one teppanyaki chef. The all-Thai cheffing team possess an arsenal of entertaining cooking skills, preparing meat and seafood on traditional teppanyaki grills.


PAN-CHINESE 1st Floor, InterContinental Asiana Saigon, crn. of Hai Ba Trung & Le Duan, Q1, Tel: (08) 3520 9099 Skillful chefs prepare authentic hand-pulled noodles, fresh dim sum and hot wok dishes within an impeccably designed open kitchen, as diners look on. Stylish and spectacular.

Street Food BANH XEO 46A

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


VIETNAMESE STEAKHOUSE 188 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, Q3, Tel: (08) 3930 3917 Specialises in tasty Vietnamese or Australian steak served sizzling on a griddle with thick–cut fries, bread and salad, optional pate or eggs, all for well under VND100,000.


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


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


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


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

Vegetarian PHAP HOA

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


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


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


VEGAN Vinh Nghiem Pagoda, 339 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, Q3,

Set inside the city’s largest pagoda, this eatery has received many plaudits for its setting, reverent ambiance and interesting menu which includes salted tofu in claypot and hundred flowers hotpot.


Vietnamese 3T QUAN NUONG

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


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


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


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


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


CONTEMPORARY VIETNAMESE The Square, 74 Hai Ba Trung, Q1, Tel: (08) 3825 1676 Word tries to keep its listings as accurate as possible, but we can’t do this without yourself. So, if you see anything which needs updating or revising, please email us on

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{d e c k s

Drums & Rock'n Roll}

** Timekeeper * *


hese are some of the adjectives that you may hear people use to describe the band Timekeeper: space-punk, post-rock, experimental, Nintendocore. Now, I admit that when I saw this duo perform their first show at La Fenetre Soleil (44 Ly Tu Trong, Q1) I was a bit dumbstruck as to what kind of musical genre to call it, or them — two guys who look not a day out of university manning two computers, a MIDI controller, one guitar and some effects pedals, making soundscapes layered like one of those cakes they sell at the French bakery just down the street. Timekeeper’s take on their own style is “to reach for the new and modern... seeking a combination of analogue and digital elements for a constant freshness in our sound”. To, 25, and Giang, 22, met six years ago when To was in a grunge-stoner rock trio called AKAT. It wasn’t until just last year, however, that they sat down and worked

110 | Word May 2013

on a project together. The result was the song Get One off their debut album Random Waves. YouTube recommends Get One alongside songs by such slow-building heroes as Explosions in the Sky and God is an Astronaut, for reasons that become very clear as it builds from a bubbly piano line into one of those smashing, raining sideways-type of crescendos that earn my highest compliment: it’s great music to have sex to.

Birth of the Weird The duo played their first show a few months ago and only a few since. Anyone who’s ever tried starting a band is all too familiar with playing to empty rooms, the backs of drunks, playing for peanuts or — the lowest you can go — “pay to play” gigs. To skip all of that and jump to a hot debut album and a local audience hungry for you to perform again is just, well, it’s not luck but proof that the original underground music scene has grown.

Photos by: Francis Xavier

To and Giang were, for many years previous “working with original music in Vietnam [and] have come to realise that music needs a character, a unique style of each country.” With influences like Aphex Twin and Kode9, it will be interesting to hear how this new ‘sound of Vietnam’ evolves. Timekeeper is one of the only bands in this city with the current potential to reach an international base of listeners, with their hard-won understanding of the local scene and impeccably-influenced groove. It’s not far-fetched to think that these boys could actually redefine the way the global audience thinks about Vietnamese music. Timekeeper aims to make those with esoteric taste both inside and outside the country think about it at all. — Matt Bender Check them out for yourself at deciBel (79/2/5 Phan Ke Binh) on May 10 at 8pm

Highly rated restaurant with stunning outdoor terrace. Specialities include pink pomelo squid and crab salad, mustard leaf prawn rolls, fishcake wraps and barbecue chicken in ginger, onions and a lime leaf marinade.


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


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


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


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


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


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


PAN-VIETNAMESE 1st Floor, Ton That Thiep, Q1, Tel: (08) 3829 9244 Once a hotel for Indian dignitaries visiting old Saigon, the elegant and atmospheric Temple Club is one of the city’s best-preserved buildings. Serving quality Vietnamese and Indochine cuisine at reasonable prices.


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


MODERN VIETNAMESE First Floor, 71-75 Hai Ba Trung, Q1, Tel: (08) 3824 8468 Elegant Xu is a venue at the forefront of modern Vietnamese cuisine. Pushing the Asian concept of shared-plate dining, the fare includes pork wanton, seared beef crostini, and Xu-style chicken rice.

May 2013 Word | 111

{ night Watchman } ** Night Guitar Club * *

Photos by: Francis Xavier


or many young adults, the phrase “Saturday night clubbing” evokes overindulgence and questionable decision-making. For a group of 150 young Vietnamese musicians, however, Saturday night means hanging out at a more productive kind of club. Night Guitar Club began at Truong Dai Hoc Mo (The Open University) in 2010 as a supportive environment for experienced guitarists and novices alike to practice their craft. Ascending the stairs to the university’s first floor patio, you’re greeted by a cacophony of twanging, strumming and the occasional squeal of fingers sliding across metal strings. Arriving at the landing reveals anywhere from 30 to 60 of the club’s members working together in pairs or small groups, listening to each other and providing encouragement and pointers. Their slogan — ‘Nothing but Passion’ — informs every member’s approach to learning and teaching. While individual tastes vary, the group mainly focuses on learning and experimenting with popular Vietnamese and western songs, making it an ultimately accessible and communal experience. After about an hour or so of practising, the group gathers in a large circle and takes turns showcasing their skills, often culminating in a group sing-along.

Kicking out the Jams Once every one or two months, the club has a showcase at a local venue. This is one

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of the few occasions where the majority (sometimes up to 100) of the 150 members find themselves in the same room. It’s an opportunity to welcome newcomers, promote the club and celebrate individual achievements. Current President Tan Ho says that he and the original co-founders wanted to create a “place where people were excited to learn. It’s lonely and boring learning at home — we wanted to connect people.” Tan is a finance and banking major, and finds the club an invaluable creative outlet in his otherwise busy life. “Guitar is my passion,” he says. “I couldn’t live without it.”

Living on the Edge In addition to providing weekly stress relief, the club allows members to feel

like participants in the evolution of the Vietnamese music scene. Trung Nguyen feels that it is an exciting time to be a young Vietnamese musician. “Five or ten years ago Vietnam had one or two kinds of music, but now, with so much more information and so much sharing, we have many kinds of music,” he says. They’re playing the music of tomorrow. Trung adds a patriotic twist to all this, saying that the future of Vietnamese music is dependent upon its citizens — just as “every country can have its own music if its people have passion.” — Tess Somerville Night Guitar Club meets at 6pm on Tuesdays and Saturdays at The Open University, 97 Vo Van Tan, Q3. For more info, check their page at



Drink and be done by, or as the t-shirt tells us, khong say, khong ve. Our pick of the best drinking haunts in Ho Chi Minh City. Think we've missed somewhere? Email us on

Bars & Restobars 107 Pasteur

MICROBREWERY / RESTOBAR 107 Pasteur, Ben Nghe, Q1, Tel: (08) 3824 8619 After spending 30 years in the Czech Republic mastering the Gambrinus brewing technique, 107 Pasteur’s owner has returned to Vietnam to share his craft (and tasty Czech cuisine) with beer enthusiasts.

2 Lam Son

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


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

Alto Heli Bar

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

Apocalypse Now

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

Banana Bar

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


INTERNATIONAL / COMFORT FOOD 19 Thai Van Lung, Q1 Tel: (08) 3822 1720 Bernie’s upstairs dining room and casual downstairs bar make a great place to indulge in international cuisine or chow down on a burger while watching a sports game or a live band.

Blanchy’s Tash

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

Bootleg DJ Café

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

Boudoir Lounge

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

Bread & Butter

INTERNATIONAL / COMFORT FOOD 40 Bui Vien, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 1720 With a free book exchange, and tasty Sunday night roasts, the tiny Bread & Butter is a perfect place for homesick expats and beer enthusiasts (excellent Hue-Brewed Huda beer served here exclusively in Ho Chi Minh City).


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

intimate vibe. Its only street-side markings are a few Chinese lanterns.


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

Godmother Bar

RESTOBAR / VIETNAMESE / WESTERN 129 Cong Quynh, Q1 Tel: (08) 3832 4589 Only a couple blocks from the bru-haha of Bui Vien, Godmother’s is a small watering hole with big attractions including excellent mojitos, good food, and the weekly Optimus Club featuring international DJ’s.

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

Hard Rock Cafe

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


LIVE MUSIC / RESTOBAR 40/15 Bui Vien, Q1 Tel: 0902 799962 With swings dangling playfully overhead, an expansive mural of Hanoi’s Old Quarter, multi-genre musical attractions, and famous western breakfasts and Mexican dishes, Hideaway awakens the senses and appeals to cosmopolitan sensibilities.

Ice Blue

EXPAT BAR 54 Dong Khoi, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 2664 Expats keep returning to this smoky dive bar, largely due to its amicable service, brewsky-downing atmosphere, and spirited dart games. A mainstay in the local darts league.


LATE NIGHT RETRO 13B Le Thanh Ton, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 1074 Plush couches, hookahs, soft lighting and artsy retro decoration, combined with affordable drinks, friendly staff, and the ability to request or play music makes this a great place to bring friends. Open Late.

La Habana

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

Buddha Bar

RESTOBAR 7 Thao Dien, Q2, Tel: (08) 3744 2080 Just across the lane from Mc’Sorley’s, this pub with an eccentric European tilt and some nice, authentic cuisine draws an older crowd with darts, pool and weekly poker tourneys.


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

Chill Skybar

LOUNGE RESTOBAR & TERRACE Floor 26 & 27, 76A Le Lai, Q1, Tel: (08) 3827 5630 Chill’s view has only been improved by the addition of a magnificent VIP terrace. A substantial wine list and specialities from the owner’s native Denmark complement the primarily French-influenced cuisine.

Cloud 9

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


LOUNGE BAR Hem 36, Chu Manh Trinh, Q1 This hip marriage of living room-of-workingarchitects and opium den is populated with vintage furniture, records and a thoughtful, May 2013 Word | 113

{t o p Shelf} ** Wine Embassy * *


hen it comes to consulates, Ho Chi Minh City has them in swathes. But on the embassy front, you’re going to have to head to the capital, unless you don’t mind getting your consular services over a glass of wine. Opened at the end of 2012, Wine Embassy has tried to set itself up as an ambassador for that vine fruit of Bacchuslike wonder, the mighty grape. And by all accounts, so far it seems to have worked. Decked out in greys with a copper bar downstairs, dark wood paneling, a winetasting mezzanine level and lounge seating areas out back and on the first floor, the subdued décor allows the bar’s main focus to take pride of place — the wine. And here it’s all about getting your tipple by the glass. Thanks to two wine-vending machines there are more than 30 options to choose from. As man at the helm Francois Carteau explains, the main concept is to educate people about wine. “It’s about getting

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people to discover wines in a fun way. So we give our customers the opportunity to taste a large selection of wines by the glass.” Take the Saint Hallett Gamekeeper’s Reserve, one of the best mid-range shirazes to come out of Australia, the moreish Vynfields Reserve Pinot Noir from New Zealand, a Spanish Gewürztraminer varietal and more than 10 options on French reds and whites; if you didn’t know anything about the body, the taste, the varietal and the bouquet of these wines, the menu is laid out in such a way that you have a chance to find out. It makes everything accessible, even to the complete novice. The whole world is catered for here, too. All making Wine Embassy a great destination to do some oenological globetrotting, without the necessity of passing border control or applying for visas.

Two’s Company To add to the concept, the wine is foodmatched with anything from beef and

chicken skewers to duck terrines, salmon carpaccios and a chicken breast stuffed with shredded apples and herbs. According to Francois, he works on the wine selection first and after that builds the menu. “We do it the other way round,” he explains. “It’s always a constant challenge for the kitchen because they have to keep up with the new wines we bring in, and have to adapt a bit.” Prices are reasonable, too, with the tapas-like cuisine costing mainly under VND100,000 a plate, while the wine by the glass generally hits the mid-hundreds for a 9cl pour, making the offerings here accessible to more than only those with diplomatic immunity. — Nick Ross Wine Embassy runs a daily two-for-one happy hour from 4pm to 7pm. They also have themed wine-tasting nights including a premium wine sampling night on Thursdays. Wine courses will be added to the mix in the near future. Wine Embassy is at 13 Ngo Duc Ke, Q1. For further information go to

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La Fenetre Soleil

FRENCH / JAPANESE RESTOBAR 2nd Floor, 44 Ly Tu Trong, Q1 Tel: (08) 3824 5994 A seductive watering whole in a great corner location thanks to its old Saigon glamour, Japanese-Vietnamese fusion cuisine, imported beer, classic cocktails, and entertaining music events / DJ sets.

Last Call

AFTERHOURS LOUNGE 59 Dong Du, Q1 Tel: (08) 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: (08) 3837 7679 Warm colors, artsy décor and a friendly ambiance combine to create a perfect setting for enjoying tasty international and Vietnamese cuisine. Check out their daily drink specials and Tuesday night pub quizzes.

Level 23 Nightspot

HOTEL MUSIC BAR 23rd floor, Sheraton Hotel & Towers, 88 Dong Khoi, Q1 Tel: (08) 3827 2828 Some of the most awe-inspiring views of the city make this a choice venue for enjoying live performances from the international house band. Expect a bit of everything from jazz to R&B, with five-star prices to match.

The Library

HOTEL LOUNGE BAR Ground Floor, InterContinental Asiana Saigon, cnr. Hai Ba Trung & Le Duan, Q1, Tel: (08) 3520 9099 The Library captures the

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romance of a bygone era, offering a sophisticated snack menu and a nostalgic afternoon tea from 2.30 pm to 5pm. A great place to hang out in five-star luxury.

large whiskey selection and upstairs pool table. Great pizzas. And for a real treat, check out their zesty rolls.


FRENCH / RESTOBAR 003 / 207 Bui Vien, Q1 Tel: (08) 3837 2704 French-run but universally appealing, Long Phi has been serving the backpacker area with excellent cuisine and occasional live music since 1990. Excellent late-night bistro cuisine.

EVENTS / MAKESHIFT CAFÉ BAR 188/1 Nguyen Van Huong, Q2, Tel: 0908 208523 Up-cycling and innovative design form the foundation for this bar / arts venue / mini- skate park. Come for barbeque and reasonably priced drinks, stick around for entertaining events and adorable puppies.

Mask Lounge


Long Phi

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


IRISH BAR 4 Thao Dien, Q2 Tel: (08) 3519 4659 Standing in the former home of Gaudi, McSorely’s is full of surprises, including a beautifully backlit swimming pool, reggae parties, comedy nights, and sporting events projected onto the patio wall.

MZ Club

LIVE MUSIC / NIGHTCLUB 56A Bui Thi Xuan, Q1 Tel: (08) 3925 5258 Cover bands of the pop, jazz, rock, and Latin persuasion, flattering lighting, and ample choices of vintage wines make this crafty cocktail bar a destination for Saigon’s 30-plus Vietnamese / expat population.


IRISH BAR / INTERNATIONAL 74/A3 Hai Ba Trung, Q1 Tel: (08) 3829 3198 This Irish-themed sports bar with classic pub décor is widely appreciated for its excellent international fare,

SPANISH RESTOBAR / LIVE MUSIC 97 Hai Ba Trung , Q1 Tel: (08) 3825 6924 Legs of Iberian ham hang from the ceiling in the downstairs bar of this multi-storey homage to everything Spanish. Regular first-floor live music and excellent eats makes it a mainstay for the wining, dining and tapaseating crowd.


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


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

Rockfanclub Bar

ROCK BAR 25C Tu Xuong, Q3, Tel: (08) 6290 7489

The promoters of Rockfanclub (the long-running Vietnamese hard rock and metal night formerly hosted at Tadao Coffee Bar) have found a home for fans to mosh in every night from 9pm. This is rock in its rawest, most grass roots Vietnamese form.

Wild West-themed bar doubles as a music venue, where three talented Filipino bands (B&U, Wild West, and Most Wanted) play covers of rock icons like Bon Jovi, U2, and Guns n’ Roses. Top-shelf spirits and friendly, hostessstyle table service are the name of the game here.

Spotted Cow Tryst Lounge

1st Floor, Gemadept Tower, 6 Le Thanh Ton, Q1 Tel: 3822 1637 Specialising in French and Vietnamese cuisine cooked up by an experienced chef, Tryst Lounge serves up its tasty fare at all times of the day, making it a venue for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Complemented by healthy mixed juices, Illy coffee, creative cocktails and a good selection of wines at affordable prices, the space has a chilled atmosphere, and is great for hanging out both indoors and on the outdoor terrace. Has live acoustic and Latino music every weekend courtesy of well-known Cuban outfit Warapo.

Saigon Saigon

HOTEL MUSIC BAR 9th floor, Caravelle Hotel, 19 Lam Som Square, Q1 Tel: (08) 3823 4999 Live Latin music in its various forms is this fan-cooled, Old Saigon-style bar’s main attraction. With the international bands performing nightly, Saigon Saigon also benefits from great views, polished service and a vibrant ambience.

Seventeen Saloon THEMED MUSIC BAR 103A Pham Ngu Lao, Q1 Tel: (08) 3914 0007

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

Storm P

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

The Tavern

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

Thi Café

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

T&R Tavern

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

Universal Bar

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


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


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


CAFÉ / LOUNGE BAR Ground Floor, 71-75 Hai Ba Trung, Q1 Tel: (08) 3824 8468 This iconic upmarket downtown bar is known for its cocktails and wine list. It serves a range of international and Vietnamese dish-

es to be enjoyed in its richly decorated interior. Regular DJ nights.

Nightclubs Fuse

TECHNO / DANCE / HIP-HOP 3A Ton Duc Thang, Q1, Tel: 0919 206461 Neon-lit Fuse is popular with the young, fashionable and affluent Vietnamese crowd. A small space means this place gets packed quickly, so arrive early to enjoy bumping techno, whisky and fruit platters.


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


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

Wine Bar 38

38 Dong Khoi, Q1, Tel: (08) 3829 3968

With a huge selection of self-imported wines from Bordeaux, this classy but contemporary venue is a wine bar downstairs, and a lounge on the first floor. Has a French-Asian menu paired to all the wines, with a huge selection of the good stuff sold by the glass.

Wine Embassy

13 Ngo Duc Ke, Q1 Tel: 0902 810523 A two-storey, contemporarydesigned wine bar serving 30 wines by the glass, all at reasonable prices. Has an excellent food menu to complement the old and new world wines.

Quan Nhau Anh Duc’s

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

Bia Tuoi 33

BIA HOI 102 Bui Vien, Q1 Beloved for its cheap, cold beer, prime people-watching, and elderly but toughas-nails hostess, Bia Hoi or “Grandma’s” is a favourite of locals, expats, and backpackers alike.



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

Cafes Agnes Cafe

invited to lounge with their coffees and browse simultaneously.

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

Au Parc

An’s Interior Café

INTERNATIONAL 45 Bui Vien, Q1 Tel: (08) 3920 4090 Choose from a full range of café beverages and a fastfood style menu as you watch the latest Hollywood hits in their upstairs lounge. Check website for movie locations and schedule.

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

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

Bobby Brewer’s

Bong Den Café

CONTEMPORARY CAFE 118/11 Tran Quang Dieu Street, Q3 Tel: 0903 736313 A small, simply designed café tucked down a small alley away from the noisy outside world. Enjoy acoustic music shows on the weekend and drinks starting at VND22,000.


LIVE MUSIC / THEMED CAFE 57H Tu Xuong, Q3 Tel: (08) 3932 2797 Set in a three-storey colonial villa, this cafe devotes a unique stylistic sound and decor to each floor, with the ground level dedicated to live music five nights a week.

Café Dat

VIETNAMESE 343/17 To Hien Thanh, Q10, Tel: (08) 3863 2832 A unique, rustic décor travels

through this spacious cafe, from its garden to terrace to their cozy indoor seating. Bamboo, streams, and lush plants create a serene atmosphere.

Café Me

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

Café Park Bach Dang VIETNAMESE 10B Ton Duc Thang, Q1 In contrast to its trendy, stylish café neighbours, the basic outdoor seating and affordable menu makes for a modest, less pretentious experience with drinks around VND15,000.

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{t he Coffee Cup} ** Awesome Coffee * *

Café Screen Golf

SPORTS CAFE 384/1B Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, Q3, Tel: (08) 3526 8480 Three-screen indoor rooms, one putting room, and an area for food and drink set this café apart. Play for VND400,000 per hour or hang out and watch others.

Café Song Me

CONTEMPORARY CAFE 125/3 Hoa Hung, Q10, Tel: (08) 3865 2075 Secluded and difficult to find, Song Me is a perfect chill out spot to sit surrounded by water and lush plants or opt for indoor sofa seating. Drinks reasonably priced.


MIDDLE EASTERN Alley no. 59, Nguyen Du, Q1, Tel: (08) 8382 4130 This secluded Middle Eastern coffeehouse has both cozy indoor and rooftop seating to admire views of the city. With such a prime downtown location, expect prices to match.


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

Chicco Dicaff Café

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

Photos by Francis Xavier


f boxing is the sweet science, then tiramisu would be a knockout. Lovers of tiramisu have been descending in droves upon Awesome Coffee in Phu My Hung for the chance to have an authentic version of this signature Italian dessert. Milanraised manager Federic Faranda and Belarussian tiramisu chef Vita Dubovik, who mastered her craft in Italy, thought Ho Chi Minh City needed an authentic version after trying several disappointing variations here in Vietnam’s biggest city. Faranda says what they found in the majorityof cases was a form of cheesecake that was trying to be passed off as the complex, rich dessert. “We use original Italian ingredients,” says Faranda, a former sportscaster. “I’m Italian, I’m angry if I see something fake. Some people come in and order five pieces.”

The Real Deal

Tiramisu is made with ladyfingers dipped in coffee, layered with a whipped mixture

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of egg yolks and mascarpone cheese, and flavoured with Marsala wine and cocoa. It translates to pick me up, which could be attributed either to the flavour of the cocoa or the caffeine in the espresso. Other items on the menu are popular, too, and prices are modest for comfort snacks — tiramisu runs VND50,000, while yummy brownies and banana waffles come in at around VND40,000. An espresso goes for VND25,000, and it’s VND40,000 and upward for cappuccinos and macchiatos. Of note, Awesome’s Lee Thuan was due to compete in a competition to determine Saigon’s best barista at the Food and Hotel Vietnam Expo at Saigon Exhibition and Convention Center at the end of April. “It’s a place where people can pass time and feel comfortable,” Faranda says. “We think it has a lot of potential (to become very popular). When you have good service and do it the European way, people like it.” These European expats have

teamed up with South Korean owner Hyun Do Song to give an alternative to the in-and-out chain coffee shops dotting the city, by offering a comfortable place to take one’s time and enjoy a java. Indeed, it feels much more like someone’s living room, although with little flourishes like teacup lighting fixtures and fresh flowers greeting you upon entry. — Harry Hodge

Chuong Gio Café

CONTEMPORARY CAFE 386/5i Le Van Sy, Q3, Tel: (08) 2212 8560 Explore the interesting artwork or listen to beautiful melodies as you escape for an hour in this warm, cozy café that doubles as a music and theatre venue.

Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf

INTERNATIONAL Metropolitan Building, 235 Dong Khoi, Q1, Tel: (08) 3508 7825 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.

Creperie and Café

FRENCH 5 Han Thuyen, Q1, Tel: (08) 3829 9117 Known for it's fantastic street-side seating

Awesome Coffee is located at D221 Khu My Toan 3, 994 Nguyen Van Linh, Q7, and is open every day from 9am to 10pm Metallic Bar

BAR / CAFÉ 39 Ba Huyen Thanh Quan, Q3 Tel: (08) 3930 3154 Web: facebook: Metallic Bar Saigon Established in 2003, Metallic showcases a variety of different types of music — anything from rock, pop and rap to Latino — as well as the everlasting songs of Metallica, Bon Jovi, Scorpions, Santana, Gun’N Rose… Covered live by The Tornado, NiBiRu and other well-known, Vietnam-based Filipino bands, this is a great venue for music lovers of all walks. A place to enjoy the musical atmosphere and rock to the beat.


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

opposite the park on Le Duan and savoury crepes, this hang out café will impress you with its location as much as its food.

around the tourist area. Cappuccinos and a mediocre café experience costs above VND30,000. But the Wifi is good.

warm, luxurious design in this romantic French-style café. Menus change daily but the friendly staff ensures customer satisfaction.


Himiko Visual Café


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

Gac Hoa (Attic) Café

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

Givral Café

INTERNATIONAL 169 Dong Khoi, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 8659 In typical French fashion with fresh pastries, groomed waiters, and elaborate portions of ice cream, Givral is located opposite Continental Hotel Saigon, offering prime city viewing but higher prices.

Gloria Jean’s

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


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

Highlands Coffee

INTERNATIONAL Saigon Trade Centre, 37 Ton Duc Thang, Q1, Tel: (08) 3910 5689 The flagship store of this upscale, somewhat pricey, coffeehouse offers westernstyle and local-style brews, with other branches also found in prime locations Word tries to keep its listings as accurate as possible, but we can’t do this without yourself. So, if you see anything which needs updating or revising, please email us on

CAFE/ART GALLERY 324bis Dien Bien Phu, Q10, Tel: (08) 3888 1908 Renowned for its appreciation of art, Himiko is a hybrid of café and art gallery. Regularly displaying the work of young artists, an atmosphere unlike many others flourishes here.

i.d. Café

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

I’m Yours

MUSIC CAFE / VIETNAMESE 29/27 Doan Thi Diem, Phu Nhuan This tiny café pairs nightly live music with a warmcoloured, rustic decor. The combination of young Saigon artists and striking wall decor makes it worthy of the crowd it draws in.

Kita Coffee

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

CONTEMPORARY / FRENCH First Floor, 151 Dong Khoi, Q1, Tel: (08) 6674 3565 70B Le Loi, Q1 Tel: (08) 3521 0703 French-style wooden decor compliments the spacious, whitewashed contemporary interior of L'Usine. A simple, creative menu combines with reasonably priced coffee, and a fashion store and art gallery out back.

MonPERE Café

FRENCH 5H Ton Duc Thang, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 0458 This charming, mid-range café is filled with vintage decorations and architecture from the French colonial era. Live piano performances add a touch of romance on Wednesday and Saturday at 5pm.

Nostalgie Club

VIETNAMESE / INTERNATIONAL 54 Nguyen Thai Binh, Q1, Tel: (08) 3915 3274 Unveil culture and admire old architecture and antiques in this villa converted into a café. Live drama Thursday evenings in the first floor cafe. Drinks start at VND30,000.

La Maison Café and Galley

Princess AND the Pea

Le Petit Café

FRENCH 189 Hai Ba Trung, Q3, Tel: (08) 3827 7868 A small space is met with a

CONTEMPORARY VIETNAMESE 185 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, Q1, Tel: (08) 3839 5038 soho. vn Spreading to four cafes in town, comfortable sofa-style seating with surprisingly cheap coffee and good WiFi makes Soho Coffee Lounge convenient to work, eat, rest, or play.

Slow Time Café

CONTEMPORARY CAFE 53/56 Tran Khanh Du, Q1, Tel: 0903 714525 Boasting a cozy space in a quaint wooden house, Slow Time is a simple, peaceful café serving reasonably priced Vietnamese cuisine and a range of café drinks.

Stella Caffe

ITALIAN / INTERNATIONAL 119 Bui Vien, Q1, Tel: (08) 3836 9220 This pleasant, mid-range venue, best known for its coffee, offers some of the best lattes and cappuccinos

Vietnamese-styles in a comfortable, sophisticated atmosphere.

The Fig & Lounge

Up Cafe

CAFE & RESTAURANT 11 Nguyen Thi Huynh, Phu Nhuan, Tel: (08) 2211 3544 VIETNAMESE / INTERNATIONAL Positioned cozily down an alley in this less travelled part of town, The Fig's earthy, eco-friendly vibe is a gem that combines Vietnamese, Thai, and western cuisines tastefully, at prices between VND100,000 and VND300,000 a dish.

Tram Café

VIETNAMESE 100 Tran Huy Lieu, Phu Nhuan, Tel: (08) 2240 5306 Tram Café combines modern and classic design creating an artistic harmony between earth and heaven that won't break your wallet. A sanctuary of nature awaits you.

Trung Nguyen

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

CONTEMPORARY VIETNAMESE 269 Nguyen Trung Tuyen, Phu Nhuan Tel: (08) 3845 2155 A unique cafe with whole sets of upside down furniture and even a grand piano hanging from the ceiling, Up offers cafe drinks, cocktails, and simple Vietnamese cuisine.

