Why we love a
Energized Engaged Empowered
mess
Because at ISHCMC we
understand that sometimes you
have to get your hands a little
messy to be truly innovative.
Today’s students need to do more
than memorize information in
traditional classrooms. They need a
more evolved approach to education
that allows them the freedom to
pursue their passions fearlessly. In
addition to a strong academic
foundation, they need opportunities
to be creative, innovative and
analytical, all of which lie at the heart
of the ISHCMC philosophy.
Come and see
the difference we can make
in your child’s life.
A fully accredited IB World School,
authorized to teach all 3 programs
of the International Baccalaureate
curriculum to students
ages 2 – 18 years.
28 Vo Truong Toan, District 2
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Tel: +84 (8) 3898-9100
Email: admissions@ishcmc.edu.vn
www.ishcmc.com
2
Carla, Grade 5 & Ella, Grade 2
ISHCMC Students
3
Everywhere you go
Director
Managing Director
Xuan Tran
Jimmy van der Kloet
jimmy@oivietnam.com
Managing Editor
Christine Van
christine@oivietnam.com
Deputy Editor
James Pham
jpham@oivietnam.com
Associate Publisher
khanh nguyen
khanh@oivietnam.com
Graphic Artists
This Month’s Cover
Painter: Mien Thao
Photographer: Vinh Phan
Model: Jenni Lai
Make-up Artist: Xuan Phuoc
Kevin NGUYEN
kevin@oivietnam.com
NGUYEN Pham
nguyen@oivietnam.com
Staff Photographer
ngoc tran
ngoc@oivietnam.com
For advertising please contact:
NGAN NGUYEN
ngan@oivietnam.com
090 279 7951
chau nguyen
chau@oivietnam.com
091 440 0302
hanh (jessie) le
jessie@oivietnam.com
098 747 4183
Phuong Tran
phuong@oivietnam.com
091 869 3680
HANNIE VO
hannie@oivietnam.com
ƠI VIỆT NAM
NHÀ XUẤT BẢN THANH NIÊN
Chịu trách nhiệm xuất bản:
Nguyễn Trường
Biên tập: Quang Huy - Quang Hùng
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Metro Advertising Co.,Ltd
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In lần thứ hai mươi sáu, số lượng 4000 cuốn,
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General
Inquiries
4
advertising@oivietnam.com
Chế bản và in tại nhà in Phụ Nữ
Nộp lưu chiểu tháng 4/2015
info@oivietnam.com
Website: www.oivietnam.com
FUNDAY &
OPEN DAY
RENAISSANCE TALENT SHOW
Saturday, 23 May, 2015
09:00 am
rd
EARLY YEARS
PRIMARY
74 Nguyen Thi Thap, District 7, HCMC
(08) 3773 3171 - ext: 120/121/122
admissions@renaissance.edu.vn
www.renaissance.edu.vn
SECONDARY
5
Contents
WINE & DINE
RESTAURANT REVIEWS
First time restaurateurs Kalen Nguyen and Le Hoang Lan
open their Vietnamese and Italian kitchens, respectively,
to our writers
image by ngoc tran
50
FEATURES
p10 datebook
P22 Twists & Turns
P28 The Watchman
With these events, you'll never have to be bored
again
Have fun solving these hand-drawn mazes
One man’s 30 odd years fixing watches on the
street
P16 TROI OI
Find out why a 30-metric ton stone, trees and
alcohol addiction made it into our list
P18 THE BULLETIN
Checking out the latest promotions and openings
6
P26 Pulp Art
Reviving the ancient art of making paper by
using bamboo pulp
P72 How Bizarre
Thailand’s weird and, sometimes, grotesque side
7
COVER STORY
ECOTOPIA
38
COLUMNS
P82 Peru
P25 Legal Ease
P57 Chuc An Ngon!
Stunning images of Machu Picchu, Lake
Titicaca, Huanchaco and more
A Las Vegas wedding finds legality in Vietnam
Combining alcohol and fruit to create delicious
sauces
P92 Flu Proof
How to limit the spread of the Influenza virus to
your family
P31 Home, Sweet, Home
Introducing rhythm into your home
P56 Cheers!
Learn the basics of wine tasting
P75 Blank Canvas
An artist falls in love with Hanoi
P94 Higher Learning
Time to throw away the IQ test
8
IMAGE by NGOC TRAN
Can adopting a more sustainable living be convenient
for our lives? We look into how living and growing
harmoniously with nature can better the ecosystem and
everyday living in Saigon
9
Datebook
MAY
What's on this month...
16
MAY
16
What: Beatfest
Where: Phu Tho Stadium in District 11;
9am – 11pm
About: American singer Demi Lovato will headline the
summer music festival, confirmed the organizers of YAN
Beatfest. This year around 80 Vietnamese singers will join
the festival, which includes 12 hours of non-stop music
together with a series of culinary activities, games and
shopping. Last year British pop singer Shayne Ward was the
international guest for the event
Contact: Visit www.yan.vn/beatfest for more info
What: Escape Rainforest
Where: 13 Tan Trao, Phu My Hung, D7; 12pm; Prices vary
About: A water festival with two of the top 50 DJs spinning at the party. Nothing is
more cooling on a hot summer day than grabbing your swimsuit and jumping into a
pool. Free beer from noon to 6pm.
Contact: Tickets available at www.ticketbox.vn
MAY
16
MAY
What: Open Day: Ice Cream Social
Where: The American School (172-180
Nguyen Van Huong, D2); 9:30am – 11am
About: Visit their middle-high and
elementary campus and enjoy some free ice
cream. Academics: student-led tours for both
campuses, teachers meet & greet, Q&A with
principals and admin. Free activities include
open swimming pool, bouncy house, arts &
crafts and a balloon clown.
Contact: Visit www.tas.edu.vn for more info
10
16-17
What: Breton Day 2015
Where: May 16 at Cargo Bar (7 Nguyen Tat Thanh, D4; VND100,000 advance,
VND150,000 at the door); May 17 at Clubhouse (Sang Tao Road, Tan Thuan Ward, D7; Free)
About: The Breton Society in Vietnam will be promoting Brittany, its culture, history and economy.
For Breton Day 2015, they have invited musicians reknown throughout the world who will present
different aspects of Celtic music from traditional to modern. More than 40 musicians and seven bands
will perform during the festival, including The Kemperle Pipe Band, Lang Dzu band, Celtic Rock
Diaouled, Alan Pennec, Jakez Lesouef, Hot Tzigani band and Turbo Sans Visa.
Contact: Visit Facebook: “KBBV Bretons in Vietnam” for more info
MAY
16
What: Lysistrata’s Toga Party
Where: Saigon Outcast (188/1 Nguyen Van
Huong, D2); 6pm; VND150,000
About: Join Saigon Players for a night of theatrics, dress
ups and fun for a good cause. Because who doesn’t love
a toga party? Come dressed as a Greek or Spartan or be
creative with some white sheets and fabric. Along with a
live theatrical performance, there will be an arm wrestling
challenge, ‘slave’ auction, drink specials, raffle, live music
and dancing. Prizes given out for best dressed.
Contact: Email saigonplayerstickets@gmail.com for more info
MAY
23
What: Saigon Charity Bazaar
Where: The Deck (38 Nguyen U Di, D2); 9:30am – 3:30pm
About: The biannual charity bazaar benefits 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 with crafters and charities such as Vietnam Quilts,
Mekong Creations, Grace Cookies and Operation Smile among the 50 vendors who will
be present. Small entrepreneurs with local and unusual products are encouraged
to participate.
Contact: Email domlampel@gmail.com for more info
11
MAY
28
MAY
27
What: Loud Minority Presents Little Barrie
Where: Cargo Bar (7 Nguyen Tat Thanh, D4); 7:30pm; VND350,000
advance, VND450,000 at the door
About: Little Barrie is the brainchild of one of the UK’s leading guitarists, Barrie
Cadogan (Primal Scream). Having played with Morrissey, Edwyn Collins, the Chemical
Brothers, Spiritualized and Paul Weller, Barrie now divides his time equally between
Little Barrie and Primal Scream. The softly-spoken musician is known for taking
on a whole different persona as soon as he hits the stage, with all the mastery and
showmanship of a rock legend. Their latest album Shadow has received universal
praise across the media, with NME crediting the three-piece for “taking rock back to its
thrilling basics.” They will also soon be heard in living rooms around the world through
their score to the US hit TV series, Better Call Saul, the prequel to Breaking Bad.
Contact: Tickets available at www.ticketbox.vn
What: Network Girls – Cocktails & Canapés
Where: Champagne Corner at Caravelle Hotel (Dong Khoi
entrance on Ground Floor, 19-23 Lam Son Square, D1); 6:30pm
– 9pm
About: Network Girls is a monthly event at venues in Ho
Chi Minh City that gives expatriate and local female working
professionals in Saigon a channel to meet each other and
exchange ideas on life in HCMC, employment and business.
Members of Network Girls usually meet on the last Thursday
of every month for breakfast or cocktails & canapés.
Contact: For more info, email Ms. Van Ly at
networkgirlshcmc@gmail.com or
visit Facebook: “NetworkGirlsHCMC”
MAY
30
What: Le Fruit Triathlon
Where: Ho Tram Beach, Ba Ria, Vung Tau
About: At the 14th annual Le Fruit Triathlon, the swim will
be held in the East Sea, a perfect introduction to open water swimming for
any first time triathlete. The cycle course goes towards the rainforest and
back to the coast. The run takes place on Ho Tram Beach, so spectators and
supporters can watch all stages of the race. And for the seventh consecutive
year, Le Fruit will organize the only off-road triathlon for children (6 – 12) in
Vietnam. Net proceeds from the event will benefit children in need to thrive
in food-secure environments and to finance their education.
Contact: Visit www.lefruittriathlon.tumblr.com for more info
12
An International School
for students aged 18 months-11 years
EN TO
Y - OP
H JUL
- 17T
JUNE
22ND
TS
UDEN
ALL ST
skills through
play and exploration, art, music and sports. There will be a variety of fun and
educational activities based on a weekly theme that will also increase
knowledge, improve fine motor skills and hone creativity.
At the end of summer, children will have improved their English Language
Register at:
Summerprogram.issp.edu.vn or
admissions@issp.edu.vn
International School Saigon Pearl
92 Nguyen Huu Canh, Ward 22, Binh Thanh Dist.,
Ho Chi Minh City
Tel: (84-8) 2222 7788/99
13
MAY
30
What: Madagui Summer Camps
Where: Madagui (Km 152, National
Road, Ward 1, Madagui Town, Da Huoai
District, Lam Dong Province)
About: Five-day camps for kids 8 to 12
and 13 to 16 years old in Madagui Forest
City Resort offering opportunities to
experience new activities, learn new
skills and make new friends in a safe
environment. There will be interactive
workshops covering various topics
and exciting outdoor activities, and is
conducted in English.
Contact: Visit
www.vietnamsummercamps.com
for more info
What: Bourbon Street Jazz Festival
Where: Cargo Bar (7 Nguyen Tat Thanh, D4);
VND500,000
About: Headline act is Nina van Horn and
her international blues band kicking off their
China/Thailand/Malaysia concert tour with
their first stop in Saigon to support this charity
event. The band will perform a total of 2.5
hours of her songs in two sessions, mixes of
international favorites, tributes to well-known
jazz & blues artists as well as introducing
the audience to her exciting take on current
European jazz and blues styles. Supported by
local bands Claudio & Bad Neighbour along
with the Brooklyn Funky Blues band, among
others. Concert complete with Cajun style
food and refreshments. One hundred percent
of profit goes to support programs developed
to support sustainability of individuals and
organizations and to promote social and
economic development in the community.
Contact: Visit www.bourbonstreetjazzfestival.
com for more info
JUN 8 JUL 10
TRAVEL AGENCY
41 Thao Dien, D.2, Ho Chi Minh City
Tel: (08) 3519 4111 - Ext 15,17,19
saigonagency@exotravel.com
CORPORATE DEPARTMENT
261-263 Phan Xich Long, D. Phu Nhuan, Ho Chi Minh City
Tel: (08) 3995 9898 - Ext: 100, 313
corporatesgn@exotravel.com, corporatehan@exotravel.com
Worldwide business & leisure travel | Events | Team buildings
Conferences & Seminars | Hotel bookings | Car rentals | Air tickets
14
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Visit www.havanahotel.vn, email us at info@havanahotel.vn or call 04.3555.3735 for more details.
Located perfectly in the heart of Nha Trang Bay, Best Western Premier Havana Nha Trang is the ideal
destination for your luxury getaway. Inspired by the beautiful harmony of Western and Asian styles,
the hotel features a uniquely modern charming design concept, leaving you a warm welcome from the
moment you enter the Hotel Lobby through to different rooms and suites.
 41-storey building with 1.260 ocean-view guest rooms.
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Fax: (058) 388 9900
Email: info@havanahotel.vn
Website www.havanahotel.vn
15
Troi Oi
The country in numbers
40%
~
of young
Vietnamese show
alcohol addiction
signs, according to
research conducted
by Huynh Van Son,
a psychologist and
deputy chairman
of the Vietnam
Psychological
Association. Over half of the respondents said they tell lies
to support their alcohol habit while 27.7 percent admitted to
borrowing money for a drink. More than 37.9 percent said they
drink regularly and another four percent proved to be heavy
drinkers. The poll involved 470 from 18 to 28 years old, most of
whom think of drinking as an indispensable choice of salaried
people and as a way to bond with others as well as to improve their
communication capability. Vietnam is among the 25 countries
with the highest annual increases in rates of alcohol and beer
consumption, the Health Ministry’s Institute of Health Strategy and
Policy said in early 2014.
Save Vietnam's endangered
wildlife with WAR
16
5,000
~
Vietnamese had food poisoning last year,
according to the World Health Organization, who
has called for more actions to ensure food safety
in Vietnam. Rapid economic development brings
challenges to ensuring food safety in Vietnam.
Unsafe food containing harmful bacteria, viruses,
parasites or chemical substances causes more
than 200 diseases – ranging from diarrhea to
chronic diseases such as cancers. WHO’s Five
Keys to Safer Food explains five simple actions
when handling food: keeping clean, separating
raw and cooked foods, cooking food thoroughly,
keeping food at safe temperatures and using safe
water and raw materials when preparing food.
USD92.8 million
three-level roundabout recently opened in central Vietnam. The three-level roundabout, which connects Lien Chieu, Thanh
Khe, and Cam Le Districts, has 50 spans and a total length of 2km. The lowest level is reserved for routes that do not
intersect with railroads, while the first is 15 meters wide and has three lanes for vehicles with a top speed of 40kph. The
second level is 17 meters wide and has four lanes. It is used for vehicles traveling to Da Nang from Hue and vice versa at 60
kph at most. The overpass also has a parabolic tower that is equipped with monitoring equipment for wind, earthquakes and
vibrations. It also has a traffic monitoring system. The flyover will help eliminate chronic congestion at the Hue T-junction, the
main gateway to the central area of Da Nang, which accounts for 30 percent of the total number of traffic accidents of the
city, local authorities said.
USD
51,000
fine imposed on a farmer and his
neighbor for selling a 30-metricton semi-precious gemstone
found buried in their coffee
farm in Dak Nong. Nguyen Chi
Thanh reportedly discovered
a large block of chalcedony
while digging a lake. The block
is believed to be the largest
of its kind ever found in Dak
Nong. Thanh, assuming he had
ownership of the stone, sold it
for VND70 million to a buyer,
who then paid for the excavation
and transport despite an explicit order from local authorities asking
them to wait for a final decision. Police seized the gemstone when
it was being transported to nearby Dak Lak Province.
According to lawyer Nguyen Van Hau, people should immediately
inform local authorities about such discoveries. Finders of highvalue objects are eligible for an amount equal to 10 months of
basic salary (currently VND2.15 - VND3.1 million) and half of the
exceeding value, while the rest belongs to the state, he said.
3,800
trees in Hue will be destroyed under a new
plan, according to the Hue Park and Green Tree
Company. The plan will be executed in two stages,
with the first for 50 urban streets from now till
2016 and the second for the remaining till 2019.
The trees scheduled to be chopped down are
underdeveloped, diseased, and unsuitable for
urban streets, local authorities claimed. Of nearly
7,000 trees on the 50 said streets, 5,600 trees
will be retained, another 500 will be moved to
other streets and over 700 others will be chopped
down. For the entire 2015-2019 period, over 3,800
trees will be lopped out of a total of 21,300 in Hue.
However, the city will plant nearly 14,600 new trees
from now till 2019. It is estimated that the total cost
for the entire plan will top VND90 billion.
Speed Retail
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Grocery
Clothing store
Auto ports
Hardware
Book store
Wine shop
Pharmacy
Jelwelry
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Access our Vietnam website: www.speedup.vn
17
The Bulletin
Promotions and news in HCMC and beyond...
EIS & IB
The European International School (www.eishcmc.
com) announced last month its accreditation
of International Baccalaureate program for all
students at its Kindergarten through Year 12
campus. The IB Diploma Programme is in addition
to the already accredited IB Primary Years
Programme and IB Middle Years Programme. With
successful accreditation of these programs, EIS has
become an IB Continuum World School, offering
IB education for children aged 3-18 years old.
“The IB program brings virtually universal
acceptance for tertiary education for graduates,
and indeed has become the preferred university
track for students for the academic, social and
communicative benefits that better equip students
for their future career track,” said Dr. Nguyen Thi
Quynh Lam, President of European International
School. “We strive to inspire our students to
become global citizens who embody all the
attributes of the IB Learner Profile, IB students
who will make an impact and a difference on the
world around them. Change and development are
not events, but rather they are processes with a
focused vision. The school has always maintained
a steadfast focus in its vision.”
Alba Spa Hotel Opens
Last month, Alba Spa Hotel (www.albaboutiquehotels.com) opened in Hue. In addition to
spa treatments designed in collaboration with renowned spa guru Florence Jaffre (founder
of famed Ytsara of Thailand), the 58-room hotel offers a 16.5-square-meter Jacuzzi that
is flanked on three sides by vertical gardens and partitioned into hot- and cold-water
sections. The Jacuzzi is filled with natural mineral water that originates deep inside the
Earth. Heated by volcanic magma and enriched in magnesium, calcium and phosphorus
while traveling through layers under the Truong Son Mountain Range, it springs out in a
natural crater 30 kilometers north of Hue, where it is cautiously harnessed before being
transported to the hotel. Alba Spa Hotel was designed by French Vietnamese Architects
(FVA), whose use of bamboo, granite and tile is artfully woven into a variety of spaces
including the airy lobby and bright restaurant.
Primum non nocere - First, do no harm
STD
SCREENING
PROGRAM
(SEXUALLY TRANSMITTED DISEASE)
Be safe - Get tested
Talk to your doctors
Dr. Doanh Lu is specialized in:
●
●
●
●
●
General Dermatology and Laser Treatment
Sexually Transmitted Diseases
HIV and Infectious Diseases
Viral Hepatitis (A,B&C)
Languages: English, Vietnamese and Chinese
Dr. Doanh is an American Board Certified Infectious Disease Specialist
Add: 99 Suong Nguyet Anh, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City ● Tel: (08). 3925 1990
Email: info@stamfordskin.com ● Website: www.stamfordskin.com
18
1st Floor, 77-79 Ly Tu Trong, District 1, HCMC
TEL: 08 3823 5384
Est. 2006
InterContinental Asiana Saigon Mother’s Day
Promotions
Market 39: To celebrate this special day their chefs prepared
an extensive buffet. There will also be a family photo corner
with a complimentary photo provided for each group to take
away. Mother’s Day Brunch is priced at VND1,698,000++
per adult, VND800,000++ per child with free flow Veuve
Clicquot Champagne, wine, beer, cocktails and soft drinks.
Mother’s Day Dinner is priced at VND1,190,000++ per adult,
VND500,000++ per child with free flow wine, beer, cocktail
and soft drinks.
Yu Chu: Enjoy steaming bamboo baskets filled with dim
sum with your family this Mother’s Day. All-you-can-eat
dim sum lunch is priced at VND388,000++ with free flow
Chinese tea and a gift for moms. All-you-can-eat dim sum
dinner is priced at VND498,000++ with free flow Chinese
tea and a gift for moms.
Basilico: An authentic Italian feast any mother would be
delighted to share with her family. Three-course lunch set
menu is priced at VND398,000++ per person with one free
glass of Prosecco or sparkling cocktail for moms. Threecourse dinner set menu is priced at VND498,000++ per
person with one free glass of Prosecco or sparkling cocktail
for moms.
Email: enroll@saigonstarschool.edu.vn
Tel. No.: (08) 3472 3222
Pullman Danang Beach Resort BBQ
The resort’s all-you-can-eat BBQ Buffet dinner (from 5:30pm,
every Sunday in May) is served right on the beautiful beach at the
Azure Beach Lounge, featuring local grilled seafood, grilled and
roasted meats, a salad selection, special Vietnamese dishes and
fantastic desserts. The Beach BBQ Buffet is the perfect weekend treat
for family and friends. Priced at VND590,000++ with free flow beer.
Bookings are essentials, email bookings@pullman-danang.com
or call (0) 511 395 8888.
www.saigonstarschool.edu.vn/affordable-education*
*see our website for comparison information
19
The Ho Tram Open
A lucrative USD1.5 million Asian Tour tournament at the Ho Tram Strip (www.thegrandhotram.com) will make its debut as Vietnam’s richest
golf showpiece from December 3-6, 2015, officials announced last month. The inaugural Ho Tram Open will be staged at the country’s first
integrated resort, with the Greg Norman-designed Bluffs Ho Tram Strip golf course playing host to stars from the region’s premier tour following
a landmark three-year agreement. England’s Robert Rock, the course’s brand ambassador and a two-time winner on the European Tour, will be
among the players competing in the inaugural Ho Tram Open.
“It’s our hope that the launch of Vietnam’s richest golf championship will provide the catalyst for the game to grow in this beautiful country,
especially with golf returning to the Olympic Summer Games program in 2016. We are committed to stage the Ho Tram Open for three years and
we will work closely with the Asian Tour and our partners to ensure its success in 2015 and beyond,” says Colin Pine, General Director of the Ho
Tram Project Company. Asian Tour Chief Executive Officer Mike Kerr welcomed the tour’s newest tournament, one of four events to make its
debut in the 2015 Asian Tour season. Set along Vietnam’s spectacular coast, the par-71 layout offers stunning panoramic views and ocean winds
that are sure to test the best golfers from the Asian Tour.
Natural, hand made soap
info@pomelosoap.com
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We use natural ingredients and craft each bar by hand
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20
21
F e AT URE
Twists and Turns
Illustrations by Matthew Kershaw
22
You’ll be lost, then you’ll find your way
out. But don’t ask Matthew Kershaw how.
Although he designs them, he’s not always
sure he can find his way out. Matthew loved
creating mazes as a kid and never grew out
of it. “I used to like to doodle in my notebook
when I was bored in classes at primary
school (around Grade 5), and my maze
drawing began to evolve from then. After
a few months the drawings became quite
intricate and I continued to draw them for
about a year. I rediscovered this skill about
three years ago and I have been drawing
mazes again ever since.”
Often working in both a meditative and
extremely focused state when freehanding,
he visualizes a typical route a person would
take and then inserts intertwining paths,
dead ends and winding loops to confuse and
stump players. Taking approximately an
hour to complete, he labels his puzzles on the
complex to difficult scale with some almost
covering an entire A4 page. “In the future I
plan to draw A3 size mazes and even larger,”
he says. “I can solve all my mazes soon after
completing them but after some time I go
back to them to try and I forget the precise
way. So they can be pretty challenging even
for the maze creator!”
Matthew sees his creations more than
mazes but pieces of art and have sold some
of his work at art and crafts markets in
Vietnam. “In the near future I plan to produce
a maze book with 20 solvable designs, along
with ornamental but also functional mazes
on large framed color prints, coffee mugs and
t-shirts.”
More of Matthew’s mazes can be found at:
mazeworld.wix.com/amazeing
Matthew Kershaw
23
24
LEG AL EASE
legal Column
Life is Beautiful
A chance to become parents through a
new surrogacy law
Ciao! Hadrien and Marijn,
A member of the Paris Bar, Hadrien Wolff has been practicing law in
Vietnam for more than seven years, currently as a partner of Audier
& Partners based at its HCMC office. Having gained extensive legal
experience in the Netherlands and Cambodia, Marijn Sprokkereef is
an associate at the Hanoi office of the same firm. Audier & Partners
is an international law firm with presence in Vietnam, Myanmar and
Mongolia, providing advice to foreign investors on a broad range of
legal issues.
I am Italian and I married my Vietnamese wife in early 2010. We
have been living in Ho Chi Minh City ever since and we enjoy every
minute spent together. La vita e bella! However, there is something
that troubles us; it seems that my wife cannot give birth even
though we have tried many different methods. We feel more
powerless than ever! When we almost gave up believing that
one day we would have a child together, we heard that a new
Vietnamese law allows for surrogacy. We are very curious to
know whether this option is available to us as a couple.
If so, what are the requirements?
In June 2014, the National Assembly of
Vietnam passed a new Law on Marriage
and Family, legalizing non-commercial
gestational surrogacy for the first time.
Since the enforcement of this new law,
surrogacy has been a hot topic for many
childless couples living in Vietnam.
In line with various other countries
around the world, the new law only allows
for so-called “voluntary and altruistic
surrogacy.” It means that the surrogate
mother may be reimbursed for her actual
expenses, but that she may not receive
any other commercial benefit for carrying
someone else’s baby. Furthermore, the new
law only allows for “gestational surrogacy,”
which refers to the process whereby the
surrogate mother is impregnated with
an embryo that is created by in vitro
fertilization from the ovum of the wife and
the sperm from the husband. Traditional
surrogacy, on the contrary, is not governed
by the new law.
Good news so far, but what are the
requirements for surrogacy and who may
apply for it? In fact, the new law imposes
rather strict conditions on both the couple
requesting for surrogacy and on the
potential surrogate mother.
The husband and wife requesting for
surrogacy, for example, may not have a
common child already. Furthermore, it
must be certified that the wife is unable
to give birth to a child herself, even with
assisted reproductive technology, and the
couple must have received health, legal and
psychological counseling before starting
the process of surrogacy.
The surrogate mother, on the other hand,
must have a kinship (i.e. sister or cousin)
to the wife or husband requesting the
surrogacy and she can only carry someone
else’s baby once. Furthermore, she must
have already given birth to a child, be of
a “suitable” age and it must be certified
by a competent health organization that
she is in good health. Moreover, when the
potential surrogate mother is married,
she needs to have her husband’s written
consent and she must have received health,
legal and psychological counseling as well.
The consensual nature of surrogacy in
Vietnam is underlined by the fact that there
needs to be a written agreement between
the parties involved. Such an agreement,
which also needs to be notarized, must
contain full information about the parties and
confirm that the conditions that we mentioned
above are met.
Relevant to your situation, the new Law on
Family and Marriage does neither impose any
conditions on the nationality of the couple
requesting the surrogacy, nor on the nationality
of the surrogate mother. So as long as a person
of kin to you or your wife is willing to carry
your child, you can start the application process.
In the future, more hospitals may be allowed
to assist with surrogacy, but for the moment you
can only apply at the following three hospitals
in Vietnam: the National Hospital of Obstetrics
and Gynecology in Hanoi, the Hue General
Hospital in Thua Thien-Hue Province and the
Tu Du Hospital in Ho Chi Minh City.
We hope that the new law will offer you
and your family loads of happiness.
Every month, Hadrien and Marijn answer
legal questions from Oi readers. If you have
any legal question you want answered, send
them to legal@oivietnam.com
25
F EAT URE
Pulp Art
The dying art of papermaking
is given new life
Text by NPD Khanh
Images by Ngoc Tran
26
Before the age of industrial paper
production, the Vietnamese made paper by
hand from pulp of various trees and plants.
The two most popular types of pulp used
were rhamnoneuron and bamboo. The paper
made from rhamnoneuron was called do
paper, a distinctly thick paper that can last
for centuries without deteriating. During
the dynastic period, dó paper was used only
for royal decrees and is still produced today,
preserved for cultural and historic purposes.
However, paper made from bamboo pulp
gradually declined, facing extinction until
four years ago. Since 2011, artist Phan
Hai Bang has been the force behind the
resurrection and reinterpretation of the
centuries-old bamboo papermaking art.
With the backing of the University of
Arts in Hue and the Asian Scholarship
Foundation, Bang founded an artist group
dedicated entirely to researching old and
lost papermaking methods in Vietnam and
adapting them to modern times. In 2012, the
group held their first exhibition showcasing
the end products of a year of research and
work. The exhibition was called The Light of
Truc Chi and it was here that the name Truc
Chi started gaining attention in the local art
and collector community.
“Why did I choose paper made from
bamboo and not from rhamnoneuron? Two
reasons: Because bamboo is a cultural symbol
of the people - not royalty - but the simple,
ordinary folks; and because it is cheaper than
rhamnoneuron. I would be able to do a lot
more using the bamboo than the expensive
rhamnoneuron,” says Bang, founder of Truc
Chi (www.vietnamtrucchiart.com) art garden
and project. “‘Truc chi’ means bamboo paper
in old Vietnamese dialect. But truc chi is also
more than just plain old bamboo paper. If it
was just simple bamboo paper, then no matter
the quality we would never have been able to
make an art exhibition out of it.”
Bang’s distinctive truc chi paper art
resulted from his experiments merging
different techniques of papermaking and
interfering with the paper forming process.
In old papermaking methods, the last step
is to apply an even amount of pressure over
a block of wet paper stock until it becomes
a single sheet. The process traditionally
produces flawless sheets with uniform
texture. However, since it is done by hand,
if the pressure is applied unevenly, irregular
shapes will form within the texture and the
paper will be labeled unfit for writing.
“What we do is basically bend these
“To put it simply,
truc chi is where
paper is no longer
just a blank canvas
upon which one
creates art. Art
already exists
within the paper.
The artistic process
already occurs as the
paper forms.”
Phan Hai Bang
irregular shapes to our aesthetics and create
art as the paper itself forms,” shares Bang,
holding up a piece of truc chi paper whose
irregular texture forms a monochrome
painting as proof. “To put it simply, truc chi is
where paper is no longer just a blank canvas
upon which one creates art. Art already exists
within the paper. The artistic process already
occurs as the paper forms.”
Bang says this opens up many new
art forms and disciplines as paper is the
foundation of many forms of ancient arts
such as painting or paper crafts, as well as
modern arts such as light art. “Imagine you
have been building houses and temples and
towers for centuries and one day the mortar
and steel with which you have been building
with becomes something else, like, say
glowing jelly that can reshape and reform
and recolor itself to your will. It completely
changes everything doesn’t it? Truc chi is
exactly like that. In uur first exhibition, we
combined truc chi with visual lighting art.”
To date, Bang’s team of artists have
created many truc chi works and intricate
paintings, some of which are huge tableaus
two meters tall, meant to be admired under
specific lighting conditions or combined with
other art forms. According to Bang, these
combinations have been his goal since the
beginning. “I’ve never been able to resist the
prospect of creating new forms of art.”
This year Bang and his artist team have
already held several exhibitions and toured
throughout the country to raise awareness
of truc chi art. “We’ve barely scratched the
surface of what we can do with bamboo
paper. New artists come to us and bring
with them many new ideas, many new
experimentations. I can only guess where we
will go next.”
27
F EAT URE
The Watchman
Life slowly ticks on in this dying profession
Text by John Davis Images by Ngoc Tran
28
When Le Thi Hung goes on vacation, a
once-a-year event during Tet, he padlocks the
doors to his moveable cart, wraps it tightly
with fabric and pushes it into a motorbike
parking area around the corner and then
hangs a sign on it that says, “Nghi Tet (Closed
for Tet).” Mr. Hung, 59, is the proprietor and
the sole employee of Dong Ho Ong Hung (Mr.
Hung’s Watches), a small business that feels
like a rarity these days. It has been in the
same spot on Huynh Thuc Khang Street, near
Ben Thanh Market, for a long time. It turns a
(modest) profit, and is unaffected by the whims
of the commercial real estate market because its
owner is also its landlord.
In an age of fads and disposability, Mr. Hung
fixes watches that may have cost VND20,000
or VND15 million but are worth much more
to the people who wear them. From behind a
plexiglass cart but still exposed to the elements
– sun, wind, rain, dust - he manipulates
tools that are Swiss made and high end:
one contraption that opens watch cases and
another that closes them; a device that checks
if a waterproof watch is still waterproof; a
machine that checks if a watch is running too
fast or too slow within a 24-hour period.
Mr. Hung likes to talk, and if you ask, he
might tell you why a cheap quartz watch is
a more accurate timepiece than a pristine
Rolex, in his humble opinion. If you observe
him, you might notice that he maneuvers
like a surgeon, probing a watch’s innards to
figure out why it has failed. He uses an array
of familiar tools, like tweezers, pliers and
screwdrivers in all shapes and sizes, plus a
few esoteric implements, like a contraption
whose sole function is to lift a hand from the
face of a watch.
In addition to hundreds of vintage watches
that he hopes to fix and eventually sell,
Mr. Hung estimates that he has thousands
of spare watch parts, including hundreds
of crystals (the glass) and movements (the
gears). The parts sit carefully catalogued in
crumbling drawers and boxes, some held
together with duct tape and filled to the brim
with yellowing envelopes. Everything is
labeled and Mr. Hung boasts that he can find
any required part within a minute. That’s
also about how long it takes him to change
a watch battery, lifting the pieces apart and
fitting them back together with ease.
On Time!
If you linger, you will see that after 30 odd
years in business, he has gotten pretty good
at telling the type of repair a certain customer
will be willing to pay for or how fast she
might need it done. He did not, for example,
try to dissuade a longtime customer from
getting her USD65 Swatch fixed for the ninth
time.
“Last time she came by, I told her she
should think about getting a new watch, but
she just kind of growled,” he says. “What can
I do? She likes this one.” (The woman kissed
the watch after he handed it back to her and
exclaimed, “On time!” before walking away.)