Yesterday Piano Café

VIETNAMESE / INTERNATIONAL 28 Ho Bieu Chanh, Phu Nhuan, Tel: (08) 3505 2727 Turn back the clock in this vintage café. Embrace your nostalgia with their blackand-white photos as you indulge in a reasonably priced menu. Music Tuesday to Sunday evenings.

Zest Bistro & Café

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

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

Petite Note

CAFE / GALLERY 163 Nguyen Dinh Chinh, Phu Nhuan Inside this striking white house is a space devoted for art enthusiasts and cafégoers alike. Browse the arts and impressive decorations and enjoy homemade milk and cakes.

Soho Coffee Lounge

in town. Choose from indoor and outdoor spaces as well as upstairs dining.

Operation: Tearoom

L’An Mien Dining Cafe

INTERNATIONAL / VIETNAMESE 76A Le Lai, Q1, Tel: (08) 3821 2718 The outdoor, well-aired terrace is the centrepiece of this popular, contemporary café. Enjoy live music on weekends as you sip on reasonably priced Vietnamese or espresso-based coffee.

to chill out or read from their book-nook collection. Comfortable couch seating, open table space and a cappuccino costs VND40,000.

MUSIC CAFE 351/4A Le Van Sy, Q3, Tel: (08) 3931 6312 In a jungle of a place where vines wrap round stairwells, an all American playlist meets a typical Vietnamese menu. A living-room style music cafe with live piano on weekends. CONTEMPORARY CAFE 63/18 Pasteur, Q1, Tel: (08) 9070 3159 Venture through an alley and up three floors to this unique, relaxed cafe. Casual, cushioned floor seating and a simple, sensibly priced menu. Music on Wednesday and Friday evenings.

The Print Room

CONTEMPORARY CAFE 158 Pasteur, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 4990 Second-storey coffeehouse offers a quiet atmosphere

May 2013 Word | 119

{ CINEM A Buff } ** Film Buff * *

back home, they find an unstoppable force of terror from within their own organisation has detonated the fleet and everything it stands for, leaving our world in a state of crisis. With a personal score to settle, Captain Kirk (Pine) leads a manhunt to a warzone world to capture a one-man weapon of mass destruction (Cumberbatch). As our heroes are propelled into an epic chess game of life and death, love will be challenged, friendships will be torn apart, and sacrifices must be made for the only family Kirk has left: his crew.

Trance Director: Danny Boyle Stars: James McAvoy, Vincent Cassel, Rosario Dawson Genre: Crime, Drama, Thriller Simon (McAvoy), a fine art auctioneer, teams up with a criminal gang to steal a Goya painting worth millions of dollars, but after suffering a blow to the head during the heist he awakens to discover he has no memory of where he hid the painting. When physical threats and torture fail to produce answers, the gang’s leader (Cassel) hires hypnotherapist Elizabeth Lamb (Dawson) to delve into the darkest recesses of Simon’s psyche. As Elizabeth begins to unravel Simon’s broken subconscious, the lines between truth, suggestion and deceit begin to blur. Trance hits the screens on May 3 at MegaStar (Level 5, Crescent Mall, Nguyen Van Linh, Q7), Lotte Cinema (Lotte Mart, 469 Nguyen Huu Tho, Q7) and Galaxy (116 Nguyen Du, Q1)

Star Trek: Into Darkness (3D) Director: J.J. Abrams Stars: Benedict Cumberbatch, Chris Pine, Zoe Saldana Genre: Action, Adventure, Sci-fi When the crew of the Enterprise is called

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outmatch them at street level, so Hobbs asks Dom to assemble his elite team in London. Payment? Full pardons for all of them so they can return home and make their families whole again. Will screen from May 24 at MegaStar, Lotte Cinema and Galaxy

The Women on the Sixth Floor (2010) (Les femmes du 6ème étage) Director: Philippe Le Guay Stars: Fabrice Luchini, Sandrine Kiberlain, Natalia Verbeke Genre: Comedy

Hits the screens on May 17 at MegaStar, Lotte Cinema and Galaxy

Fast & Furious 6 Director: Justin Lin Stars: Dwayne Johnson, Vin Diesel, Paul Walker Genre: Action, Crime, Thriller

Since Dom (Diesel) and Brian’s (Walker) Rio heist toppled a kingpin’s empire and left their crew with US$100 million, our heroes have scattered across the globe. But their inability to return home and live forever on their ungainly earnings have left their lives incomplete. Meanwhile, Hobbs (Johnson) has been tracking an organisation of lethally skilled mercenary drivers across 12 countries, whose mastermind is aided by a ruthless second-in-command revealed to be the love Dom thought was dead. The only way to stop the criminal outfit is to

Paris, 1960. Jean-Louis (Luchini) lives a bourgeois existence absorbed in his work, cohabitating peacefully with his neurotic socialite wife Suzanne (Kiberlain) while their children are away at boarding school. The couple’s world is turned upside down when they hire a Spanish maid Maria (Verbeke). Through Maria, Jean-Louis is introduced to an alternative reality just a few floors up on the building’s sixth floor, the servants’ quarters. He befriends a group of sassy Spanish maids, refugees of the Franco regime, who teach him there’s more to life than stocks and bonds. The women’s influence on the house brings change... muy rápido! Screening starts at 3pm on May 18 at Idecaf (28 Le Thanh Ton, Q1). The movie will be shown in French, with Vietnamese subtitles



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

Do you think you should be listed on these pages? If so, simply email us on and we’ll see what we can do. We can’t promise but we’ll try our best

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


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

Lotte Cinema

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

Galaxy Cinema

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


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

Megastar Cinema

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


189/C1 Nguyen Van Huong, Q2 Tel: 0903 955780 This French painter teaches beginners how to work with different mediums and techniques, and more advanced artists how to release creativity.

THE TRAVEL PHOTOGRAPHERS WORKSHOP; Peter Stuckings and Mark Stennett are professional travel photographers based in Ho Chi Minh City who offer workshops and tours to help you improve your photography skills.


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


4 Le Van Mien, Q2 Tel: 0983 377710 Vin’s Space is an intimate, light-filled space that offers artists a quiet space to work individually or share ideas. Weekly classes include oil painting, drawing and arts and crafts classes for all ages.

Books & Magazines ARTBOOK

43 Dong Khoi, Q1, Tel: (08) 3502 1559 Frequent overseas imports of the latest magazines and books makes Artbook a rarity in this city. The stock covers art and architecture through to graphic design, fashion, cooking, interior design and landscaping.


40 Nguyen Hue, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 5796 Although there are many branches of Fahasa dotted throughout the city, this is

one of the largest, with three floors of books and related products in English, French, Chinese and Vietnamese.

FRENCH BOOKSHOP NAM PHONG 94 Ho Tung Mau, Q1, Tel: (08) 3914 7859 Set in a mixed-colonial, Chinese shophouse building constructed in the early 20th century, this small Gallic-run bookshop specialises in mainly French language novels and non-fiction publications.


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


175/24 Pham Ngu Lao, Q1 Tel: (08) 6290 6599 The authorised distributor of Lonely Planet in Vietnam, they also stock non-copied works of fiction in English (both new and second hand) as well as postcards, maps, stamp books, coin collections and travel fiction.


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


27i Tran Nhat Duat, Q1 Tel: 0908 878317 (Ms. Mai) Located in a quiet corner of District 1, Craig Thomas Gallery offers a compelling mix of up-and-coming and established local artists. In operation since 2009, its

founder has been promoting Vietnamese art for a decade.


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


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


324 Bis Dien Bien Phu, Q10, Tel: 0958 881908 (Ms. Hoang) A visit to Himiko’s Visual Saloon is never anything less than a feast for the eyes. Open for five years, this cafecum-gallery has a reputation for showcasing the work of Saigon’s bright young creative things including Himiko herself.


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


Floors 2 and 3, 9 Phan Chu Trinh, Q1 Tel: (08) 3822 6570 Founded in 1999 with the objective of promoting contemporary Vietnamese art, the gallery organises about three Vietnamese exhibitions every year and the entire inventory of works is available to purchase via their website.


213C Dong Khoi, Q1 Tel: (08) 3822 1366; 129B Le Thanh Ton, Q1 Tel: (08) 3823 3181

Established in 2004, these two galleries feature works by the likes of La Hon, Ton That Bang and Le Xuan Chieu. An eclectic range of styles is exhibited, including abstracts, landscapes and impressionism.


3 Me Linh, Binh Thanh, Tel: (08) 3840 0898 san– San Art is an independent, artist-run exhibition space that offers residency programmes for young artists, lecture series and an exchange programme that invites international artists/ curators to organise or collaborate on exhibitions.


53 Ho Tung Mau, Q1 Tel: (08) 3821 0966 Opened in June 1989 as Vietnam’s first private art gallery, TuDo specialises in oils, silk paintings and lacquerware, and has over 1,000 pieces across its five showrooms of works by city artists.


288 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, Q3 ZeroStation is a multi-complex studio space for young, experimental Vietnamese and foreign artists and longterm art projects managed by visual artist, independent curator and art writer, Nguyen Nhu Huy.

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


112 Nguyen Du, Q1 Tel: (08) 3824 3774 This colonial–era theatre holds classic piano recitals and orchestral performances,

and is closely connected to performance groups in the city. There are two concert rooms with two performances weekly.


Tel: 0903 930907 This 40–voice choir and 21-piece orchestra holds both private and public performances, with rehearsals held every Monday from 7.30pm to 9pm at the British International School at 43 Tu Xuong St, Q3.

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

Production Houses CREA TV

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


91/12 Hoa Hung, Q10, Tel: 0908 477079 Fact & Fiction Films has developed content worldwide for documentary, web and TV, with experience in all stages of production from development through to post-production and delivery

Word tries to keep its listings as accurate as possible, but we can’t do this without yourself. So, if you see anything which needs updating or revising, please email us on

May 2013 Word | 121

{FO R The Record} ** Lucius — EP * *

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


Binh Duong Highway, Phuong Hiep An, Thu Dau Mot, Binh Duong Tel: 0650 3845845 This huge amusement park is Vietnam's answer to Disneyland. A bus ride from Ho Chi Minh City gives you access to some amazing rides, a water-park and one of the better zoos in Vietnam. Located 45km away on Highway 13, just after Thu Dau Mot.



o say that I first heard Lucius on American National Public Radio’s Tiny Desk Concert series is a conversation starter. But if the person I was talking to asked what they sound like, I’d be stumped. Bob Boilen, from the Tiny Desk series, described them as a mash between “a girl group circa 1961” and Emmylou Harris, but that doesn’t give credit to the slow sashay of their vast rhythmic section — a mix of off-time stomps, snaps, shakers and modified drums — or the soft harmonics and Silvertone guitar lines that slip in and out of their songs. A better description, and one that Boilen would get hate mail for saying, is that Lucius put on the absolute best Tiny Desk Concert to ever grace his studio. As a music lover, it’s especially frustrating to describe new things that really get your rocks off. Praise falls longwinded and comparisons miss the mark. Words won’t suffice, which is probably why music was invented in the first place. That being said, when in late 2012 Lucius released their first EP (sparingly titled EP) I was champing at the bit to get a copy. I actually bought it from the iTunes store if that’s any indicator of how much I wanted to hear it but, upon first listen, was surprised at how

122 | Word May 2013

overproduced it is. The first track Don’t Just Sit There, brilliantly transitioned into during the Tiny Desk show, begins with spacey acoustic guitar strumming, followed by synthesizers and reverb all over the whiskeypretty voices of Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig, the lead vocalists. The song swells and is sweet with just a hint of that analog crackle I like so much. It’s an extraordinary record, but just so… different from what I was expecting. The other side of the coin is that such a difference only emphasises how dynamic and flexible the group can be. Wolfe and Laessig are both Berklee School of Music alumni, and you can tell by the grins on their all-male backing band’s faces that those dudes feel like the luckiest guys in town. They’re probably right. Lucius doesn’t need anyone to tell them what they should sound like, but goddamn I really just want to download the whole band and have them play a show in my living room. — Matt Bender Lucius — EP Spoil yourself, too, by Googling ‘lucius tiny desk concert’

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


2 Nguyen Binh Khiem, Q1, Tel: (08) 3829 3728 Dating from 1875, Saigon Zoo and Botanical Gardens has a vast collection of rare orchids and ornamental plants, and a collection of over one hundred species of animals.

Clubs & Societies INTERNATIONAL LADIES IN VIETNAM This long–established social organization offers ladies a chance to socialise at their weekly coffee mornings (Thursdays at 10am) and

participate in many cultural, social and sporting activities. Please see website for details.


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


Saigon Centre, 65 Le Loi, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 9666 This Club boasts two floors of modern facilities that provide sanctuary from the busy streets below. Facilities include tennis courts, a sauna and Jacuzzi. Members can enjoy alfresco dining at the ‘Coco Cabana’.


36bis Huynh Khuong Ninh, Q1, Tel: (08) 3820 9734 Sunday 1.30pm to 5pm The Overland Club organises pottery classes, VietnameseJapanese cooking classes, cultural art events and monthly special activities, such as the Soba Festival, pottery painting classes, the art of decorating paper and multinational cuisine days.

SAIGON COOKING CLASSES BY HOA TUC 74/7 Hai Ba Trung, Q1 Tel: (08) 3825 8485

Learn to cook quality Vietnamese cuisine with local specialist Hoa Tuc. The three-hour lesson, conducted by an English-speaking Vietnamese chef, includes a trip around Ben Thanh Market to gather fresh ingredients for the class.


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


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


Geisha's Coffee and Tea House, 2nd Floor, 85 Pasteur, Q1 Salsa, Merengue, Bachata and Reggaeton is taught every Sunday. No partners needed, just buy a glass of wine or a cocktail to participate.

Promotion for Facial Delight 60 mins (1,170,000 VND) or 90 mins ( 1,650,000 VND). 20% discount for members and 5% discount for non-members.


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

SAIGON SWING CATS For lessons in the Lindy Hop, East & West Coast Swing, Shap and Jitterbug, visit the website for more information. Free introductory class every Wednesday.


Cherry Blossom 1 & Lotus Road 1 and 3, APSC Compound, 36 Thao Dien Road, Q2 Tel: (08) 3744 2549 (Ms. Chi) With a pool, astroturf play area, basketball court and outdoor gym equipment, AIS Sports Centre is a great venue to stay fit. Packages available for family members of students, couples and others.


Tel. 0909 008985 Aquabiking classes help you strengthen and sculpt your body fast while keeping it safe for your joints and refreshing, thanks to the benefits of water. Suitable for all condition levels.

Body Expert Systems

Tel: (09) 3478 2763 Do you have limited time? Not seeing results? BES’s online software and memberships offer affordable and powerful tools to achieve fantastic fat loss, fitness improvement and overall wellbeing ­— anywhere.


Queen Ann Building, 28– 30–32 Le Lai, Q1; 5F Hung Vuong Plaza and 126 Hung Vuong, Q5 Tel: (08) 2222 0355 One of the leading fitness and yoga centres in Vietnam featuring modern equipment with over 100 aerobic and yoga classes like Hot Yoga, Indian Dance, Pole dance, Zumba, Body Balance and Body Combat.

Do you think you should be listed on these pages? If so, simply email us on and we’ll see what we can do. We can’t promise but we’ll try our best


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


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



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


Tel: (09) 8378 9318 This certified fitness professional offers tailored training for exercise and nutrition programmes, weight loss, muscle gain and strength training based on 10 years experience in the fitness industry.


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


Tel: (09) 3478 2763 Kiwifitness provides quality, accurate, professional and effective fitness and health services to enrich people’s lives.


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


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


34 Nguyen Dang Giai, Q2, Tel: (08) 3744 6672 Offers fitness classes and personal training with excellent facilities. Group classes include power yoga, pilates, circuit training, martial arts and spinning. There is also a spa and a restaurant serving calorie–calibrated meals.


Tel: 01286 305982 Paul Simos creates a supportive environment that enables people to achieve all of their health goals. Paul uses practical lifestyle coaching methods to guide clients in discovering which approach works best for them.


Tel: 0938 156865 Personal fitness, yoga and mixed martial arts trainer with 14 years of fitness industry experience and over 10 years of experience as a kickboxing instructor at Gold’s Gym in Venice, California.


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


New World Hotel, 76 Le Lai, Q1, Tel: (08) 3829 4000 Medium–sized gym with new cardio equipment and spacious changing rooms with adjustable shower settings, Jacuzzi, steam bath and sauna. Also has an excellent guitar–shaped outdoor pool.


Tel: 01225 811080 Sawano specializes in Fletcher Pilates and personal fitness, and emphasises core muscle development to strengthen and tone the body. Savano also offers individual and group classes tailored to your needs.

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{ body and Temple} ** It’s All in the Cow * * Is red meat really all that bad for you? Words by Phil Kelly

mg CLA

CLA intake from one serving of cheese


Cheese from grain-fed cows

Cheese from grassfed cows


or years we’ve been told red meat is bad for us, that it is unhealthy and the cause of cancer. Is this really the case? The simple fact is that animal products are only as healthy as the animal they come from. In the 1980s Dr Michael Pariza, of the University of Wisconsin, was looking to prove or disprove the theory that charcoalgrilled meat could cause cancer in humans. What he actually discovered was that there was a substance in red meat that was slowing the growth of tumours that he was trying to raise, which was the exact opposite of what he had set out to find. One year later he discovered the compound Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA). CLA is probably one of the best foods you can consume to slow down and fight cancer, help against diabetes, and benefit the circulatory system. Studies conducted in both Finland and France found that CLA protects women from breast cancer. In fact one French study discovered that women with the most CLA had a staggering 74 percent lower risk of breast cancer than the women with the least CLA. The best source of CLA is obtained from grass-fed (100 percent pasture raised) beef, lamb and bison, and butter and cheese from grass-fed animals. The diagram above illustrates the difference in quality of product between grain-fed and grass-fed animals.

All in the Feed The confusion regarding the health accusations against red meat is really the confusion between grass-fed and grain-fed. The myth that red meat is ‘bad’ for us is a study of grain-fed animals — a reflection of

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the food industry’s ‘commodity product’. Why feed animals grain when it’s not their natural food choice? Simply because grass-fed (naturally fed) livestock, chickens and fish take at least twice as long to reach their finish weight, all limiting profit margins.

The History of Grain-Feeding After World War Two there was a surplus of nitrogen in the U.S. from making weapons and bombs. The War Department contacted the Agriculture Department for a solution and they decided that the excess nitrogen could be put out on the cropland. From 1946 to 1950 the corn yield (corn is classified as a grain) in the US literally doubled, and by 1951 to 1952 farmers were complaining about low prices and the fact they had too much corn. The department then had to decide what to do with all the excess grain. They concluded that a cow could consume about 10kg of corn per day (far more than chickens and pigs). Thus, the birth of corn or grain-fed livestock and a number of corn or grain-based products and substances (like high-fructose corn syrup) in our diets. So, the fact that the department needed to do something with all that corn meant that animals (and humans) were fed with it. It was the perfect solution. However, this ‘fast-tracked’ profit comes at a cost. Grain-fed animals are more susceptible to illness due to their diet and living conditions. Hence, they receive large doses of antibiotics and sometimes hormones to fight disease, which further accelerates their growth rate.

Grazing animals operate a stomach at a PH of 7 (neutral), whereas an animal with an increased starch or heavy grain diet will have a stomach PH of 4 to 4.5 (very acidic). This acidic environment of the grain-fed animals’ digestive tract leads to an increased population of E. coli and also makes them more acid resistant. When we consume grain-fed meat, our digestive system is not able to cleanse out these acid-resistant bacteria and hence becomes ill. Grass-fed beef, on the other hand, does not cause alteration of the E. coli bacteria and is therefore healthy. Along with this grass-fed beef has higher Omega 3 fatty acids and higher vitamin E content. Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that protects your body’s cells from free radicals and thus delays ageing. It also reduces the incidence of various chronic diseases, including heart disease, diabetes and cataracts. Where does this leave those living in Asia? Grass-fed livestock is hard to find in Asia. I recommend developing a relationship with the people who supply your food. Learn how your food is grown and treated so you can make an informed decision on whether you want to include the produce in your nutritional plan. Sometimes you have to choose the best of bad options and balance your diet with nutrients that promote detoxification of harmful substances, or simply go without and choose alternative products. Phil Kelly is founder and master trainer at Body Expert Systems. For more information contact him on 0934 782763 or go to


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


Manor Apartments, 91 Nguyen Huu Canh, Binh Thanh, Tel: (08) 3514 0255 Steve Chipman, who had a hand in establishing gyms at the Sofitel hotels in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, is behind Star Fitness — one of Vietnam’s largest and bestequipped gyms.


Tel: 0908 897604 Stephane Laporte is a certified personal trainer and sports massage therapist. Programmes include pre/ post-race preparation and therapy, triathlon coaching, corrective and functional exercises, weight loss/gain, TRX, Kettlebells, Capoeira and more.


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


The Landmark, 5B Ton Duc Thang, Q1 Tel: (08) 3822 2098 ext. 176 In addition to the squash court, facilities include a fully–equipped gym room, a rooftop swimming pool and separate male and female saunas.

THE SAIGON RIVER CLUB Ruby Towers — Saigon Pearl, 92 Nguyen Huu Canh, Binh Thanh Tel: (08) 3514 9009 This gym is equipped with advanced equipment, cardiovascular, strength and free weight sections, sauna and steam rooms, plus studios offering Spinning, Pilates, Yoga, Zumba, Aerobics, and Belly Dancing. Includes a large outdoor pool with jacuzzi.

Football and Rugby


8 Vo Van Tan, Q3 Tel: (08) 3829 6312 Home to the majority of hotshot Asian teams including Filipinos, South Koreans and Japanese. Mismo Ngayon, one of six Filipino teams, play there every Sunday morning.

Cricket RMIT University, 702 Nguyen Van Linh, Tan Phong, Q7 Weekends The Saigon Cricket League includes teams from five nations — Australia, England, India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka — plus a mixed–nationality team called United Cricket Club. New recruits are welcome.

VIETNAM CRICKET ASSOCIATION (VCA) Manish Sogani Tel: 0908 200598 This originally French team welcomes football enthusiasts looking for competition or conviviality both on and off the pitch.


Contact Fred on 0919 709024 or Viet Luu 0909 500171. This predominantly French side has been playing for over 10 years, winning the championship title for the last four years.



ICCS (INDIAN CRICKET CLUB OF SAIGON) Deeptesh Gill Tel: 01228 770038

ISCS (INDIAN SPORTS CLUB IN SAIGON) Munish Gupta Tel: 0986 973244 This team is part of the Saigon International Football League, with regular games against local teams. A sociable football team always on the hunt for enthusiastic new talent.


RMIT University, 702 Nguyen Van Linh, Tan Phong, Q7 saigonrugbyfootballclub@ The Saigon Geckos play social touch rugby and also welcome men and women to join and enjoy drinks afterwards. There are regular tours of the region, as well as games with visiting teams. Beginners welcome.



Samie Cashmiri Tel: 0976 469090

SACC (SAIGON AUSTRALIA CRICKET CLUB) Steve Treasure Tel: 0903 998824 Players train weekly and tour across the region to play in local and international tournaments. New players are actively encouraged to join this SIFL expat football club, running since 1995.


SSC (SRI LANKA SPORTS CLUB) Suhard Amit Tel: 0988 571010


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RMIT University, 702 Nguyen Van Linh, Tan Phong, Q7 Tel: 0937 683230 The Vietnam Swans play international footy matches around Asia. Social functions aplenty for everyone. Regardless of age or ability, all are invited to become an active part of the club.



Asif Ali Tel: 0937 079034


ladiesfirst– A non–profit association of women golfers in Ho Chi Minh City, organising monthly tournaments whose format varies from month to month, including single stroke play, individual stableford and two–ball scramble.


Nguyen Van Linh, Tan Phu, Q7 Tel: (08) 5411 2001 Visitors’ fees are around May 2013 Word | 125

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VND500,000 for a round of golf at this mini nine–hole course. 40 percent discount on Wednesdays. On the driving range, 50 balls cost under VND60,000. Equipment hire available.


77 Binh Duong, Thuan An, Binh Duong Tel: 0650 756660 This resort incorporates tennis courts, a swimming pool and a gymnasium at its 18–hole, 6,384–metre course just 22km from the city.


Long Thanh My Village, Q9 Tel: (08) 6280 0101 This facility just off Highway 1 has two courses. Both 18– hole courses are complemented by other attractions such as tennis, boating and an on–site eatery.

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

RANGERS BASEBALL TEAM A baseball team with over 25 international members. Practices and games are held on the weekends at RMIT and the Taiwanese Junior High School in District 7.

SAIGON INTERNATIONAL DARTS LEAGUE There are some excellent players in this fun and popular international darts league, which runs a highly competitive competition for a growing number of pub– based teams.

SAIGON INTERNATIONAL SOFTBALL LEAGUE The Saigon International Softball League invites you to play slo-pitch softball. Teams with players from all over the world compete every Sunday.


saigonshootersnetball@ A friendly mixed netball league, running on Monday nights, is open to both men and women from the ages of eight and up (including an adult competition).


Miscellaneous CAPOEIRA

25 Nguyen Binh Khiem, Q1 capoeira.vietnam@gmail. com For a different form of training, try Capoeira, an Afro–Brazilian art form that involves movements from martial arts, games, and dance.

HASH HOUSE HARRIERS Balancing beer and exercise, this long–established running club goes to various out–of–town locations to tear up a few kilometres and burn some of the weekend’s calories. Walking trails offered. Depart from the Caravelle Hotel on Sundays at 2pm.


Buddha Bar, 7 Thao Dien, Q2 Tel: 0913 408146 Diving courses and trips offered by the longest established PADI dive centres throughout Vietnam. All courses can be started at their state–of–the–art centre in An Phu.

Tel: (08) 7303 1100 Offers coaching for football, tennis, basketball and swimming for both children and adults. Private lessons are also available throughout the year.


74 Nguyen Dinh Chieu, Q3 Tel: (08) 6210 9192 Offers beginner and advanced mountain climbing routes, safety courses and training at its 26–metre purpose–built mountain in District 3, with an additional location in District 2.

Tennis KY HOA II

796 Su Van Hanh, Q10 Tel: (08) 3863 3706 Hourly hire for courts starts from VND80,000. Private coaching is available, and a small shop stocks all the equipment. Also has an excellent gym and swimming pool.


291 Cach Mang Thang Tam, Q10 Tel: (08) 3862 7144 Private coaching sessions and group lessons are available at this popular club. You can rent one of several courts from VND40,000 per hour. There is also equipment for hire.


The Landmark, 5B Ton Duc Thang, Q1 Tel: (08) 3822 2098 ext 176 Membership is open to non–Landmark residents for use of the courts. Private instruction is available for new players or those without a partner. Racquet rental with balls inclusive. Book in advance.


James: 0938 889899 Rina: rinabakher@yahoo. com. Founded in Singapore, they train every Saturday morning from 10am to midday. Everyone is welcome. For more information about games and the club in Vietnam contact James or Rina.


RMIT, 702 Nguyen Van Linh, Q7

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Tel: 0909 458890 / 0903 042014 saigon– Pan–Asian competitions are often organised for the more experienced and everyone can join in this exciting modern sport held every Sunday afternoon in Saigon South from 4pm to 5.30pm.


Tel: 0908 604753 Contact outgoing and experienced instructor Mr Hoang, who takes individuals or groups from beginner level up to fluency. VND220,000 per hour.

Vietnamese Language Garden

135/10 Nguyen Cuu Van, Binh Thanh Tel: 0916 670771 vietnameselanguagegarden. com A Vietnamese language school specialising in personalized, one-on-one instruction at a comfortable and centrally located facility, in your home, office, or over Skype.


45 Dinh Tien Hoang, Q1 Tel: (08) 3910 3175 This professional school has built a good reputation over 12 years. Offers set and tailor–made courses for all abilities in both northern and southern Vietnamese within high quality facilities.


37/54 Tran Dinh Xu, Q1 Tel: (08) 6678 0914 VNC Vietnamese Language Training & Translation provides Vietnamese language training by qualified experienced teachers and Certified / Notarized Translation by experts for types of materials and documents.

Yoga & Meditation Anupa Yoga

9 Dong Du, Q1 Tel: (08) 3822 2394 At anupa's private studio, we offer classes to individuals or small groups. The primary focus is to support students who want to regularly practise traditional yoga. For information contact us via email support@ or phone.


shivaprakashyoga@yahoo. com A qualified yoga master from India who has been teaching in Ho Chi Minh City in different locations including L’Apothiquaire and Nutrifort. Yoga styles include Asthanga, Hatha, Dynamic, Vital and Power yoga.


Tel: 0909 648193 E-RYT200-certified yoga instructor offering Vinyasa yoga classes at various locations around the city. Private and corporate yoga programmes available.


Tel: 01286 305982 Paul Simos offers power yoga to build strength, flexibility, balance and endurance while at the same time imparting a feeling of calm and relaxation. Private sessions and group classes available.

THE SAIGON RIVER CLUB Ruby Towers — Saigon Pearl, 92 Nguyen Huu Canh, Binh Thanh

Tel: (08) 3514 9009 Saigon Pearl’s luxury, stateof-the-art health club provides a number of Yoga classes held throughout the week with experienced practitioners at varied times in a specifically designed softfloored studio.


Tel: 0908 352265 Founder Suzanne Vian, has two decades of experience and is a Yoga Alliance ‘Experienced Instructor’. Iyengar-influenced classes, specialising in Hatha, Flow, Hot, Pre and Post-natal Yoga, Restorative, Injury Rehabilitation, Retreats and Trainings.


54/2/25 Bach Dang, Tan Binh Tel: (08) 3848 5347 Newly opened yoga studio focusing on Ashtanga Yoga and suitable for all levels. Prenatal and postnatal classes also available. Classes are bilingual with internationally certified instructors in cooperation with Tirisulayoga Singapore.


Manor Apartments, 91 Nguyen Huu Canh, Binh Thanh Tel: (08) 3514 0255 Yoga professionals teach regular yoga classes in three disciplines at this gym. Members get free access. Contact Star Fitness directly for schedules and non–member prices.


84T/4 Tran Dinh Xu, Q1 Tel: (08) 3920 5813 Soham Yoga Studio and Boutique specialises in highquality yoga training, offering Vinyasa Flow, Sivananda, Power yoga and more with Yoga Alliance-certified yoga instructors. Soham’s yoga shop also sells high quality yoga products.

VAJRAYANA BUDDHISM MEDITATION GROUP Meditation group specializing in the methods of Tibetan Buddhism. Help the practitioners understand and experience the nature of their mind and the nature of all phenomena.


Van Hanh Pogoda, 750 Nguyen Kiem, Phu Nhuan

Tel: 0913 985403 vn Well-respected Dr Thich Tam Duc, secretary-general of the research institute, teaches Theravada and Mahayana Buddhist meditation classes, with the ultimate goal of attaining true happiness. Open to both Vietnamese and nonVietnamese speakers.


33/19 Quoc Huong, Q2 Lotus Road 28, Thao Dien, An Phu, Q2 Tel: 0903 873599 Vivacolour offers tailoredmade relaxation and meditation programmes combined with chromotherapy, essential oils and music. Laughter Yoga and a Colours Meditation group training workshop is also available.


Tel: 01266 626467 Daphne offers yoga classes, Reiki and Thai Yoga Massage across the city. Each session is unique and different to provide the perfect balance in nurturing the body and mind.


Studio 1: 95 Pasteur, Q1 Studio 2: 5 Ton Duc Thang, Q1 Tel: 0905 735833 (Thuy) Conducts over 150 commercial and private classes a month and offers a variety of classes. A larger second studio provides a great space for yoga workshops, training and healthcare and lifestyle events.


335/31 Dien Bien Phu, Q3 Tel: (08) 3929 1707 A place to get away from the city for quality yoga or meditation practice. They offer daily classes in different yoga styles — Ashtanga, Power, Yin, Vinyasa, Hatha, Slow Flow and Funky Flow.

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WELLNESS From alternative medicine through to have that long sought-after nose-job and that once-a-year medical check, here are some the wellness options available in town


161-161A Hai Ba Trung, Q3 Tel: (08) 3930 6667 A clinic providing chiropractic, physiotherapy, and foot care, staffed by Americantrained chiropractic physicians and an Americaneducated doctor of physical therapy. Includes treatment of back, neck, and knee pain, and sports injury rehabilitation.


Family Medical Practice Tel: (08) 3822 7848 American-educated and licensed physical therapist with a Doctorate of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree in Viet-

nam. Specialising in orthopedic injuries, joint pain, sports injuries and post-operative rehabilitation.

Dr. Astrid Matarrita PsyD.

Psychologist and Counsellor Thao Dien, Q2 Tel: 01218 263167 Certified psychologist specialized in dynamic therapy focusing on improving emotional health and positive behavior. Personalised process design to help people suffering from emotional distress. Children and adults. English and Spanish.


2B1 Chu Manh Trinh, Q1 34 Nguyen Dang Giai, Q2 Tel: 01268 654202 American-trained and nationally certified massage therapist and National Academy of Sports Medicine certified

personal trainer offering orthopedic manual therapy, corrective exercise and orthopedic massage, focusing on pain management well as injury rehab/prevention.


432 Pham Thai Buong, Q7 Tel: 0906 684969 Dr Kim Sung Soo offers a range of alternative oriental treatments, including acupuncture, cupping, moxibustion, physical therapy, plus treatment for fertility, chronic pain (headache, backache, arthritis, muscular), obesity, allergies and menopausal disorders.


273–275 Nguyen Van Troi, Phu Nhuan Q3 Tel: (08) 3997 1146 Apart from standard treatments such as acupuncture and massage, this hospital

and training centre places emphasis on physiotherapy — the use of herbs to stimulate and protect the immune system.

OSTEOPATHIC MEDICINE / PHYSIOTHERAPY — DAVID TRUONG TAN Tel: 0903 098124 osteopathy– French–trained osteopath and physiotherapist specialising in treating back pain and other muscular, ligaments and joint problems. Osteopathy relieves pain and other discomforts using a global approach and gentle manipulative techniques.


Tel: 0937 442 516 Australian-trained Massage and Remedial Therapist offering Deep Tissue/Sports Massage, Hawaiian Lomi Lomi Massage, Prenatal Massage and Reiki. Located in An Phu.

Home visits available.


Tel: 0918 591933 A unique energy healing technique for mind, body and spirit. Jodie Eastwood is a UK-qualified practioner based in Ho Chi Minh City.


179 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, Q3, Tel: (08) 3932 6579 One of the city’s leading centres of traditional Chinese medicine infused with modern understanding. Up–to–date and clean with friendly staff, but you will need a translator.


Tel: 0903 873599 Vivacolour offers chromotherapy and chromopuncture which involves combining the energy of colour

and acupuncture channels. Treatment is available for a variety of problems such as joint pain, stress, sleep issues, among others.


5th Floor, Crescent Plaza, 105 Ton Dat Tien, Q7 Tel: (08) 5413 6758 American Eye Center Vietnam offers a solution to different eye problems with eyelid plastic surgery by an American Board-Certified eye surgeon providing eyelid surgery as well as Botox and cosmetic filler injections.

CAO THANG AESTHETIC CENTRE 135B Tran Binh Trong, Q5 Tel: (08) 3923 8435 A range of eye and aesthetic procedures are available at

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Tel: (08) 6290 6167 Conveniently located downtown clinic providing modern, safe and fast treatments including Botox and restylane, by an experienced American doctor. Also provides cosmetic surgery consultations with French and Vietnamese doctors.

SIAN SKINCARE CLINIC this modern hospital. With state-of-the-art devices, services include laser vision correction, cataract surgery, himyopia treatment, Botox and other cosmetic procedures.

DR. TU’S Clinic

290 Tran Hung Dao, Q1 Tel: (08) 3836 7685 Modern treatments such as ultrasound–based fat elimination and body contouring, Botox, restylane, and surgical interventions. The clinic director is a certified member of the International Board of Cosmetic Surgery.

Level 2, 71-79 Dong Khoi, Q1 Tel: (08) 3827 6999 The Australian and Canadian managed SIAN Clinic offers a wide range of skincare medical therapies to treat problems by an experienced dermatologist and facial care team. The clinic utilises the latest therapies.


254 Dien Bien Phu, Q3 Tel: (08) 3932 1090


6 Nguyen Luong Bang, Saigon South Parkway, Q7 Tel: (08) 5411 3366 This modern international– standard hospital has a full cosmetic surgery department offering body contouring, breast augmentation, Botox, a range of facial surgery options, laser skin improvement, with expert French and Vietnamese doctors.


45 Vo Thi Sau, 2nd Floor, Citilight Tower, Q1

Counselling WE Link

64 Ho Hao Hon, Q1 Tel: (08) 6291 2900 Psychological counselling services for individual, group and family. Diverse counsellors and therapists, using Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, Art Therapy, Systemic Family Therapy. For adolescents and adults. Vietnamese, English, French and Spanish spoken.


EXM Esthetic Mediplex

MD6, Nguyen Luong Bang, Q7 Tel: (08) 5410 0100 EXM Clinic is a high tech skincare and dental cosmetic center that specialises in beauty enhancement. EXM is founded by the same people behind SIAN Skincare Laser and Westcoast International Dental Clinics.

Stamford Skin Centre offers a broad range of medical and aesthetic skin treatments. Their international dermatologists and doctors ensure accurate diagnosis and safe treatment procedures. It houses excellent equipment for a variety of procedures.


173 Ton Dat Tien, Tan Phong Ward, Q7 Tel: 5413 6634 9am to 12pm, 2pm to 6.30pm (Mon, Tue, Fri, Sat); 2pm to 6.30pm (Thurs); 9am to 12pm (Sun); Closed Wednesdays A contemporary Japanese dental clinic that provides a full range of standard and specialised dental services and treatments, including a 20-minute teeth whitening using Brillica mouthpieces and LED lighting systems; general check-ups and cleaning (polishing & prevention), and a range of orthodontic work. Smile Dental Clinic is open MonSat from 9am to 12pm and 2pm to 6pm, closed on Sundays and public holidays. English - Vietnamese and Japanese are also available to call

Opera View Building, 161 Dong Khoi, Q1 Tel: (08) 3822 8800 Accadent Vietnam is supported by Accadent Germany and offers high quality standards, high–tech materials and equipment, German precision and hygiene standards for your teeth.


6 Nguyen Luong Bang, Saigon South Parkway, Q7 Tel: (08) 5411 3435 Full–service dental clinic at this international–class hospital covers the entire spectrum from examinations and cleaning to braces and implants, all carried out to the highest standards.


167A Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, Q3 Tel: (08) 3829 8520 Globally renowned provider of medical assistance and in-


Commitment, Integrity, Quality

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ternational healthcare offers full dental services in the clinic. Foreign and Vietnamese dentists provide high skilled dental service. Orthodontics is also available.


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


Ben Thanh Clinic, 27 Nguyen Trung Truc, Q1 Tel: (08) 3825 6999 The Practice, Level 1, 71-79 Dong Khoi, Q1 Tel: (08) 3825 6777 An international dental clinic equipped with the latest technology, the comfortable clinics offer cosmetic and implant dentistry with a focus on making each patient’s experience anxiety and pain free.


Fideco Riverview Building, 14 Thao Dien, Q2 Tel: (08) 3744 6475 anthony@aglondonsalon. Top British stylist “George” brings his unique flair to hair in District 2. A modern and professional salon, the products used here are exclusively Dermalogica, Schwarzkopf and L’Oreal.


37B Pham Ngoc Thach, Q3 Tel: (08) 3823 0908 A four–floor, one–stop hair salon for people who like

highlights and a sharp– looking mane. Even the stylists here sport modern, funky styles. A cut above the rest.


23 Ton Duc Thang, Q1 Tel: (08) 3827 7700 A Singaporean salon specialising in hair colouring, treatments and styling. A team of local and foreign stylists will help you choose the hair colour and style that is right for you.


48 Tran Ngoc Dien, Thao Dien, Q2 Tel: (08) 3519 4625 Open daily from 9am to 8pm Hair stylist and colourist specialist Sandrine has relocated her long-standing flagship salon Venus Coiffure to a villa in Thao Dien. A full range of services is offered including a dedicated kids salon.

American Eye Center

5th Floor, Crescent Plaza, 105 Ton Dat Tien, Q7 Tel: 5413 6758 / 5413 6759 American Eye Center is located in the heart of Phu My Hung, providing eye care services to Adults and Children by an American Board-certified ophthalmologist with 17 years of experience. The American-standard facility is equipped with state of the art equipments for the early detection and treatment of important eye diseases from Lasik and cataract surgeries to presbyopia, glaucoma and diabetic eye disease treatments. Cosmetic procedures such as eyelid surgery and Botox injections are also available.


45 Ton That Thiep, Q1 Tel: (08) 3827 2737 Spa–related salon with a good reputation for quality and comfort offers washes and leisurely haircuts from VND330,000 plus a range of related services.


119 Dinh Tien Hoang, Da Kao, Q1 Tel: (08) 3827 7700 SD-11,Panorama Phu My Hung, Tan Phong, Q7 Tel: (08) 5413 3300 More high–end salon than school, this outlet provides treatments, from a simple wash and blow-dry from a student to multi–tonal highlights from a junior stylist supervised by qualified instructors.


21–23 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, Q1 Tel: (08) 3822 9660 65 Le Loi, Q1 Tel: (08) 3821 6394 From the same chain as His Salon, these places have equally well–trained stylists offering simple haircuts starting from VND150,000.


41 Nguyen Trung Ngan, Q1, Tel: (08) 3829 6298 This salon can make you look naturally blond or help you to revamp your hairstyle. Using international brands like L’Oreal and Wella, your hair will be given that healthy, bouncier new look.


219 Dien Bien Phu, Q3 Tel: (08) 3829 2791 Run by Canadian hair stylist Ky The Guy, YKC Hair Studio attracts a loyal expat clientele thanks to the welltrained staff and friendly English-speaking environment. Top industry products such as Tigi and Goldwell are used.

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Lash Lounge, Q7 Tel: 01205 100583 Originating in Canada, Lash Snob has just recently opened another luxury lash lounge in District 7. We specialize in silk lash extensions and use only the highest-grade glue that has been approved by Health Canada. Each individual silk lash is properly and precisely applied to your natural lash, and lasts anywhere from 4 to 6 weeks. No need for mascara! You too, will leave as a Lash Snob. Make-up application also available. Book your appointment today.

Tel: (08) 3827 2366 This French medical clinic provides general practice and a range of specialties including cardiology, gynecology, psychotherapy and traditional medicine.


8 Alexandre de Rhodes, Q1 Tel: (08) 3823 8888 Well–established and well– regarded, offers emergency and primary medical care with international and Vietnamese doctors on call 24 hours a day. Prices are very reasonable.


Diamond Plaza, 34 Le Duan, Q1 Tel: (08) 3822 7848 Full–service 24–hour healthcare provider with highly– qualified doctors handling everything from emergencies to tests and X–rays, in–patient and out–patient care, check– ups, travel medicine and medical evacuations.

Medical AUSTRALIAN CLINIC & PATHOLOGY DIAGNOSTICS 273–275 Ly Thai To, Q10 Tel: (08) 3834 9941 Services includes general outpatient healthcare, corporate / visa health–checks, X–ray, full laboratory and in– house pharmacy including specialist medical services covering cardiology, pediatrics, obstetrics, gynecology, orthopedics and dermatology.


135B Tran Binh Trong, Q5 Tel: (08) 3923 8435 Cao Thang is a comprehensive eye hospital overseeing 6000 surgeries per year. English speaking staff, a member of the World Association of Eye Hospitals, and quality assurance by the Joint Commission International.

Miu Miu Foot & Spa

4 Chu Manh Trinh, Q1 Tel: 6659 3609 2B Chu Manh Trinh, Q1 Tel: 6680 5652 10am to 11:30pm (Last booking 10:30pm) Located in the city centre, and standing for “Nyanya” (or “cry of the kitten”), Miu Miu is an elegant and serene Japanese spa offering various body, facial and foot massages, as well as several nail treatments including manicures, polish and design, and scrubs. Massages range from 60 minutes to two hours and rates are from VND65,000 to VND530,000. The spa also offers Thann and Harnn, popular beauty products in Thailand.


Manor Apartments, 91 Nguyen Huu Canh, Binh Thanh Tel: (08) 3514 0757 Sister clinic of the Family Medical Practice, Care 1 opened in 2007 and offers preventative healthcare checkups as well as a full range of corporate health services for international companies in Vietnam.



6 Nguyen Luong Bang, Saigon South Parkway, Q7 Tel: (08) 5411 3333 Emergency: (08) 5411 3500 International hospital whose standard of health care matches that found anywhere, with 19 full–time French doctors and 58 Vietnamese doctors, providing expertise in 30 medical and surgical areas, especially maternity care.


45 Vo Thi Sau, 2nd Floor, Citilight Tower, Q1 Tel: (08) 6290 6167 State–of–the–art medical centre located in District 1. Experienced American, French, and Vietnamese doctors provide the full spectrum health care. Plus sports medicine, cosmetic treatments, skin care and surgical consultations.


601B Cach Mang Thang Tam, Q10 Tel: (08) 3977 8130 Mottoed “Building Stem Cell bridges for everyone”, HMIC comprises a medical clinic and associated pathology laboratory with Applied Research Center of Regenerate medicine.


1 Han Thuyen, Q1 Tel: (08) 3827 2366 cmi– This French medical clinic provides general practice and a range of specialties including cardiology, OB–GYN, ophthalmology, paediatrics, and sports medicine.


167A Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, Q3 Tel: (08) 3829 8520 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.


254 Dien Bien Phu, Q3 Tel: (08) 3932 1090 Stamford Medical Clinic offers services in internal medicine, dermatology, aesthetic medicine, infectious diseases, and general medicine.


135A Nguyen Van Troi, Phu Nhuan Tel: (08) 3997 4545 79 Dien Bien Phu, Q1 Tel: (08) 3910 4545 Well-regarded clinic offering general examinations and specialising in pediatrics, digestive diseases, cardiology, women’s health and internal medicine. Offers a membership programme and cooperates with most insurance companies in Vietnam and abroad.

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3 Truong Dinh, Q1 Tel: (08) 3521 0599 A nail spa in Saigon with a modern ambiance. Services range from classic manicures and spa treatment to acrylic and gel enhancements.


40 Ton That Thiep, Q1 Tel: (08) 3914 1407 Grooming salon for men which, as well as its standard hairdressing services, offers massages for the tired executive. A good place to escape the hustle and bustle of Saigon.


64A Truong Dinh, Q3 100 Mac Thi Buoi, Q1 Tel: (08) 3822 1218 Award–winning salon very highly rated by foreign visitors offers body massages, facials, sports fatigue massages, slimming wraps and waxing. Also offers gentleman’s care.

from 30 minutes, to two-hour hot stone therapy, includes one suite with a Jacuzzi bath; offers hand and foot care and a hair styling area.


69 Thu Khoa Huan, Q1 Tel: (08) 3827 7188 Indochine Spa provides a peaceful and serene atmosphere with aromatic scents and lulling melodies. Customers are pampered by qualified therapists using natural French products in a clean and pleasant environment.


112, Pasteur Street, Q1 Tel: (08) 6299 0563 10am to 10pm (last booking 9.30pm) Mekong Bliss Spa is a top place to enjoy authentic Vietnamese spa treatments. As well as offering an impressive array of services, part of the proceeds help disadvantaged youth in the Mekong Delta.


23C Ton Duc Thang, Q1 Specialising in all forms of skincare, this is well–designed, ambient and outfitted day spa offers body treatments as well as facials and foot treatments.

31 Ly Tu Trong, Q1 Tel: (08) 3905 4609 An old world, Indochineesque interior complete with wooden floors, flowers and flowing drapes makes this an excellent atmosphere in which to enjoy a massage. Also offers hair styling and facials.




G20-022, Rd. 6 Hung Vuong 1, Q7 Tel: (08) 5414 8008 This modern salon provides waxing, nail art and manipedis to both women and men. Smooth aims to satisfy your cravings for luscious lacquer, silky smooth skin, happy hands and fab feet.


Sheraton Saigon, 88 Dong Khoi, Q1 Tel: (08) 3827 2828 Natural and holistic treatments abound at this refurbished luxury hotel spa, from natural rainforest showers to the use of Harnn & Thann spa products.


61-63 Tran Dinh Xu, Q1 Tel: (08) 6295 8926 Aimed exclusively at ladies and couples only, treatments at this Japanese spa include facial, body and foot care, and Japanese-style haircuts, as well as steam-sauna, paraffin and waxing services.


129A Nguyen Hue, Q1 Tel: (08) 3823 8368 Modern and bright downtown spa, offers massages lasting

110 Pasteur, Q1 Tel: 0907 589290 A new spa that offers services such as body massage, facial and hair treatments. The price list includes service with discounts for members.


3rd Floor, InterContinental Asiana Saigon, crn. of Hai Ba Trung & Le Duan, Q1 Tel: (08) 3520 9901 Spa InterContinental offers guests the professional spa expertise and a truly sensory experience. With an extensive menu, the Spa InterContinental provides the caring touch of local therapists.


79 2/1 Phan Ke Binh, Q1 Tel: (08) 3910 5575 spatropic. com Spa Tropic is a stylish boutique spa housed in the refurbished former Chilean Consulate. Spa Tropic has a long-standing reputation among expats and visitors alike for its professional quality service.


Nguyen Du Villas, 111 Nguyen Du, Q1 Tel: (08) 3822 0885 High–end spa set in the elegant grounds of one of the city’s most enviable addresses. The spa itself is intimate and beautifully decorated.

Treatments focus on relaxation therapies.


22nd floor, Sailing Tower, 111A Pasteur, Q1 Tel: (08) 2220 2600 A luxury health spa that offers both relaxation and health care therapies to clients. Oriental remedies and therapies collected from the Traditional Medicine Institutes of Vietnam are used by the centre’s therapists.


Saigon River Club, Saigon Pearl, Ruby 1 Tower, 92 Nguyen Huu Canh, Binh Thanh, Tel: (08) 3514 9006 The Manor, 1st Floor, 91 Nguyen Huu Canh, Binh Thanh Tel: (08) 3514 0290 Located at two serviced apartment locations, The Spa offers foot massages, body massages and treatments, facial skin treatments and pampering packages.


New World Saigon Hotel, 76 Le Lai, Q1 Tel: (08) 3829 4000 ext. 2235 Elegant facility offering relaxation at the highest level. Different treatment rooms are available to deliver contemporary rejuvenation treatments. Spacious changing rooms with jacuzzi, steam bath and sauna.


Park Hyatt, 2 Lam Son Square, Q1 Tel: (08) 3824 1234 Breathtaking luxury spa with a tranquil atmosphere, Vichy shower room and range of high–quality massages, facial, body and foot treatments, and overall spa packages complemented by the use of Comfort Zone products.


219 Dien Bien Phu, Q3 Tel: (08) 3829 2791 Exceptional service and customer satisfaction has established YKC as a premier pampering destination for Saigon’s expats and visitors. YKC operates with the utmost integrity and respect in regards to serving its clients.

Do you think you should be listed on these pages? If so, simply email us on and we’ll see what we can do. We can’t promise but we’ll try our best



Looking good and dressing even better is big in this image-conscious metropolis. So, here are some of the fashion options available to you in Ho Chi Minh City

Accessories & Shoes 2K BAG SHOP

193 Vo Van Ngan, Thu Duc; 55 Pham Van Thuan, Bien Hoa Tel: 0977 872777 Gaining popularity amongst Vietnamese and foreigners alike, this store stocks an impressive, colourful selection of purses, wallets, handbags, laptop carriers, backpacks and suitcases. Prices range from VND100,000 to VND1.5 million.


animals. Prices range from VND5,000 to VND2.1 million.

products are from Vietnam. Prices begin at VND160,000.



18-20 Nguyen Trai, Q1 Tel: (08) 3925 1132 B1-62 Vincom Center, 70-72 Le Thanh Ton, Q1 Tel: (08) 3993 9306 9am to 10pm With two branches in town, this airy, well-displayed Singaporean store sells women’s shoes, bags, sunglasses and accessories. Prices are acceptable for an international brand.

B1-37 Vincom Center, 70-72 Le Thanh Ton, Q1 Tel: (08) 3993 9308 Accessorize pulls in droves of shoppers thanks to their attractive range of globally sourced products, from beachwear and children’s clothing to underwear, swimsuits, hats, bags, sandals, jewellery, sunglasses, and more.


Anupa Eco Luxe

35 Dong Khoi, Q1 Tel: (08) 6291 8162 9.30am to 8pm This retail-cum-gallery space specialises in contemporary and exclusive handcrafted jewellery made from handpicked gemstones and raw materials. Exhibitions and gallery talks run every month.

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

127-129 Nguyen Trai, Q1 Tel: (08) 3832 3904 The bright yellow signage and the street style, wooden-shelf decor of this shop displays a range of shoes, sandals and boots. With Dr. Martens, it’s all about the quality of the soles.



2 Thao Dien, Thao Dien, Q2 Tel: 01283 221705 B.O.M provides imported, high-quality helmets from Italy and China, bean bags, authentic sunglasses from France, high-quality raincoats for kids and adults and other accessories.

77-79 Dong Khoi, Q1. Tel: (08) 3822 3277 71 Pasteur, Q1. Tel: (08) 3824 2701 9am to 9pm One of Vietnam’s most renowned brands for designer handbags and jewellery, Ipa-Nima offers flamboyant designs, unique twists and funky embellishments in great fashionable shapes. Stocks shoes, dresses and hats.




B-42, Vincom Center, 70-72 Le Thanh Ton, Q1 Tel: (08) 3936 9777 9am to 10pm Birkenstock sells shoes, sandals and clogs imported from Germany, offering similar products for kids. A pair of thong sandals starts at VND1.9 million for adults and VND1.6 million for kids.


1B Bui Vien, Q1 Tel: (08) 2210 2084 8am to 10.30pm Well-known for recycled bags of various designs and colours. Other unique products includes quilts, ethnic bags, jewellery and scrap metal

174 Nguyen Trai, Q1 Tel: (08) 3926 0270 Jemma’s elegance and luxury provides instant temptation for the avid shopper. All products are made in Vietnam, with imported rare stones that increase the value of each piece.


67 Mac Thi Buoi, Q1 Tel: (08) 3829 4007 8am to 10pm This small two-storey shop contains a huge collection of cool, funky jewellery, along with ethnic bags, hand-made silver and lacquer items. All

146AB Pasteur, Q1 Tel: (08) 3824 8382 10.30am to 8.30pm Features upmarket shoes and bags made from highquality materials such as crocodile or python skin, and garnished with a large variety of wooden, Swarovski crystal and European-style colourful beads.


115 Nguyen Trai, Q1 Tel: (08) 3925 9582 9am to 10pm One of the world’s most sought-after footwear brands. SKECHERS offers new and stylish designs for both genders from 5 to 70 years old. A pair of sports shoes starts at VND2 million.


20 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, Q1 Tel: (08) 3823 3807 393 Dien Bien Phu, Q1 Tel: (08) 3929 0685 8am to 9pm TDC is the official dealer of Tissot, Swatch, Longines and Jacques Lemans. Stocks highend brands like Rolex, Cartier and Omega.


72 Dong Khoi, Q1 Tel: (08) 3829 3519 9am to 10pm TicTac, growing from a family watch specialist store to an elegant black-and-gold designer watch showroom, stocks luxurious brands such as Omega, Maurice Lacroix, Hirsch and Swiza. Provides repairs and battery changes.


9 Nguyen Thiep, Q1 Tel: (08) 3827 3756 8am to 7.30pm A great lap of luxury. Products vary from pearl rings to sapphire earrings, from a gold plain daisy brooch to cufflinks. Prices start at VND10 million for a ring.


Unit 66, Saigon Square, 7-9A Ton Duc Thang, Q1 11am to 8pm Stocks a wide range of Vespa-inspired tidbits and memorabilia including t-shirts, riding gear, Italian helmets, Respro face masks, DVDs, books, bags, magazines, posters and more. Rental scooters and bikes available.


32 Tran Ngoc Dien, Q2

Tel: 0907 168910 Offers handmade jewellery products that are crafted from gemstones consisting of turquoise, quartz, jasper and hematite. Prices are affordable, depending on gemstone and design, but usually start at VND50,000.

Clothing - Budget MARATHON

147 Bui Vien, Q1 Tel: (08) 3920 7442 123A Bui Vien, Q1 Tel: (08) 3838 0019 9am to 10.30pm Simple and accessible, Marathon offers colourful beach pants, t-shirts, flip-flops, caps and a small selection of sneakers and belts. Prices start at VND110,000 for a tshirt.


171 Bui Vien, Q1 9am to 10pm Specialises in 100 percent cotton t-shirts and offers a small selection of hats, safety pins and postcards. Profits from each sale are given to two charity organizations.


152 Bui Vien, Q1 180 Bui Vien, Q1 238B Pasteur, Q3 Tel: (08) 3820 2620 9am to 10pm With three stores throughout town, this well-known clothing outlet is aimed at teenagers and young adults, selling jeans, t-shirts, sandals and accessories. Prices are affordable, with t-shirts selling for VND180,000.


137 Bui Vien, Q1 Tel: 01222 210008 9am to 10.30pm A fashion store with streetwear, t-shirts, bags, sunglasses, sneakers, authentic Brazillian Havaianas flip-flops and Crocs sandals. Carries European-sized tshirts.

Clothing - Mid-Range BAM SKATE SHOP

174 Bui Vien, Q1; 148 Dien Bien Phu, Q3; 228 Vo Van Tan, Q3; 15H Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, Q1 Tel: 0903 641826 9am to 10pm This hip-hop-style-cumskate store stocks a mix of sneakers, tees, hoodies, jeans, oblique baseball caps and accessories. A range of skateboards are on sale,

costing between VND1.5 million and VND2.5 million.