Mr. Hung still occasionally repairs classic
and expensive timepieces, including Tag
Heuers, Movados and Raymond Weils. But
these days, he said, he also fixes “sports
watches, colorful watches, watches so big
they look like baby alarm clocks.”
Most of his business comes from word-ofmouth and tourists who pass by and realize
they haven’t changed their watch battery in a
while and it’s cheaper to do it in Saigon than
their home country. Even after so long in
the business, he still delights in the moment
a broken watch’s gears start turning again,
propelling the minuscule hands on their
first twitching leap forward. “They’re just
fascinating. You bring them back to life. It’s
like creating something that comes alive.”
Mr. Hung was born and raised in Saigon.
He has a degree in literature from a liberal
art university, but could not find work after
he graduated. His father was a watchmaker
and suggested he learn the trade, which he
did. However, over time, he has seen his
trade wane and nearly vanish as cell phones
became the norm. Dong Ho Ong Hung is open
every day during business hours, more or less,
“depending on my mood,” he says.
29
F OUND 4 04
TechNOLOGY Column
Customers First
Seedcom is a new venture fund that hints at
Vietnam’s maturing startup market
Except for a few companies like
Xiaomi that crave and leverage media
attention, Asia is generally media shy. It’s
a symptom of multiple factors including
fear of being copied, the government
and competitors. Many new startups are
quieter than before, hiding and hacking
away at their revenues while building their
teams. This is especially true in Vietnam
this year. In 2014, Vietnam’s startup scene
leapt to a heightened euphoria with the
viral success of Flappy Bird however, it
came crashing down with the weaknesses
of VC Corp and the persecution of HaiVL.
The year ended on a somber note. But this
hasn’t stopped Vietnamese entrepreneurs;
they’re just more camera shy now.
Seedcom is a silent outfit building
startups at the heart of Vietnam’s startup
scene and their most important founder is
Dinh Anh Huan, a cofounder of The Gioi Di
Dong (Mobile World). The Gioi Di Dong is
Vietnam’s version of Best Buy in America,
which IPO’ed last year at over USD250
million, making millionaires out of all five
partners. After the IPO, Dinh’s focus has
increasingly leaned towards Seedcom.
What’s specifically impressive about
Seedcom is not its goal of becoming a
USD300 million company by 2020, it’s
their retail, supply chain, and ecommerce
oriented investment portfolio. But in
order to grasp that, we’ve got to
understand The Gioi Di Dong.
The Gioi Di Dong was one of the most
important Vietnamese IPOs in 2014. The
success of the company, which started
out with both an ecommerce site and a
physical mobile phone store, has been
scrutinized by every business newspaper
and magazine in Vietnam. The Gioi Di
Dong did things for customers that no
other retailer was willing to do - prime
locations with additional parking space
for motorbikes and allowing customers to
return their phones to storefronts within
30 days of purchase.
“No one else in the market is willing to
put the customer first to the extent that we
do,” says cofounder Nguyen Duc Tai.
Not only has The Gioi Di Dong been a
30
retail success, but in terms of logistics, they
have led the charge, promising as fast as 30
minute delivery time on any online order.
And although their ecommerce portal only
makes up six percent of their total revenue,
that’s still six percent of USD250 million.
They’re aiming to hit 15 percent by the end
of 2015.
With this brief insight into The Gioi Di
Dong, we can now begin to understand
where Seedcom is headed. Take a quick
peek at Seedcom’s portfolio. The site lists
12 companies, all with some connection
to retail:
Concung.com – Store catering to
mothers and children with plans to open
400 shops by 2017.
Juno.vn – A shoes, handbags, and
women’s accessories online and physical
store that also produces its own shoe label.
TheCoffeeHouse.vn – A coffee chain
with its own coffee brand.
BaCayChoi.com – A company
dedicated to kids and families providing
activities and workshops.
Fivetech – Works with multiple fashion
brands to manufacture clothing.
Tiki.vn – The Amazon of Vietnam. It
started out in books but has expanded into
other categories while also opening an
ebooks category recently with Miki.
GiaoHangNhanh.vn – This is one of
Vietnam’s most resilient and promising
ecommerce logistics startups. For some, it
might resemble aCommerce, but it’s more
likely to get deeper into the retail supply
chain given the company it keeps within
the Seedcom portfolio.
Haravan.com – It allows companies
to regulate their SKUs and keep track of
deliveries. All of the companies in the
portfolio that require retail management
and website development use Haravan.
Anh Minh-Do is the editor at TechInAsia.com for
Vietnam, focusing on technology startups, trends and
companies. Minh is on the board of Starthub.vn - a
database and forum for startups dedicated to the
growth of Vietnam's business ecosystem.
Eway.vn – Eway is basically a
technology company that builds
affiliate marketing and digital services
solutions on mobile. It’s possible this
company provides the avenue for the
other companies to go mobile.
Cent – It’s not clear what this
company does yet but the Seedcom
website says it builds ecommerce
solutions and mobile games.
Spiral – It’s also not clear what Spiral
does, but Seedcom’s website says it builds
modern retailing solutions.
Firefly – The website says it’s a call
center service platform, but it really is a
Vietnamese version of Zendesk, which
will come in especially handy for all of the
above B2C businesses.
As you can see, each of the companies
above represents some aspect of the
retail and ecommerce supply chain.
Seedcom is essentially a full stack venture
builder, accelerator, and funder. The
companies can leverage the expertise
of the retail goods from them while at
the same time work together in noncompeting yet related enterprises. It’s
a situation where you have one set of
companies that provide B2B solutions for
the B2C companies, which in turn are
freed up to focus on the customer. This
makes Seedcom particularly compelling.
It feeds on itself. Seedcom’s experienced
leadership can pull in the talented
20-somethings and 30-somethings into
new ventures. With this combination of
expertise and talent inside an interwoven
portfolio, their efforts can be calculated
and resilient.
Vietnam needs more of this. These are
serious entrepreneurs leveraging all of
their strengths to build solid companies.
It remains to be seen how successful this
portfolio will be, but we have already
heard through the grapevine that several
of these companies are already at multimillion dollar valuations.
HOME, SWEET , HOME
INTERIOR DESIGN Column
Green With Envy
Accentuate the positive
As an interior and furniture designer for Austin Home
Interiors (www.austinhomeinteriors.com), McNeill
Shiner is always looking for new ways to mix styles
and influences to create spaces that are uplifting,
comfortable and very personal.
Brendan Wong
Popular wisdom and grandmothers
the world over will tell you that you can
do your eyes or your lips, but not both;
better yet, that you should choose your
best feature and accentuate that. For the
uninitiated, we’re talking makeup here.
Finishing school adages aside, this is advice
that you can take home with you.
Emphasis in interior design entails
strategically drawing attention to certain
elements for a functional or aesthetic
purpose. It requires that you make
decisions about what’s important. If you’re
blessed with great architecture, you’ll
want the furniture, lighting and decorative
elements in your space to draw attention
to that. Likewise a stunning view. On the
other hand, your motives could be purposebased: in a cozy family room or den, you’ll
want every visual element reinforcing that
cushy L-shaped sofa as the place to be.
Emphasis is sometimes used
interchangeably with the idea of a focal
point, which is a related concept but with
a slight distinction. Every space needs a
focal point or two: something visually
compelling to draw your attention. In
the living room by Cendrine Dominguez,
that something is the pair of emerald
green armchairs. Contrast almost always
makes for a clear focal point. If you look
a bit further, however, you’ll notice that
everything in this shot is framing the black
velvet sofa. In addition to the armchairs,
a reticulated floor lamp points like a giant
arrow, asymmetrically balanced by an
etagere on the other side. Even the art is
long and low, close to the sofa itself for a
cozy feel.
Although there’s a lot more going on
in the living room by Brendan Wong, the
star of the space is clearly the architecture
and view to the outside. A limited color
palette of black, white, and emerald green
makes the space an indoor extension of
the terrace. And although the magnolia
patterned rug is bold to say the least, its
large scale actually mimics that of the
Cendrine Dominguez
steel mullioned French doors, allowing
it to complement rather than compete.
An oversized antique mirror is the
metaphorical cherry on top, dwarfing the
sofa below and accentuating the soaring
ceilings above.
Applying the principle of emphasis to
your own home can be a broader task
than some of the previous principles,
simply because it relates to larger concepts
of priority and purpose. The first step is
discerning what is good or important in
each space. Is there anything unique or
inherently beautiful that you’d like to draw
attention to? What about an eyesore that
would be better unnoticed? Where do you
want your attention to rest while you’re
in the space? The principles and elements
of design covered in previous columns tell
you how to draw and direct attention, so
we won’t rehash that here. The bottom line
is creating enough visual impact to keep
things interesting, and to use that impact in
a smart way.
31
ECOT
In 1975, ”Ecotopia: The Notebooks and Reports of William Weston“ by Ernest
Callenbach was first published. The book described news dispatches of William
Weston, a fictional reporter who travels to the new nation of Ecotopia set in 1999 (12
years after Northern California, Oregon and Washington seceded from the US to
create the new order). Weston describes a country governed by eco-friendly principles
and a female president, where citizens recycle almost everything, anything that can't
be reused is banned, walking or magnetic-levitation trains are the main modes of
transportation, and the few cars allowed are electric. All plastic is derived from plants,
32
OPIA
thus biodegradable. Refrigerators run on household septic tank methane. Microwaves
are illegal, food must be fresh, and to build a house of wood you have to work in a
forest labor camp planting the equivalent of trees you would need for construction.
Forty years ago Ecotopia was labeled science fiction fantasy, but with Hillary Clinton
announcing her run for presidency in 2016, a pedestrian-only boulevard on Nguyen
Hue, aquaponics on Saigon’s rooftops and green buildings in the city, could Ecotopia
Vietnam be a reality in the near future? The people we interviewed for this month’s
cover story are working to make it so.
33
T H E H O U S E T H AT
B A M B O O B U I LT
Text by JAMES PHAM
I ma g es b y n g oc t r a n
Finding hope in conservation
The ubiquitous bamboo is forever tied in to Vietnamese
culture and identity. For centuries, the Vietnamese have seen
themselves in the hardy, strong, ramrod straight plant, a fitting
symbol for the strength and resilience of the people. The fact
that bamboo grows in clusters speaks of the nation’s solidarity.
Throughout the ages, the lowly bamboo has found its way into
Vietnamese poems, folk tales and idioms. A young, mythical Thanh
Giong used sharpened bamboo poles to repel foreign invaders.
“Their stems are thin, their leaves slender, but they can become
ramparts and citadels,” goes the famous poem Vietnamese Bamboo
by Nguyen Duy. “When the bamboo is old, sprouts will appear,”
says another proverb, highlighting the importance of the older
generation paving the way for the new. And who can forget
the moral of one bamboo chopstick being easily broken, but the
strength in numbers of an entire bundle of bamboo chopsticks?
Not only is the plant symbolic, it’s incredibly practical, used
to make everything from the essentials of housing and furniture,
fish and bird traps, utensils and boats, to the artistic, including
musical instruments and paper, not to mention its nutritional and
medicinal value.
On a particularly muggy morning, we find ourselves walking
through a shady grove of bamboo at the 10-hectare Phu An
Bamboo Village, guided by Jacky Gurgand, an octogenarian
Frenchman. An agricultural engineer, Jacky has been coming to
the village several times a year since it was founded by his student,
Dr. Diep Thi My Hanh, in 1999, to help with the irrigation of the
property and the nomenclature of the 350 specimens housed there.
“Feel this one,” he says. “We call it Miss Saigon, the Beauty Queen
34
of bamboo.” Sure enough, the bamboo is silky smooth to the touch.
A little further down, we arrive at another clump, this one with a
gritty sandpaper-like exterior. “Mr. Saigon non rasé (unshaven),” he
says with a mighty laugh. Throughout the morning’s visit, Jacky
introduces us to many of the 101 varieties of living bamboo at the
village, a dual purpose ecomuseum and botanical conservatory
dedicated to all things bamboo located 40 km north of Saigon, in
Binh Duong Province. He shows us the incredible diversity within
the bamboo family: a species that grows sturdy perpendicular
branches making it a natural ladder, one that has thorns which
villagers use to build corrals for livestock, and a painted variety,
yellow with perfectly straight green streaks, looking like drips of
paint. Jacky has personally measured one species on the property
which grew 80 cm in one day (bamboo is the world’s fastest
growing plant, with certain species able to grow 91 cm in a 24 hour
period), which leads him to mention Bamboo Torture, the alleged
practice of fixing a prisoner above a sharpened piece of bamboo
and allowing it to grow straight through the body (affirmed as
possible in a 2008 Mythbusters episode).
The Iron Triangle
Armed with a degree in Environmental Ecology from Vietnam and
a doctorate in Environmental Science and Technology from France,
My Hanh returned to her hometown of Phu An in the late 90s,
only to be asked by the villagers why she didn’t use her extensive
schooling to help her own village. Best known for being one of
the areas (along with An Tay and An Dien) making up “The Iron
Triangle,” a stronghold of the Viet Minh during the war, seeing the
many varieties of bamboo that grew there sparked a vision in My
Hanh ― to transform the Iron Triangle into a Green Triangle. With
the help of the Rhone Alps Region (France), Binh Duong Province,
the Pilat Regional Nature Park (France), and the University Of
Natural Sciences of Ho Chi Minh City, the Phu An Bamboo Village
was born.
The picturesque complex is divided into two main areas. The
botanical garden houses clusters of bamboo collected from all
over Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos with a view to conservation.
To date, 450 taxa have been collected, including 20 threatened or
endangered species. My Hanh says her passion for bamboo will
have her jump on any transportation available to get samples that
the village doesn’t yet have, recalling a particularly arduous trek
to Lang Son in Vietnam’s far north, bordering China. “It was deep
into the jungle and the path was dangerous. The locals couldn’t
speak Vietnamese clearly, so they didn’t understand exactly what
we were looking for. We just had to trust them. But in the end, we
got what we came for.” Back at the village, the bamboo are grown
in separate clusters to avoid cross-species contamination, and are
used for research in the adjacent museum/laboratory complex.
Over the years, My Hanh’s research has led to eye-opening
results including finding species that flower regularly but still live
(debunking the myth that bamboo dies once it flowers) and that
growing bamboo enriches the soil even more so than rubber, yams
and cashews. My Hanh points to bamboo’s role in improving the
soil conditions after the devastating eruption of Mount Pinatubo
and re-greening post-atomic Hiroshima, leading to research into
phytoremediation, or how certain species of bamboo can be useful
for soil decontamination and sewage treatment.
However, far from being an impersonal research facility, the
Bamboo Village reaches out to the local community in meaningful
ways. On any given day, groups of students on field trips can
be found learning about bamboo and its many uses. The center
encourages children not to burn bamboo leaves, but to leave
them on the ground and let them naturally compost, providing
nutrients for the soil and for insects and worms, as well as to
prevent soil erosion. Information on proper techniques for
cutting, transplanting and fertilizing are shared with farmers
who previously often cut bamboo too early, before they matured,
leading to reduced profitability and sustainability. My Hanh and
her team painstakingly identify each sample, at times requiring
DNA analyses back in France, and study their individual
characteristics. The results are shared with farmers to help them
select the right kind of bamboo for their use, whether it be
construction material, handicrafts, paper pulp or even toothpicks.
My Hanh is encouraging the use of bamboo for canal construction
““I want there to be many more bamboo villages.
If something happens to one, there’ll still be
others left.”
35
“I saw new green shoots. They still wanted to live, so why
should I be discouraged? I learned a lesson that day from
the bamboo. I had to help them stand up again.”
in the Mekong Delta, as the hardy trees are able to grow even
in flooded soil. In addition to encouraging bamboo farming,
training for local villagers on making bamboo products and
crafts has contributed, in part, to an 80 percent reduction in
poverty in the village since the initiative began. Awarded the
UNDP Equator Prize in 2010 for being a model in sustainability,
innovation and community empowerment, it’s estimated that the
Bamboo Village has positively affected the lives of up to 3,000
families.
That positive impact has helped fuel My Hanh in some of her
darkest moments when she felt like giving up. In 2012, typhoon
Pakhar damaged 40 percent of the village’s bamboo trees. “I was
truly in the depths of hell. Everyone saw the destruction and
left. It was just me and my dog who stayed. I called everywhere
for help. The local authorities were busy helping other homes
in Phu An that had been damaged. But then I saw something.
The bamboos were bent every which way and the typhoon had
stripped them down to their roots, but they were alive. Even
among the broken branches, I saw new green shoots. They still
wanted to live, so why should I be discouraged? I learned a
lesson that day from the bamboo. I had to help them stand up
again.”
Help eventually did come from all corners of the globe and all
together, it took My Hanh and her team of student volunteers
seven weeks to salvage what they could, one grove of twisted
trees bent 90 degrees over now a reminder of that event.
Sadly, though, the very existence of the village remains
under threat. Every year, the village receives VND200 million
36
IMAGE by james pham
in funding from the National University of Ho Chi Minh City,
but needs to raise another VND500 million to meet its operating
budget. This year, it’ll need even more, as construction has begun
on the Green House that will encompass a laboratory, classroom,
library, canteen and a place for the workers to sleep, replacing a
dilapidated 15-year-old structure.