187A Hai Ba Trung, Q3 134 Nguyen Trai, Q1 Tel: 0936 303632 BOO embraces street style in clothing and décor. BOO’s brands have their own street stalls in-store, stocking clothing and shoes made in Vietnam and designed by the youth-savvy staff.


balances a feminine, sexy aesthetic with an electric, urban sensibility. Dresses start at VND1.5 million.


43 Thao Dien, Q2 Tel: (08) 3744 2411 9am to 8pm Stocks high-quality designer garments from floral dresses to tight tanks and chiffon shorts to high-waist trousers. Accessories are carried as well as larger sizes.

54-56 Bui Vien, Q1 Tel: (08) 6675 2281 9am to 10pm Quality, original, Vietnamthemed tees are the showpiece at this airy French-run store. Designs are inspired by anything from the Vietnamese flag, local telecom wires and motorbikes to creative, Siddharta-style imagery.




52 Nguyen Trai, Q1 Tel: (08) 3833 4299 150-152 Hai Ba Trung, Q3 Tel: (08) 3824 9534 8.30am to 10.30pm Best-known for its unisex clothing, MaxxStyle contains a wide range of apparel in different designs, fabrics and colours. A pair of jeans starts at VND450,000 while shirts start around VND279,000.


118-122 Nguyen Trai, Q1 Tel: (08) 3824 9689 8.30am to 10.30pm Set in a large, two-floor space with Renaissance-style columns, Ninomax offers both men’s and women’s clothing. As a brother to MaxxStyle, it has the similar prices and products.

Clothing Mid to Top BOSSINI

22 Nguyen Trai, Q1 Tel: (08) 3839 2292 9am to 10pm Hong Kong-brand retailer sells male and female casual wear of various designs, including plain, striped, V-neck and button-neck shirts. Prices range from VND900,000 for jeans and VND700,000 for shirts.


89A Nguyen Trai, Q1 Tel: (08) 3925 5164 9am to 10pm Inspired by modern women and youth, D’Blanc introduces an ageless brand that

L1-08, Vincom Center, Dong Khoi Street, Q1 Tel: (08) 3825 7493 9am to 10pm Stocks both casual and formal wear for both men and women, including jeans, tees, shirts, party dresses and working skirts. A pair of men’s jeans costs around VND1.8 million. Le Lai Corner, 1 Nguyen Van Trang, Q1 Tel: (08) 3925 1495 Clothing is designed and tailor-made by renowned designer Romyda Keth, and concentrates mainly on women’s wear. Gaya sells colourful, sexy evening dresses, embroidered floral skirts and cute chiffon tops.


85 Pasteur, Q1 Tel: (08) 3829 4004 8am to 10pm Contemporary ranges of casual and evening wear fused with Asian designs. The apparel includes floral dresses, jean skirts, printed tees and street-style bags. Enjoy a cup of coffee at their café after.


89 Mac Thi Buoi, Q1 Tel: (08) 3825 8325 itshappenedtobeacloset. 9am to 9pm This spot (also known as Ethophen) not only carries a range of retro-ethnic Thai bohemian women’s wear, jewellery and accessories, and doubles as a WiFifriendly café.


85-87 Pasteur, Q1 Tel: (08) 3823 0172 9am to 9pm Products inside this decorative Vietnamese fashion outlet include a comprehensive range of silk dresses, halters and skirts. Offers a large se-

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{ window Shopping}

** The Fashion of ‘Reality’ * *

lection of bags, night and loungewear, scarves and belts.


47 BC Nguyen Trai, Q1 315A-317 Ba Thang Hai, Q10 225 Nguyen Dinh Chieu, Q3 Tel: (08) 3822 3281 9.30am to 10pm For those with Levi’s love, there are several of the selfbranded stores throughout the city that offer a range of the latest jeans and accessories. Prices normally start at VND2 million.


40D Ly Tu Trong, Q1 Tel: (08) 3824 7114 10am to 7pm Stocks simple but vintage embroidered and crocheted clothing for women and kids, along with clocks, brooches, teapots, cups and other art deco-style products. A simple blouse starts at VND820,000.


First floor, 151 Dong Khoi, Q1 Tel: (08) 6674 3565 10am to 10pm Exclusive labels, elegant and sophisticated clothing and casual high-quality cottons are stocked at this boutique/ café. Lifestyle accessories include shoes, homewares, knickknacks, cameras, stationery and a range of vintage bicycles.


rom swamps to bat bites to banana boats, I knew my practical fashion sensibilities would be tested when I signed up for a short trip to Can Tho to star in a reality television show called The Perfect Companion — a show that joins bumbling foreigners like myself and Vietnamese celebrities in a head-to-head-style competition that’s been likened to the American show The Amazing Race. When an old-school army-style Jeep rocked up to meet me, I knew it was time to get rugged. My loose black t-shirt — ripped diagonally at the bottom, with a knot tied on the left side — paired with some 1980s-style ripped, faded denim shorts and black-and-white Vans matched well with this fierce beast.


Before I knew it I was in a swan-shaped boat in a small lake, racing against our competitors, Adie, a Polish fellow, and Chum, a Vietnamese actress. Chum styled some skintight blue jeans with different pairs of chunky blue sneakers, an olivecoloured light jacket and a cute, black 1980s-style round hat to go with her luscious pale skin; I am still puzzled how she managed to face the heat in all that clothing. We raced from the boat into a threelegged run, straight into a mini-car — and out again, when my partner failed to keep the steering wheel still. My

132 | Word May 2013

MAI’S purple-and-black cotton vest ripped slightly and my ankle blew up over my green low-cut Converse, leaving me on the bench with my partner, Huy, icing my ankle — a Kodak moment. Phung Ngoc Huy is a famous singer and actor who lacks a little fitness, strength and experience outdoors. He was rocking some black sweat pants, a polo and casual Penguin sneakers when I met him. Who even knew Penguin made sneakers?!

The Going Gets Tough

“Bat bite! Rabies!” I screamed. Inside a tiny cage, Huy and I were struggling to capture four bats when one bit my left thumb through the cotton gardening gloves I had on (surprise, I know). Ironically Huy wore a cape, some long rain pants, sneakers, a rain jacket, a motorbike mask, helmet and gardening gloves. Batman was definitely in his element. On the last day I was out of clothing due to various mud stains, duck poops and the scars of our ridiculous activities. I was left with some cotton yoga shorts with a draw string I had brought for backup — which as of an hour into my day sported a razorwire tear arcing from the crotch all the way up to my scraped bum, gained from casually chasing some crazy pigs. The overall effect — with my blackand-pink Asics runners — was 1980s adventurous sport, and a little 2000s ‘fitness is fashion’ style. I’ve looked better, but never more authentic. — Jessica Shea

132–134 Dong Khoi, Q1 Tel: (08) 3827 2733 9.30am to 9.30pm Run by designer Mai Lam, all products displayed are her own designs, with a mixture of vintage and modernised traditional clothes and accessories and a selection of artworks.


40-42 Nguyen Trai, Q1 Tel: (08) 3925 1136 Saigon Centre, 65 Le Loi, Q1 Tel: (08) 3914 7464 B1-43 Vincom Center, 70-72 Le Thanh Ton, Q1 Tel: (08) 3993 9300 9am to 10pm This Spanish brand provides a range of clothing along with selections of bags, wallets, belts and scarves. A shirt costs from VND1.2 million and jeans starts at VND1.4 million.


61 Nguyen Trai, Q1 Parkson, Saigon Tourist Plaza, Level 2, 35 Bis - 45, Le Thanh Ton, Q1 Parkson, Flemington, Level 2, 184 Le Dai Hanh, Q11 Tel: (08) 3925 9993 Established in Punta Del Este, Uruguay in 1960, master-brand Lolita operates ladies fashion boutiques in 19 countries around the world, with this one offering stylish and comfortable clothing for work or play.

MR & MRS SMITH 43 Ton That Thiep, Q1 Tel: (08) 3821 8019

9am to 9pm This designer fashion outlet sells a variety of clothing and shoes produced in Vietnam. All designs are brand new, delivered from the factory weekly and sold at factory outlet prices.


23 Ly Tu Trong, Q1 Tel: (08) 6290 9391 24/4 Pham Ngoc Thach, Q3 Tel: (08) 3827 7688 9am to 8pm Stocks mainly women’s clothes, though men are also catered to. Prices are more top-end due to designs and high-quality fabrics. A party dress starts at VND6 million.


1st Floor, Saigon Centre, 65 Le Loi, Q1 Tel: (08) 3821 5292 Stocks clothing by French designer Valerie Gregori McKenzie with a quaint, slightly Gallic feel, made from a mixture of linen, silk and cotton. A simple white tank dress costs VND760,000.


19 Vo Thi Sau, Q1 Tel: (08) 3820 3574 8am to 8pm One of the best-known garment brands in Vietnam, this luxurious shop stocks men’s and women’s clothing, including office attire, casual and evening wear, along with jewellery and accessories.


35 Ly Tu Trong, Q1 Tel: (08) 6276 2730 8am to 10pm Umbrella sells their own women’s clothing designs including dresses, trousers, skirts, jumpers and blouses. Prices vary, from VND999,000 up to VND3,499,000 on selected items with more complicated craftsmanship.

Clothing - Top-End ANUPA

Eco Luxe Anupa, 9 Dong Du, Q1 Tel: (08) 3822 2394 Houses the complete Anupa Collection along with products of Anupa Horvil’s handpicked eco designers. Features luxury leather accessories including bags for men and women, yoga bags, and belts.


155 Nguyen Hue, Q1 Tel: (08) 6291 3582 10.30am to 8.30pm One of the most popular international brands due to its well-tailored, traditional, feminine and fashionable products like low-rider fitted jeans, satin dresses, crocodile skin shoes, contemporary glasses and Sakia bags.


M-29, Vincom Center, 70-72 Le Thanh Ton, Q1 Tel: (08) 3993 9005 9am to 10pm

{ through the Keyhole} ** It’s Important to be Fancy * *

This Italian brand’s apparel varies in both design and fabric stocking for men and women. A pair of floral shorts starts at VND9 million and a snake-patterned dress costs VND24 million.


155 Nguyen Hue, Q1 Tel: (08) 6291 3580 10.30am to 8.30pm Situated inside the Rex Hotel, this urban American brand carries internationalstandard clothing and a wide range of accessories and sophisticated bags, starting around VND6 million.


M-15, Vincom Center, 70-72 Le Thanh Ton, Q1 Tel: (08) 3993 9001 9am to 10pm Stocking the designs of the iconic Italian fashion label, products come in many colours and fabrics, with floral dresses, plain chiffon blouses and skinny trousers designed elegantly in a classic and sophisticated style.

Lingerie & Swimwear AQUAMARINE

211 Ly Tu Trong, Q1 Tel: (08) 3827 5695 A small shop full of colourful products offering one-piece bikinis, two-pieces, monokinis and various types of beachwear. Prices start at VND790,000 for a bikini. Custom orders are available.



y taste in interior decoration is not what would typically be called ‘elegant’. My room is decorated with pictures cut out of old magazines and my curtain is a re-purposed beach towel. A single plastic flower, forlorn and dusty, is the sole object of art in my house. This approach to ornamentation is largely due to sloth, of course, but also because classiness comes at a price I am normally unwilling to pay. Chandeliers are great for livening up the light of a room, but their purchase and transportation is not cheap. Rare, stuffed animals give a room a sense of masculine nobility, but the animals themselves are hard to track down and taxidermy is a difficult and rarelypractised skill. Fireplaces are majestic but impractical in the tropical heat of Saigon. Oil paintings, however, have none of the drawbacks and all of the advantages of these other luxuries. A portrait provides a focal point for your guests and is sure to inspire lively conversation. They are affordable and easy to transport. In short, they are the perfect solution for Saigonese looking to give their living room a touch of class.

Fake It Till You Make It There are places to buy paintings all

over Ho Chi Minh City. Nguyen Van Troi and Dong Khoi both boast reputable galleries. However, if you are looking to commission a piece of custom artwork, your best bet might be the vest-andcheap-beer haven of Bui Vien. There are several galleries on both sides of Bui Vien between De Tham and Do Quang Dau. The paintings are affordably priced and most of the gallery owners speak English. Mr. Sang, manager of Anh Thu Gallery (85 Bui Vien, Q1), says that Bui Vien is an easy place for foreigners to buy custom artwork. Many foreigners buy portraits to decorate their homes in Saigon or to send home as gifts. When asked about the possibility of a custom-drawn portrait, his face lights up. “Yes, we offer this service,” he says enthusiastically. “We can paint one person or a group of people in oils in about four hours. In pencil, it takes about one hour.” For a medium-sized oil portrait (60x80cm) Anh Thu Gallery charges US$25 (VND525,000). They can also render any photograph into oil or watercolor for US$20 (VND420,000) They say money can’t buy elegance — but whoever ‘they’ are, they’ve clearly never been to Bui Vien. — Evan Hudson

Zen Plaza, 54-56 Nguyen Trai, Q1 Tel: (08) 3602 2676 9am to 10pm The American brand shop stocks a full range of Vietnamese-manufactured or imported products for men and women, including underwear, sleepwear and sportswear. Imported clothing is slightly more expensive.


139 Ly Tu Trong, Q1 Tel: (08) 3823 3757 9.30am to 9.30pm One of the best local swimwear brands, containing a comprehensive range of swim products as well as yoga and gym outfits. Prices start at VND175,000 for a bikini.


127 Bui Vien, Q1 Tel: 0909 711312 9am to 10pm Sells women’s swimsuits in plain and floral styles, including one-piece and twopiece bikinis starting from VND250,000. Stocks maxim dresses from VND380,000 and beach sandals from VND110,000.


Diamond Plaza, 34 Le Duan, Q1 Tel: (08) 3824 5756 Saigon Tax Centre, 135 Nguyen Hue, Q1 Tel: (08) 3914 3202 9am to 9pm A well-known underwear brand in Vietnam, de-

signed with western women in mind. Bras start at VND600,000.


94 Nguyen Trai, Q1 Tel: (08) 6291 1099 232 Hai Ba Trung, Q1 Tel: (08) 3820 3948 9.30am to 9.30pm One of the growing number of Japanese underwear brands for women, Wacoal differentiates itself with its classic designs. Bras range from VND400,000 to VND800,000, while pants start at VND250,000.


Huyen Tran Cong Chua, Q1; Pham Hong Thai, Q1 These two main streets in city centre stock everything from local clothing to imitations of famous brands like Adidas, Nike and Puma through to the real thing.


163 Nguyen Thai Hoc, Q1 Tel: (08) 3920 9187 9am to 10.30pm Stocks a range of travel related products, including torches, binoculars, climbing gear, funky men and women’s casual outfits, bags, underwear and cycling gear.


270 Bui Vien, Q1 Tel: (08) 2240 5990 9am to 8pm Offers a wide range of tailormade clothing. Bring your own fabric or choose from their stock. A vest costs around VND700,000, and it’s about VND300,000 for an ao dai — not including fabrics.


171 Le Thanh Ton, Q1 Tel: (08) 3827 5267 9am to 7pm Great place for picking up a tailor-made pair of shoes or ready-to-wear shoes. Choose the design and colour yourself. Prices range from VND300,000 to VND2,000,000, depending on style and materials.


39 Dong Du, Q1 Tel: (08) 3824 4556 9am to 11pm Offers tailor-made clothing in the latest and trendiest designs and styles, with a wide range of fabrics. Alterations are available. An ao dai starts at VND1.6 million, including fabric. Do you think you should be listed on these pages? If so, simply email us on and we’ll see what we can do. We can’t promise but we’ll try our best

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Give your home that look you’ve always dreamed of. Furniture and repro art is not just manufactured in Vietnam for export. Apparently you can even buy bicycles made from bamboo here. Oops, no. Those beauties are for export only.


50-52 Mac Thi Buoi, Q1 Tel: (08) 3822 7962 8.30am to 8.30pm With a sister gallery in Hanoi, this airy and spacious place is ideal for people interested in Vietnamese-themed art. Displays and sells works by local leading artists, from past masters to new rising stars. Think carefully before purchasing as the cheapest piece starts at VND40 million.


1st Floor, 43 Ton That Thiep, Q1 Tel: (08) 3821 8272 9am to 8pm Located in the same building as Saigon Kitsch, Dogma stocks many cool and interesting tidbits, including propaganda art costing from VND450,000 per poster, Uncle Ho statues, books and themed postcards. If you want to wear these pieces of propaganda art, there is a wide range of propagandaprinted tees and jackets for both men and women, stocking at around VND600,000. A small selection of jewellery is also available.


244 Bis Bui Vien, Q1 Tel: (08) 3838 9136 9am to 10pm Offers one of the most interesting types of local art: rice painting. Standing out with its neon-lit front sign, Gallery is small and simple with artwork adorning its walls. Takes custom orders and delivers after four days for the smallest sized paintings. Prices for bespoke work starts at VND600,000 a piece and the space also offers an international shipping service for customers living abroad.


65 De Tham, Q1 Tel: (08) 3836 8019 10am to 6pm, Closed on Monday Although situated close to the canal in one of the poorer parts of District 1,

this gallery retains it distinct character, providing visitors with an authentic artsy feel that avoids the jaded, Vietnamese-themed stereotypes available elsewhere in town. Open from Tuesday to Saturday and run by Viet Kieu Pham Quynh and her partner Robert Cianchi, the art and installations on display here are the work of both international and contemporary Vietnamese artists. The helpful local staff speak good English. Visit the website for information on up-coming exhibitions.


257 De Tham, Q1 Tel: (08) 3836 7692 11am to 10pm Located opposite Highlands Coffee in Pham Ngu Lao, this small shop is decorated with lacquer paintings of Buddhist and Vietnamese landscapes and flowers. Nhu Y takes custom orders and prices vary from VND150,000 for the smallest piece (20cm x 20cm) rising to VND1.1 million for a 40cm x 80cm painting.


213C Dong Khoi, Q1 Tel: (08) 3822 3166 129B Le Thanh Ton, Q1 Tel: (08) 3823 3181 9am to 8.30pm Located opposite the Vincom Center, this tiny white space displays selected contemporary artworks by Vietnamese artists. Styles include abstract works, landscapes and modern day impressionism, focusing mainly on lacquer on wood, oils on canvas and silk paintings. More paintings are displayed at the Le Thanh Ton gallery in a four-floor building with each floor yielding a different style of art. Prices start from VND2.7 million. Credit cards are accepted.


Although available elsewhere in town, Bui Vien in the Backpackers’ Area is the best place to find reproductions of masterpieces by the likes of Van Gogh, Monet and Degas as well as Andy Warhol copies and the works of a whole host of other artists. Depending on size, style and

material, prices vary but generally start from VND1 million per painting. Shops include Truu Tuong (No. 158), Buddha Art (No. 230), Duc Tai (No. 155A), Hanh Dung (No. 210), Duc Anh (No. 136), Nam Phuong (No. 105) and The Sun 3 (No. 145).


234 Bui Vien, Q1 Tel: (08) 3838 9542 9am to 10.30pm This airy, simple and wellorganised space offers a comprehensive range of products. An eye-catching selection of plastic Buddha images and statues start at VND2 million. Also stocks embroidered paintings from VND700,000, pottery, lacquerware, bamboo lamps and a selection of bags and scarves. Takes custom orders for embroidered painting.

Crafts EM EM

38 Mac Thi Buoi, Q1 Tel: (08) 3829 4408 8am to 9.30pm With its ancient-looking dark brown and tiled roof, many Japanese tourists favour this petite shop. Carries a full range of products including souvenirs, embroidered handkerchiefs, kitchenware, home décor and much more. There are also large selections of men’s shirts, ties and women’s dresses and skirts. Offers order-madeclothes to fit individual sizes and tastes.


35-37 Ngo Duc Ke, Q1 Tel: (08) 2210 3110 S17 – Sky Garden 1, Nguyen Van Linh, Q7 Tel: (08) 6271 7758 A project of the NGO Mekong Plus designed to support community development programmes in remote villages in Vietnam and Cambodia. All products are locally produced, including paper mache, ratten, bamboo and hyacinth products, contained and displayed in a simple white-painted space. Bamboo vases from VND350,000 and rag ranges from VND400,000.

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2 Dong Khoi, Q1 Tel: (08) 3823 9459 8am to 8pm The dark, musty décor gives Nguyen Freres the aura of a haunted house. Strange, unique yet seductively attractive, this retail shop doesn’t stand out as much as other places in the same area but it is big and carries a wide range of products concentrating on northern and hill-tribe culture with ethnic clothing, hand-crafted décor items and antique furniture. Items costing as low as VND20,000 can be found here.


83 Dong Khoi, Q1 Tel: (08) 3827 9079 8am to 10pm With more than 10 stores around the city, this Vietnamese company is known for its hand-embroidered and crocheted products including bedding, tablecloths, napkins and placemats. This packed and slightly haphazard looking shop also stocks children’s and adult’s wear as well as souvenirs. All products are made from linen and cotton. Prices vary but normally start from VND110,000 per item.


209 De Tham, Q1 Tel: (08) 3838 9780 69 Dong Khoi, Q1 7am to 10.30pm Gorgeous tribally-inspired handbags, dresses and accessories on the ground floor combine with authentic tribal clothing on the floor above. Concerning itself mainly with the hand–woven clothing of the northern rural Vietnamese tribes such as the Hmong, there is also a cute line of ladies’ shoes, silk wraps and bags.


35-37 Ngo Duc Ke, Q1 Tel: (08) 2210 3110 64 Ngo Duc Ke, Q1 Tel: (08) 3914 2119 S17 – Sky Garden 1, Nguyen Van Linh, Q7 Tel: (08) 6271 7758 A charity organization helping poor women in rural areas, all products are handmade with a wide range of

quilts in many designs and fabrics. Special orders can be taken for delivery within 5-6 weeks. Also stocks accessories such as aprons, sheets and tablecloths.


20 Thao Dien, Q2 Tel: (08) 3519 0023 9am to 6.30pm Located in a villa-style building, this An Phu-based shop stocks antique repro furniture. All products are samples, so it’s limited and exclusive with only one or two pieces of each particular item. Also has a great range of imported fabrics up on the 2nd floor and an in-house sewing room for cushions, sofas and curtains. Offers custom-made furniture and delivery within four weeks. Home décor orders are also available.


Km 11 + 300 Highway Hanoi, Q9 Tel: (08) 3730 9856 8am to 4.30pm, closed on Sundays Produces high-end Danish design sofas and armchairs in contemporary and traditional styles. With imported materials, the brand provides a large amount of high quality products for the Vietnamese market and exports to Europe, New Zealand, Australia, Taiwan and Singapore. Also offers to produce customers’ own designs. Their products are stocked at AA Deco with Their products are stocked at Nha Xinh showroom.


The Crescent Parcel CR107/08, 103 Ton Dat Tien, Phu My Hung Tel: (08) 5413 6538 A branch of the AA Corporation, Bellavita specialises in the distribution of imported high-end furniture manufactured by well-known brands such as Walter Knoll, Poltrona Frau, Minotti and Cassina. Most products displayed in this airy space include chairs, tables and other high quality glassware. Orders are

taken 10 to 12 weeks in advance before delivery. There is also a selection of home décor items such as pottery.


68-70 Dong Du, Q1 Tel: (08) 3824 6604 4th Floor, Unit 09, The Crescent Mall, 101 Ton Dat Tien, Phu My Hung Tel: (08) 5413 7357 Located next to Sheraton Hotel, the first BoConcept shop stands out thanks to its black signage and glassy atrium. The shop carries a full range of furniture including sofas, beds, wardrobes, tables and chairs; all are imported from Denmark. Delivery of non-stock items takes up to two weeks. Also has a range of furnishing accessories such as mirrors, rugs, paintings and lamps.


4th Floor, Unit 10, The Crescent Mall, 101 Ton Dat Tien, Phu My Hung Tel: (08) 5413 7355 The famous Italian interiorfurnishing brand, founded by Antonio Calligaris in 1923, designs, produces and distributes chairs, tables, beds, sofas, storage units and furnishing accessories. Producing 160,000 units per month with over 7,000 product variations for the kitchen, living room and bedroom, products are distributed to over 12,000 retail outlets in 90 countries worldwide.


Light and Living Store 37 Bis Mac Dinh Chi, Q1 Tel: (08) 3521 2828 Open 9am to 8pm Delivering superior quality interior decorative products at an affordable price, Irresistible's integrated selections create a synergy which offer home furnishing solutions for anything from the bedroom through to the living room and the study. For more information check out their website -


53 Pham Ngoc Thach Q3 Tel: (08) 3823 2213 207 Dien Bien Phu, Q3 Tel: (08) 3827 3696 8am to 9pm This well-known Vietnamese furniture brand is a good choice for most families with its respected high-quality designs and competitive prices. Located on the corner of Pham Ngoc Thach and Dien Bien Phu, the spacious showroom specialises in sofas and other furniture such as table sets, shelves and kitchen cabinets. There is a large selection of carpets as well as numerous choices of curtains and accessories.


327F Luong Dinh Cua, Q2 Tel: (08) 5402 7434 This is a great place to pick up compact sofa beds for homes lacking large amounts of space. A wide range of stock includes many covers in various colours and fabrics. Purchases of all standard and deluxe products include a one-year warranty. Prices start at VND6.7 million and a free delivery and assembly service is offered to city residents. Visit the website for a quick demonstration.


13 Ngo Duc Ke, Q1, Tel: (08) 3825 1803 9am to 8pm The two-storey shop stocks contemporary and colorful furniture and decorative accessories, from sofas and armchairs to tables and cabinets, lightings, votives, kitchenware, vases and a full range of modern home accessories. Special orders are possible for delivery all over the world.


11 Nguyen Huu Canh, Binh Thanh Tel: (08) 3514 7371 vn 9am to 7pm Having just moved to its new location, this large two-storey outlet specialises in interior and external designs. Products include beds, sofas, wardrobes and shelves made from high-quality woods. Also offers antique reproductions as well as made-to-order furniture such as sofas and home décor designs. Lamps, lampshades and other accessories are also stocked.


51 Le Van Mien, Thao Dien, Q2 Tel: (08) 3744 2181 8am to 6pm, closed Sundays Specialising in interior designs and landscaping, this three-storey building is so packed full of items for sale that it doesn’t seem to have enough space for all of its products. The basement sto-

rey carries outdoor furniture such as bamboo-imitation and mosaic table sets, while the second level stocks all types of indoor furniture except beds. Accessories are found on the level above. Special orders are taken for delivery within three weeks. Also offers a rental service.


81 Xuan Thuy, Thao Dien, Q2 Tel: (08) 3519 4640/4643 8am to 6pm This two-storey shop carries all types of furniture, displayed simply so as to give clients a general idea of each product’s style and quality. Items for sale include chairs, tables, wardrobes, drawers and other furniture made from Kiwi pinewood and acacia. Custom orders are accepted and take about four weeks for delivery. Free shipping is included for orders costing more than VND10 million and within Ho Chi Minh City. As a general pricing gauge, a bed costs VND5.6 million and a wardrobe starts at VND6 million.


3B Tong Duc Thang, Q1 Tel: (08) 6657 0788 www.thefurniturewarehouse. 9am to 7pm Specialises in high-end European-style furniture for outdoor and indoor design and home décor. Products include wardrobes, armchairs, sofas, tables and shelves made from pine, oak, acacia and hardwood. There is also a selection of antique furniture and décor items. Free shipping and made-to-order available for small quantities. Visit the website for more information and prices.


1 Nguyen Van Trang, Q1 Tel: (08) 3925 1495 10am to 8pm Set in one of the most attractive post-World War II buildings in the city, Gaya has a reputation for chic and sophisticated indoor and outdoor sofas, pod seats, lamps and tableware, with all products both constructed and designed locally. You can find a wide range of mirrors and lacquerware with bowls, vases and contemporary Asian-style boxes as well as a fantastic selection of linenembroidered bedding in all colours and designs. Prices here match the quality of the products.


7/30B, road 13, Binh Hoa, Thuan An Town, Binh Duong Tel: (0650) 376 5115 Typical of the large, slightly out-of-town stores found in Europe, North America and Australia that focus on all things for the home, Gomo

represents the arrival of a new style of homewares shop in Vietnam.


46A Nguyen Van Troi, Phu Nhuan Tel: (08) 3997 7300 8am to 8pm This giant glass showroom features a comprehensive range of products including exclusive kitchen and bathroom appliances, furniture, and light and locking systems. This is also a good place to pick up sensor equipment and items such as rubbish bins, doors and lights. The selection of door handles is endless and all products are imported from Germany. Like Gaya, prices are top-end but the quality is beyond reproach.


59 Nguyen Huu Canh, Binh Thanh Tel: (08) 3514 7614 9am to 7pm This narrow four-storey building carries products ranging from sofas, chairs and tables to beds, bookshelves, cabinets, dressers and wardrobes. Accessories include ceramic pots, candles and mirrors. Special orders can be taken based on the catalogue or custom design and will be delivered within three weeks. Also stocks a range of bedding made from cotton, linen and silk.


85 Nguyen Hue, Q1 Tel: 0955 000560 9am to 5pm With more than 10 years in the business, this old world, French colonial styled store has a reputation for restoring and reproducing antique furniture. Products include armchairs, sofas, tables, bookshelves, drawers, lamps, paintings, ceramics, lacquerware and much more. Also offers an exclusive interior design service package, from initial design to installation with natural wood imported from the US. Free consultation is provided via phone or email.


2nd Floor, Saigon Centre, 65 Le Loi, Q1 Tel: (08) 3821 6115 CR3, The Crescent Mall, 111 Ton Dat Tien, Phu My Hung Tel: (08) 5413 6657 8.30am to 9.30pm One of the most renowned Vietnamese furniture suppliers, this brand has over 15 years experience in the business, selling a wide range of furniture products made for the bedroom, living room, dining room, kitchen and bathroom. Custom orders are also accepted. Also sells a large se-

lection of home decorations such as handmade flowers, statues and modern lamps. Offers a good design consultation service.

to other shops in the centre of town, prices tend to be cheaper here. However, prepare to bargain.

outdoor living

Tel: (09) 0770 9044 Vietnam has a climate that is perfect for spending time outdoors, why not make the most of it? Outdoor Lifestyle Products offers a range of products designed and developed to complement the best in BBQs.


222 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, Q3 Tel: (08) 3930 4190 9am to 9pm This white-painted building sells highly stylized, contemporary imported indoor furniture made from various materials. From wood to plastic, and crystal to stainless steel, this shop stocks a large selection of sofas, tables and chairs. Accessories include exclusive clocks and lamps. Paintings of Marilyn Monroe, Chairman Mao and other well-known characters are also stocked.


152 Le Lai, Q1 Tel: (08) 3925 3648 Inspired by the sumptuous textiles, rich palettes, and hotels of the 1940s, Verlim stocks a well-curated and eclectic trove of French, Chinese and Vietnamese Deco furniture and accessories, including outsized teak-framed mirrors, panelled screens and low-slung armchairs. There is also a selection of antiques and art deco reproduction. Arranges shipping and offers custom-made items.


Tel: (08) 090 3873 599 Vivacolour offers professional interior design services for your home that create a personalised ambience to express your style and personality, business colour consultations to build a tailormade environment for your team and clients, visually expressing your brand and communicating your values to your customers. Contact Pascaline for more information.


It’s easy to figure this area out with all the stainless steel goods hanging from the rows of shops. You can quite literally find everything for the bathroom and kitchen, from sinks to cups and dish shelves to buckets. Compared


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Saigon Center, 65 Le Loi, Q1 Tel: (08) 3915 1778 CaoDong Design is an official distributor of the award-winning TouchAble brand. Stocks elegant and fashionable interiors, and a selection of souvenirs, leather boxes and luxury stationary. Includes table-standing lamps, pendant lights and hand-painted lampshades imported from Spain and the UK. Promises to deliver non in-stock orders within 30 to 45 days.


51/2A Thanh Thai, Q10 Tel: (08) 3866 9173 8am to 8pm Features imported decorative lights from Austria including wall, track and outdoor lighting made of metal, glass and plastic resin. Stocks a full and varied range of lighting systems for the kitchen, bathroom, children’s room, garden and swimming pool. Also offers customised lighting system orders. Prices range from VND159,000 to VND27million. Visit the website for information and images of the products.


92 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, Q1 Tel: (08) 2210 3460 8am to 7pm Located opposite Saigon Square, this big store displays all types of lights from ceiling and wall lights to table and desk lamps with lampshades in all designs and styles. All products are self-produced and designed, and are made from a comprehensive selection of high-quality domestic and international materials. Good customer service with enthusiastic staff. Customised orders are accepted.


98 Mac Thi Buoi, Q1 Tel: (08) 3823 4634 This eye-popping lime greenpainted boutique carries furniture, tableware and decorative home accessories. Also stocks an exclusive selection of lights and lamps, including lotus lamps at VND300,000, lacquer lamps at VND400,000 and orchid lamps at VND650,000. All products are Vietnamese-themed and are made from bamboo. As well as selling locally, Mosaique exports to Europe, the US, Australia and Africa.


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

Hung Vuong Plaza

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

Parkson Plaza

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

Saigon Centre

65 Le Loi, Q1. Tel: (08) 3829 4888 9am to 9pm Cosmetics, Perfume, Clothing, Accessories, Electronics, Café, Food Court

Saigon Square

77-89 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, Q1 9am to 9pm Cosmetics, Perfume, Clothing, Accessories, Electronics

Saigon Tax Trading Centre

135 Nguyen Hue, Q1. Tel: (08) 3821 3849 9am to 9.30pm Cosmetics, Perfume, Clothing, Accessories, Electronics, Souvenirs, Restaurant

Vincom Center

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

Zen Plaza

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

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* ELECTRONICS Nope, Ho Chi Minh City is not as cheap as Hong Kong or Bangkok when it comes to those camera and computer purchases we are all obsessed with these days. But it’s not far off. Here’s a lowdown on where stuff is available


Saigon’s photography lovers need look no further than Huynh Thuc Khang, Ho Tung Mau, Nguyen Hue and Le Loi to find dozens of stores stocking everything from digital to disposable cameras. Camera accessories, such as lenses and caps, digital image printing and other services are also available too as is a range of second-hand lenses and camera bodies.


28 Ton That Thiep, Q1 Tel: (08) 3821 8773 8.30am to 6.30pm Lying opposite Sun Wah Tower, this is a typical Vietnamese retail outlet without decoration and with products displayed in glass cases. Selling digital and video cameras of well-known brands such as Nikon, Canon, Panasonic, Sony and JVC, prices start at VND9 million for a professional camera and VND5.5 million for a standard video camera. Also sells a range of accessories.


Tel: 0903 035 271 Wear it or mount it. Waterproof, professional, true HD and extremely small. The world’s most versatile camera and accessories are available in Vietnam from authorised distributor Silver Sun Ltd Co. in Da Nang. Call for details of stockists or for a direct order.


85 Nguyen Hue, Q1 Tel: (08) 3821 6503 9am to 8pm Located in the same building as The Lost Art, Le Vu Nikon specializes mainly in Nikon products with a full range of cameras and accessories. A normal DSLR Nikon camera with a lens that can be disassembled is priced at VND12 million. Batteries cost between VND200,000 and VND300,000. Also offers a maintenance service and part exchange.


Fitting & Services Centre, 117/28 Nguyen Huu Canh, Binh Thanh Tel: (08) 6294 5448 Ctrack GPS vehicle solutions.

A world leader in real time monitoring and data collection, Ctrack GPS has operations in 56 countries and have more than 20 years of hands on experiences in solutions related to GPS and management logistics. Juotec T-eye Dashboard Cameras record events outside and inside vehicles with high-res 1.3Mb cameras.


11 Le Cong Kieu, Q1 Tel: (08) 3829 5888 Situated in one of the most beautiful antique-store streets in the city, this small shop restores and fixes all kinds of cameras from Nikon and Canon to Sony. They will locate and identify the specific problem and quote a price before fixing the camera. Speak good English.


Bui Thi Xuan, Nguyen Cu Trinh and Ton That Tung streets are considered to be the places to shop for computers, selling everything from LCD monitors, RAM sticks, keyboards, webcams and internet phone cards through to speaker systems at reliable and affordable prices. Many of the stores also offer a computer maintenance service.


81 Dien Bien Phu, Binh Thanh Tel: (08) 3514 0999 8am to 5pm This Australian company provides an impressive selection of printing solutions such as ink, lasers, faxes, photocopier cartridges and high-quality paper. Free pick-up and delivery service, and a refill service is available at reliable prices. With professional staff, the store offers an effective and quick restoration and maintenance service for printers of well-known brands such as HP, Epson, Canon, Xerox and Brother.


236 Dien Bien Phu, Q3 Tel: (08) 7300 6666 8am to 5pm A large internet service supplier, FPT is also known for being one of the biggest Vietnamese IT brands. Manufacturing IT products including deskstops, notebooks, servers and accessories, their

stores are found nationwide. Prices start at VND5,7 million for a desktop without monitors, and a notebook costs from VND11 million. Accessories vary, from flash memory cards and scandisks to USB bars. Visit the website for information and product prices.


Hoan Long Building, 244 Cong Quynh, Q1 Tel: (08) 3925 8999 8am to 9pm Located opposite Co-Op Mart, this glass building carries a full range of IT equipment and accessories, including laptops, desktops, Acer RAM and products by Dell and Sony. Also sells Apple’s iPad, starting at VND21.8 million for the 3G version and MacBooks for VND28 million. In addition has a small selection of digital video cameras. Offers an assembly service for both domestic and international orders. Good post-sale maintenance and customerservice.


50 Nguyen Cu Trinh, Q1 Tel: (08) 3836 0699 8am to 7.30pm This shop concentrates mainly on notebooks, stocking popular brands such as IBM, Dell, Acer, HP, Sony and Apple. Also stocks plus disk drivers, RAM and batteries, and offers cameras, pocket PCs, smart phones (HTC and 32GB iPhone 4 sold at VND23.6 million), projectors and printers. Good customer service and quick delivery.


125 Cach Mang Thang 8, Q1 Tel: (08) 6290 8777 9am to 9pm Known as one of the leading IT retailers in town and located at the corner of Cach Mang Thang 8 and Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, the products for sale at Phong Vu include computers, laptops, office equipment, entertainment devices and accessories. Also provides internet and network solutions and systems. Good maintenance service for desktops, notebooks and printers. Visit the website for more information.

NGUYEN THI THANH TAM 42 Huynh Thuc Khang, Q1 Tel: (08) 3822 2247

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136 | Word May 2013

Upon arrival, this large store looks more like a stationary shop than a mere CD shop. Products include blank CDs and DVDs at VND25,000 for 10 Kachi CD-Rs and VND38,000 for 10 Maxell CD-RWs. The DVD selection is endless with the prices starting from VND5,000 for one DVD, depending on type and brand. Also stocks numerous music CDs and DVDs of international and Vietnamese singers.



The following streets have dozens of stores selling major mobile brands such as Samsung, Nokia, LG, Apple, etc. New and second-hand handsets and extra accessories are also available. Ba Thang Hai between Ly Thuong Kiet and Ly Thai To, Q10; Hai Ba Trung between Le Duan & Dien Bien Phu, Q1 & Q3; Hung Vuong, Q5 (close to the end of Nguyen Thi Minh Khai).

428BIS Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, Q3 Tel: (08) 3818 1188 8.30am to 9.30pm This supermarket-esque shop is an official distributor of top brands including Intel, Asus, HP and Acer, stocking everything from laptops and desktops to monitors and keyboards, laptop fans and computer speakers. Office equipment, including photocopiers, fax machines and paper destroyers, is also sold here. Other entertainment devices, such as mobile phones and mp3 players are also stocked.



182A Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, Q3 Tel: 1900 561 292 8am to 10.30pm This well-known retail chain catches the attention of pedestrian shoppers due to the unmissable and striking yellow signboard with its long black logo. The website is efficient with adequate photos and information on phones and specifications. The staff speaks English and the store offers online orders at cheaper prices. Stocks everything mobile, from phones through to tablets and laptops.

227 Tran Hung Dao, Q1 Tel: (08) 3838 9164 8am to 5pm Devout fans of that new religion called ‘Apple’ will be satisfied at Thuan My, one of the growing number of Apple dealers in Saigon. Products include MacBooks, iMacs, iPods, iPhones and their numerous accessories. Remember to ask for software installation. Competitive market prices and service make this place stand out.

Mobile Phones GIA KIEN

352 Ba Thang Hai, Q10 Tel: (08) 3868 3733 9am to 6.30pm Besides stocking the ubiquitous iPhone and iPad, this shop also sells mobile phones from the likes of HTC, LG, Dell, Nokia, Vertu, Blackberry and more. There is also an exclusive and unique selection of handsets from the likes of GoldVish Gold Le Million, Porsche P9521 and Tag Heuer. Prices are higher than other places but the after-sale customer service is excellent.

382B – B1 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, Q3 Tel: (08) 3526 5838 8am to 5.30pm One of the top five master dealers nationwide with popular mobile phone brands such as Nokia, SamSung, LG, Motorola, and Panasonic, this company is an official distributor of Philips in Vietnam. Produced the first Vietnamese mobile phone, Bavapen, and also stocks the iPhone 4 at VND21.3 million. Accessories include phone wallets, earphones and batteries.



328-330 Ba Thang Hai, Q10 Tel: (08) 3863 3333 Has more than 65 stores nationwide and offers a comprehensive range of mobile phones from top brands such as Apple, HTC and Blackberry to the Chinese makes Cayon and Huawei. There is also a wide range of top laptops and mp3 and mp4 players. Recently opened a technology support centre called EBAR where customers check and test new products and software. Online orders with free shipping is available.

ELECTRONICS MARKETS Known as “electronics supermarkets”, the number of stores selling everything from TVs, refrigerators and air conditioners to washing machines, coffee makers and blenders seems to be increasing by the day. You’ll also be able to find vacuum cleaners and irons from popular brands such as Sony, Samsung, Toshiba, JVC, LG and Sanyo. In addition these stores stock a wide range of mobile phones from the likes of Nokia, Samsung, Motorola and Sony Ericsson. In order to attract the largest number of customers, most of these stores offer daily promotions with competitive prices. Visit their websites for promotions, online orders and more information.

Cho Lon Electronics MarkeT

590 Cach Mang Thang Tam, Q3 Tel: (08) 3846 4700 8.30am to 9.30pm

Gia Thanh

975 Tran Hung Dao, Q5 Tel: (08) 3923 1536 8.30am to 9.30pm

iDEAS Shopping Centre

133–141AB Cach Mang Thang Tam, Q3 8.30am to 9.30pm

Nguyen Kim

63–65 Tran Hung Dao, Q1 Tel: (08) 3821 1211 8am to 10pm

Thien Hoa

277B Cach Mang Thang Tam, Q10 Tel: (08) 3863 3733 www.dienmaythienhoa. vn 8am to 10pm


From catering services through to the growing number of bakeries - and we’re not talking Tous Les Jours. Here are places to stock up on wine, liquor, imported cheeses and freshly baked bread


84 Nguyen Cong Tru, P. Nguyen Thai Binh, Q1 Tel: (08) 6295 9087 Specialising in freshly baked cupcakes such as the Ravishing Red Velvet, Foxy Banoffee, and Heavenly Honey, this boutique cupcake shop also offers coffees, teas and juices. Wi-Fi available.


117 Cong Quynh, Q1 Tel: (08) 3836 1992 Dubbed “the local bakery”, Crumbs serves up a variety of baked goods including baguettes, muffins, cheese and garlic–based buns and loafs, meat–filled pastries, sweet pastries, health–conscious breads and more. There is also a breakfast menu and variety of sandwiches available.


33 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, Q1 Tel: (08) 5404 7777 The air of American donuts infuses this pleasant and popular venue, with a variety of the sweet circular treat complementing an excellent selection of coffees, teas and juices. Specials include the mixed fruits donut, ice cream donut, and ice cream & sauce/peanuts donut. The store is open from 7am to 10pm daily and offers free Wi-Fi and a non-smoking area.


30 Lam Son, Tan Binh, Tel: (08) 3547 0577 Made to order baking delivery specialists by phone or email. Scones, bagels, breads (everything from 12 grain loaves to Italian focaccia), muffins, cookies, buns, fudge cake and more, from upwards of VND45,000. Orders must be placed 48 hours in advance.


64–68 Ham Nghi, Q1 Tel: (08) 3829 2970 Selling baguette–style bread for VND5,000 and basic freshly made sandwiches for around VND15,000. Also has a range of Vietnamese pastries and savouries. Open 24 hours.


SL15-1 Grand View, Nguyen Duc Canh, Q7

Tel: 0908 828552 For anyone with a sweet tooth, this cake delivery service offers homebaked products using the finest ingredients including fresh fruit, imported butter and chocolate. No preservatives or hydrogenated fats are used. All cakes and cookies are made to order and can be customised upon request. Free delivery is available. Place orders one day in advance.


153 Xo Viet Nghe Tinh, Binh Thanh Tel: (08) 3518 0897 Located in the premises of the Hospitality School, Sesame Bakery provides practical experience to its students. Has a wide variety of French pastries, loaves, baguettes, cookies and cakes at good prices. Special order and delivery available.


180 Hai Ba Trung, Q3, Tel: (08) 3823 8302 59 Tran Hung Dao, Q1, Tel: (08) 3914 4350 187 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, Q3 Although tailored to the local market, this Korean–owned bakery chain and café bakes a tasty range of pastries, bread and cakes all at very affordable prices. Excellent baguettes and sandwich bread. Also does a slightly sweet version of croque monsieur.


39 Thao Dien, Q2 French–run bakery selling probably the tastiest range of patisseries, breads, quiches and pies in town. The signature passion–fruit tart is a must try.


Available all year round for birthday cakes, BBQs, corporate events, private parties, wine tastings and more, Au Parc Catering provide a full service including drinks, glass rentals, waiters and crockery. For a quote, email or call Mr. Loi on 3829 2772.


100 Xuan Thuy, Q2, Tel: (08) 6281 9830 New delicatessen shop offering western–fusion French

food. French Chef Stephane Courtin and his team will assist you in a Gastro’Home food experience. Visit the shop in An Phu or try the “at your home” catering service for a dinner, buffet or cocktail party.


Tel: 6274 0647 A French food delivery service that does cocktail parties, buffets and events specialising in salads, sandwiches, gratin, quiche, pies, desert, muffins and more. Visit website for full menu.


Ground Floor, Norfolk Hotel, 117 Le Thanh Ton, Q1 Tel: (08) 3829 5368 / 0908 406 505 Delicious food and professional service for any special occasion including company functions, formal banquets, Christmas and New Year parties. Reasonably priced.


41 Vo Truong Toan, D.2, HCMC Tel: (08) 3898 9286 With over 10 years experience, SCC is the event manager for the annual NZ Wine & Food Festival, official caterer for ZanZBar, and provides catering services to a number of consulates and multinationals. Experienced with every conceivable style, from the smallest dinner party to a stand-up cocktail event for thousands, SCC takes care of everything from the venue, flowers and decorations to transportation, set-up, guest management, event flow, marketing and promotions, invitations and menu planning.


46D Vuon Lai, Tan Phu Tel: (08) 3812 6901 With extensive experience in menu design, The Caterers will come up with an original menu for your party or gathering, then prepare all the food and serve it to your guests. Also offers a venue for clients to use.


84 Xuan Thuy, Thao Dien Ward, Q2 Tel: 0913 981128 SCC can create a menu to meet your exact requirements and budget.Theirchefs use the freshest ingredients to produce quality, perfectly cooked and beautifully presented food at reasonable prices.



16–18 Hai Ba Trung, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 9332 41A Thao Dien, Q2, Tel: (08) 3744 2630 Attractive and spacious French–owned grocery shop stocking a large range of foods, organic fruit and vegetables, imported beers and wines. Also sells luxury branded products from the likes of Fauchon. The deli upstairs in the Hai Ba Trung branch serves tasty baguette rolls in a comfortable lounge area with free Wi–Fi, and offers probably the best selection of cheese and cured meats in town. Free delivery for Districts 1, 2 and 3.


45 Mac Thi Buoi, Q1, Tel: (08) 6291 8126 aussie– Aussie Fruits are among the first in Vietnam to promote a full range of Australian seasonal fruits. Their mission is to bring the best quality fruits from Australia into Vietnam, with professionally trained customer support along with a state of the art facility that guarantees 100% freshness directly from Australian farms. Check their website to see what’s in season.


No. 17, Street 12 (perpendicular to Tran Nao street), Q2 Tel: (08) 3740 7105/06/07/08 / 0903 814761 Fax: 3740 7109 Supplier for the city’s five– star hotels, also distributing brands like San Pellegrino, Rougie foie gras, Galbani cheese, fresh poultries, meat, live seafood and vegetables. You can now find all the products at the gourmet shop on location.


73 Le Thi Hong Gam, Q1, Tel: (08) 3821 6057 Stocks a comprehensive range of fresh meat products imported directly from Australia. Beef and lamb make

up the bulk of the selection, but some locally–sourced poultry and fish products are also on offer. Also does pre–packaged prepared meat like chicken strips – perfect for the freezer. Open seven days a week.


32 Dong Du, Q1, Tel: (08) 3829 3856 An international standard butchers with a solid selection of fresh meats, charcuterie products, a tasty selection of pates, sausages, cheeses and poultry. Sells both retail and wholesale.


58 Ham Nghi, Q1, Tel: (08) 3914 1318 Mini supermarket stocking a large range of imported foods, cheese, meat, fresh fruit, vegetables and good wines. Friendly service and helpful staff, although the selection of products is slightly smaller than its next door neighbour, Thai Ha.


60 Ham Nghi, Q1 Supermarket that vies with its next door neighbour, Phuong Ha, for customers. Excellent selection of imported goods including canned foods, dairy products, cereals and meat products. The staff here speak reasonable English although the service is better next door.


29A Le Thanh Ton, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 8526 Packed from floor to ceiling with imported cereals, meats, cheeses, and almost anything else you can think of, this is a very popular choice for expats doing their weekly shop. The walk–in fridge at the back is a draw in itself.

Liquor & Wine ANNAM SHOP


16–18 Hai Ba Trung, Q1 Tel: (08) 3822 9332 annam– Here you’ll find anything from Guinness to Leffe, with a whole lot of Belgian, Australian and German beers in between. Also has an excellent selection of imported wines and liquors.


158D Pasteur, Q1 A range of spirits, whiskies and wines at affordable pric-

es. Wines come from all over the world with an especially good selection from France, Chile and South Africa. Also has an excellent range of single malts, top shelf tequilas and has an on–site wine tasting machine, the Enomatic, the first of its kind in Vietnam.


74E Hai Ba Trung,Q1, Tel: (08) 5404 3575 A premier importer/distributor of quality wines, spirits, non–alcohol drinks, representing over 400 wines, spirits and drinks from 12 countries since 1995.


6/7 Cach Mang Thang Tam, Q1 Tel: (08) 6210 2986 Wine wholesaler importing well–known Australian wines. Present portfolio includes Kangarilla Road, Zema Estate, Buller, Bethany and Chapel Hill.


22 Chu Manh Trinh, Q1 Tel: (08) 3823 0021 One of the largest distributors in town, stocks around 90,000 bottles from virtually every region in the world. Sells both retail and wholesale.


178 Pasteur, Q Tel: (08) 3825 8826 One of the busiest wine retailers in town. In addition to their excellent range of wines, they also stock imported beers, bottled mineral water and spirits.


15C7 Thi Sach, Q1 Tel: (08) 3822 1141 Well–known and respected wine importer and distributor stocking a number of old and new world wines. Brands include Perrin & Fils, Pere & Fils, Dr Loosen, Kracher and William Fevre.


74/17 Hai Ba Trung, Q1 Tel: (08) 6299 1315 Corner of Thao Dien & Duong 2, Q2 Tel: (08) 6281 9059 Professional advice on selecting and tasting wines. Also offers regular popular wine courses. The outdoor terrace area is the perfect spot to sample a new vintage.

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Got kids? Looking for that perfect school for your children? Want to give them involved in some extra-curricular activities? Search no further. Here are some options for you

Baby Equipment Baby

66B Cach Mang Thang Tam, Q10 Tel: (08) 2210 2775 Discounted car seats, buggies and more.

Babyland (Bao Mau)

Saigon Center, 65 Le Loi, Q1 Offers first-rate (if pricey) equipment ranging from strollers to sterilizers to parenting books.


325 Truong Vinh Ky, Tan Phu Carries an expansive selection of baby equipment in its stores and online. Offers fast delivery for online purchases.


359/51 Le Van Sy, Q3 Here you can find baby clothes, accessories, and toys imported from the US.

Belli Blossom

12 Mac Dinh Chi, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 6615 4th Floor, Crescent Mall, Nguyen Van Linh, Q7, Tel: (08) 5413 7574 Stocks imported brands of maternity wear and nursing accessories, infant clothes, baby utensils, strollers, high chairs, slings, baby carriers, diaper bags and more.

Du Lundi Au Samedi

17/5 Le Thanh Ton, Q1; Diamond Plaza, 34 Le Duan Q1; Saigon Center, 65 Le Loi

Q1; Vincom Center, 70/72 Le Thanh Ton Q1 Sells clothing for kids from newborn to toddlers, as well as bedding, equipment, accessories and organic jarred baby food.

Maman Bebe

Vincom Center, 70/72 Le Thanh Ton, Q1, Tel: (08) 3825 8724 Carries strollers, car seats, baby utensils, clothing, and accessories. Most products are made by the Japanese company Combi.

Me Oi

1B Ton That Tung, Q1, Tel: (08) 3925 5404 Near Phu San maternity hospital, this shop sells reasonably priced clothing, bottles, nappy bags and toys.

Mom & Baby

230 Vo Thi Sau, Q3, Tel: (08) 3932 1611; 40 Ton That Tung Q1; 101-103 Khanh Hoi, Q4; 141D Phan Dang Luu; 287A Nguyen Van Troi, Phu Nuan, Q7 The closest this city has to Mothercare, stocking apparel, bottles and sterilisers.

Rainbow for Kids

105C Truong Dinh Q3 Tel: (08) 3930 4930 Offers a variety of supplies, utensils, and healthcare products for both expectant mothers and infants.

Settling in Ho Chi Minh City as students (Minami).indd 1

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Classes & Sports Dancenter

53 Nguyen Dang Giai, Q2 Tel: (08) 3519 4490 Children and teenagers can enjoy jazz, ballet, hip-hop, funk, belly dancing, salsa and in multi-level classes at this modern dance studio.

Guitar and Piano Classes

Kids Club Saigon

79/7 Pham Thai Buong, Q7; 27/3 Ha Huy Tap, Q7, Tel: 0908 460267 An early childhood centre offering early learning programmes for children aged 18 months to five, including toddler playgroups, preschool classes and enrichment activities. Also has after-school activities for kids aged four to eight.

Tel: 0913 877884 With 30 years experience teaching youngsters, Mr Anh Vu Phi offers private tutoring in Vietnamese and English at reasonable rates. After a stint in Seville, Spain, he now offers classes in flamenco.

Minh Nguyen Piano Boutique

Helene Kling Oil Painting

Montessori School

189/C1 Nguyen Van Huong, Q2 Tel: 0903 955780 French painter offers daytime and evening courses for children and adults, teaching beginners about different mediums and techniques and helping artists of all skill levels unlock their creativity.

Inspirato Music Center

4-6 Le Van Mien, Q2, Tel: 0907 729846 Private music lessons in piano and violin from beginner level up to Grade 8 and beyond. Also runs a chamber music club with regular concerts and ensemble lessons for strings and woodwind.

82 Nguyen Dinh Chieu, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 7691 Former conservatory student Nguyen Trung Minh offers lessons in piano at Minh Nguyen piano boutique for all ages and levels. 42/1 Ngo Quang Huy, Q2, Tel: (08) 3744 2639 Geneva Conservatory graduate Steffen Christophe teaches an introduction to musical instruments for students aged four upwards at Montessori, as well as private and group lessons in guitar, keyboard and voice.

Performing Arts Academy of Saigon 19A Ngo Quang Huy, Q2 Tel: (08) 6281 9679 Has a range of music-based programmes teaching kids in anything from guitar and drums to piano, clarinet and saxophone. Also provides musical assessment and a mixture of private and group classes.

Piano Classes

Tel: 01225 636682 morrissokoloff@hotmail. com Suitable for kids of all ages, these piano lessons range from basic to advanced.

ing techniques from three, part–time teachers.

S aigon S ports Academy

Tel: 01227 163844 Infant water familiarisation classes for little ones from six months to three years, run by Elizabeth Hollins.

28 Tran Nao, Q2, Tel: (08) 7303 1100 International coaches provide training in soccer, basketball, tennis and swimming for children aged four to 16 years and private lessons for children and adults. Youth soccer league Sundays from 2pm to 6pm in District 7.

Saigon Movement

Tae Kwon Do

Rubba Duckies Swim School

Tel: 0987 027722 saigonmovement@gmail. com Aiming to improve children’s total body awareness through games and sports activities, Saigon Movement offers a variety of classes in movement development for ages two to 11. Contact Abbie Klein.

BP Compound, 720K Thao Dien, Q2 Tel: 0903 918149 Martial arts expert Mr. Phuc welcomes anyone over the age of five to take part in

Saigon Seal Team

55 Nguyen Dang Giai, An Phu, Q2, Tel: (08) 3744 6825 This 15-week PADI programme conducted by Rainbow Divers, the leading PADI dive centre in Vietnam, offers scuba diving adventures in a swimming pool for eight to nine year olds.

Saigon Pony Club

42 Le Van Thinh, Q2, Tel: 0913 733360 An excellent way for children to escape the urban bustle is to ride one of the 16 ponies and learn rid-

W atercolour Workshops with Lindsay Erdman

Tel: 0932 102378 Canadian watercolour artist, Lindsay Erdman hosts Saturday afternoon workshops for painters of all levels. Work with still life, live models and flora while learning or refining a variety of watercolour techniques. Workshops held on a beautiful terrace in district 10. Weeklong workshops are also available.