It is hoped that My Hanh’s win-win conservation and
livelihoods model can be replicated elsewhere. There’s talk about
building other bamboo villages as well as a village in the Mekong
Delta attempting something similar, but with coconuts. She also
advocates using fast-growing bamboo instead of other types of
wood, lessening deforestation which in turn slows down climate
change. Even growing bamboo in amongst other tree species can
rehabilitate degraded land.
Looking forward, 63-year-old My Hanh has bigger dreams for
her bamboo. “I want there to be many more bamboo villages. If
something happens to one, there’ll still be others left. I also want
families, even in the city, to grow a clump of bamboo. I have
a species, bambusa multiplex, that can grow in a pot. If even
half of the city’s 8 million people did that, we’d have 4 million
bamboo trees releasing oxygen, helping to filter the pollution. It
just takes a few helping hands. I also want this bamboo village to
survive. We’ve had so many successes; we received a UNDP prize,
I’ve registered it with the New York Botanical Garden’s Virtual
Herbarium… but I won’t live forever. When I’m old and sickly, I
want others to carry on my work. Please help protect the Phu An
Bamboo Village.”
The Bamboo Village is open daily from 9am to 6pm. Visit www.
ecobambou-phuan.org for more information. Along with a pottery
factory, a reclining Buddha and a chocolate factory, a visit to the
Bamboo Village is also on the itinerary for those on the Binh Duong
excursion by Exo Travel Agency (41 Thao Dien, D2; 3519 4111; www.
exotravel.com)
Wind & Water
One of My Hanh’s favorite examples of bamboo architecture
is the multiple award winning Wind and Water Café. Also in
Binh Duong, the café is the work of renowned architect Vo Trong
Nghia. From the outside, the aerodynamic, thatched building
looks curiously like a giant mushroom, set in a shallow lotus
pond. Its interior, though, is even more unique. Other than the
foundation, there is no steel or concrete used in the 10m high by
15m diameter structure. Instead, the frame is made of 48 arched
bamboo columns with a 1.5m wide oculus at the center of the
dome to let in light and air, reminiscent of a bamboo Pantheon.
The entire VND1.5 billion construction used approximately 7,000
Thai bamboo trees, known for its construction grade canes. The
graceful arches and symmetry of the adjacent bamboo café
recalls outstretched bird’s wings in flight, built around a cooling
water feature. Coffee and other drinks are reasonably priced. The
café is located just off the main highway at 6/28T Khu 3 Phu
Tho, Thu Dau Mot, Binh Duong.
37
Text by JAMES PHAM
When more than words are needed
To the Vietnamese, Minh Hong became a household name when
she became the first Vietnamese to set foot on Antarctica in 1997. The
20-something won a contest that sent her, along with 34 youths from
25 countries, on an UNESCO environmental awareness project to the
world’s southernmost continent. “I was an active, crazy, young person
working for Vietnam Investment Review. I had no idea about climate
change. I mean, I loved the environment. I never threw garbage on the
ground, so I guess I considered myself an environmentalist,” she recalls
with a laugh. “It was totally a big shock, though,” she says of the harsh
expedition. “I came to realize how I was absolutely ignorant about the
environment. For the first time in my life, I learned about the ozone
hole climate change and greenhouse gases. Looking back, I realize
how I had no awareness about the world's problems. I just cared
whether my salary was good and if my friends liked me.”
Organized by Robert Swan, the first person to walk to both
the North and South Poles, the purpose of the expedition was for
these young people to go back to their home countries and spread
the word about the harmful effects caused by humans on the
environment. It worked.
Upon her return to Vietnam, Hong decided that if her life was
to have any purpose, she’d have to quit her job and start working
on environmental projects despite not having any training in
environmental studies. The Russian, English and Economics student
joined the World Wildlife Fund in Hanoi. When she returned
to Antarctica for a second time in 2009, she saw a banner for an
international environmental organization called 350.org and saw an
38
opportunity to lead the charge for a nationwide grassroots climate
movement in Vietnam (www.350.org.vn). This time, she wasn’t
interested in awareness raising. It was time for action.
350.org’s stated mission is to “reduce carbon dioxide levels from
more than 385 parts per million to 350 parts per million, a safe upper
limit to avoid a climate tipping point, by encouraging citizens to
action… to raise awareness about anthropogenic climate change, to
confront climate change denial, and to cut emissions of carbon dioxide
in order to slow the rate of global warming.” Now the Southeast
Asia Co-Coordinator of 350.org, Hong’s mission is to adapt the
350.org spirit to the local context. In addition to carrying out the
organization’s regional and global campaigns, Hong’s projects include
the solar bottle, using daylight to provide interior light to poor homes
with just a soda bottle, water and a little bleach; getting corporate
sponsors to buy solar cookers (a simple device which uses direct
sunlight to heat, cook or pasteurize food or drink) to distribute to
poor families; and cooperating with businesses, asking them to green
their offices. “Instead of waiting and complaining, why not think of
solutions that are feasible? Do whatever you can to be part of the
solution,” says Hong.
NUMBERS
We talk in Hong’s Binh Thanh office, laptops and plush rhino toys
with bandaged horns, part of a campaign with WildAid, strewn about
in the cramped space, made smaller with stacks of posters, banners
and signs.
IMAGE by NGOC TRAN
A CALL FOR
C H A NG E
Most of the people we’ve talked to say they hadn’t been aware of
the issues, but we haven’t been able to talk to the biggest guys, the
decision makers yet.”
Asked whether she considers herself an activist, Hong pauses
before answering. “I’m just interested in activities that lead to good
changes for our society. I also want people to be aware of what they
can do. Instead of suffering from pollution and complaining about it
on Facebook, know how to boycott those companies!”
Hong’s organization also works in wildlife conservation,
partnering with WildAid on their “When the buying stops, the
killing can too” campaign urging consumers not to buy rhino horn
and other endangered wildlife products. “Vietnam, along with
China, is leading the world in rhino horn consumption. People
believe it cures cancer and other diseases, but it’s not true. We’ve
put on school events and talked to authorities regarding
enforcement. We’ve even helped provide sniffer dogs to detect
wildlife products. But really, it’s the rich people who consume the
most. Social media campaigns and the like don’t work on them
because they’re so powerful. But we’re targeting many different
angles. When their children come home from international school,
they can tell their dad that he’s doing something bad. When business
people go abroad and see images of dead rhinos with the Vietnamese
flag next to them, it becomes a matter of national pride. We’re
getting cancer doctors to talk about it. We’re showing people the
facts that 70-90 percent of rhino horn in the market is fake so they’ll
be hesitant to make that next purchase. But we have to escalate it to
the next level before it becomes too late. If the trend continues, in six
years’ time the rhinos will be all gone.”
When asked whether she feels like she’s fighting a battle that
can’t be won, Hong replies: “Sometimes I feel depressed. But then
I look at the things I’ve achieved and I know for sure things have
changed. When I talked about climate change in 1997, people looked
at me like I was an animal; they didn’t know what I was talking
about. But now, everyone is talking about climate change. The same
with renewable energy. At first, it was very difficult to mobilize just
50 volunteers. Now I have 10,000. The young people are not stupid
like the older generation, so there's hope. One day, my son, who
only cares about computer games, came home from school and said
that rhino horn is just like fingernails. I never told him about that.
The singer Thanh Bui came to his school to talk about it. Things
like that make me want to continue to do things for him and for his
friends. It’s too late for my generation. Our work is now for
the children.”
IMAGE provided by 350.org
“That’s our second mission,” Hong says as she sees me eyeing her
staff who are decidedly young and seemingly far too few considering
the enormity of the issues they’re facing. “We’re out to build capacity,
especially among the youths.” Since being established in 2011, 350
Vietnam is the largest youth-led climate change movement in the
country. Hong counts over 10,000 volunteers in 20 provinces, and
over 30 Vietnamese Celebrity Goodwill Ambassadors among those
who’ve heeded the call. “We try to include people from the provinces,
too, instead of just Hanoi and HCMC where the youth have all the
advantages. We put on activist workshops so people stop thinking that
climate change can only be addressed by the ministries, NGOs and
elite university students in Hanoi, but can be done at the grassroots
level, in the villages. If we give them the tools, the leadership skills and
some funding, we can get them to be as creative as they want. They
will think of solutions that we could never think of. Vietnam is still a
developing country, but we're too lazy, waiting for the government.
The key is to let the grassroots approach work, especially among
young people who can take action. They're well ahead of the adults.”
Hong points to small successes like a seaweed project in Nha Trang,
ecotourism in Dong Nai and even a solar cooker cooking competition
organized in Saigon’s Phu My Hung.
While Hong advocates the benefits of change on a small scale,
like painting roofs white and growing plants on the walls which can
save 20-30 percent on electricity usage or using rice husk charcoal
instead of the more toxic “beehive charcoal” common to Vietnam,
she realizes that she needs to reach the real decision makers in
government ministries and large corporations to enact change on a
larger scale.
“The tendency is for countries to switch to renewable energy. A
lot of them are closing down coal-fired power plants while Vietnam
plans to build more. We're enjoying the electricity, but going against
the global trend,” says Hong of Vietnam’s long-term energy plan
which includes building 57 new coal-fired power plants likely
requiring the import of 20-30 million tons of coal by 2020.
350.org is fighting back by targeting companies who invest in
fossil fuel energy. “There’s absolutely some shaming involved,”
says Hong passionately of the divestment campaign launched in
February. “We’re approaching [large banks investment funds]
because they’re the ones holding a lot of money and can decide
to invest in coal mines versus renewable energy sources, so we're
trying to influence their decision of where to invest by providing
them with documentation that says that as demand for coal-powered
energy decreases, their investments into fossil fuels will be risky.
39
growing power
Text by NPD KHANH
I ma g es b y n g oc t r a n
The potential to produce sustainable food in your own home
A mechanical engineer, a medical equipment specialist,
a biotech worker and a budding IT technician are redefining
the purpose of rooftops as simply places to dry clothes; they are
pushing for a rooftop aquaponics movement. Collectively called
Vnaquaponics (www.vnaquaponics.com) the team of four are among
some of the pioneers of aquaponics in Vietnam.
“Aquaponics is essentially the combination of aquaculture and
hydroponics,” explains Huynh Minh Thuan, the spokesperson
and medical equipment specialist of the group. Aquaculture is the
practice of rearing water-bound animals in tanks. Hydroponics is
its plant-based counterpart. “In aquaponics, we build a symbiosis
system using fish and plants. The fish live in one tank, the plants
grow roots in a connected tank. Fish create nutrient rich water
by producing organic waste and attracting bacteria. Plants then
extract nutrient from this nutrient rich water, thus cleansing the
fish’s habitat. Plants also shed leaves and other plant materials into
the water supply, and the fish eat this plant waste. And there you
have it, a complete and self-contained food production cycle that
requires minimum land resources or human intervention.”
In other words, aquaponics is the future of ecological agriculture.
Not only does it maximize limited resources, it also produces far
better yields than traditional farming and requires neither the use
of growth hormones or constant human care. A good aquaponic
system can run on automated mode for weeks, needing only the
occasional harvests to keep the plants from overgrowing. The cost
of building a full-size aquaponic system is roughly VND3 to VND5
40
million per square meter depending on the complexity of the
system.
Value of Clean Food
According to Thuan, aquaponics is still relatively unknown in
Vietnam, where the community is composed mainly of hobbyists
rather than professional farmers. “We are basically a bunch of
guys who know our way around wrenches and DIY projects, have
some knowledge of gardening and are either concerned or made to
become concerned about the state of our food safety by our wives
or girlfriends,” shares Thuan. “A couple of years ago, there was
a food scandal involving chemically contaminated beansprouts.
People were so scared of being poisoned by these toxic beansprouts
that many started looking into growing clean beansprouts in
the privacy of their home. So they started searching for tutorials
online and you know how Youtube likes to suggest similar topics
to watchers. One thing led to another and that was how the
aquaponic movement starting appearing in Vietnam, through sheer
accident and food safety fears.”
In terms of weather conditions, the country’s tropical climate
and year-round sunlight is especially ideal for aquaponics.
Ironically, at the moment, aquaponics in Vietnam is more popular
as home decor than an alternative to traditional farming.
“Over half of our population is involved one way or another
in the agricultural industry. You would think in a country like
this, it would be the farmers who pounce on aquaponics tech, but
“Our number one goal right now is to spread awareness
and knowledge of aquaponics to the Vietnamese public”
no. It’s the ladies who fancy a lovely bouquet on top of their fish
bowls that are the first consumers of aquaponics products right
now,” says Thuan. Explaining this puzzling state of affairs, Thuan
believes the agriculture industry in Vietnam is mired in traditional
technologies and out-dated thinking, and that despite several food
safety scandals in recent years, the majority of local farmers do not
understand or value clean, organic food produced by aquaponics.
“Your normal farmer, when we approached them with an
aquaponic model we designed specifically for Vietnam, is not very
interested. From their perspective, they have worked the same way
for centuries so if it isn’t broken, why change it?”
Which is a shame, according to the group, as Saigon holds
tremendous potential for aquaponics with its ideal weather
conditions and under-utilized rooftop space and, most importantly,
a young educated population who knows the value of clean,
organic food. One of Vnaquaponics’s long-term goals is to change
this general mindset towards food production and safety. “We have
only just started out and are a long way from doing what we really
want to do,” says Thuan. At the moment they have their hands full
with several personal projects and some for clients.
“We have designed and built several flora and fauna systems
specifically for local weather conditions,” says Vo Hoang Nhan, the
group’s mechanical engineer. “We learned how to build aquaponic
systems from Western manuals and books, but the conditions of
Vietnam are different from America and other European countries.
A lot of adjustments in construction materials, plant and fish types
are needed. A lot of adjustments in handling the fresh produce
too since the yield in a tropical country is much more than in a
temperate country!” Nhan, whose rooftop serves as the testing
grounds for the group’s design and building trials, boasts that he
has harvested more than 100 kilograms of fish within the last two
months and that he hasn’t had to buy his greens from the markets
for a long time now.
Recently, Vnaquaponics has started building an elaborate website
as a hub for information on the topic. Though the site is not yet
finished, it already holds a substantial amount of documentation
on the group’s experiments with various designs. “Our number
one goal right now is to spread awareness and knowledge of
aquaponics to the Vietnamese public,” says Thuan. “Once we’ve got
the basics down pat, good business will soon follow.”
41
INTO THE WILD
T e x t b y ta y n e E P h r aim I ma g es b y n eil feathe r sto n e
A trip back to nature at Cat Tien National Park
Vietnam's gotten a lot of flack in recent years, as complaints
are being volleyed by disgruntled tourists. Lousy service, congested
roads, botched itineraries and cut-throat vendors and scammers
are just some of the reasons there's now less than five percent
visitor return rate here. However, what these folks fail to realize is
Vietnam's most valued treasures are not found in overpopulated
Saigon or government-planned beach resorts, but rather lie
somewhere off the beaten path – uneven, broken paths that lead
to Cat Tien National Park. Made up of evergreen forest, bamboo
woodland, farmland, wetlands and home to amazing indigenous
wildlife, Cat Tien National Park is the largest natural rainforest in
Vietnam.
So, weary and exhausted from breathing Saigon soot, we embark
on a journey to Cat Tien, bound for the Ta Lai Longhouse along the
newly completed Long Khanh Highway. For approximately three
hours, jackfruit plantations, rubber trees and scenes from nature blur
pass our car window until we reach our destination.
Tai La Longhouse’s on-site manager Matthew greets us at the
rickety cable-stayed bridge at the end of Ta Lai road, waiting by
his moped. Cars are not allowed over the bridge, Matthew informs
us, for reasons that become quickly apparent as we cross over the
fragile metal slats with the muddy river below peeking through the
gaps. Matthew drives on ahead with our bags - all of them atop the
bike. Eight months of living in Vietnam and he’s already hauling like
a true local.
We pass through Ta Lai village where a rambunctious wedding
is taking place and arrive at our guesthouse. Commonly known
as “The Longhouse,” it took months to complete and helps ethnic
people (Tay, Ma and S’tieng) living near the park earn a living and
mitigate their reliance on natural resources. Located near the forest’s
edge at Cat Tien National Park, the 125m2 communal house is made
from environmentally-friendly materials such as bamboo, wood
and palm leaves. The building itself, a traditional bamboo structure
42
of the local Ma people, is built atop a small hill overlooking a lake
that flows into and waters the rice paddies. With April being the tail
end of the dry season, the lake’s waters are barely high enough for
a canoe to make the crossing but when the waters are high enough,
the longhouse has its own entrance where guests can cross the lake
with kayaks.
“What are you doing living out here in the jungle, Matt?” I inquire
after our brief tour of The Longhouse and its carefully manicured
surrounds.
“Just loving life, really,” he replies.
Eager-eyed young Matthew, hailing from London, completed
his Masters thesis on the black howler monkey in Belize. I would
argue that his next greatest scholarly achievement is the book of
animals he has lovingly compiled for the longhouse - Animals of Ta
Lai - giving tidbits of information about the animals living in the
park, and with a woven cover like something out of a Wes Anderson
movie.
The Longhouse is the brainchild of Frenchman Francois Bovary
and jointly run by a team of Europeans, Vietnamese and local
minorities. Its construction involved almost everyone in the village.