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his thrice–weekly classes. An additional fee for non– members applies.


6 Le Van Mien, Q2 Tel: 0907 729846 Provides kids classes in anything from mixed art, oil painting, crafts and still life drawing through to jewellery making and fashion design.

Ninh Khuong

44 Le Loi, Q1 Tel: (08) 3824 7456 83 Dong Khoi, Q1 Tel: (08) 3827 9079 220 De Tham, Q1 Tel: (08) 3920 3224 222 Nguyen Dinh Chieu, Q3 Tel: (08) 3930 9183 Offers 100 percent cotton hand-embroidered apparel for children ages one to 14.

Thanh Thuy

Clothing 123 Baby Clothing

226 Nguyen Dinh Chieu, Q3 Focuses on quality clothing for up to the one–year–old mark, with prices starting from just VND120,000 per item. Also has a decent range of shoes and other accessories.

Baby Gap

Vincom Center, 72 Le Thanh Ton, Q1 Crescent Mall 101 Ton Dat Tien, Q7 Offers everything you would find at a Baby Gap overseas, including socks and shoes for kids ages one to five, although at a higher price.

Children’s Planet

90 Vo Thi Sau, Q1 Provides boys and girls’ clothing from ages five to 14 with clothes imported from Singapore.


Vincom Center, 70-72 Le Thanh Ton, Q1 A range of apparel for children from newborns to pre-teens with clothing imported from the UK.

Little Anh-Em

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

93 Le Thanh Ton, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 4893 Offers primarily cotton clothes for all ages at reasonable prices. Their friendly, English–speaking staff is always on hand to help.

Tuti Bella

75 Mac Thi Buoi, Q1 Tel: (08) 3822 0527 49 Nguyen Trai, Q1 Tel: (08) 3925 7348 72 Le Thanh Ton, Q1 Tel: (08) 3993 9088 This Los Angeles establishment selling fashion and accessories to kids from one to 12 years old now has a number of branches in Ho Chi Minh City.

Children's Books Fahasa

40 Nguyen Hue, Q1 Tel: (08) 3822 5796 Good selection of imported books for all ages as well as cheap stationery, stickers and other odds and ends.

Phuong Nam

1st Floor, Saigon Centre, 65 Le Loi, Q1 Picture books for babies to stories and education books for older children can be found here.

Nha Sach Me va Con

(Mum and Baby Bookstore) 46 Le Loi, Q1 Tel: (08) 3824 8386 Supplies a variety of books, paintings, pictures, CDs, VCDs and DVDs, stationery

Settling in Ho Chi Minh City as students (Georgia).indd 1

and gift accessories for mums, dads, children and educators.

Education ABC International School

2, 1E Street, KDC Trung Son, Binh Hung, Binh Chanh Tel: (08) 5431 1833 Serving students from 32 nations, ages two to 18, ABC delivers a curriculum wholly based on UK standards, culminating in IGCSE’s and A levels (awarded upon graduation by Cambridge University examinations board).

ACG International School

East-West Highway, An Phu, Q2 Tel: (08) 3747 1234 Part of the Academic Colleges Group’s international network of schools, ACG boasts comprehensive education programmes from kindergarten to high school, a range of extracurricular activities, and impressive facilities.

Australian International School (AIS)

Xi Campus, 190 Nguyen Van Huong, Q2 Tel: (08) 3519 2727 Thao Dien Campus, APSC Compound, 36 Thao Dien, Q2 Tel: (08) 3744 696 Thu Thiem Campus, 264 Mai Chi Tho (East-West Highway), An Phu, Q2 Tel: (08) 3742 4040 The Australian International School is an IB World School with three world-class campuses in District 2, offering an international education from kindergarten to senior school with the IB Primary Years Programme (PYP), Cambridge Secondary Programme (including IGCSE) and IB Diploma Programme (DP).

British International School (BIS)

246 Nguyen Van Huong, Q2, Tel: (08) 3744 2335 Inspected and approved by the British Government, BIS provides a British-style curriculum for an international student body and is staffed by British qualified and trained teachers. Fully accredited by the Council of International Schools and a member of FOBISSEA, BIS is the largest international school in Vietnam.


Cu Xa Do Thanh, 7, Duong So. 2, Q3 Tel: (08) 3832 8488; Flemington Tower, 2nd Floor, 182 Le Dai Hanh, Q11 Tel: (08) 3962 1218 CitySmart delivers a range of diverse, internationallyrecognised educational programmes, as well as life skills and character building for comprehensive development.

Compass Education

15 Tran Doan Khanh, Q1 Tel: (08) 3820 3302 Promoting and facilitating English language acquisition, Compass Education offers a range of courses designed to meet academic, corporate, and professional goals. Offers nanny and teacher placements as well as career counselling.

Gymboree Play & Music of Vietnam Somerset Chancellor Court, 1st Floor, 21-23 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, Q1 Tel: (08) 3827 7008 Gymboree Play & Music has been fostering creativity and confidence in children up to five years old for over 30 years, making them a leader in early childhood development programmes.

Canadian I nternational School

13C Nguyen Van Linh, Binh Chanh

Tel: (08) 5412 3456 The first Canadian international school in Vietnam serves local and foreign students from Kindergarten to grade 12. Talented, certified teachers implement the internationally recognised Ontario curriculum to create a studentcentred learning environment promoting academic excellence.

I nternational School Ho Chi Minh City (ISHCMC)

28 Vo Truong Toan, Q2 Tel: (08) 3898 9100 The only fully authorized IB World School in Ho Chi Minh City, ISHCMC has been awarding graduates with an IB Diploma and sending them off to high-profile overseas universities since 1999.

I nternational S chool S aigon Pearl (ISSP)

92 Nguyen Huu Canh, Binh Thanh, Tel: (08) 2222 7799 ISSP offers a rigorous American-standard curriculum, as well as unique extra-curriculars like golf and Mandarin Language classes. A brand new, state-of-the-art campus caters to students from nursery through to grade 5.

Kindermusik Early Childhood Education Centre Ground Floor, Crescent Residence 2, Phu My Hung, Q7, Tel: 0907 099480 www.kindermusik-vietnam. com Kindermusik is the world’s premier music, movement and English language programme for children from birth to age 7. Each weekly lesson promotes early literacy and English language acquisition, social skills and more.

Little Genius International Kindergarten

102 My Kim 2, Phu My Hung, Q7, Tel: (08) 5421 1052

Little Genius Kindergarten shares a curriculum with its sister school in the US. Its facilities and learning environment remain unsurpassed by any other kindergarten in Vietnam.

Montessori International School 42/1 Ngo Quang Huy, Q2, Tel: (08) 3744 2639 Aiming to encourage children’s engagement with their surroundings, MIS offers children from age three to 12 a classic Montessori education as well as a variety of extra–curricular activities.

Renaissance International School Saigon (RISS)

74 Nguyen Thi Thap, Q7, Tel: (08) 3773 3171 RISS provides students from over 25 nations with a British / international education. Students ages two to 18 enjoy classes taught by qualified native English speakers at their state–of– the–art campus.

German International School – GIS

730 F-G-K Le Van Mien, Thao Dien, Q2 Tel: 7300 7257 The German International School offers a unique bi-lingual German-English programme for students, from a variety of nationalities, from 2 to 16 years old. Its curriculum is based on the internationally recognised Primary Years Programmes (PYP), Middle Years Programme (MYP) and IB Diploma Programme of the International Baccalaureate (IB) system.

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Saigon International College (SIC)

21K Nguyen Van Troi, Phu Nhuan Tel: 0938 371760 Overseen by the Curriculum Council of Western Australia, SIC’s program for years 10 to 12 provides graduating students with the Australian Certificate of Education (WACE), allowing direct entry to all Australian universities.

Saigon Kids Educational Childcare Centre

15 Street 12, perpendicular to Tran Nao, Q2, Tel: (08) 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.

S aigon S outh I nternational School (SSIS)

Saigon South Parkway, Q7, Tel: (08) 5413 0901 Offers an American-style education (SAT, IB and AP) from elementary to high-school, emphasizing a multi–cultural student environment and a commitment to well–rounded

education at all levels.

Saigon Star International School

Residential Area No. 5, Thanh My Loi Ward, Q2, Tel: (08) 3742 3222 Supported by the Cambridge International Primary Programme, SSIS integrates Montessori methods into nursery and kindergarten programmes to create a stimulating learning environment. Small class sizes allow experienced teachers to cater to individual needs.


1172 Thao Dien Compound, Q2, Tel: (08) 3744 6076; 26, Street Nr. 10, Thao Dien, Q2 Tel: (08) 3898 9816; 15 Tran Ngoc Dien, Thao Dien, Q2, Tel: (08) 3519 4236 This international childcare centre provides children ages 18 months to six years with a high quality education in a playful and friendly environment.

The American School of Vietnam

177A Nguyen Van Huong, Q2, Tel: (08) 3519 2223 An independent and private university preparatory school with an individualised programme, The American School of

Vietnam offers a US-based curriculum for Kindergarten through to Grade 12.


98 Cach Mang Thang Tam, Q3 Tel: (08) 3933 3655 One of the leading schools in Vietnam, VAS provides programmes from kindergarten to secondary school. In line with their mission to encourage a global mindset in new generations, VAS integrates international educational methods.

Vietnamese Language Studies Saigon (VLS)

45 Dinh Tien Hoang, Q1, Tel: (08) 3910 0168; R4-28 (Hung Phuoc 2), Le Van Them, Q7, Tel: (08) 3602 6694 VLS has built a reputation over 18 years by offering courses tailored to all abilities. Classes are located either at VLS’s high quality facilities, or at the learner’s office/ home. Features a landscaped park, weekend buffets, and children’s activities and entertainment. Reachable by boat from District 1.

Dam Sen Park

3 Hoa Binh, Q11 Tel: (08) 3963 4963 Popular theme park / water park provides fun for the whole family at a low price.

Diamond Plaza

34 Le Duan, Q1 Tel: (08) 3825 7750 Features a fourth–floor bowling alley and video arcade as well as youth– oriented eating options such as KFC and Pizza Hut.

Parkson Plaza

35Bis Le Thanh Ton, Q1 Tel: (08) 3827 7614 Parkson Plaza has a large selection of arcade games along with a bowling alley and a food court one floor down where you can regroup after zapping millions of aliens.

Saigon Zoo

Entertainment Binh Quoi Botanical Gardens

1147 Binh Quoi, Binh Thanh, Tel: (08) 3556 6020

2B Nguyen Binh Khiem, Q1 Tel: (08) 3829 3728 A wide variety of animals, well maintained facilities, peaceful atmosphere, and fun activities for kids including bumper cars and playgrounds.

Suoi Tien Amusement Park

120 AH 1, Tan Phu, Q9 Tel: (08) 3896 0260 Offers all of the expected amusement park attractions in a spectacular setting that includes a manmade beach, a dinosaur garden and a zoo.

X-Rock Climbing

74 Nguyen Dinh Chieu, Q3, Tel: (08) 6210 9192 503A Nguyen Duy Trinh, Q2, Tel: (08) 2210 9192 Offers beginner and advanced mountain climbing routes, safety courses and training at its 26–metre, purpose–built mountain in District 3, with an additional location in District 2.

Kids' Parties

occasion including kids’ parties, picnics or school decorations.

Gymboree Play & Music

Somerset Chancellor Court, 1st floor, 21-23 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, Q1, Tel: (08) 3827 7008 Specializing in first through fifth birthday parties, Gymboree will take care of everything, including venue, invitations, party favours and more. Offers themes such as Princess Palace and Dinosaur Adventures.

The Balloon Man

100/531B Thich Quang Duc, Phu Nhuan Tel: (08) 3990 3560 For an unusual and special performer, contact the excellent Balloon Man, who has earned a reputation


196 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, Q3, Tel: (08) 3912 0161 Popular toy shop which also houses a large selection of partywear and costumes.

Dots & Con

Do you think you should be listed on these pages? If so, simply email us on and we’ll see what we can do. We can’t promise but we’ll try our best

Tel: 0909 052502 Specialising in producing environmentally friendly handmade flaglines for any

SSIS SUMMER SCHOOL 2013 3 5, 201 KG-1 y l u J 7ades June 1 0PM - Gr es 2-10 ad 2:0 M - 1 00PM - Gr A 0 0 : : 8 M-2 8:00A


78 Nguyen Duc Canh Street, Tan Phong Ward, District 7, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam T: (84-8) 5 413 0901 - F: (84-8) 5 413 0902 - E: - W:

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Got kids? Looking for that perfect school for your children? Want to give them involved in some extra-curricular activities? Search no further. Here are some options for you for dashing instantly to any party that needs balloon shapes.

The Caterers

46D Vuon Lai, Tan Phu, Tel: (08) 3812 6901 Although mainly focused on grown–up events, this company does an excellent job catering for kids’ parties.

Medical American Eye Center

5th Floor, Crescent Plaza, 105 Ton Dat Tien, Q7 Tel: (08) 5413 6758 An American Board-certified ophthalmologist with 15 years of experience in the US treats vision problems such as hyperopia, astigmatism, focusing problems, myopia, strabismus and lazy eyes.

Family Medical Practice

Diamond Plaza, 34 Le Duan, Q1 Tel: (08) 3822 7848 vietnammedicalpractice. com Three paediatricians prac-

tice their speciality at this well–equipped medical care centre. Also has obstetrics and gynaecology services for expectant mothers including pre–natal screening.

FV Hospital

6 Nguyen Luong Bang, Q7, Tel: (08) 5411 3333 This international–standard hospital has a dedicated and fully equipped pediatric centre staffed by a team of international specialists. Also offers other maternity services.

International SOS Medical & Dental Clinic

167A Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, Q3 Tel: (08) 3829 8520 Open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, the internationally experienced pediatric team at this clinic will meet your family's preventative, diagnostic and treatment needs. House call service is also available.

Starlight Dental Modern, well–equipped clinic with both western and local dentists experienced in providing preventative care and reconstructive procedures for children of all ages.

Victoria Healthcare International Clinic

79 Dien Bien Phu, Q1 Tel: (08) 3910 4545 Committed to pediatrics, this clinic provides services including general examinations (vision and hearing checks, immunisation, growth and development assessment) as well as specialist consultations.

Do you think you should be listed on these pages? If so, simply email us on and we’ll see what we can do. We can’t promise but we’ll try our best

2Bis Cong Truong Quoc Te, Q3 Tel: (08) 3822 6222

Helping kids reach new heights.

SSIS: join the climb. • Not for profit • 850+ students from 35+ countries, 20% nationality caps • 70% of our teachers have advanced degrees, 65% have ten+ years teaching experience • Large, park-like campus • New state of the art high school facilities • 3 libraries, 2 gymnasiums, 25m swimming pool and visual & performing arts rooms • 1:1 laptop/netbook HS/MS program • IB diploma program / AP coursework and diploma option • Co-curricular trips within SE Asia • Buses to Districts 1, 2, 3


78 Nguyen Duc Canh Street, Tan Phong Ward, District 7, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam T: (84-8) 5 413 0901 - F: (84-8) 5 413 0902 - E: - W:

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{ c r a z y Kids} ** Playing Street Fighter with Kids * * Photo by: Francis Xavier


fell back in love with Street Fighter IV recently — killing time with a date before our movie started at the Megastar Cineplex at Crescent Mall (Phu My Hung, Q7). VND60,000 got us ten games worth of tokens. I picked a female character to show my firm belief in the aptitude of women and she picked some muscle-bound, demon-sort-oflooking guy.

I Will Meditate, Then Destroy You A few minutes into the first match I felt a tiny hand on my shoulder, and turned to see five kids watching intently what now was an embarrassing bloodbath: the demon-looking guy shaking my little ninja like a chew toy. I felt bad for her. Then one of the kids sat on my lap. A look over at my date confirmed that she, too, had one kid on her lap and another on the chair next to her. I gave the controls to my kid. The situation started to look like it might improve until the demon-looking guy gave my character what can only be referred to as a pimp slap and she went down. I heard my date clapping, and looked to see that she had handed the controls over to one of the kids as well. I divided the tokens between the two groups, and my date and I sat back to cheer them on until the movie started. It was just a date, but something about

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the situation felt like good parenting. If you are a parent, a day at the arcade is just another way of “doing something together” with your kids, even if that something is virtually beating the piss out of each other.

Things People Shouldn’t Do for Reasons I’m Not Entirely Sure Of One myth propagated by well-meaning people is that watching TV and playing video games isn’t healthy behaviour for children. However, one of the coolest things I remember about my dad was his ability to correctly answer almost every question on the trivia show Jeopardy. My mother and I used to play Super Mario Brothers until the wee hours of the night. In fact, if my generation had a theme song it would be the opening music for Super Mario Brothers. We still rode bikes and built tree houses, but when the sun went down the Nintendos turned on. My little town had a shop with two coinop arcade games — Street Fighter II and Mortal Kombat — that must have been the sole breadwinners for the old guy running the place. I still remember the rush of pride I got in beating Street Fighter II using only three quarters. Sure, I got lucky, buttonsmashing with Blanka — long before I’d learned the quiet grace of Chun Li, the quirky charm of Dhalsim — but damn it felt good: one of those moments where you

take a step back and hope that someone is watching you. Here’s the zen of it: my first kiss, catching a fly ball way out in left field — both felt just as good as beating Street Fighter II with only three quarters. Fun has been under attack since the fall of the Roman Empire, and what we might not allow our kids to do — being wellmeaning parents — might inadvertently rob them of those proud moments that make them the cool, confident adults we want them to be. General rules, of course, apply. If they’re fat little button-smashers with glazed-over eyes then there’s a problem. If they rule at Mario Kart and still do well in school then, well, let ’em own that. Some folks never get to be good at anything. — Matt Bender

Around the Town in Fifteen Seconds or Less Crescent Mall had the best machines by far. At Lotte Mart almost every machine had some kind of problem. I had a power-out/game reset when I was about ten levels (and VND40,000) into a game — an injustice which the game room attendant didn’t seem to understand. Parkson Plaza is alright, too, although the games that are operational on any given day tend to vary.


People travel thousands of miles to get a whiff of exotic Vietnam. From travel agencies though to resorts, here are a few suggestions on where to stay and how to get there in and around Vietnam


Air France

130 Dong Khoi, Q1 Tel: 3825 8583

Air Mekong

1st Floor, Centre Point Building, 106 Nguyen Van Troi, Phu Nhuan Tel: 3846 3999

American Airlines

194 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, Q3 Tel: 3933 0330

Cathay Pacific

5th Floor, Centec Tower, 72-74 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, Q3 Tel: 3822 3203

China Airlines


7th floor 28 Nguyen Thi Dieu, Q3, Tel: (08) 3933 1000 The number one hotel loyalty membership in the Asia Pacific. Members enjoy fantastic savings on dining, and the best accommodation rates at over 340 Accor Hotels throughout Asia.


113C Bui Vien, Q1 Tel: 3838 6678 92-94-96 Nguyen Hue, Q1, Tel: (08) 3825 0615 A tourist information company offering customized itineraries, tour packages, hotel and cruise reservations throughout Asia. Daily tours are available in Saigon, Hue, Hanoi, and three deluxe cruises in Ha Long Bay.


3rd Floor, Sheraton Hotel, 88 Dong Khoi, Q1, Tel: 3821 9098

S67-1 Rock Climbing Gym, Sky Garden 3, Q7, Tel: (08) 5410 5523 AZA seeks to connect adventure travel newcomers and veterans with service providers, adventure activities, and accommodations that fit the client’s desires, budget and skill level in Asia.

Jetstar Pacific


37 Ton Duc Thang, Q1 Tel: 3911 1591

Japan Airlines

Korean Air

34 Le Duan, Q1 Tel: 3824 2878

Lao Airlines

93 Pasteur, Q1, Tel: 3822 6990

Malaysia Airlines

Ground Floor, Saigon Trade Centre, 37 Ton Duc Thang, Q1 Tel: 3829 2529

Singapore Airlines

Saigon Tower Bulding, Room 101, 29 Le Duan, Q1 Tel: 3823 1588

Thai Airways

29 Le Duan, Q1, Tel: 3822 3365

Tiger Airways

Vietnam Airlines

27B Dinh Tien Hoang, Q1 Tel: 3832 0320

Ho Chi Minh Intl Airport, Tel: (08) 3930 1118 Chauffeur–driven and self–drive vehicles (for local license holders) from one of the world’s best– known car rental companies.


81 Mac Thi Buoi, Q1, Tel: (08) 3827 9170 This premium travel agency helps travelers select their destinations and organize their trips. From corporate travel to small group tours, explore the world or Vietnam.


195/14, D1, Binh Thanh, Tel: (08) 6258 3281 Friendly, high–quality, innovative custom tours in and around Vietnam to suit most budgets. They also offer a fast and efficient flight ticketing service.


70 Phan Dinh Phung, Dalat

Motorbike tours from over 70 guides, all speaking English. Tours include Dalat, the Central Highlands, Phan Thiet and Nha Trang. Note: insurance is not included.


64 Dong Du, Q1, Tel: (08) 3827 2911 SC4-1 My Khanh 3, Nguyen Duc Canh, Q7, Tel: (08) 5412 2761, Ext 113 41 Thao Dien, Q2, Tel: (08) 3519 4111, Ext 171 An upmarket operation operating through Southeast Asia, Exotissimo brings you personalized tours across the region, many including insights into culinary customs, handicrafts and humanitarian initiatives.


121 Hai Ba Trung, Q1, Tel: (08) 3824 7744 Flight travel services, including global travel management, domestic and international air booking and travel insurance, to corporate companies, family and individual travelers.


60 Tran Hung Dao, Duong Dong, Phu Quoc, Tel: 0939 402872 A PADI 5-star dive resort with fully experienced and certified scuba diving staff fluent in English, French, Dutch, German, Spanish, Russian, Swedish, Norwegian and Vietnamese.

FLY VIETNAM They provide flight information, pricing, availability and booking for domestic and international travel, in addition to railway reservation, hotel bookings, holiday packages, buses, and car rentals, travel insurance, coach tours and visas.


270 De Tham, Q1, Tel: (08) 3920 5552 One of the first tourist companies to set up shop in De Tham, Kim Travel has bussed hundreds of thousands of tourists up and down Vietnam. Destinations include Hanoi, Nha Trang, Hoi An and Hue along with other tours.


149/42 Le Thi Rieng, Q1, Tel: 0904

193308 An international travel company operating in Vietnam since 1992. They offer daily tours, short getaways, and small group excursions throughout Vietnam and beyond.



108 Huynh Thuc Khang, Mui Ne, Tel: 0908 400108 Vietnam’s first and only sailing school offers individually tailored training programmes for individual clients and groups. Services include recreational sailing, supervised dinghy rental, sail training, racing, wake boarding and beachside accommodation.


Chi’s Café

28/4 Do Quang Dau, Q1, Tel: (08) 6675 2620 A local inbound tour operator specializing in boutique tours around Vietnam. They provide economy, luxury, packages and tailor-made tours, which include the flexibility for customers to explore at their own pace.

40/27 Bui Vien, Q1 Tel: 0903 643446 On offer are automatic bikes for VND1,575,000/month and standard bikes for VND1,050,000/month. Bikes are well-maintained and staff helps with any difficulties bike may encounter.


Tel: 0979 992983 Good selection of standard and automatic bikes. Bike delivery available for drop-off and pickup.

12/20 Nguyen Canh Di, Ward 4, Tan Binh District Tel: (08) 3984 4754 If you like cycling through the Mekong Delta, trekking in the highlands, or lazing in a junk on Ha Long Bay — all while making a difference in people’s lives — then this company will suit you well.


60 Hai Ba Trung, Can Tho City Tel: 0713 752436 Services include trips to the Mekong Feeling floating hotel, cruises along the Mekong Delta, and speedboats between Chau Doc, Phnom Penh, Saigon, Cantho and Chau Doc.


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

Want to be in touch with what’s happening in this city? Check us out online at

Natalie’s Bike Rentals

Saigon Motorbike

203 Bui Vien, Q1 Tel: 2244 4466 Where foreign residents in the know go for long-term bike rentals. Operating in the backpacker area for almost 10 years, Saigon Motorbike stocks a large variety of motorbikes and scooters (including Vespas) at prices that are hard to beat.

Saigon Scooter Centre

25/7 Cuu Long, Tan Binh Tel: 3848 7816 Saigon Scooter Centre stocks a selection of high-end well maintained bikes and classic scooters for short and long term rentals. Vietnam’s only 100% foreign-owned scooter business also offers a one way drop-off service for their bikes and includes helmets, locks and travel packs. May 2013 Word | 143


$$$$ Le Lai, Dalat Tel: 063 3555888 17 French colonial villas reside atop the slopes of Vietnam’s rural highlands. Complete with a personal butler, in-villa dining, and a holistic spa, Ana Mandra Villas is where luxury meets tranquility.


$$$ 04 Phan Boi Chau, Dalat, Tel: 063 357 8888 This châteauesque resort is found in the heart of Dalat. Pamper at the beauty salon, indulge at the BBQ garden, or take in the view from the heated swimming pool.


$ 174 Phan Dinh Phung, Dalat, Tel: 063 3827 999 Free Wi-Fi, private car airport pickup, a coffee shop, and 10% discounted promotions at the nearby V Café; this charming hotel offers cost effective peace and quite.


$$$$ 12 Tran Phu, Dalat, Tel: 063 382 5444 The style of the 1920s, the backdrop of the Xuan Huong Lake and Liang Biang Mountain, and a piano bar — these are the elements through which Dalat’s top hotel retains its classic charms.


$ 151 and 164b Phan Dinh Phung, Dalat, Tel: 063 383 3748 An all you can eat breakfast buffet, jacuzzis, saunas, and friendly service. This is one of the budget deals in town.


$$$ 1 Phan Chu Trinh, Dalat, Tel: 063 355 0979 This four-star apart’hotel exudes the French art nouveau style. Boasting a modern commercial centre, retail, food and beverage outlets, La Sapinette is the palace to call home.


$ 4A Bui Thi Xuan, Dalat, Tel: 063 382 2663 Centrally located, this quaint stop offers affordable accommodations, in

a basic style. Goes bus-todoor through the Sinh Café people.


$$$ 36 Le Duc Tho, My Dinh Commune, Tu Liem, Hanoi, Tel: 04 6270 6688 This premier five-star property lies beside the My Dinh National Stadium and Convention Centre. Boasts two swimming pools, a spa, and a fitness centre in its 24 stories.


$$$$ 51 Xuan Dieu, Quang An, Q Tay Ho, Tel: 04 37198877 Fully serviced, fully furnished, and strategically located in the Syrena Centre on Xuan Dieu, Fraser Suites is a gold–standard bearer of expat living.


$$$ 109-111 Hang Gai, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi, Tel: 0439 286969 Located in the centre of the Old Quarter, this little slice of heaven offers complimentary sundries and a

replenishable minibar. The Orient restaurant, serves the finest in international and Vietnamese cuisine.


$ 48 Ngo Quyen, Hoan Kiem, Tel: 0438 285372 Two locations in Hanoi; complete with bunk beds, in same or mixed sexed dorms, pool tables, and darts. This is the place to meet international travelers.


$$$$ 1 Le Thanh Tong, Hoan Kiem, Tel: 0439 330500 Adjacent to the prestigious Opera House, this five–star landmark lives up to its family name. Colonial architecture, an elegant and spacious interior, is further complemented by, the spacious courtyard pool.


$$ 14 Luong Van Can, Hoan Kiem Tel: 0904 428387 With four locations in the Old Quarter, and close proximity to Hoan Kiem Lake, this is a good, central, no-frills chain. Amenities include compact rooms, friendly staff and free Wi–Fi.


$$ 5 Au Trieu, Hoan Kiem, Tel: 0439 381048 Aside the immaculate St. Joseph’s Cathedral, and boasting exceptional Breakfast Pho, comfort is found at Joseph’s. One of the best boutique deals in town.


$$ 17A Pham Dinh Phung, Ba Dinh, Hanoi, Tel: 0437 349988 The newly-built Marigold Hotel combines traditional Vietnamese architecture with Oriental luxury . Online promotions, and a nightly live Irish pub on the top floor.


$$$ 35-37 Hang Trong, Hoan Kiem, Tel: 0439 380999 A minute from Hoan Kiem Lake, this glowing pearl in the heart of Hanoi provides tranquility with an art gallery and piano bar.


$$$$ 40 Cat Linh, Ba Dinh, Tel: 0437 330808 With deluxe rooms and suites, a contemporary

lobby, an excellent buffet, and a la carte restaurant, this Accor group property is prestigious and close to the Old Quarter.


$$$$ 15 Ngo Quyen, Hoan Kiem, Tel: 0438 266919 The finest hotel from the French colonial period restored to modern Hanoi. This elegant oasis of charm is complimented with impeccable service, luxurious facilities and an ambience of a bygone era.


$$$ KM 8 Pham Van Dong, Duong Kinh, Hai Phong, Tel: 0313 880888 This four-star resort offers in room bathrobe, slippers, digital safety box, free Wi-Fi, satellite TV, 24hour room service. A resort complete with a pool, deluxe spa, fitness centre, and VIP massage room.


$$$ Tel: 0933 446542 Experience breathtaking

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

Free wi-fi, international breakfast, spacious and airy, lift, plasma TV, multi-shower, friendly service 5, Au Trieu, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi | Phone: 04 3938 1048 | Mob: 0913 090 446

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$$$$ 19 Lam Son Square, Q1, Tel: 0838 234999 Winner of Robb Report’s 2006 list of the world’s top 100 luxury hotels, the Caravelle houses the popular rooftop Saigon Saigon bar, and the restaurants Nineteen and Reflections.

exclusive spa and health club, together with luxury boutique arcade.


$$$$ 2A–4A Ton Duc Thang, Q1, Tel: 0838 233333 Immaculate architecture, spacious rooms, and a fine selection of fine dining, with buffets specialising in Americana and Pan-Asian cuisine.


$$$ 63 Nguyen Hue, Q1, Tel: 0838 222999 Famous for its day–long rotating–menu buffets, the Duxton deserves luxury appellation with a pool, gym, spa, and fine dining.

$$$$ 76 Le Lai, Q1, Tel: 0838 228888 Former guests include U.S. presidents — two Bushes, Clinton — and K-Pop sensation Bi Rain. An ongoing event as well as a hotel, New World is one of the best luxury stops in town.




$$$ 242 Tran Binh Trong, Q5, Tel: 0838 397777 This massive property boasts seven dining and entertainment outlets, a business centre, meeting rooms and a comprehensive fitness centre and spa. The Equatorial also has an onsite casino.


$$$$$ 235 Nguyen Van Cu, Q1, Tel: 0839 257777 The five-star hotel and serviced apartment complex offers: 14 instant offices, seven meeting rooms, a 600-capacity ballroom, spa, outdoor swimming pool, a gym, 24-hour fine dining, 24-hours room service, and limousine services.


$$$$$ Hai Ba Trung and Le Duan, Q1, Tel: 0835 209999 In the heart of Ho Chi Minh City, resides the Asiana with signature dining options, an innovative cocktail bar,

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$$$$$ 2 Lam Son Square, Q1, Tel: 0838 241234 Fabulous in style, prime in location, everything one would expect from the Hyatt. The Square One and Italian-themed Opera restaurants have garnered an excellent reputation, as has the landscaped pool.


$$$$$ 18–19-20 Ton Duc Thang, Q1, Tel: 0838 251417 This distinct French architectural wonder offers complimentary Wi-Fi, airport pickup or drop off, a 4th floor ballroom, and authentic Vietnamese cuisine at the River Restaurant.


$$$$ 141 Nguyen Hue, Q1, Tel: 0838 292185 Brimming with history the Rex’s open–air fifth–floor bar is Saigon highlight. A recent renovation, of this now fivestar property, boasts designer fashion and a shopping arcade.


$$$$$ 88 Dong Khoi, Q1, Tel: 0838 272828 Sheraton boasts one of the best locations in town, with first–class facilities, an open–air restaurant 23 floors above the city and a live music venue on the same floor.


$$$$ 17 Le Duan, Q1, Tel: 0838 241555 This 20–story building in downtown Saigon, caters to upscale business and leisure travelers seeking a classic yet contemporary stay in Saigon.


$$$$ Tel: 0933 446542 The Au Co offers a continuous three-day voyage in the Gulf of Tonkin. The firstclass twin vessels feature: 32 luxury cabins, private balconies, nature-inspired cuisine, spa treatments, and a jacuzzi.


$$$ 18 An Duong Vuong, Q5, Tel: 0838 336688 The full ensemble with its own shopping hub (including a bank), fine dining, a sauna, health club, and superb panoramic views of the cityscape. Also hosts the largest Oktoberfest in the region.


$$$ 132-134 Dong Khoi, Q1, Tel: 0838 299201 This charming old hotel has been fêted in literature and in film. In the heart of Saigon, this is the first choice

to highlight Vietnamese culture .

swimming pool, and the Sawasdee Health Club.



$$$ 1 Dong Khoi, Q1, Tel: 0838 295517 Since 1925 this vintage hotel encompasses the beauty that is Vietnam. Overlooking the Saigon River, its unique atmosphere makes it that much more majestic.


$$$ 656/52 Cach Mang Thang 8, Q3, Tel: 0838 460263 The hotel features 12 luxurious rooms designed to capture the warmth of the French countryside. The Little Bistro Restaurant serves Asian and European signature dishes for in-house guests.


$$$ 117 Le Thanh Ton, Q1, Tel: 0838 295368 Intimate atmosphere and excellent service, this boutique business hotel is located minutes from famous landmarks, designer shops, and is renowned for its fabulous steaks at its in-house restaurant, Corso.


$$$ 167 Hai Ba Trung, Q3, Tel: 0838 224866 Novotel Saigon Centre has a contemporary feel, an international buffet — The Square — a rooftop bar, and a wellness centre including a swimming pool, gym, sauna and spa.


$$$ 323 Le Van Sy, Q3, Tel: 0838 439999 A four–star business class hotel, The Ramana boasts 293 guestrooms and suites while offering: a business centre, a well–equipped fitness room, an outdoor

$$$ 24 Noi Khu Hung, Gia 4, PMH, Q7 , Tel: 0854 161000 On a quiet, tree–lined street in Phu My Hung, the Sabena is equipped with the latest in–room technology. For the international businessperson, this is a good choice away from downtown Saigon.


$$$ 144 Nguyen Van Troi, Phu Nhuan, Tel: 0839 998888, The newly-built hotel is near Tan Son Nhat International Airport. With spectacular city views and a comfortablydesigned outdoor swimming pool, there is little reason not to choose this shining star.


$$ 133 Nguyen Hue, Q1, Tel: 0838 225914 Perched on one of the city’s major boulevards, the brightly-lit exterior guarantees that you’ll never be lost at night. Enjoy executive jacuzzis and use online booking for discounted promotions.


spa offers fine Italian, Thai and Japanese dining. Manicured gardens and a view that overlook the bank of the Saigon River, this is truly someplace special.


$$$ 133A Nguyen Dinh Chinh, Phu Nhuan, Tel: 0862 569966 Architectural elegance, and timeless style, this literal library themed inn is nestled in a charming and quiet neighborhood. Their fine selection of literature waits to be read, atop the rooftop terrace.


$ 171A Co Bac, Q1, Tel: 3837 8885 Always buzzing with activity, the California Guest House offers a communal kitchen, and free laundry. Book early, as this guesthouse is highly popular and has limited numbers vacancies.


$ 656 Cach Mang Thang 8, Q3, Tel: 3993 1587 With 24-hour security, cable television and ADSL Internet access, this clean and comfortable hotel offers peace of mind and affordable studio apartments.


$$$ 46 and 73-75 Thu Khoa Huan, Q1, Tel: 0838 227926 Centrally located near the Ben Thanh Market, the two hotels are juxtaposed on opposite sides of Thu Khoa Huan. Lan Lan 1 and 2 offer a homely feel at affordable prices.

$ 195 Bui Vien, Q1, Tel: 0839 206992 Free Wi–Fi offered in every room. Low prices, friendly staff, clean rooms. This modern oasis is only a few steps from the backpacker’s area.


$ 167 Pham Ngu Lao Q1, Tel: 0838 373699 With its communal kitchen and a TV room, a stay here

$$ 195 Nguyen Van Huong, Q2, Tel: 0837 442222 A colonial–style hotel and


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{ travel Promos } ** Mango Bay Resort A low-density eco-resort driven by its passion for the environment, Mango Bay Phu Quoc still tries to keep it natural. 40 bungalows without aircon or telephones are spread along 1km of beach and surrounded by 20 hectares of forest and garden. With the low season now hitting the island, every room is almost halfprice, and from May 5 through September, the third night of your stay is free when you stay two nights. A perfect reason to travel to Phu Quoc.

Fusion Maia Danang Feel like a king for US$140++ at the five-star luxury resort Fusion Maia Danang, Asia’s first resort with all spa treatments included in the regular room rate. For the above price you get a villa with private pool, breakfast at any time and in any place and all-inclusive spa treatments, which include massage therapy, body care and beauty care services. Furthermore the rate includes an optional breakfast or spa experience at the Fusion Lounge in nearby Hoi An. The deal is valid from May to August 2013.

Emeralda Resort Ninh Binh

Promotions of the Month

the parents, a set lunch and dinner at Sen, free access to the newlyopened kids’ club, movie, minigolf and more.

Hyatt Regency Danang Summer is coming to Danang, courtesy of the Pool House at Hyatt Regency Danang. Every Friday — weather allowing — take in a tidy outdoor barbecue poolside between 6.30pm and 10pm. Entry is VND780,000, including soft drinks and two bottles of La Rue beer for those of age. Saturday at Green House, the hotel’s talented chefs will serve a decadent Italian buffet for VND750,000 net per person, including either a half-bottle of wine or two Peroni beers. And later that night, circle back around to the Pool House Bar for ladies’ night with DJ Furioso and a different unlimited supply free cocktail, from 8pm to 11pm. The Hyatt’s largesse extends into the rainy season and beyond, with an extra night free offered on stays of two nights or more. This deal goes until Dec. 19, so put in some thought and book ahead. Pristine beaches and a full stomach awaits.

Local Lang Co

Planning a family trip between May 2 and Sep. 30? Emeralda Resort might be just the right choice! The Getaway Packages in one of the most stunning parts of Northern Vietnam offer three tailored options for your family. Starting from VND7,777,000 per family, the resort offers a relaxing break with a two day, one night stay in a superior room with mountain view, breakfast for the whole family, a foot massage for

Banyan Tree Lang Co and Angsana Lang Co — both parts of Vietnam’s first world-class integrated resort, Laguna Lang Co — are offering prime rates for the local Vietnamese market. Enjoy the shared 18-hole, par-71 golf course designed by Sir Nick Faldo and lots and lots of water — in Banyan Tree’s case, the pools of 32 lagoon pool villas or the villas on Canh Duong beach; or in Angsana’s case more than

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** 100 private pools and a snaking, 300-metre pool that winds throughout the property. These special rates for Banyan Tree start at VND5,145,000++ a night, while Ansana’s special rates start at VND3,150,000++ per night. Certain restrictions apply, the most salient of which is the offer’s expiry on June 30.

Six Senses and Evason Resorts Make your family’s summer getaway an unforgettable one in the beach destinations of Con Dao, Ninh Van Bay and Nha Trang. At Six Senses Con Dao, sample Mediterranean delicacies on the main street of the communal heart of the resort, The Market Place, go on a Turtle Discovery Tour at the only national park in Vietnam that actively protects turtles, learn some tricks from visiting DJ Leon, giving classes until May 5, and stargaze with visiting astronomer Dr. Parag, going villa to villa for private sessions from Aug. 14 to Aug. 24. If you end up missing Dr. Parag in Con Dao, you can always catch up with him at Six Senses Ninh Van Bay from Aug. 25 to Sep. 3. Or send your kids to the newlybuilt Pirate’s Lair while you hit hiking trails or swim, snorkel and dive in the beautiful bay waters of outlying islands and caves of the bay. Gecko, bird and monkey spotting is also on the menu. Just across the bay is Evason Ana Mandara Nha Trang, Vietnam’s first and only beachfront resort in Nha Trang. Sail the resort’s trimaran or take a family excursion to a rural village and learn how incense sticks and conical hats are made. There’s also an onsite, PADI-certified dive centre, if you’re itching for a closer look through Nha Trang’s crystal clear waters.

tours of the serene Halong Bay, aboard reproduction wooden junks. Two or three–night trips with a wide range of cabin styles: standard, deluxe, or royal.


$ Cuc Phuong, Nho Quan, Ninh Binh, Tel: 0303 848006 Vietnam’s first national park and primate centre with accommodations is stilt houses or detached bungalows. Both are available at the park headquarters, the park centre and on the road between the two.


$$$$ Tel: (04) 3935 1888 Reproductions, of 19th– century paddle steamers, trawl around Halong Bay in colonial style. A classic experience, complete with, overnight accommodations in impeccable cabins suites.


$$ Cu Yen, Luong Son, Hoa Binh Tel: 0218 385622 10 houses, surrounded by rice fields, lakes, and hills, this eco–village caters to those who wish commune with nature.


$ Ngoi Tu Village, Vu Linh, Yen Bai , Tel: (04) 3926 2743 A resort, ecolodge, and school, located on the banks of Thac Ba Lake. This bamboo-constructed paradise offers lake cruises, mountain biking, motorbike tours, hiking, and volunteer opportunities.


$$$ Mai Chau Town, Hoa Binh, Tel: 2183 868959 Rock climbing, kayaking, cycling, and a romance in nature, the Buffalo Toursowned lodge is set in a lush valley, this is home to indigenous Vietnamese.


$$ Ha Long Road, Bai Chay Ward, Ha Long City, Quang Ninh Tel: 0333 848108 This beachfront property is close to local markets. Fine dining, a professional spa with seven treatment rooms, Novotel Ha Long Bay enjoys impressive panoramic vistas, and a pool overlooking the limestone bay.

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will make you appreciate the pleasure of being a guest rather than just a customer.


$ 185/28 Pham Ngu Lao, Q1, Tel: 0838 361915 It’s always hard to get a

ECO LODGES Looking to increase your greenness and lessen your carbon footprint when travelling through Vietnam? These eco-lodges offer environmentally friendly alternatives to standard hotels and resorts

Bloom Microventures

Soc Son Tel: 0164 387 6594 (Lain)

Forest Floor Lodge

Cat Tien National Park, Tan Phu, Dong Nai Tel: 061 366 9890

Jungle Beach

Nha Trang Tel: 058 362 2384

La Vie Vu Linh

Yen Bai Tel: 04 3926 2743

Mango Bay

Ong lang Beach, Phu Quoc Tel: 077 398 1693 w w w. m a n g o b a y

Mekong Lodge

An Hoa, Dong Hoa Hiep, Cai Be, Tien Giang Tel: 3811 4863

Mia Nha Trang

Bai Dong, Cam Hai Dong, Cam Lam, Khanh Hoa Tel: 0918 821633

Pan Hou Eco Lodge Village Resort

Ha Giang Tel: 0219 3833 3565 www.panhou-village. com

Six Senses Ninh Van Bay

Ninh Van bay, Ninh Hoa, Khanh Hoa Tel: 058 372 8222

room here without booking, and no wonder, since this tucked-away little spot is on a par with anything else in the area — attractive, comfortable, friendly and more.


$ 157 Nguyen Du Q1, Tel: 3827 4648 Free breakfast, free computer usage, motorbike rental, and discounts for long term stay, the Sinh Huong Hotel is one of the few guesthouses to accept credit cards.

Hoi An & Danang

Marble Mountains. There are 182 luxurious residences and 27 private ocean villas, each with a private pool.


$$$$ Bai Bac, Son Tra Peninsula, Danang , Tel: 8884 246835 With its own private bay on the Son Tra Peninsula, the Bill Bensley-designed hotel is nestled within one the region’s most exquisite locations.


$ 18A Cua Dai, Hoi An, Tel: 5103 862231 Hoi An’s best kept secret is a family–run hotel with a charming colonial air located between the town and the beach, complete with a pool garden and air–conditioned rooms.

$$$ Tam Hai Island, Thon 4, Nui Thanh, Quang Nam, Tel: 5103 545105 Located to the south of Hoi An, the secluded sand island of Tam Hai houses a dozen modern villas with private gardens. There are endless beaches and an abundance of fresh seafood.




$$$ Son Tra – Dien Ngoc, Hoa Hai, Ngu Hanh Son, Danang, Tel: 5113 961800 20 minutes from Danang airport, this resort is comprised of six villas, a 33–floor twin tower, three five–star hotels, a convention / commercial centre, a 36–hole golf course and a culture village.


$$$$ 68 Ho Xuan Huong, Danang, Tel: 5113 847888 This venue has stunning beachside location. The smallest room measures 40 square meters — with a general air of refined luxury, as typified by the Cafe Indochine restaurant and the Lagoon poolside bar.


$ 73 Phan Boi Chau, Hoi An, Tel: 5113 936741 A mere 0.025km from the city centre, in addition to simple and comfortable rooms. Truly an excellent base for exploring the old town.


$$$$ Hoa Hai, Ngu Hanh Son, Da Nang, Tel: 5113 981234 The Hyatt Regency Danang Resort and Spa is beachfront with a stunning view of the

$$$$ Truong Sa, Ngu Hanh Son, Da Nang, Tel: 5113 958888 Located on Bac My An Beach, this exquisite resort has been carefully designed to immerse guests in luxury and seclusion.


$$$ 1 Pham Hong Thai, Hoi An, Tel: 5103 914555 This award–winning resort is located close to the bustling Old Town. With an emphasis on wellness and pampering, its spa combines traditional Chinese medicine, tai chi, touch and hot stone therapies.


$$$ Lot A1 Zone Green Island, Hoa Cuong Bac, Hai Chau, Danang, Tel: 5113 797777 Located on Green Island, in the heart of Da Nang city, the Mercure Danang offers modern style reflecting local Vietnamese culture. All day dining is offered at their brasserie and Chinese restaurant.


$$$$ Hamlet 1, Dien Duong Village, Quang Nam, Tel: 5103 940000 Includes three massive swimming pools, a gourmet restaurant and elegant spa on a lotus pond. Each massive room has its own

Want to be in touch with what’s happening in this city? Check us out online at

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espresso machine, pre–programmed iPod and both indoor and outdoor showers.


Cua Dai Beach, Tel: 5103 927040 This charming resort replicates a traditional fishing village, ponds, and village houses, all upon a private beach. Eat at the Annam Asian restaurant or relax with Thai or Swedish massage.

Hue & Quang Binh ANGSANA LANG CO

$$$$ Cu Du Village, Loc Vinh Commune, Phu Loc, Thua Thien Hue, Tel: 0543 695800 Located on Vietnam’s South Central Coast, Angsana Lang Co commands an unrivalled beach frontage of the shimmering East Sea. Traditional Vietnamese design encompasses the resort’s contemporary buildings and chic interiors.


$$$$ Cu Du Village, Loc Vinh Commune, Phu Loc, Thua Thien, Hue, Tel: 0543 695888 Built on a crescent bay, The Banyan Tree offers privacy and unparalleled exclusivity with all-pool villas reflecting the cultural and historical legacy of past Vietnamese dynastic periods.


$$ 10 Pham Ngu Lao, Hue, Tel: 0543 826567 hanoibackpackershostel. com Housed in a breezy, colonial villa complete with bunk beds, in same or mixedsexed dorms, pool tables, and darts. This is the place to meet international travelers.


$$$ 10 Hung Vuong, Hue, Tel: 0543 882222 The Forbidden City meets modern luxury. This high– rise hotel has great city views, a fine selection of restaurants, a piano bar and the sumptuous Royal Spa.


$$$$ 5 Le Loi, Hue, Tel: 0543 837475 la–residence– Built around the former co-

lonial governor’s mansion, with a nautical modern style, this is one of Hue’s unique experiences. Throw in an excellent restaurant with river views and you’re in paradise.


$ 48/3 Le Loi, Hue, Tel: 0543 826736 A budget option hotel, the Phuong Hoang offers reliable service and comfort, in additional to superb views of the Perfume River.


$ Chay Lap Village, Phong Nha-Ke Bang, Quang Binh Near the Phong Nha–Ke Bang National Park, this eco lodge is accessible by public transport. Activities include biking, kayaking, trekking and cave diving. SUN SPA RESORT $$ My Canh, Bao Ninh, Dong Hoi, Quang Binh, Tel: 0523 842999 Three hours north of Hue, this top–end resort offers elegant, comfortable pool villas and bungalows. An ideal base for trips to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Phong Nha caves.


$$$$ Beachside, Tran Phu, Nha Trang, Tel: 0583 522222 2.6 hectares of private beachside gardens and villa–style accommodation furnished in traditional native woods, this resort offers verandah dining, a pool bar and the signature Six Senses Spa.


$ Ninh Phuoc, Ninh Hoa, Khanh Hoa, Tel: 0583 622384 On a secluded promontory north of Nha Trang, this budget place is all about hammocks, the sea, the jungle and nature.


$$$$ Bai Dong, Cam Hai Dong, Cam Lam, Khanh Hoa, Tel: 0918 821633 Nestled in the mountain pass between Cam Ranh Airport and Nha Trang, this sanctuary has its own

private beach. With ecofriendly principles, Mia boasts rooftops studded with manicured grass and shrubs.


$$$ 50 Tran Phu, Nha Trang, Tel: 0586 256900 This four-star hotel with 154 guestrooms, all with a terrace and sea view. Complete with a pool, spa, restaurant, bar and meeting room that caters for up to 200 delegates.


$$$$ Van Dang Ninh Hoa, Khanh Hoa, Tel: 0583 728222 The upmarket Tatler magazine voted top hotel of 2006. The location is stunning, on a bay accessible only by boat.


$$$$ 26 – 28 Tran Phu, Tel: 0583 880000 A sleek beach-front property with six restaurants and bars, the Shine Spa with nine treatment rooms, an outdoor swimming pool a fitness centre, a kid’s club, business centre, and a cooking school.


$$$ 12–14 Tran Phu, Nha Trang, Tel: 0583 820999 Awarded in Expedia’s World’s Top one percent of hotels 2009, the Sunrise Nha Trang Beach Hotel and Spa is ideal for the diamond lifestyle. All rooms have a view of the sea.


$$ Tel: 0583 840501 This remote and unspoiled island 60km north of Nha Trang is a stylish getaway, with traditional bamboo bungalows on the beach and an excellent seafood restaurant.


$$$ Dong Cat, Ninh Hai, Ninh Hoa District Tel: 0583 670670 Overlooking the ocean upon a 600–metre beach front, this four–star resort has 54 rooms, four restaurants, a swimming pool and a spa.

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After five-and-a-half years in Ho Chi Minh City and almost four years in Hanoi, we've decided to reinvent the... well, not the wheel. But we're certainly going to give ourselves a revamp. So, watch this space. Exciting times lie ahead. And if you have any personal comments on how we can improve Word, please let us know. We are always ready to hear what you think. Simply email We would love to hear from you.

152 | Word May 2013

Phan Thiet & Mui Ne ALLEZ BOO BEACH Resort and Spa

$$$$ 8 Nguyen Dinh Chieu, Mui Ne, Phan Thiet, Tel: 0623 743777 This resort offers exotic Bali–style, thatched roof “honeymoon” villas, 55 spacious suites, deluxe rooms, fresh seafood, Vietnamese cuisine, Thai and international cuisine, kite surfing and parasailing.


$$$$ 54 Nguyen Dinh Chieu, Mui Ne, Phan Thiet, Tel: 0623 847322 Under Life Resorts management, the Blue Ocean Resort includes a large swimming pool and swim–up pool bar, a children’s activity playground, and an Irish bar.


$$$$ 58 Nguyen Dinh Chieu, Mui Ne, Phan Thiet, Tel: 0623 847111 With charming wooden bungalows, a private beach, a swimming pool (both with attached bars) and a French restaurant, Coco Beach continues to be run by those who opened it in 1995.


$$$ 24 Nguyen Dinh Chieu, Mui Ne, Tel: 0623 847440 / 2 Choose between bungalows with either open-air bathrooms or enclosed gardens, or beachfront bungalows overlooking the East Sea.


$$$ 1 Ton Duc Thang, Phan Thiet, Tel: 0623 822393 A first–class international golf course designed by golf legend Nick Faldo, great food and service is offered

at this 123–room escape destination with private balconies and ocean or golf views.


$$$$ Khu Hon Lan, Xa Tan Thanh, Ham Thuan Nam, Binh Thuan, Tel: 0623 682222 Set on Ke Ga Bay, with a sumptuous spa, original architecture, eight swimming pools and 24–hour butler service, this is one of the most well-appointed resorts in the country.


$$$ Khu 1, Ham Tien, Mui Ne, Phan Thiet Tel: 0623 743237 Beachfront apartments and studios with a luxurious outdoor pool and jacuzzi, and entertainment options including windsurfing, kite surfing, antique sidecars, bike tours and dune buggy rides.


$$$$ Mui Ne Beach, Phan Thiet, Tel: 0623 813000 Another beachfront Victoria chain, the thatched–roof bungalows and family villas are set in exotic gardens with an infinity swimming pool, a seafood restaurant, spa, beauty salon and jacuzzi.


$$$ 60A Nguyen Dinh Chieu, Ham Tien, Mui Ne Tel: 0623 741660 Villa Aria Mui Ne provides warm service, 22 spacious guestrooms, and one suite. The resort includes a pool overlooking the beachfront, and an alfresco dining lounge serving authentic Phan Thiet cuisine


$$ Ap Cua Lap, Xa Duong To, Long Beach, Phu Quoc Island, Tel: 0773 980998 A quaint and popular island guesthouse featuring a beachside restaurant, and includes free Wi-Fi. Motorbike rental, boat trips and tours are easily arranged. Discount rates during rainy season.


$$ Ong Lang Bay, Phu Quoc Island, Tel: 0773 986142 An eco-lodge with no televisions or air–conditioning, 18 bungalows offer views of the beach and bay. The beachside restaurant serves traditional Vietnamese cuisine with a classic ‘French touch.’

CHEN SEA RESORT AND SPA $$$$ Bai Xep, Ong Lang, Cua Duong, Phu Quoc, Kien Giang, Tel: 0773 995895 This 37–bungalow boutique resort provides a serene atmosphere along with first– class spa treatment and a Mediterranean–themed restaurant.



$$ Ong Lang Beach, Phu Quoc, Tel: 0773 985002 Secluded budget bungalows lie within a beachside coconut palm plantation. The restaurant serves fresh seafood, the resort is laid– back and simple.


$$ Cat Cat Road, Tel: 0203 871218 The best view in town from its bar restaurant, the Cat Cat Guesthouse is paradise at very reasonable rates. The rooms have big windows, balconies, and log fireplaces.


$$ 24 Muong Hoa, Sapa, Tel: 0203 872404 For the environmentally conscientious, 25 individual lodges rest on hills overlooking valleys. Employing solar technology and a wastewater facility, the Topas also organises treks and bicycle tours.


$$$ Tel: 0203 871522 Topping the list of Sapa re-

sorts, the Victoria include satellite TV, in–room coffeemakers, a hilltop health club, tennis court, and pool. The entire resort has panoramic views of the town below.

Vung Tau & Ho Tram BINH AN VILLAGE

$$$$ 1 Tran Phu, Vung Tau, Tel: 0643 351553 Perched on a cliff face, this Imperial Vietnam-styled resort has traditionally designed and furnished rooms and villas, seaside pools, fine dining, and a bar strategically located to watch the sunset.


$$ Nguyen Duc Thuan, Con Dao, Vung Tau ,Tel: 0643 830939 Seated at the heart of Con Son Island this beachfront resort has mini-golf, kayaking, and sightseeing tours via trams.


$$$$ Tel: 0643 781525 This attractive property is the ideal getaway from Ho Chi Minh City. 63 uniquely bungalows and villas prom-

ise a local experience complete with an excellent spa and two swimming pools.


$$$$ Ho Tram, Ba Ria-Vung Tau, Tel: 0643 781631 The spacious villas come with their own pool and have direct access to the beach. Extras include tennis courts, a mini supermarket, and cycling and motorbike tours.


$$ 1 Le Quy Don, Vung Tau, Tel: 0643 852135 Built in 1972, this popular seafront hotel still maintains its 1970s–style architecture and room fittings. Amenities include a pool, two bars, a massage parlour and a karaoke lounge.


$$$$ Dat Doc Beach, Ba Ria-Vung Tau, Tel : 0643 831222 50 wooden-framed bamboo pool villas stretch along the curved bay, each with an unencumbered view of the sea. Also has a fitness centre, two restaurants, diving facilities and free bicycle usage.

$$$$ Ward 1, Duong Dong Beach, Phu Quoc, Tel: 0773 982988 Among exotic greenery and a white sand beach, the M Gallery brand has beautifully–designed rooms, a stunning swimming pool, an all–natural spa, a beach grill and a fine fusion restaurant.


$$ 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.