They hire guides from Ta Lai whenever they need the help. “We’ve
got a pool of good workers we already draw from, but with the
bigger groups coming in we can extend the opportunity for new
hands to get on board as well. We’ll hire two who we know are
good, and two who are new to give them a chance,” says Matt.
A percentage of the accommodation’s earnings goes right back
into the community coffers, along with sales from the specialty
coffee - another one of Francois’ side projects, of which a dollar from
every bag sold is put toward community projects. “Twenty percent
local,” says Matthew, the beans partly sourced from Ta Lai’s volcanic
soil. They also employ local electricians and builders on any new
projects, trying to get the local community involved in any way they
can. “Keeps the money coming into the community coffers in a way
that makes everyone feel like a winner, the environment included.”
Ta Lai village was once famous for its intricate knives, an art that
Francois has a dream to revive from the funds The Longhouse brings
in.
It’s high noon by the time we’re settled in with the unrelenting
April heat at its peak, so after a delightful lunch (the food being
one of the guesthouse’s strong points) we opt for a breezy jaunt
around the village with the lovely Trang, the newest addition to The
Longhouse team.
We were surprised by the village’s concentration of Christian
paraphernalia, with door-hung crucifixes, rosary beads, and even
a station of the cross set in plaster by the village’s main church.
According to Trang, in a strange twist during the colonial period,
the village had a deadly reputation of resistance to outsiders and a
particular taste for the blood of French missionaries, who avoided
the whole area like plague. Nonetheless, by a baffling turn of events,
somewhere along the way the whole village found itself converted.
In any case, whatever hostility to the outside world that may once
have existed has entirely vanished, and we encounter nothing but
curious smiles, hellos, water buffalo, and the usual giggling children
coming out of their houses for a look at the latest bunch of strangers
in town. We pass a weaving house where local folks carry on with
their traditional craft. Some teens are having something of a fashion
shoot outside, flaunting the local wears. One even has flowers in his
hair.
The Jungle Book
Back at the guesthouse, over a dinner of pear-stuffed chicken and
battered prawns (meals are VND150,000 a head, served buffet-style,
every one of them blowing expectations out of the water - the
kitchen staff never fail to deliver the goods), Matthew lays out
our options for the next day. They have their own fleet of kayaks
and mountain bikes for guests to rent, and there’s plenty to see.
There’s an island sanctuary for gibbon rehabilitation (Dao Tien or
Gibbon Island), a bear rescue center for the endangered sun and
moon bears, and the exotic Bau Sau (Crocodile Lake) in the heart of
the wilderness area, taking a solid day’s return ride to reach it and
its resident crocodiles. There are also a number of smaller hikes,
including the 10km Green Hill hike to the Bat Cave, a cavern atop
a hill deep in the jungle swarming with horseshoe bats where a
flashlight and steely nerves are recommended.
The animals themselves (many of them critically endangered)
are surely the stars of the show and the park’s biggest drawcard,
where one may spy such oddities as the world’s smallest deer
(the mouse deer, at an abominably adorable 12 inches in height),
the world’s largest bovine (the imposing minotaur-like gaur), the
incredible Sunda pangolin (an armadillo-like oddity like something
out of Pan’s Labyrinth), and the world’s best-named monkey, the
crab-eating macaque. “They don’t only eat crabs, that’s a common
misconception,” says Matthew.
Night in The Longhouse is a surprisingly comfortable and homely
experience, even in the middle of April. The structure can sleep up
to 30 people, with bamboo screens brought in to section off one bed
from the next. Its open-ended design, with slits in the roof on both
ends to let the night air ventilate through, keeps the entire room
relatively cool, and ceiling fans have also been installed for added
comfort. I slink under the mosquito net and onto my cushy mattress.
A storm rolls over in the night, first of the season, but I’m out like a
light about as soon as my head hits the pillow and don’t hear about
it till the day.
Come morning we take mountain bikes, provided with a
complimentary backpack of bottled water, pump, and spare inner
tubes, out into the park. It’s a few kilometers ride to the park
entrance by bicycle, passing through the village and the odd sight
of its Christian graveyard. The track passes through the light forest
and plantations bordering the park, with watchtowers having been
installed every few kilometers where we caught a good view over
the foliage and its hidden creatures. Park headquarters, a little
further on, is where the bear rescue center is located, playing a
critical role in teaching visitors about the vital role the animals
play in the jungle’s ecology. The park’s moon and sun bears are
to be found here, sadly no longer free to roam the park because of
poaching and deforestation, and rare leopards, crocs, and goldencheeked gibbons also. Entry fees go directly into projects to help
ensure their survival.
Continuing on deeper into Cat Tien National Park, it’s not long
“Night in The Longhouse is a
surprisingly comfortable
and homely experience, even
in the middle of April.”
before we find ourselves immersed within the jungle’s natural
cacophony of cicadas, rustling leaves and fluttering birds. There’s a
set of rapids I waste no time in getting my feet into and giving my
face a good splashing with, and a massive ancient tung tree a few
hundred meters off the track. As for the fauna though, our only
confirmed sighting is a surprised monitor lizard scurrying out of
our path. But the rest of the jungle’s inhabitants, though doing their
best to keep out of sight, certainly have a way of making themselves
heard.
All too quickly we find that our time in the forest has run out, and
it’s farewell to The Longhouse and its endearing staff, back over the
rusty suspension bridge to our waiting driver and civilization. Back
to a jungle of another kind, with its own natural cacophony of car
alarms, buzz saws, and shrill motorcycle horns, where the tangles of
vines are replaced with telegraph wires and bright bird cries with the
automated cries of bo bia ngot hawkers.
A wildlife discovery trip (three days, two nights) to Cat Tien
National Park, with accommodations at Tai Lai Longhouse, can be
booked through Gingko Voyage (www.ginkgovoyage.com or
3914 3344).
43
T e x t b y R A C H E L C A B ak O F F
Is Vietnam on the cusp of a green building revolution?
Vietnam Green Building Council (VGBC) has been at the
forefront of building green in Vietnam. Originating from California,
US, VGBC was established in 2007 and, as a Green City Fund, Inc.
program, the nonprofit covers a wide range of categories when
it comes to building green in this country. VGBC encompasses
infrastructure, development and manufacturing, consumer behavior
and even transportation. What lies at its core is raising awareness and
advocacy, their Green Building Certification system (also known as
LOTUS), along with research and education. Similar to the US Green
Building Council’s LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental
Design) certification program, LOTUS stems from VGBC and applies
exclusively to buildings in Vietnam.
As the Southern Regional Coordinator and Chairman of VGBC,
Melissa Merryweather was brought on during the early stages in 2008
and is a major editor of the LOTUS certification system. She has been
a key participant on many green projects in Ho Chi Minh City.
“The fact is, if you really start out to design something in a truly
sustainable way, you will enhance your own brand quite subtly from
the bottom up. And when you give yourself the tools to improve it as
well,” says Melissa.
VGBC’s LOTUS rating system ensures building projects throughout
Vietnam are constructed with the highest degree of environmental
responsibility throughout their life cycle and with the lowest amount
of impact. As Vietnam is the fifth most vulnerable country in the
world to climate change, LOTUS includes adaptation mitigation,
making it the first certification system to do so.
“So you’re going to design it right and you’re going to construct it
right - LOTUS is unique in that it requires the construction to match
your design or better.” She explains that most certification systems
are flawed, whereas LOTUS prevents companies from cheating
the system. “The other thing VGBC is working on is putting out a
LOTUS certification system for single family homes which would be
amazing because there is no other competitor in the region except in
Singapore.”
44
If a project is successful and becomes LOTUS certified, the building
will get points and be awarded with a Silver, Gold or Platinum rating,
meaning that your platinum rated building is as good as any other
platinum rated building in the world, says Melissa.
Payback
Over the past decade the city is gradually becoming greener, but there
is still a long way to go and many obstacles to overcome. “There’s been
a massive building increase. Vietnam is behind China and perhaps
India and Indonesia. It’s one of the fastest construction booms in the
world. The numbers are boggling,” says Melissa.
According to BCI Asia and global commercial real estate firm CBRE
Group Inc., the number of projects currently under construction,
including offices, retail, hospitality and residential, totals 381. As far as
future projects go, from 2015 to 2030, that figure jumps to an estimated
582. With the help of VGBC, major projects have been implemented
around town and companies are becoming more educated and aware
of the sustainable options available.
“We’ve been in a really happy situation showing that in Vietnam
you really can build very sustainably with no extra cost or very
small extra cost that really has good payback,” adds Melissa. “I’ve
seen the benefits for the managers and for the occupants. I’ve seen
manufacturers get their work force really interested in all of these
issues and educate them so then they go home and they practice this
stuff as well.”
Some examples of VGBC LOTUS certified projects includes the Pou
Chen Kindergarten (pictured above) located next to a shoe factory in
Dong Nai Province. Designed and constructed by Vo Trong Nghia
Architects in 2013, this “Farming Kindergarten” accommodates the
factory workers’ 500 children.
“The client proposed a suitable building for sustainable education
for the employees’ children. So we built the building as one
continuous structure to show the fluidity of the idea of sustainability
and to provide a place with lots of landscape for the children to run
IMAGE provided by vo trung nghia architecture
B R E A K I NG GR E E N
IMAGE by neil featherstone
around and to be more active,” explains Takashi Niwa, a Partner at Vo
Trong Nghia Architects.
Using natural and local materials, the building incorporates a
vegetable garden roof, a water recycling system, solar water heating
and more, earning it a Silver Level LOTUS certification. “Our target is
to bring back more green to the city not only to improve the energy
efficiency but also to improve the happiness for living,” he adds. “It’s
good motivation to become a greener city. I think in a few more years
we will be seeing a lot more green buildings.” Pou Chen kindergarten
is just one of many green structures Vo Trung Nghia’s team has
worked on throughout Vietnam.
“Right now we’re seeing a couple of really exciting projects. We’re
working on one factory for a garment producer and they’re going for
Platinum LEED and Platinum LOTUS green certification at the same
time,” says Melissa. “So far, it looks like they’re saving something like
45 percent of their energy and they’re considering going off the grid.
It is a very cool project and I think we’re starting to see some people
really try to reach a very high bar now for the first time.”
Take for example the Big C Di An hypermarket in the Green Square
commercial center in Binh Duong Province which actually achieved
both LOTUS and LEED certification. Saving 30 percent of energy
consumption, this is the first project with a solar battery system in
Vietnam, according to The Saigon Times.
In addition, there are a number of factories outside HCMC that
are LEED or LEED and LOTUS certified. As far as direct changes go
in the city, head over to President Place (93 Nguyen Du, D1) located
in the heart of Saigon, which was the first building in Vietnam to
reach LEED Gold certification in 2012. With its use of locally-sourced
sustainable construction materials, a rooftop garden, efficient air,
lighting and water systems, President Place has not only minimized its
effect on the environment but also operating costs for the tenants.
“What I like to say about green building is that it’s very difficult
to apply green building later. You could always improve things but
if you start your project from the concept stage onward, then you
can integrate very easily and it actually doesn’t cost anything extra,”
Melissa continues.
One major change in the city’s infrastructure is the canals. One
of Saigon’s largest canals - Tan Hoa-Lo Gom - was so polluted with
sewage it became a health issue to neighboring residents, affecting
nearly 1.2 million people, according to Vietnam.net. What originally
began in 2010, the World Bank funded this USD167 million project
to improve the canals. Since the project began, 13 bridges have been
built; landscaping has been upgraded along with added mitigation
flooding and wastewater collection. A more recent canal development
totaling USD450 million will focus on the Nhieu Loc-Thi Nghe Canal
and another USDD100 million to fund the restoration of the Hang
Bang Canal, originally recognized as the Canal Bonard.
In addition to their LOTUS certification, VGBC focuses on local
awareness by educating young architects, engineers, building owners,
local government and businesses providing anything and everything
one needs to know about being green. From certification systems
to free lectures at universities and schools to offering their own
education program and workshops for individuals and organizations,
VGBC strives to raise awareness throughout the country.
“In this country there has been a lot of talk saying ‘sustainable
buildings are so expensive’ and that’s utter nonsense. People who’ve
said that don’t really know much about sustainable construction,” says
Melissa. A unique resource VGBC offers is their free online Vietnam
Green Database, providing information on options to living green
such as sustainable cooling systems and alternatives to using bricks
for building.
Substantial Sustainability
In addition to VGBC, there are green social clubs and groups in Saigon
for people to get involved in, for example the Green Drinks social
club. Originating from London in 1989, Green Drinks was organized
with the intention of bringing environmentally conscious individuals
together to discuss, network and bond on all things green. Spreading
all over the world, Green Drinks (Facebook: Green Drinks Saigon
Lounge) found its way to Saigon in 2009 as the 455th club to open and
the first in Vietnam.
“We’re really trying to showcase information that is factual and
substantial. It’s the substantial end of the sustainability market,” says
Melissa, who is also a co-organizer of Green Drinks since its inception.
Meeting on the first Thursday of each month at Zest Bistro
Café, Green Drinks organizers bring in speakers to discuss topics
from alternative energy and sustainable coffee to green building
certification systems and fundraising, recycling and more. “What we’d
really like to do now is to have it reach out to more of a professional
network, so people who are interested in green subjects but also
professionals who are involved in sustainability. So they can know
what else is going on and who else is operating in the sector.”
Their next meeting will be on May 7 and will feature Gavin Smith,
Director of Clean Development Fund at Dragon Capital, and the topic
is Hydropower: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.
“The Vietnamese are looking forward, children are getting an
education, and family well-being is really important. So I think
sustainability could actually play a major role in the next phase of
Vietnam’s development and I think it really has to,” says Melissa. “It’s
exciting to see groups like VGBC starting to make an impact.
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Text by JAMES PHAM
The state of sustainable architecture in Vietnam
When the Powerhouse Kjørbo Building opened last year
outside of Oslo, Norway, it was quickly lauded as the world’s
most environmentally-friendly office building, unbelievably
designed to produce more renewable energy than it uses. Over the
next 60 years, the world’s first building to be renovated into an
energy-positive structure is expected to generate enough energy
(thanks in part to the largest rooftop solar photovoltaic system in
Norway and the use of geothermal energy for heating) to cover
the total amount of energy used to produce the building materials,
construction, operation and disposal.
Just a few months ago, another Oslo building, this time a
combined shopping mall / residential structure garnered top
honors for a retail space at the BREEAM Awards 2015, utilizing
seawater for heat exchange, LED lights and solar cells, low carbon
materials and a green roof featuring 84 different plant species
found locally.
A feat that might seem years away for most countries, can feel
almost light years away for a developing country such as Vietnam.
Oi speaks to Andrew Currie, Managing Director of OUT-2 Design
(out-2.com), on sustainable architecture and environmentallyfriendly interior design solutions for Vietnam.
What is sustainable architecture?
For us, it ranges from everything to getting the planning right
before construction, so a building can stay there and stay relevant
for a very long time, to using non-toxic construction and fit outs.
Studies have shown that you can have all the technology you
want, but if the bones of the buildings are not good, it won’t be
“future-proofed” for the long term, meaning it won’t be fit for
changing purposes or be flexible for future use. A few weeks of
careful planning in the beginning of a project can have a huge
impact on the life and sustainability of a building. Then there’s also
a narrower band which is where current trends are, more about
bringing greenery into the buildings.
What’s the state of sustainable architecture in
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Vietnam?
I would say Vietnam is lagging a long way behind [the rest of the
world] and one of the main reasons is there is little incentive for
people to build green. Right now, it's purely the developer's choice.
But in many [other] regions, governments legislate building green,
so you have to do it. You also have to do it because people who
use these buildings want it. We work with a lot of multinational
tenants who rent buildings. Given a choice, 90 percent would
choose green buildings if they were available, but they just don’t
have that choice here.
What would it take to build more environmentallyfriendly structures here?
To be honest, in Vietnam, most accreditation [for environmentallyfriendly buildings] is focused on manufacturers who need to meet
higher environmental standards from international brands. For
example, an international brand might say to their suppliers: ‘We
need our factories to be more environmentally-friendly' and will
assess their manufacturers on their environmental sustainability
and certification. Eventually, if manufacturing facilities aren’t
certified, they won't get orders.
Other than that, it’s really the developers who have the ability
to build better buildings. But that’s probably the biggest gap
between the rest of the world and what's happening here. There’s
probably one developer who's really committed. There are many
passive things that don't cost [a lot of] money, like solar shading,
protecting buildings from the sun. Instead, a lot of work goes into
trying to mitigate this later, like using metalized heat-reflecting
blinds which are really expensive.
To get beyond that, to the next level of sustainability,
theoretically doesn’t cost money when the building quality is high.
But with the buildings here, that are generally built to a much
lower standard, it’ll cost maybe 20-50 percent more. But initial cost
aside, that jump immediately gets you ongoing operational savings
of 20-30 percent. Most people don't look at that here at all, and it's
IMAGE by ngoc tran
B U I LT F O R L I F E
IMAGEs provided by out-2 design
crazy, because from a landlord's point of view, they charge tenants
a service fee of USD6-USD10 per meter, and they get that money
regardless of how efficient the building is used.
Who do you think should lead the way to constructing
greener buildings - government, international
companies or local ones?
The real inroads will be made when more Vietnamese companies
get behind it. The perfect domain for this are companies who own
or build their own buildings like offices, schools and universities.
Universities normally lead the way in this because they own their
own buildings and benefit more from their operation. They’re also
interested in creating a better image for themselves and are seen as
serving society. If a university can't invest in their own buildings,
who else can? As far as offices go, the Unilever Homebase
building uses all the tools of sustainability: orientation, passive
solar shading, it has six atriums to bring light in and follows all
the principles of efficient design and energy efficiency. This was
possible because it was built for a specific user.
What positives do you see for Vietnam?
Here because of the inefficiency of buildings, it probably takes
a lot less time [to recoup sustainable building costs] as opposed
to overseas where buildings are much more sophisticated. The
technology costs are dropping every year, too. We're doing a Phu
Quoc boutique resort project, and for USD20,000, we can generate
all the power it needs, not including air-conditioning, through
solar and wind energy. We looked at that four or so years ago, and
it would've been USD50,000-USD100,000, so the technology has
come way down. Those figures put it back on the table.
I was in Sydney recently and saw a 30-story building with
vertical gardens. But when you looked closely, a lot of those
weren't growing very well. But in the tropics, it’s so much easier
to do. Definitely integrating planting and landscape into buildings
is inevitable here given the environment and climate. Vietnam
has real opportunities to start integrating urban agriculture into
buildings which is a global trend, but a lot harder to do in Europe,
from a climatic point of view. If you put a garden on the roof here,
it'll grow.
All it’s going to take here is for somebody to embrace
[sustainable architecture] on a reasonable scale and the biggest
opportunity is for a local entity, whether it be a developer or end
user. Most people are looking at a green agenda to get it into a
brochure, green this, eco that, but without understanding what
that means, to be sustainable and to do it properly, not just for
great marketable imagery. It's sitting down and talking mechanics.
Gardens are just icing on the cake. Unfortunately, half to twothirds might say: ‘We'll just put the gardens in and not do the rest.’
The trend would be for buildings to try to be self-sufficient on
their own and not rely on external forces. At this stage, there are
no government subsidies, nothing local. But the trend overseas is
to create better, nicer spaces that people enjoy more. That's slowly
happening here. You're now seeing a lot of nice, livable houses
being designed by younger, local architects who want quality of
life.
What can individual homeowners do to make their
homes more eco-friendly?
For homeowners, the main issue is about efficient use of energy.
It’s not very high tech or sexy, but first of all, put in windows that
actually seal when closed, but with the ability to ventilate. Leakage
is probably the biggest inefficiency. Insulating houses can also cut
temperatures by four to six degrees.
The biggest single trend is changing lighting to LED, something
everyone can do. A good LED bulb can cost USD30 but it’s lighting
you don't have to change for five years. One of the problems here
is longer-term thinking isn't the norm. Many people say, ‘I’ll buy
the USD2 bulb. If it breaks, I can buy 15 of them.’ But people are
getting there. It’s just taking a while.
47
PALLET
P L E A S I NG
T e x t bY J A M E S P H A M I ma g es b y NG O C T R A N
Creating eco-friendly repurposed furniture
Furniture upcycling is one of the hottest DIY trends ― old
doors gaining new life as tabletops or headboards, ladders as
bookshelves, bathtubs turned into sofas. It appeals to people on all
different levels: the arts and crafts moms have a project to add to
Pinterest, the too-cool-for-Ikea crowd gain a one-off conversation
piece, the cost-conscious need only apply some elbow grease along
with a healthy dose of creativity and friends of the Earth can sleep
well knowing that they’ve salvaged something otherwise destined
for a landfill somewhere.
Enter the Pallet Project Saigon (www.palletprojectsaigon.com),
a home-based partnership between housemates Janel Orbida and
Steve Laughlin repurposing pallets into one-of-a-kind, functional
pieces decorated by both established and up-and-coming artists.
Down a quiet lane in District 2, the friends share a house with
creative types. There’s a language teacher, an artist, and the
founders of Green Youth Collective, a training project that aims to
enhance environmental sustainability by installing organic gardens
on unused rooftop and wall space around HCMC. Add to that the
musician, artist and passionately vegan friends (the home Wi-Fi is
named “Hippies House”) that come in and out and the creativity
flows through the space like electricity.
“It started out by us buying pallets to use as bed frames,” says
Janel, a dreadlocked reggae and funk musician from the Philippines
who oozes a laid back vibe. “Pallets are so multipurpose. You can
48
build anything with them. It’s a cheaper way of making furniture, a
cheaper solution. It lasts long enough, surviving the wear and tear
of a few years of staying in a house.”
Some of the pallets also got made into a coffee table which
friends took to doodling on. A year later and the unvarnished table
is still there, every inch covered in colorful swirls, cartoons and
messages. The idea for Pallet Project Saigon was born.
“In the Philippines, I was into recycling, not really for
environmental reasons but more for repurposing. I made upcycled
lamps and worked for an NGO making bags out of tarpaulin-like
billboard material. I liked the idea of taking something that's been
used but using it again for a different purpose. My background
in making and designing stuff came just the same as my music; it
came by ear.”
The other half of the duo is Steve Laughlin, a UK electrician by
trade. “I started out as an apprentice and got stuck with all the sh!t
that no one else wanted to do, working with brickies, chippies,
tackers... So I’ve been around a lot of trades,” laughs Steve, the
more environmentally-minded of the two. “Over the last five years,
I’ve become more interested in permaculture and sustainable
living… Just because the world is going a bit wrong at the moment
and there's got to be something we can do. In Vietnam, nothing
gets wasted; they reuse everything. It’s a much better way of doing
things instead of throwing away something with a little bit of a
stain or a scratch; that seems so wasteful.”
Usable Art
Together, the two have merged their construction and design
backgrounds, sharing the work of selecting the pallets and carting
them home on the backs of motorbikes then sanding and trimming
to prepare them for the artists before finally varnishing and adding
coasters and a glass top.
“We thought that it was really good that we could build these
tables, but it would be so much nicer if we could collaborate with
other people to give our artist friends another canvas (or pallet)
to work on,” says Steve. “We give the artists free rein; that's the
one thing we don't like to have a say in. The designs are unique to
that one table. Sometimes they’ll tell us ahead of time what they’re
going to do, sometimes not. Some just make it up as they go. That
means for each piece, there’s just one. We want the artist to see
it as a 3D canvas,” with the artist getting the larger share of the
proceeds.
So far, the artists have used acrylic paint, spray paint, ink and
even a soldering iron to create a host of designs based on nature,
portraits or more abstract concepts. “It's an art piece you can use,”
adds Janel.
What began as mainly a side project has now gained traction
among the Saigon community. “We wanted to do something ―
instead of just working and being... something we both enjoyed
and liked. It’s been great to see interest in the project,” says Steve.
“At our first showing, we took three tables and our catalog. We
didn’t expect to sell anything. We just wanted to see what the
reaction was and if people would take any of our cards. But then
we sold all three and thought: ‘We can do this. Let’s make another
batch!’”
The pair look to continue using pallets but branching out into
other designs and types of furniture, all the while giving new life
to old wood.
49
Wine & Dine
IMAGE BY NGOC TRAN
50
Inter Nos Restaurant
Holy man in Varanasi
India
51
RES T AURAN T REVIEW
lead the kitchen. “The idea is healthy and
quality food at a reasonable price.”
Kalen and Linton, who also have
experiences in five-star hospitality industry,
have the trained eye and palette for the
perfect equation to a successful dining
experience. Officially opening last June, The
Vintage Emporium is the product of a lifelong
goal for the couple.
The menu comprises of sandwiches from
the classic BLT (VND80,000), Saigon baguette
(VND95,000), to organic and fresh salads
like their prawn and green mango salad
(VND95,000) and more. And for breakfast,
choose from a selection of scrambled,
poached or eggs any style, toasted muesli,
French toast or pancakes - you won’t go
wrong here. Sourcing their breads from an
outside baker, the cafe uses sourdough, rye,
baguettes and sandwich breads that are also
available for individual sale; while fruits
and vegetables are sourced from organic
suppliers.
Keeping Creativity Alive
Secondhand Treasures
Casual dining in a chic Indochina-inspired setting
Text by Rachel Cabakoff Images by Ngoc Tran
“When I was young I wanted to open
a small smoothie or café cart. Something
very small like a wooden cart with only five
seats,” said Kalen Nguyen, who co-owns The
Vintage Emporium (95B Nguyen Van Thu,
D1) with her partner Linton Bortwick. Much
bigger than a five-seat cart, The Vintage
Emporium is the latest trendy resto-cafe in
Saigon.
“The whole concept is residential, a blend
of French and Southeast Asia, which is kind
of what Saigon is. The carvings on the wall
are not necessarily Vietnamese but more
Indochina or Thai and the weavings on
the walls are from Sapa,” explained Linton.
“Almost everything is either recycled or
secondhand.” From the ingredients, design
52
and décor down to the salt and pepper
shakers, it is obvious where their passion
lies - every piece of furniture and wall art
ties in with one another creating gallery-like
installations while still giving off a relaxed
vibe. Upstairs has a more intimate setting
with additional seating and an amazing wall
of vintage photographs featuring locals spots
around town.
As far as the menu goes Linton handles
the food - writing up new menus and
occasionally adding experimental dishes.
During the opening stages, he reached out to
various sous chefs around town for culinary
advice to construct the café’s well-balanced
menu. Now Tran Anh Tu and Dao Dinh Nam,
both with five-star restaurant backgrounds,
We started our dining experience off
right with a light, refreshing smoothie
(VND60,000) - mango and lychee for
me, watermelon, mint and lychee for my
companion. I have made this mistake time
and time again, ordering a smoothie before
my meal and end up full before the food has
even made it out of the kitchen. However,
this was not the case here. Made with ice,
fresh fruits and a dash of sugar syrup, they
were light and refreshing - the perfect
welcome drink.
We then moved onto the greens. Linton
recommended their popular Smoked
salmon salad with mixed leafs, capers and
aioli dressing (VND145,000) and the Cajun
spiced chicken salad with minted yogurt
(VND120,000). The smoky flavor of the
salmon balanced well with the creamy
aioli dressing, complemented by tomatoes,
avocado and fresh cut onions. The Cajun
chicken salad (also available in sandwich
form) woke up our taste buds from the Cajun
spices used to grill the chicken. For those
who have zero tolerance for spicy food,
have no fear, the creamy yoghurt dressing
and mixed grilled vegetables took the edge
off, leaving tender chicken that made for
a delectable dish. Both held up to their
standards as favorites and we could see why.
We decided to split a main dish because the
salads were of generous portions. We chose
a traditional Italian favorite, the Pappardelle
spiced lamb ragout (VND195,000). The
pappardelle was slow-cooked until tender
and then hand torn by the chef for perfection,
the true Italian way Linton explained. The
pasta was complemented by a red carrot jam
sauce, Parmesan shavings and a crispy garlic
breadstick, and left us wanting more.
Kalen and Linton like to keep the creativity
alive in the kitchen, changing the menu every
now and then. A new one is expected to pop
up in a few weeks incorporating Moroccan
cuisine while throwing in a dish we haven’t
seen in awhile, an Australian meat pie. Those
looking for a new brunch hideaway with
friends or simply a fresh reading spot, this
is it.
CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: Kalen Nguyen;
Smoked salmon salad; Smoothie; Cajun chicken
salad; and Lamb ragu
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REST AURAN T REV IEW
Easy Livin’
Inter Nos serves up warm, authentic Italian hospitality
Text by James Pham Images by Ngoc Tran
A red-headed jazz singer croons
the lyrics of Gershwin’s Summertime to
an appreciative Friday night crowd, the
melancholy strains of a violin adding to
the song’s languid yet uplifting melody. It’s
meant as a lullaby after all, and it’s perfect for
this sultry, hot season Saigon night, perfect
for the chic, laid back vibe of Inter Nos (26 Le
Van Mien, D2, open for dinner only starting
at 5 pm, live jazz on Thursday and Friday
nights).
“And the livin’ is easy”
Open from the beginning of the year, Inter
Nos has been living up to its Latin name,
meaning “between us”, nailing the balance
between great food and great space. Set on
a quiet street in Thao Dien, the huge space
(seating capacity of 250) has been cleverly
designed to be something for everyone. Stone,
steel and glass give off an artist’s loft feel
complete with exposed ceilings and lighting
provided by both old-timey incandescent
bulbs and lovely floor candles, and floor-toceiling glass windows creatively section off
54
areas while maintaining the openness of the
restaurant. On this particular Friday night,
diners spill out into the leafy outdoor seating
streetside as well as the open courtyard
located right in the center of the restaurant,
drawn in by its twinkling lights and illusion
of privacy created by purposeful landscaping.
A large VIP/function room doubles as a kids’
corner where accidental friends colored,
played and took their meals. While some
couples gravitate to the intimate booth
seating of the expansive back-lit bar area,
most congregate in the main dining room
with its eclectic arrangement of everything
from tables for two to huge farm tables for
twelve. The owners designed the free-flowing
space to live up to its name, encouraging
guests to feel free to mingle, from parents
of children and their newfound playmates
to acquaintances in Saigon’s smallish expat
community.
“Fish are jumping”
Crafted by Chef Marco Cortesi who’s
worked the kitchens of the Park Hyatt, New
World Saigon Hotel and La Bettola, Inter Nos’
menu is squarely classic Italian, featuring
dishes from the length of the country. His
philosophy of cooking simple food with the
freshest ingredients (cheese and pasta are
among the ingredients made on-site) guides
the menu.
We start with Parma ham with melon
(VND249,000) from the north of Italy, paper
thin slices of ham generously draped over
large slices of melon, a delicious battle of
sweet and salty, before moving on to an
Italian tomato soup (VND180,000) served
with aromatic croutons and a dash of cream
― simple and comforting while allowing
the powerful flavors of just a handful of
ingredients to shine through. Chef Marco
hails from Milan so the Milanese seafood
risotto (VND285,000) turned out to be a solid
choice, al dente yet creamy, featuring octopus,
prawns and firm chunks of fish, finished off
with a touch of tomato sauce.
For the mains, we move to Italy’s south
coast and its Mediterranean flavors. The Black
fettuccine with spider lobster (VND375,000)
from the day’s menu is beautifully
constructed, tossed with olive oil and cherry
tomatoes, and cooked from beginning to end
in a single pan, ramping up its intensity by
allowing the pasta to soak up the sweet juices
of the meaty lobster.
The Oven-baked tilapia with fresh
tomatoes, mixed olives and potato slices
(VND395,000) is a wonderful combination of
what Chef Marco calls “sunny ingredients.”
Tilapia on its own is almost like tofu ― it’s
lean, neutral and decidedly “un-fishy” which
allows it to take on the flavors of whatever it’s
cooked with. Here, it’s the clean slate for the
tomatoes and olives which does very much
taste like a sunny day in the Med.
The Chocolate fondant (VND175,000) for
dessert was definitely worth the wait, one of
the best I’ve ever had. Served piping hot in a
ramekin, once broken open, it oozed melted
chocolate and earns high marks for being
rich without being overly sweet. Children,
especially, will love the wow factor of the
Inter Nos ice cream (VND95,000). Made
on site, it’s wheeled out on a trolley with
a production of cutting out slices from the
towering blocks. The vanilla is creamy, but
the chocolate with swirls of coffee is a show
stopper.
“Your daddy’s rich and your ma is goodlooking”
Inter Nos is owner Le Hoang Lan’s first
foray into the restaurant business. Lan (whose
brother Le Hoang is a famous film director),
trained in medicine and also owns Medilas, a
chain of skin care clinics, but she is perhaps
best known for being the General Manager
(Insurance and Operations) for Prudential
Vietnam. In her 11 years there, she helped
set up the office and recruit a work force
of 50,000 agents. Perhaps it’s her business
background that has Lan surrounding herself
by the best. Inter Nos boasts an Italian chef,
a French sommelier to offer guidance on its
extensive 200 plus item wine list, a French
grill team who man the custom-built wood
and charcoal oven and an excellent wait staff
with stellar English.
Explaining why a finance / beauty expert
would suddenly veer into the hospitality
industry, Lan says: “We loved eating authentic
Italian food in our summer trips to Italy, and I
wanted to bring that passion back to Vietnam.
I also found that I really enjoy meeting people
and gathering with friends. I go to restaurants
and see families quietly eating together so I
wanted to create a place that was full of life.”
Between us, Inter Nos does all those things
exceedingly well.
CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: Parma ham;
Black fettuccine with spider lobster; Tilapia
oven baked with fresh tomatoes, mixed olives,
potato slices; Chocolate fondant; and Inter Nos
ice cream
55
CHEERS!
WINE Column
Alfredo de la Casa has been organizing wine tastings for
over 20 years, published three wine books, including the
Gourmand award winner for best wine education book.
You can reach him at www.wineinvietnam.com.
Bordeaux Icon
Château Palmer, a sought after wine
The name Palmer was given to the
estate by Charles Palmer, a Major General
from the British army who bought the
winery in 1814 and then invested a great
deal of time and money in developing
the estate. Between 1816 and 1831 he
purchased more land and buildings and
by the 1830s his property had expanded to
163 hectares, 82 of which were vineyards.