Viet Nam

Phan Thiet - Mui Ne Bay Tel.: +(84) 62 384 71 11 / 2 Fax.: +(84) 62 384 71 15

May 2013 Word | 153

Tiêng viêt Người chạy bộ

Những gương mặt Sài Gòn

Người chạy bộ 300 km trong một tuần, một cuộc marathon mỗi ngày. Ed Weinberg gặp gỡ Chi Nguyễn sau cuộc đua ngoạn mục của cô tới Đà Lạt. Ảnh bởi Mai Trâm


hi Chi Nguyễn lần đầu nói rằng cô sẽ chạy bộ lên Đà lạt, rất nhiều người nói “Cô thật điên rồ”. Nhưng mọi chuyện không dừng lại ở đó. “Khi tôi chạy, nhiều người nhìn tôi chằm chằm,” Cô giám đốc quản lý truyền thông 31 tuổi của Unilever nói. “Họ lúc nào cũng nhìn vào ngực tôi để xem rằng tôi là con gái hay con trai.” Nhưng Chi cười xua tay —đó là thái độ bạn phải chấp nhận nếu bạn muốn chạy 300 cây số qua vùng hẻo lánh của Việt Nam. “Họ không bao giờ nghĩ chúng tôi là người Việt Nam,” cô tiếp tục. “Họ nói bằng tiếng Việt, ‘Nhìn những người điên rồ này nè!’ Rồi thôi. Chúng tôi cứ tiếp tục tập trung chạy.” Mẹ của Chi cũng chịu phần nói ra nói vào. “Mẹ bảo tôi rằng bạn của bà nói ‘Con gái của cô sao lại làm chuyện điên rồ như vậy! Ở tuổi này phải lấy chồng sinh con rồi chứ còn đi chạy ngoài đường làm chi!” Với những người đồng hành khác, mọi chuyện cũng tương tự. “Đây là điều chúng tôi muốn nói với cộng đồng,” cô nói, “Rằng hãy có cách nhìn khác đối với những người làm những việc ít ai làm. Chứ không phải cứ nói rằng họ bị không giống người.”

Nhiệm vụ

Cuối năm ngoái, Mai Huy chạy 2 ngàn cây số cùng với huyền thoại chạy marathon của Úc Pat Farmer —người chạy 21 ngàn km từ Bắc cực tới Nam cực vào năm 2011 —nhưng anh vẫn chưa hài lòng. “Anh đăng trên trang Facebook của mình rằng anh muốn làm một chuyến tương tự như

154 | Word May 2013

vậy nữa, nhưng đường đi ngắn hơn,” Chi kể lại. “Chỉ từ Sài Gòn tới Đà Lạt, 300km. Nên mỗi ngày chỉ phải chạy 45km thay vì 70km như trước đây… vâng, mỗi ngày phải chạy dài hơn cả một cuộc đua marathon thứ thiệt. Chi đọc được trên Facebook của anh và họ nói chuyện với nhau. Hai người lập một đội gồm sáu người —ba người đạp xe đạp, Huy và Chi chạy, và một người đi xe máy để chở theo hành lý của họ. Mặc dù không bằng những cuộc chạy trước đó của Huy, đây là một bước đi gan dạ vào vùng ngoài tầm hiểu biết và trải nghiệm của những người khác trong đội. “Tôi chỉ từng chạy một nửa của cuộc đua marathon tại Siem Reap,” Chi nói, “Thành tích chạy của tôi không có gì đặc biệt. Tôi đếm phòng tập chạy 5km hang ngày, chỉ có vậy thôi.” Mai Trâm, bạn gái của Huy, chưa chạy xe đạp leo núi bao giờ. “Cô quyết định đến Đà Lạt bằng chiếc BMX của mình.” Đỗ Trường An, một thí sinh beatbox từ mùa đầu tiên của show truyền hình Vietnam’s Got Talent, cũng tham gia. “Anh ấy cũng không phải là một vận động viên gì cả,” Chi nói. “Anh ấy muốn thay đổi bản thân mình.” Đó không phải là một quyết định chắc chắn, Chi nói, và tôi là một phần lớn trong đó. “Tất cả chúng tôi đều muốn làm một điều gì đó mới, điều mà chúng tôi không bao giờ nghĩ rằng mình sẽ làm.”

la lên ‘Dừng lại đi’… Tôi chạy với ý chí của mình nhiều hơn là đôi chân.” Cô nghỉ ngơi đêm đó, học các mẹo chạy của Huy, và ngày tiếp theo lại lao đi với nhiều hình phạt thân thể nữa. “Tôi gần như bỏ cuộc vào ngày thứ ba,” Chi nhớ lại. “Tôi đi bộ tới 30 km. Tôi không thấy mệt, nhưng chân tôi không nhấc lên nổi.” “Tôi không biết phải mô tả cảm giác đó thế nào. Tôi đi bộ dọc con đường, dưới nắng mặt trời, trên một vùng đất hoàn toàn xa lạ. Người ta nhìn tôi, vài người thấy tội.” Cô lờ đa số họ đi, nhưng một người lại kiên quyết. “Có một cậu bé trên xe đạp,” cô kể tiếp. “Chị ơi, chị đi đâu đó?’ —À ờ… —‘Chị đang chạy đua à? Giải thưởng hay gì vậy? —Không, chị chỉ muốn chạy thôi —‘Bạn của chị đâu hết rồi? Đi hết rồi à? Để em nói cho chị nghe, bắt xe buýt đi, chỉ tốn mười ngàn thôi.” Vào giây phút tự vấn bản thân này, tôi nhìn thấy một bảng hiệu cổ động ngoài ngôi làng nhỏ tôi đang đi ngang: ‘Hãy thoát khỏi nghèo đói bằng thực lực của mình.” Câu khẩu hiệu làm Chi xúc động, và cô nhận ra rằng cô chỉ có thể phụ thuộc vào chính mình mà thôi. Lúc đó đôi chân cô bắt đầu chạy. Nhưng cậu bé vẫn không hiểu. Cô giải thích cho cậu nhưng cậu vẫn tỏ vẻ khó chịu, và nói, “Được rồi, chị làm gì cũng được, em nói nên bắt xe buýt đi.”

Khởi đầu khó khăn

Tốc độ khác nhau

Ngày đầu tiên không có gì đặc biệt. Nhưng vào ngày thứ hai, Chi viết trên trang Facebook của mình: “Cuối cùng tôi cũng sống sót qua ngày thứ hai… Chân, người và cánh tay của tôi đều

Cô đổi chiến lược sau ngày thứ ba. “Tôi biết mình không thể chạy ngang với Huy, vì vậy tôi dậy sớm trước tụi nhỏ hai tiếng. Không ăn sang.”

Các mẹo Cô giải tỏa áp lực vào những buổi sáng sớm này, và bắt đầu ngắm khung cảnh chung quanh nhiều hơn. “Có những bài học bạn có thể học được dọc đường đi,” cô nhận ra. Tại Bảo Lộc, chúng tôi nghỉ ở nhà của Huy, mẹ anh nấu bữa tối. Thực đơn: thịt chó. Mới đầu tôi rất hoảng sợ. “Tôi nhìn những người ăn thịt chó trong nhà hàng.” Chi giải thích. “Với tôi họ như những con khỉ tiền sử không có văn minh, chạy nhảy, uống rượu và chửi thề. Tôi không thể tưởng tượng rằng một ngày nào đó tôi có thể ngồi cùng bàn với những người ăn thịt chó —nhưng nó xảy ra tối hôm đó.” Chi ăn một chút ít, nhưng suy nghĩ của cô đã thay đổi. “Người chồng rất có hiểu biết, người vợ thì rất nhiệt tình và họ đối xử với tôi rất tốt. Điều quan trọng là cách tôi nhìn sự việc thôi.”

Đà Lạt

“Tôi như muốn khóc khi thấy bảng chỉ dẫn — Đà lạt 99km,” Chi nói. Tôi còn hai ngày để tới đích đến, nhưng điểm kết thúc đã tới gần. Chỉ qua một ngọn đồi nữa thôi là đến nơi. Họ đi vào thị trấn, đăng ảnh của mình lên Facebook tại trạm bưu điện —điểm để học kết nối với Sài Gòn —các chàng trai đi cạo râu. “Chúng tôi phải nhìn đẹp trai tươm tất,” họ nói. Và sau đó Chi có một bất ngờ nho nhỏ. “Chuyến đi của tôi thật tuyệt vời,” cô nói,”có một anh tình nguyện tài trợ toàn bộ chuyến đi về Sài Gòn, hạng thương gia cho tôi. Tôi đi tới sảnh, mọi người nhìn tôi chằm chằm… họ thấy một cô gái, ba lô dính đầy bùn dơ, mặc đồ chạy bộ, mặt nhếch nhác, tóc thì cháy xém.” Chi cười. “Bảy ngày. Tôi được mở mang tầm mắt, thay đổi cách nhìn của mình. Nó làm tôi cảm thấy mình đang sống thật sự.”

V ết

rộp da

Dùng kim và chỉ. Bạn đâm qua vết rộp và để sợi chỉ ở đó. Sợi chỉ sẽ làm nước ở trong chảy ra. Vì nếu bạn không làm đúng cách, viết rộp sẽ bể ra… tôi có khoảng chừng 10 vết như vậy.

M ột

bước nữa

“Vào ngày thứ ba, tôi đi từng bước, từng bước nhỏ. Và cảm thấy như cả cơ thể đang gào lên với tôi —‘Bàn chân ơi, đừng đi nữa! Hãy để tôi nghỉ…’ Và sau đó, tự nói với mình,’Nhiều người đang nhìn lắm. Chỉ thêm một bước nữa thôi.’”

T rò


Đoán khoảng cách tới mốc tiếp theo. “Tôi nghĩ còn 500 mét nữa, và Huy nói, ‘Không, tôi nghĩ là 600 mét.’ Khi chúng tôi tới nơi anh nói “Thôi được rồi, cô đã đúng.” May 2013 Word | 155

The Final Say generic saigon / dark chocolate / the last call

Generic Saigon Growing numbers of overseas residents are decrying the internationalisation of Ho Chi Minh City. So, is it really becoming another version of every other Asian city out there, or is Saigon going to remain unique? Words by Nick Ross. Photos by Alexandre Garel

156 | Word May 2013


e’re out early and we’re shooting contrasts, not the clichéd jungle-in-theforeground with the high-risecity-behind kind of shot. Instead we’re looking for examples to demonstrate the difference between the Saigon that is and the city we’re told it’s going to become. Saigon, many people are saying, is starting to become generic. Buildings of potential historic importance have been knocked down, canals have been concreted over, there are less green spaces, more highrises are reaching for the clouds, and the international brands are entering en masse. Part of a movement, a belief that is pushing this city towards becoming global, the transformations are turning this metropolis into a modern, urban ‘monstrosity’ that looks no different to its steamy counterparts elsewhere in the region. Or so they say. Yet it’s not just the physical aspect of this city that is being transformed. It’s the mindset. It’s the type of mindset, for example, that has convinced a resident of Vung Tau to build his house to mimic the Sydney Opera House, or the mindset that causes a land development company to construct a glass-panelled skyscraper that looks exactly the same as an equivalent building overseas. Or the mindset that elevates a trip to Starbucks as being far superior to say a trip to one of the plethora

of locally styled cafes that dot Ho Chi Minh City. But is Saigon really in danger of losing all that makes it unique? Will it really become the faceless Asian city so decried by urban planners the world over? Or will it maintain its character, that quirkiness that for many has been the main attraction of this 10-million-strong city?

Plastic Fantastic We start our little photoshoot at an outdoor, plastic-stool cafe on Bui Vien, the kind of place that gets packed out everyday. The joint is typical. A family — a mother, her youngest sister and a son — runs the café. They are on friendly, first-name terms with more than half the customers. And the communal atmosphere, one of typical streetside conversations, coffee drinkers reading the morning paper, lottery ticket sellers and shoe-shine boys, is similar to scenes found all over this city. Drinking coffee in such an environment is a ritual, part of everyday life. It’s a unique social aspect not just of this city, but of Vietnam. From here we go to Starbucks. It’s our first visit and couldn’t be more of a contrast. We queue for our drinks and as we order, we’re asked our names. I call myself Gordon Bennett — it’s written down as Golden, an approximation I wish was true — and then I wait in turn for my drinks. In

the meantime our photographer is zipping around the entire downstairs of the store, snapping shots. From the people through to the décor and the coffee serving counter. We both expected him to be restricted, but until he gets too close to the coffee counter and a friendly reprimand is thrown his way, he is given a free range. The staff, all smiling, and all speaking good English, even give me two free WiFi passes, valid for an hour each — they don’t want people to sit over one drink for five hours in this place. And everything is happy, happy, service with a smile (and a western price tag). It’s an experience that is bringing an international selection of customers. Foreigners are purchasing their morning, takeaway latte aplenty, and well-dressed middle-class Vietnamese are chatting in pairs or threesomes over an iPad or a Galaxy Note. It’s all surprisingly civilised, exotic even, and it’s all part of a future that many envisage or believe is a foregone conclusion for this city. Yet for all its niceties, and pleasing-onthe-eye décor, and for all that so soughtafter western experience that can now be purchased for under a hundred thousand dong in the centre of this city, Starbucks lacks the character of its street-side counterpart just a few blocks away. Most important, it lacks community. It is places like Starbucks that are generic, not Saigon.

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Slogans are Us Having imbibed our latte and Frappuccino, we leave and head into the morning rush hour. The streets as ever are jam-packed with motorbikes. Except for Cambodia, no other country in this region can boast such a concentration of two-wheeled vehicles. Another case for Saigon not being generic. Just down the road we stop in front of Burger King and Baskin Robbins, two American-born conglomerates that sit just a few doors apart. Their taglines say much about their attraction. For Baskin it’s quite simply “We make people happy”. The use of English is symbolic. These places are foreign, and therefore at least in the local mindset, they are better than anything Vietnamese. It’s like the old Animal Farm catchphrase — four legs are good, two legs are bad — that gets altered towards the end of the novel and changed into four legs are good, two legs are better. If you want to talk of transformations in this country, when it comes to locally produced products Vietnam has experienced the same. As we head well into the 21st century, you could easily re-tag it as “local is good, foreign is…” Well, let’s not talk about that, but there is certainly a mental desire for all things that are not Vietnamese. It denotes wealth. And it denotes status. You could even find a simile or 15 with another memorable phrase from what is probably George Orwell’s most powerful work: All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others. Burger King is equally into its Englishlanguage phrasings. The burgers all maintain their English names — even the BK value chicken which is described (in Vietnamese this time) as being ‘American quality at a great price’. And then there is the boast of longevity on the front of each of their stores — since 1954. Yet wasn’t 1954 the year Vietnam kicked out those foreign French imperialists at Dien Bien Phu? Besides, Burger King has only been here since last year. But if Burger King is American quality, then we have a true problem here — surely this is doing the ‘Land of the Free’ an injustice? Indeed, many Americans don’t even see Burger King as being American. Rather, like the produce of many other fast food chains, junk food is what the country’s

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poor tend to eat. In Vietnam it’s marketed to the middle class. These very same fast food chains are also among the most exploitative of the multi-nationals. As a recent article in UK newspaper The Guardian pointed out, the “McWages” of fastfood workers “keep them living at or even below the poverty line”. The writer, Sadhbh Walshe, continues to explain how “in 2011, the CEO of McDonalds earned over US$20 million, which means he was paid nearly 1,333 times more than the average crew member or cashier”. She adds, “My personal favourite [about the fast food industry is] this nugget from the National Restaurant Association: ‘The industry is one of the best paths to achieving the American Dream.’” It’s a comment that could easily be applied to Vietnam. If you eat at one of the fast-food chains out here, then you are on your way to achieving the American dream.

Ritual and Community Around the corner from the gruesome or exotic twosome sits Bun Moc Thanh Mai on Truong Dinh. Even though it’s now 9am, the place is heaving. Once just a single eatery on the corner of Truong Dinh and Nguyen An Ninh, over the years the success of this noodle soup venue has caused it to expand to the two shop-fronts on either side. Sat at the bottom of a typical 1960s block of flats, the atmosphere is boisterous, the service is fast, and the quality of the cuisine is excellent. Everything, from the broth and the moc

— pork balls — through to the accoutrements on the side is top quality. This is Vietnamesestyle fast food. It is tasty, popular and for many, relative to some of the fast food options entering this town, is far superior. It’s much cheaper, too. Forget the rebuilding of the city. Forget the construction of new bridges, highways and Singaporean-style suburbs — whether you like it or not, these are necessary evils (or pleasures, as the case may be). And forget the fact that so many of those beautifully designed,

“If you want to use that throwaway word, then you should apply it to the standardised food and retail chains that are flocking to this city in their droves. It is them that are generic, not the city itself”

French-built villas are being knocked down to be replaced with eyesore hotels or ‘modern’ houses for the wealthy. This is pure nostalgia, nostalgia for a status quo of yesteryear that in local minds is no longer practical or desirable. For a city that is so desperately trying to redefine itself after 25 years of isolation from the outside world, and for a city that desperately needs space to expand, such transformations are inevitable. For me, it’s the unique features of Saigon that will always remain and prevent it from becoming generic. It’s the daily ritual of eating noodle soup or com tam for breakfast. It’s the culture of meeting, greeting and doing business in coffee shops both streetside and down the alleyways. It’s the television, the Saigon-filmed soaps depicting standard conflicts from everyday Vietnamese life. And most importantly, it’s the sense of community that will always keep Ho Chi Minh City from becoming generic. If you want to use that throwaway word, then you should apply it to the standardised food and retail chains that are flocking to this city in their droves. It is them that are generic, not the city itself. And while for now in local eyes they remain foreign and therefore exotic, over time they will be viewed in the same way as they are seen in Thailand, Singapore, Hong Kong and the west. As something normal, something not to get overexcited about. And most importantly, as something that we should take or leave according to our personal need.

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Short Story

In the first of our new series of short stories, a hidden past emerges when an English teacher goes back to her partner’s house for a surprise. Story by Rob Marsh


aul and I had been dating for about three months when I told him about my past. At the time I had been living in Ho Chi Minh City for a year. I was an English teacher, 28, single, unattached; he was a maths teacher, 33, divorced. I remember when I first went back to his place. “I have a surprise for you,” he said. “What kind of surprise?” I asked. “If I was to tell you, it wouldn’t be a surprise, would it?” “Maybe I won’t like it.” “You’ll like it.” “You sound very sure.” “I am sure. You’ll be impressed, believe me.” “Okay,” I said, even though I didn’t like surprises. That night we sat in the yard at the back

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of his house in District 2. “You know you’re a mystery woman, don’t you?” he said suddenly. I shook my head. “If only…” I said, trying to make a joke of it, though I knew what he meant. All I had told him was that I had come on holiday to Vietnam from South Africa a year before and stayed on. “Isn’t it time for my surprise?” I said trying to change the subject. He came out of the house carrying a chocolate cake on a wooden board. The cake was lopsided, like someone had pressed down on one side harder than the other. “The baking part didn’t quite go to plan,” he said. “You mean you made this?” “Yes. I’ve never baked a cake before, but all women like chocolate cake, right?” His eyes were shining.

I made a show of studying the cake from various angles. “It reminds me of the leaning tower of Pisa.” It was a good moment, which I guess is what prompted me to speak out the way I did: a kind of spontaneous reaction, I suppose you’d call it. “There’s something I need to tell you,” I said quietly, though my heart was racing. “That sounds ominous,” he said. “What is it you want to talk about?” “Me.” “You?” “Yes.” Then the coward in me won the day. “Maybe another time,” I retreated. Now he was really confused. “I don’t understand,” he said. “Let’s talk about something else,” I said.

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Photo by: avlxyz, Aih & joyosity

“Like what?” “I don’t know… anything.” “Okay,” his voice trailed away. Then his gaze fell on the table. “Let’s talk about chocolate cake,” he said. It’s funny how things can change, isn’t it? In a heartbeat, I mean. A word, a casual gesture and everything’s different. It was that one throwaway remark that did it; a moment of shining clarity, a moment when I finally decided to tell him exactly what I’d been hiding from him. “Yes, alright. Let me tell you about the last time I had chocolate cake…”

The welcome home party had been organised by some friends at the school where I worked in Johannesburg and even my friend Shannon hadn’t been let in on the secret. We both thought we were going to Fatima’s house to discuss end-of-year exams. The living room was full of people and there was a big Welcome Back banner stretched above the fireplace. When everyone shouted, “Surprise!” Shannon looked at me. “I didn’t know, Sarah,” she whispered. “I didn’t know.” I was trembling, but tried to pass the moment off because everyone was looking at me. Fatima must have seen the panic in me. “I’m sorry,” she said. “It’s not your fault — it’s mine. I’m just not ready… for so many people.” “We just wanted to welcome you back,” Fatima said, upset now. “We wanted to buy you chocolate cake. Shannon said it was your favourite.” “Yes, it used to be.” “We thought it was something you liked.” “It is… it was. It’s just it’s been so long since anyone’s done anything nice for me,” I said. “Two years isn’t a long time, Sarah.”

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“Oh, yes, it is! Two years is a very, very long time…” Paul had a bewildered look on his face. He wasn’t quite sure what to say. “That wasn’t the only time someone bought me chocolate cake, Paul,” I said. “Once, five years ago, another friend bought me chocolate cake, too…” I hadn’t told Paul much about Marcus. The only thing he knew was that Marcus and I had been married for three years. “Marcus was very jealous…” I began. “At first I didn’t mind too much…” After all, it proved how much he loved me, right? Except that after we got married his covetousness took on a new dimension, it became distrust… suspicion; the desire to own me. Then the violence started. But the slaps were just the beginning. Marcus always had a violent temper and things got worse after he was sacked from the police, then he turned to drink. After that there was nowhere for him to go but down. I tried so hard to please him, but sometimes nothing I did was good enough. He wore me down until in the end I was just so exhausted, so defeated… Thembi was the daughter of our neighbour. She lived with her father, a teacher, and never saw her mother, who had moved to Cape Town. That’s why we became friends, I suppose: I didn’t have a daughter and she didn’t have a mother. It was the perfect match. For her 12th birthday I bought her a book she said she liked. I didn’t tell Marcus what I’d done. After all, it wasn’t a big thing… To show her gratitude Thembi bought me a slice of chocolate cake, which she gave to Marcus when she saw him the next day. “Will you give this to Sarah, please?” she said to him. “And thank her for the book.” Marcus was very calm when he came into the kitchen. He was smiling when he showed me the cake. “Your little friend next door told me

to give you this,” he said. Then he let the cake slip from his hand and in that frozen moment the world slipped silently into retarded motion. I watched the plate turn slowly in the air, saw the cake hit the carpet, saw Marcus glance down casually at the mess he had created before he stepped over it to get at me. “No, Marcus,” I pleaded backing up, “it was just a cheap book. It was just a birthday present…” He thrust his face in mine, pushed me back against the wall. “I’ll decide who we buy presents for, not you, okay?” That was when he stepped back to give himself room to swing his fists, then the blows came thick and fast. When he finally stopped hitting me I was slumped, whimpering, on the floor. He grunted then went into the bedroom. When he came out he leaned over and pressed the barrel of his gun to the top of my head. “Marcus, please put the gun down. Please.” “Shut your mouth!” “Please, Marcus. Please put the gun down.” He laughed and walked away. At the kitchen door he stopped, turned back to look at me. “Shooting you would just be a waste of a good bullet anyway,” he said. Paul looked alarmed. “Why didn’t you tell me?” he asked. Then, when I was slow to answer: “Was he always like that?” “Not always, no.” “Did you leave him?” “No.” “Why not?” “He went away.” “What do you mean, ‘He went away’?” I woke up to the sound of footsteps in the corridor. Then the door opened and I felt the air move, but I didn’t know where I was or why I was there. Everything was a blur. My next recollection was of a man

Photo by: Genista, Brett Jordan, Thristian & avlxyz

standing next to the bed looking down at me. He had a stethoscope around his neck: a doctor. “Ah, so you’re finally awake, Sarah,” he said. “Where am I?” “You’re in hospital in Johannesburg.” I managed to turn my head, though every movement was an effort. “Have I been in an accident?” The doctor moved around the bed, pressed two fingers against my wrist and began taking my pulse, counting off the beats against his wristwatch. “Don’t you remember?” he asked. The past was a black hole: a void into which all memory had collapsed. “Remember what? How long have I been here?” I asked. “Five days.” I closed my eyes as the room began to spin. I recall waking up the next morning only this time Shannon was standing next to the bed. She was speaking to me, but very quietly, almost like she was afraid of waking me, which was ridiculous of course. “Sarah,” she whispered, “Sarah… are you awake? I’ve brought you chocolate cake. I know you like…” That was when I remembered the visit by the mysterious doctor. “Why am I in hospital?” I asked. “It’s Black Forest…your favourite.” “Why am I in hospital?” “It was made fresh this morning. The baker said…” Shannon’s evasions scared me. I made an effort to sit up then discovered that I couldn’t because my wrists were fastened to the bed rails. “Where’s Marcus? Why isn’t he here?” I could feel myself becoming hysterical. “He’s dead, Sarah…I’m sorry, but Marcus is dead…” Paul had gone very still. “What

happened?” he asked. “Why were you in hospital?” “There was… an incident,” I said. The moment Marcus walked into the house I knew that he was in a bad mood. “What are you looking at?” he said. It was the sort of question that didn’t have an answer, the sort that Marcus was so good at asking. I went to the sink, began washing my hands. “I didn’t expect you home so soon. I’ll get supper ready.” He hit me before I had time to prepare myself, sent me sprawling backwards, arms flailing. “Bitch!” he screamed and walked off into the living room. My memory of what happened next is patchy. All I remember is standing in front of him, my arm outstretched. Eventually, he turned his face away from the television, gazed up at me. First he looked surprised then he looked amused. “Sarah, what are you doing? Put the gun down.” He sounded so bored and I felt so angry. When I didn’t move he shook his head. He seemed so calm. “Don’t make me get up… Don’t make me take that gun off you.” It was only when I didn’t do as he said that his voice hardened. “Now I’m really mad,” he said starting to rise… “Did you shoot him?” “Yes.” “Dead?”

“Why am I in hospital?” I asked. “It’s Black Forest… your favourite”

“Yes.” “I had no idea…” “So now you know.” “You acted out of self-defence.” “Not according to the courts, I didn’t.” “I don’t care what the courts said.” It was a nice thing to say, but I didn’t believe him. “You don’t have to defend me,” I said. “I’m not defending you.” For ten heartbeats we stared at each other. “I spent two years in prison for killing Marcus.” There was a long pause, then: “Okay, but I think we can get over it, right? We can get over it together.” Something about the way he spoke made me cast my mind back to my last day in prison. The prison psychologist came into my cell while I was dressing for the outside world. She sat on my bed, watched me for a moment then said, “You have to put the past behind you, Sarah. Start a new life. It won’t be easy, but you must. Remember, it takes a lot to stand up to abuse.” You’re not supposed to cry in prison because it means you’re not handling your sentence, but suddenly I could feel the tears welling up, could feel their wetness on my cheeks. “I murdered my husband,” I whispered. That was when she reached out and squeezed my hand. “Do you know what a murderess is, Sarah?” she asked. It was all I could do to shake my head. “A murderess,” she said very quietly, “is just a woman with a temper.” This is a work of fiction. All names, characters and incidents are invented. Rob Marsh is the author of 30 published books (both fiction and non-fiction). He currently lives in Ho Chi Minh City.

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Chicago native Gabriel Boyer originally came to Saigon to chill out after the stresses of working in two and threeMichelin Star restaurants in the US. The executive chef is now back in at the deep end at the newly-opened Cirrus, on the 51st floor of the Bitexco Tower. Photo by Alexandre Garel




is certainly different, but I love life here. The food scene is getting stronger all the time here, and it is a good time to be in Vietnam.

is to make this place a cut above the rest of the [restaurants] in Saigon. We want to be a progressive, forward-thinking place for people to go, not only to eat but for a real experience.

like Gordon Ramsey for example, can be really nasty f_ckers in the kitchen. Of course there a lot of positives about Ramsey, but he can be a really nasty guy. I would say with regards to a chef’s personality, there are two schools of chef. There is the Ramsey type A, who like to bully and shout. Then there is the B type, the Zen master who doesn’t need to get mad and demands respect. I have to opt for the B type, these are my kind of guys.

LEARNING ABOUT VIETNAMESE CUISINE IN SEATTLE... was the best thing to happen to me. I love pho and ate it all the time, and still do now I suppose. It was only US$5 for a large bowl of pho. You can’t complain about that.

VIETNAMESE CUISINE IN VIETNAM... is amazing. When I check out of work the first thing I do is head to the nearest seafood place for snails. The food in this city is so good and you have plenty of options.

WORKING AT CHILL SKY BAR... was a great experience, and I am still good friends with the guys there.

THE BITEXCO TOWER JOB... came around after I spoke to Tony [Shadwell], and it’s a great challenge for me which I am relishing.

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VERTIGO... doesn’t affect me thankfully, but you kinda get so engrossed with your work you forget we have the best view in Vietnam. When people come here, especially at night, you can see them go ‘wow’.

WORKING IN AN OPEN KITCHEN... is like performing in a theatre. When we are in the kitchen we are exposed on three of the four sides, and guests always want to sit in the front row near the kitchen, next to the action.

A RESTAURANT IN VIETNAM ACCREDITED WITH A MICHELIN STAR... is a long way off, but Vietnam is on that road. A lot of things will have to be in place for something like that to happen. But it’s possible.



is all about hygiene — and you have to maintain really high standards, especially working in a high-class restaurant.

of the location — and the food really is something special. Honestly, some of the stuff we have been doing recently is very exciting and creative.

Word Ho Chi Minh City May 2013  
Word Ho Chi Minh City May 2013  

The what's on guide to Ho Chi Minh City and beyond