Palmer’s Claret, as it was called, quickly
gained popularity in London clubs and
even found favor with the future King
George IV. However, Palmer was living
the fast life irresponsibly and by 1843 he
was forced to sell Palmer’s Claret. The
estate changed hands several times and
in 1938 four families from Bordeaux came
together and bought the property, which
their descendants still own today.
In 2004 Thomas Duroux, a young
enologist was appointed head of Château
Palmer, in charge of guiding the name
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through a quiet revolution - continually
raising the level of excellence, meeting
market expectations, and innovating
while respecting the past. For Château
Palmer, this was more than a periodic
revitalization; it was part of an ongoing
process of renewal that started a long time
ago and continues to this day.
Thanks to the Wine Warehouse, who
distributes Château Palmer in Vietnam, I
recently had the opportunity to enjoy a
vertical tasting of five of these fantastic
wines. The night started with Alter Ego,
the young sibling of Château Palmer.
Alter Ego was born with the 1998 vintage,
a result of a new approach to selecting
and blending, aiming to interpret the
Château Palmer terroir differently without
departing from the values that the label is
known for: finesse and elegance, aromatic
richness, harmony and length.
Four vintages of Château Palmer (starting
in 1999) complemented the evening, all
unique and charming, sharing everything
that makes them famous: elegance, perfumed
aromas, complexity and great length.
The wines owe their amazing fruit content to
the high proportion of Merlot (47 percent),
with only 47 percent of Cabernet Sauvignon
and six percent Petit Verdot. When you smell
these wines, you are in paradise. Every red
and black fruit has entered the wine, giving
it an amalgamation of wonderful aromas:
blackberries, black currants, plums and
raspberries, with fragrances of violets, roses,
cedar wood and cigars. These aromas are
matched by the complexity and roundness
of the palate, delivering a great length of
silkiness and velvetiness.
If you are looking for something special to
reward your palate or as a present for a wine
lover or close business partner, Château
Palmer will definitely meet, if not exceed,
your and everyone’s expectations.
What I’m Drinking This Month: Costiers
de Nimes 2012 (Syrah, Carignan, Grenache).
This is a fantastic wine. The nose delivers
a mix of spices, cedar and pepper, which
is replicated on the palate with great
complexity and good length. I fell in love
with this wine the moment I tried it, and each
time I drink it I am still in love. It goes well
with red meats, sausages and burgers, and is
available at Wine Embassy.
CHUC AN NGON!
FOOD COLUMN
Vietnamese chef Jack Lee (www.chefjacklee.com) has
served a host of Hollywood A-listers from Angelina
Jolie to Barbra Streisand, and recently returned to chef
for Acacia Veranda Dining (149-151 Nguyen Du, D1).
His biography You Don’t Know Jack by Oi writer NPD
Khanh will be released later this year.
Fruitful
Fruit + Alcohol = Delicious Sauces
My tough journey to becoming
known as “the Vietnamese chef who
cooks for the stars” started right here in
Ho Chi Minh City, where as a boy I was
exposed to the fine flavors of the old
French cuisine as well as the abundance
of local produce. Having been away for so
long, it’s truly humbling to get back to my
roots and witness the great changes that
have taken place in this country – but the
thing that amazes me most is that even after
so many years, its culinary heritage has
remained just as it was, with perhaps even
more varieties of fresh food available now
than there ever was when I was growing
up here.
For me, the most awe-inspiring part of
any Vietnamese market is the fruit section.
After years of cooking and experimenting
with fruit in the US – where I was most
interested in its role in improving health
– I’ve found rediscovering the boundless
resources of exotic fruit here a study in
constant amazement. Fruit is more than
just nutritious, it’s a natural remedy for
imbalances in the body, and consuming
delicious fruit has a marked effect on both
health and beauty. Forget Botox and plastic
surgery – nurture your body from the
inside, and the effects will show up clearly
on your skin.
As a culinary artist, returning to Vietnam
has allowed me to explore the surprising
contrasts of taste that are available in this
country, and I’ve discovered that applying
some basic Western cooking techniques
on concoctions of local fruit with alcohol
results in some surprising sauces. Intrigued
at the thought of hitting upon some as-yet
undiscovered possibilities, I started shopping
at Ben Thanh Market with all the tourists –
except sticking closely to the areas selling
meats, seafood, fruit and vegetables. I would
talk to the locals around me about the
benefits of each fruit, and they would tell
me that people in Vietnam generally only
use it for juices and fruit platters. Using fruit
to make sauces and soups was unheard of.
So I realized that I had to try all these exotic
fruits for myself before I made a fool out of
myself in the kitchen.
Dragon fruit, soursops, mangosteens,
golden apples, green mangoes, green
starfruit… the research was wild, and it
was hard to hold back. I ended up eating
so much fruit that I was ill for several days.
But over the course of my overindulgences,
I’d learned so much about each fruit’s
flavor and texture. I started to carefully pair
each one with an alcohol to make for the
most flavorsome base, and then eventually
developed them into sauces to match each
protein.
My little French-Californian kitchen has
now become irrevocably Vietnamese, with
a fresh watermelon soup, a vu sua dressing
(I dare say it’s Vietnam’s first Caesar Salad
dressing), a passion fruit sauce for my foie
gras, short ribs infused with guava, and a
langoustine with soursop sauce. For those
of you who enjoy cheffing (and eating)
out there, I encourage you to join me on
my quest for healthier eating in Vietnam –
and to think outside the box while you’re
staying here. We’re living in a tropical
seaside country, so let’s push even the
simple things to the edge – everything we
need is just beyond the north gate at Cho
Ben Thanh.
I’d like to propose a toast – in fact, let’s
make it something even more exotic with a
little kick for good measure.
Watermelon Seafood
Martini
Serves 4-6
Ingredients:
Watermelon 1
Lemongrass
2 stalks (rough cut)
Onion 50 gm (chopped)
Thai chili
2
Lime
1 tablespoon
Mint
20 gm
Cilantro
20 gm
Tom yum paste
1 tablespoon
Fish sauce
1 ½ teaspoons
White wine
½ cup
Chicken stock
2 cups
Skewer: Scallop or salmon
Olive or tomato
Shallots
Heat up the pot
1. Add oil
2. Add onion, lemongrass, chili,
watermelon, tom yum paste,
mint, cilantro
3. Add white wine and reduce by ½
4. Add chicken stock and cook
for 20 minutes
5. Add lime, fish sauce to taste
6. Add ½ tsp of oil on pan,
medium high heat
7. Season scallop or salmon
with salt & pepper
8. Sear each side for 2 minutes
9. Skewer olive, cooked seafood,
pearl onion, and baby tomatoes
Be sure to strain the soup before
serving. Bon Appetit!
57
The List
Wine & Dine
Bars
Blanchy’s Tash
Cavern Pub
Undoubtedly the hippest, coolest nightspot in
downtown Ho Chi Minh, renowned for its cool house
music, live DJs at weekends and innovative range of
cocktails. Downstairs is a trendy bar where the glitterazi
like to be seen; rooftop an open bar with more chilled
style music. In between a new Vietnamese dining
concept.
95 Hai Ba Trung, D1
090 902 82 93
www.blanchystash.com
Stylish venue in one of the classier
inner-city locales, Cavern entertains
locals and expats alike with a live
band every night, sports channels
on a large TV screen, and a great
atmosphere. Happy hour is from
6pm to
9:30pm (buy 2 beers – get 1 free). Live
music is from 9.30pm-1am.
19 Dong Du, D1
090 826 5691
Ice Blue Bar
Last Call
A small, atmospheric, emphatically English-style pub,
Ice Blue is a popular meeting place for Ho Chi Minh
City’s expats with reasonably priced drinks, friendly
staff and a cozy atmosphere. Great place to play darts.
54 Dong Khoi, D1
Also Try...
Chill Skybar
Offers the most stunning panoramic views of
Saigon and a wide range of wines and cocktails
personally prepared by Vietnam mixologist Le
Thanh Tung.
Rooftop, AB Tower, 76A Le Lai, D1
3827 2372
www.chillsaigon.com
Donkey Bar
A new open air, but well cooled bar in the heart
of Bui Vien on the site of the once popular Stellar
cafe. A cut above the regular backpacker haunts
in style and offer. Downstairs is a modern bar
with flat screen TVs showing sports, a huge
circular bar and tables, and outdoor seating for
people watching. Upstairs are air conditioned
rooms, pool table and outdoor deck. Serves a
wide variety of liquors, including wines by the
glass or bot
Game On
Opened in July 2013, Game On is one of Saigon’s
biggest sports bar, serving breakfast, lunch and
Chu Bar
At this laid back venue, tourists and locals alike can
sit around Chu’s large oval bar or on luxurious padded
benched. It has a full cocktail menu as well as a short
menu of snacks and sandwiches.
158 Dong Khoi, D1
The Fan Club
Saigon's king of cool, Last Call is renowned for the
finest cocktails in the mellowest of settings. Slink
your way back to the Seventies in the velvety interior
or watch over the passing crowds from the laid-back
terrace. Funky (and even sexy) to the core, this classy
establishment is fittingly close to the Sheraton.
59 Dong Du, D1
3823 3122
dinner. The bar also has an extensive
drinks menu including coffees, juices,
beers, wines, vodkas, and more.
Game On also boasts a function
room for corporate meetings or
private parties.
115 Ho Tung Mau, D1
6251 9898
gameonsaigon@gmail.com
tle.
119 Bui Vien, D1
The Observatory
In just a year, this funky, cosy bar
and gallery set in a French villa has
become the centre of the city’s
underground dance music culture.
Downstairs is a cosy bar serving
cocktails, beer and wines, upstairs
a gallery space and a separate
dance venue with regular guest
appearances from DJs from Asia and
beyond. Open daily from 6pm til late
(5am close Saturday and Sunday
mornings).
5 Nguyen Tat Thanh, D4
www.theobservatory-hcmc.com
The largest sports bar in Saigon, with
all the live sports available on 12 large
HD screens, an exciting place to watch
your team win! A great selection
of food & beverage. We also have
a enclosed relaxing garden for the
family.
The Vista, 628C Hanoi Highway, An Phu, D2
www.dtdentertainment.com
Facebook: The Fan Club
Located on the 20th floor of Novotel
Saigon Center, onTop Bar provides
views over Saigon from an expansive
outdoor terrace. The venue offers a
menu with over 20 cheeses, cured
meats and both Vietnamese and
international-inspired tapas.
167 Hai Ba Trung, D3
3822 4866
Hours in Saigon, from 9am - 9pm,
with live music available from
Monday-Saturday. This multi-level
bar has a non-smoking floor and
a function room along with a top
quality pool table and soft-tip dart
machines. A menu of Eastern and
Western dishes includes wood-fired
pizzas.
70-72 Ng Duc Ke, D1
2229 7017
Purple Jade
Saigon Saigon Bar
onTop Bar
Lively and cosmopolitan, Purple Jade
is a must on any nightlife agenda.
The lounge offers an innovative
menu of tasty snacks and signature
cocktails in a sleek and chic aesthetic
to complement the chilled-out vibe.
1st floor – InterContinental Asiana
Saigon
3520 9099
6pm until late
dine@icasianasaigon.com
Red Bar
RED offers one of the longest Happy
This iconic bar is a great place to
watch the sun go down over the
lights of the city and relax with
friends. Live entertainment nightly,
including their resident Cuban band,
Q’vans from 9pm Wednesday to
Monday.
Rooftop, 9th floor,
19-23 Lam Son Square, D1
3823 4999
11am till late
caravellehotel.com
Cafés
Guanabana Smoothies
Café RuNam
No disappointments from this earnest local cafe
consistently serving exceptional international standard
coffee. Beautifully-styled and focussed on an attention
to quality, Cafe RuNam is now embarking on the road
to becoming a successful franchise. The venue's first
floor is particularly enchanting in the late evening.
96 Mac Thi Buoi, D1
3825 8883
www.caferunam.com
This Californian
smoothie bar specializes
in healthy all-natural
smoothies using fresh
fruits and vegetables
from locally-sourced farms, with no condensed milk
or artificial sweeteners added. Their smoothies can be
enhanced with nutritional supplements such as green
superfood, whey protein, and spirulina.
Best sellers include their Special Blends and veggie
smoothies. Fresh roasted coffee, hot panini’s and
pastries are also available, along with speedy Wi-Fi.
23 Ly Tu Trong, Q1
0909 824 830
www.guanabanasmoothies.com
Hatvala
This teahouse, coffee shop and restaurant offers
selected, quality Vietnamese tea and coffee to drink or
buy as leaves and beans. They also have a delightful
all-day casual dining area in a stylish bistro.
44 Nguyen Hue, D1
3824 1534
8am - 11pm
hatvalavietnam@gmail.com
www.hatvala.com
facebook.com/hatvala
Les Saigonais
Les Saigonais
houses a
boutique, cafe and artist space in a charming mix of
colonial flavor and contemporary settings. Visitors can
check out Designer Dieu Anh’s chic modern fashion line
for men and women, along with accessories. There is also
a quaint balcony where you can enjoy an afternoon coffee
while watching the world go by.
1st Floor, 77-79 Ly Tu Trong, D1
Facebook: “LES SAIGONAIS”
The Library
The Library recaptures the romance of a bygone era
while offering an all-day snack menu as well as the
finest tea, coffee, wine and spirits in an elegant setting.
Ground floor – InterContinental Asiana Saigon
7am - 12am
3520 9099
dine@icasianasaigon.com
Also Try...
AQ Coffee
Pleasing colonial-style café permanently filled
with the aroma of fresh coffee roasted with
traditional methods, with a shady courtyard
and quiet, peaceful atmosphere. Situated in
one of the city’s oldest mansions.
32 Pham Ngoc Thach, D3
3829 8344
Caffe Bene
A brand new cafe in the heart of District
1, marking the debut of a Korean coffee
and dessert concept in Vietnam. When
it opened queues stretched out the
door with locals and expats alike eager
to try the unique offer of European
style coffee, blended drinks and sweet,
creamy dessert and cakes. Modern,
industrial designed interior spanning
two floors, and with a corner site street
frontage which cannot be missed!
58 Dong Khoi, D1
3822 4012
caffebenevietnam.com
Ciao Café
There's rarely a tourist who's been
through inner-city Saigon and hasn't
stopped in on the super-friendlylooking Ciao Café. It stands up well
as an expat mainstay too, with its
fashionable décor that varies from
floor to floor and its classic selection of
Western cafe and bistro favorites.
74-76 Nguyen Hue, D1
3823 1130
L’Usine
L’Usine is a retail, café and gallery
space occupying two locations in
the center of D1. Its retail space is
dedicated to Vietnamese designers
and more established brands from
abroad as well as stocking a wide
range of stationery and homeware
items. The café in both locations
serves international fare and a range of
pastries and the ever-popular sweet &
sour cupcakes.
151/1 Dong Khoi, D1
70B Le Loi, D1
www.lusinespace.tumblr.com
9am – 9pm
59
CHINESE
Dragon Court
Dynasty
The well-heeled Chinese certainly go for luxury and
this venue has it in spades. Situated in a classy location
just opposite the Opera House, Dragon Court features
a broad selection of dishes from across the spectrum
of mainland cuisines, making this an ideal a-la-carte
venue as well as the perfect spot for Dim Sum.
11-13 Lam Son Square, D1
3827 2566
New World's own slice of Canton with a particularly fine
Dim Sum selection, Dynasty is a traditional lavishlystyled Chinese venue with flawless design. Authenticity
and a sense of old-world China make this one of
Saigon's more refined options for the cuisine. A number
of private rooms are available.
New World Hotel
76 Le Lai, D1
3822 8888
www.saigon.newworldhotels.com
Li Bai
Ming Court
Thoroughly traditional Chinese venue at the Sheraton
Hotel and Towers offering choice oriental delicacies
against a backdrop of fine Chinese art. This opulent
venue, open throughout the day, is one of the city’s
more beautiful restaurants in this category.
Level 2, 88 Dong Khoi, D1
3827 2828
www.libaisaigon.com
The best in Chinese cuisine with a unique Taiwanese
focus in a Japanese hotel, Ming Court is classy in
its precision and graceful without compromise. It’s
certainly one of the city’s most impressive venues for
fans of the cuisine, and nothing is left to chance with
the venue’s signature exemplary service standards.
3rd floor, Nikko Saigon Hotel
235 Nguyen Van Cu, D1
3925 7777
Also Try...
Hung Ky Mi Gia
An old mainstay on the Chinese
cuisine trail with well over a decade in
operation, Hung Ky Mi Gia is known
for its classic mainland dishes with a
focus on delicious roasts. Safe and
tasty Chinese food.
20 Le Anh Xuan, D1
3822 2673
Ocean Palace
A place for those who love Chinese
food. The large dining room on the
ground floor can accommodate up to
280 diners. Up on the first floor are
six private rooms and a big ballroom
that can host 350 guests.
2 Le Duan Street, D1
3911 8822
Seven Wonders (Bay Ky Quan)
The brainchild of an overseas
Chinese/Vietnamese architect
who wanted to build something
extraordinary in his home town, this
venue combines the architectural
features of seven world heritage
structures blended into one. The
cuisine is just as eclectic with
representative dishes from several
major Chinese traditions.
12 Duong 26, D6
3755 1577
www.7kyquan.com
Shang Palace
Renowned as one of the finest
restaurants in the city, Shang Palace
boasts mouth-watering Cantonese
and Hong Kong cuisine served in
a warm and elegant atmosphere.
Whether it be an intimate dinner for
two or a larger group event, Shang
Palace can cater for three-hundred
guests including private VIP rooms.
With more than fifty Dim-Sum items
and over two-hundred delectable
dishes to choose from, Shang Palace
is an ideal rendezvous for any dining
occasion.
1st Floor, Norfolk Mansion
17-19-21, Ly Tu Trong, D1
3823 2221
Yu Chu
Yu Chu is renowned for the quality
and presentation of its authentic
Cantonese and Peking cuisines along
with its elegant décor. Watching the
chefs prepare signature dishes such
as hand-pulled noodle, Dim Sum and
Peking Duck right in the kitchen is a
prominent, popular feature.
First floor, InterContinental Asiana
For full review, please visit: www.oivietnam.com
Saigon (Corner of Hai Ba Trung & Le
Duan)
3520 9099
www.intercontinental.com/saigon
Kabin
Dine Cantonese-style by the river at the Renaissance
Riverside’s own Chinese venue decked out with
flourishes reminiscent of classical Qing period tastes.
Kabin’s cuisine is known for presenting new takes on
traditional dishes as well as for its more exotic fare.
Renaissance Riverside Hotel,
8-15 Ton Duc Thang, D1
3822 0033
Ming Dynasty
Ming Dynasty serves authentic Chinese food in
a setting reminiscent of an old Chinese palace.
Specialties include dim sum, abalone and dishes from
Guangdong.
23 Nguyen Khac Vien, D7
SPANISH
La Habana
Olé
Cuban venue with fine Spanish cuisine, Cuban cigars
and German beer. A wide range of tapas and cocktails.
Great bar atmosphere and late night entertainment.
6 Cao Ba Quat, D1
www.lahabana-saigon.com
With all the warmth you’d expect from a decent venue
in this category, Olé serves authentic and tasty Spanish
favorites with great tapas and highly-recommended
paella. Family-run venue with a passion for great food
and good service without undue fuss. Feel at home.
129B Le Thanh Ton, D1
012 6529 1711
Tapas Saigon
VIVA! Tapas Bar & Grill
Tasty tapas at Vietnamese prices not far from the
center of District 1. Fresh ingredients, broad menu with
food prepared by a Spanish chef. Best washed down
with authentic house sangria.
53/26B Tran Khanh Du, D1
090 930 0803
VIVA! Tapas Bar & Grill only uses the freshest
ingredients, many imported from Spain, for the
most authentic tapas experience in Saigon, starting
from under VND50,000/plate. Cool décor, indoors
and outdoors eating areas, a well stocked bar, and
great wines from VND60,000/glass (sangria just
VND130,000 per HALF liter). Delivery available.
90 Cao Trieu Phat, Phu My Hung, D7, HCMC
08 5410 6721
Facebook: “VIVATapasBar.PMH”
Pacharan
Ho Chi Minh City's original Spanish restaurant,
Pacharan occupies a high profile corner spot on Hai Ba
Trung. Spread over four floors, it offers a casual bar, two
floors of dining (one which becomes a destination for
live Spanish music late at night) and a rooftop terrace.
Features an extensive menu of tapas, main courses,
sangria and wines.
97 Hai Ba Trung Street, D1
090 399 25 39
FRENCH
Augustin
La Creperie
La Fourchette
The first authentic Breton French restaurant in the
country, serving savory galettes, sweet crepes with
tasty seafood and some of the best apple cider in
Saigon.
17/7 Le Thanh Ton, D1
3824 7070
infosgn@lacreperie.com.cn
11am-11pm
Small and cozy, La Fourchette is a favorite among the
French expat community. The vintage posters and
wood paneling add to the charm of this French eatery
located right in downtown, a stone’s throw from the
Saigon River.
9 Ngo Duc Ke, D1
3829 8143
www.lafourchette.com.vn
Le Bacoulos
Le Terroir
Ty Coz
Augustin is a romantic and charming French restaurant
located just steps away from the Rex Hotel. Serves
lunches and dinners and offers 10 percent discount on
a la carte menu items.
10D Nguyen Thiep, D1
www.augustinrestaurant.com
Le Bacoulos is a French restaurant, bar and lounge that
serves French cuisine, bar food like burgers, fish and
chips alongside vegetarian options like spinach soup
and Greek salad. There’s also a garden to unwind in
with a glass of wine or enjoy a game of pool.
13 Tong Huu Dinh, D2
3519 4058
www.bacoulos.com
Recently opened, Le Terroir serves dishes such as
Bouchée à la Reine duo, Pan seared salmon along with
pastas, risotto and decadent desserts. The wine list
here is an oenophile’s dream with over 200 labels in
stock from Australia, California and Chile to Italy. The
restaurant is on two levels with a small terrace in the
ground floor.
30 Thai Van Lung, D1
Also Try...
L'essentiel
L’essentiel offers a quiet intimate
dining experience with space for private
functions and alfresco dining on an upper
floor. The food is fresh, traditional French,
and the wine list is carefully collated.
98 Ho Tung Mau, D1
0948 415 646
La Cuisine
A cosy restaurant just outside the
main eating strip on Le Thanh Ton, La
Cuisine offers quality French food in
an upmarket but not overly expensive
setting. Suitable for special occasions
or business dinners to impress. Regular
diners recommend the filet of beef.
48 Le Thanh Ton
2229 8882
La Nicoise
A traditional ‘neighbourhood’ French
restaurant, La Nicoise serves simple,
filling French fare at exceptional value
in the shadow of the Bitexco tower.
Most popular for its steak dishes, the
restaurant has an extensive menu which
belies its compact size.
56 Ngo Duc Ke, D1
3821 3056
La Villa
Housed in a stunning white French
villa that was originally built as a private
house, La Villa features outdoor tables
dotted around a swimming pool and a
more formal dining room inside. Superb
cuisine, with staff trained as they would
be in France. Bookings are advised,
especially on Friday and Saturday
evenings.
14 Ngo Quang Huy, D2
3898 2082
www.lavilla-restaurant.com.vn
Le Bouchon de Saigon
Delightful, welcoming French bistro that
really puts on a show of fine quality
and service. With its small-village
atmosphere and exotic cuisine, this is
one of the more atmospheric and highaiming venues of the genre.
40 Thai Van Lung, D1
www.lebouchondesaigon.com
Trois Gourmands
Opened in 2004 and regarded as one
of the finest French restaurants in town.
Owner Gils, a French native, makes his
own cheeses as well.
18 Tong Huu Dinh, D2
3744 4585
For full review, please visit: www.oivietnam.com
This unassuming restaurant is located down an
alley and up three flights of stairs. The charming
French owner/chef will happily run through the entire
menu in details and offer his recommendations. An
accompanying wine list includes a wide range of
choices.
178/4 Pasteur, D1
www.tycozsaigon.com
INDIAN
Ashoka
A small chain of slightly more upscale Indian
restaurants serving both Northern and Southern Indian
cuisine including curries, naan and tandooris.
Ashoka I
17/10 Le Thanh Ton, D1
08 3823 1372
Ashoka II
33 Tong Huu Dinh, Thao Dien, D2
08 3744 4144
Baba’s Kitchen
One of Saigon’s best-loved Indian venues, Baba’s is
dedicated to authenticity in its cuisine and fair prices.
Tell them exactly what spice level you want and
they’ll cater to your tastes – from the mildest of
butter chickens to the most volcanic vindaloo.
Always friendly.
164 Bui Vien, D1
49D Xa Lo Hanoi, D2
3838 6661
Ganesh
Ganesh serves authentic northern Indian tandooris and
rotis along with the hottest curries, dovas and vada
from the southern region.
38 Hai Ba Trung, D1
8223 0173
www.ganeshindianrestaurant.com
Bollywood
Known for its complete North & South Indian cuisine,
Bollywood’s specialty is its special chaat & tandoori
dishes. Parties, events & catering services are available,
with daily lunch tiffin and set menus. Free delivery in
Phu My Hung. Complete menu on Facebook.
2213 1481 | 2245 0096 | 093 806 9433
Hotline: 0906357442 (English)
bollywoodvietnam@gmail.com
Facebook: bollywoodvietnamindiancuisine
Saigon Indian
Saigon’s original Indian eatery is still going strong,
located in a bright, roomy upstairs venue in the heart of
District 1. Authentic Indian cuisine at affordable prices;
functions a specialty.
1st Floor, 73 Mac Thi Buoi, D1
Also Try...
Bombay Indian Restaurant
With its nice, central location and a
very relaxed dining area and home-style
atmosphere, Bombay is a superbly
casual venue well-reputed for its
authentic Indian cuisine and
Halal cooking.
250 Bui Vien, D1,
9am - 10.30pm
Curry Leaf
A new restaurant in District 7,
specialising in southern and northern
Indian cuisine, which grew from the
now closed Indus of D1. Fish, meat and
vegetable dishes are cooked fresh in
tandoor ovens with a commitment to
authenticity. Boasts 20 different breads
baked daily and six home
made chutneys.
62 Hung Gia 5, D7
curryleafvietnam.com
The Punjabi
Best known for its excellent tandoori
cooking executed in a specialized,
custom-built oven, Punjabi serves the
best of genuine North Indian cuisine
in a venue well within the backpacker
enclave, ensuring forgiving menu prices.
40/3 Bui Vien, D1
3508 3777
63
Italian
Ciao Bella
Oi’s Pick
Hearty homestyle
Italian food served
with flair and excellent
service. An extensive menu is complemented with daily
specials. Arriving guests are greeted with a free glass
of Prosecco. Diners sit in a cozy setting upstairs or on
the ground floor for people-watching. Big groups should
book in advance.
11 Dong Du, D1
3822 3329
tonyfox56@hotmail.com
www. saigonrestaurant
group.com/ciao
La Cucina
La Cucina has opened on Crescent Promenade in
Phu My Hung, with an open-plan kitchen that can
accommodate 180 diners. Enjoy top-end dining
featuring the best of Italian cuisine and a wide selection
of imported seafood, prepared from the freshest
ingredients, in a relaxed, rustic atmosphere with a
wood-fired pizza oven at its heart.
Block 07-08 CR1-07, 103 Ton Dat Tien, D7
5413 7932
La Bettola
Inter Nos
Inter Nos means “between us” in Latin.
Food amongst friends is exciting yet
sincere. At Inter Nos, their dishes
represent the appreciation they have
towards guests, who they consider as
family. Many of the ingredients are handmade, from
the cheese to the pasta, even the milk is taken directly
from the farm. The emphasis is on handcrafting special
ingredients so that guests can taste the honesty in the
food.
26 Le Van Mien, Thao Dien, D2
090 630 12 99
info@internos.vn
www.internos.vn
facebook.com/internossaigon
Chef/owner Giuseppe
Amorello combines sleek
decor with traditional
home cooking in this
two-story centrallylocated Italian eatery. Expect creative dishes such as
rucola e Gamberi as well as La Bettola that includes
shaved porchetta, focaccia and homemade mozzarella.
There’s a wood-burning oven on the premises and they
try to hand-make all their ingredients. They also deliver.
84 Ho Tung Mau, D1
3914 4402
www.labettolasaigon.com
La Hostaria
LovEat
Designed with an intimate atmosphere invoking
something like an Italian town, this venue focuses
on traditional ethnic Italian cuisine (rather than the
ubiquitous pizza and pasta), creations of the skillful
executive chef – straight out of Venice. The place lights
up on romantic Thursday evenings with candlelight and
light music.
17B Le Thanh Ton, D1
3823 1080
www.lahostaria.com
Mediterranean food meets the
Italian flair at LovEat. Home made
scrumpitous dishes are served in
exquisite setting, that embodies
the métier and the spirit of a modern bistro with an
atmosphere that is warm and welcoming in the heart of
the city. Black mussels, slow cooked ribs, tiramisu are
some of the signatures dishes of LovEat’s extensive
menu.
29 Hai Trieu, D1
086 260 2727
www.loveat.vn
Also Try...
Pendolasco
Casa Italia
Filling, hearty Italian fare served with a
smile in the heart of District 1. Authentic
pizza and a comprehensive range of
pasta, pork, chicken and beef dishes
offers something for everyone. Located
a stone’s throw from Ben Thanh
Market.
86 Le Loi, D1
3824 4286
One of the original Italian eateries in
Ho Chi Minh City, Pendolasco recently
reinvented itself with a new chef and
menu, and spurned a sister eatery in
District 2. Set off the street in a peaceful
garden with indoor and outdoor eating
areas, separate bar and function area, it
offers a wide-ranging Italian menu and
monthly movie nights.
87 Nguyen Hue, D1
3821 8181
Opera
Pizza 4P’s
The luxury Park Hyatt Saigon is home
to Opera, an authentic Italian dining
experience open for breakfast, lunch
and dinner. Try their famous lasagna
and tiramisu. Head chef Marco Torre
learned his craft in a number of
Michelin-star restaurants throughout
different regions of Italy during a 14
year career. Dine on the deck alfresco
or inside in air conditioned comfort.
2 Lam Son Square, D1
It’s too late to call this Saigon’s best-kept
secret: the word is out. Wander up to the
end of its little hem off Le Thanh Ton for
the most unique pizza experience in the
entire country – sublime Italian pizza pies
with a Japanese twist. Toppings like you
wouldn’t imagine and a venue you’ll be
glad you took the time to seek out.
8/15 Le Thanh Ton, D1
012 0789 4444
www.pizza4ps.com
For full review, please visit: www.oivietnam.com
Pomodoro
Often unfairly mistaken as a purely tourist
dining destination, Pomodoro offers an
extensive range of Italian fare, especially
seafood and beef dishes. The dining area
is in a distinctively curved brick ‘tunnel’
opening into a large room at the rear,
making it ideal for couples or groups.
79 Hai Ba Trung
3823 8998
Japanese
Blanchy Street
Achaya Café
Achaya Cafe has two floors providing a nice
atmosphere for meetings, relaxation or parties. The
menu is extensive with drinks and Western, Japanese,
and Vietnamese food – from sandwiches, spaghetties,
pizzas, steak and special Japanese sweet desserts.
90 Le Loi, D1
093 897 2050
11am - 10:30pm
Inspired by London’s world-famous Nobu Restaurant,
Blanchy Street’s Japanese/South American fusion
cuisine represents modern dining at its best in the heart
of downtown, a truly international dining experience in
a trendy, modern and friendly setting. Great sake and
wine selection.
74/3 Hai Ba Trung, D1
3823 8793
www.blanchystreet.com
11am - 10:30pm
Gyumaru
Ichiban Sushi
Gyumaru is a quintessentially minimalist Japanese
dining experience rotating around the style of meat
meal Westerners would be quick to link to a gourmet
burger, but without the bread. Fresh, healthy, innovative
cuisine in a relaxed, cozy environment and regular
specials including quality steaks.
8/3 Le Thanh Ton
3827 1618
gyumaru.LTT@gmail.com
Ebisu
Serving neither sushi nor sashimi, Ebisu’s menu instead
focuses on a range of wholesome charcoal-grilled
meals and on thick, white Japanese udon noodles –
made from imported udon powder from Australia – and
presenting an overall rustic cuisine with a variety of
good sakes.
35bis Mac Dinh Chi, D1
3822 6971
ductm@incubation-vn.com
www.ebisu-vn.asia
Monde
Ichiban Sushi Vietnam serves fine sushi and signature
drinks/cocktails in a lounge setting. Featuring one
of the most eclectic Japanese menus in the city. The
current Japanese venue to see and be seen in –
everyone who’s anyone is there.
204 Le Lai, D1
www.ichibansushi.vn
A Japanese whisky bar and grill
serving some of the best Kobe beef in
the city. The menu is Japanese with a
European twist. The venue is celebrity
bartender Hasegawa Harumasa’s
first foray into Vietnam, styled after
his flagship operation on Ginza’s
fashionable whisky bar district in the
heart of Tokyo.
7 bis Han Thuyen, D1
Also Try...
K Cafe
One of the larger Japanese restaurants
in the city, this exemplary sushi venue is
an ideal choice for business and friendly
gatherings.
74A4 Hai Ba Trung, D1
38245355
www.yakatabune-saigon.com
Chiisana Hashi
Serves authentic Japanese cuisine
including sashimi, sushi, tempura,
sukiyaki and shabu shabu.
River Garden, 170 Nguyen Van Huong,
D2
6683 5308
Osaka Ramen
This sleek, open-kitchen contemporary
eatery serves up Japanese noodles
starting from VND78,000. There are also
set menus, individual dishes and a range
of smaller, appetizing sides.
SD04, LO H29-2, My Phat Residential
Complex, D7
Robata Dining An
The restaurant has a downstairs bar
and a second floor with private rooms
that have sunken tables, sliding fusuma
doors and tabletop barbecues. Popular
with the Japanese expats, the menu
serves up healthy appetizers, rolls,
sashimi and An specialty dishes like
deep fried chicken with garlic salt sauce
An style.
15C Le Thanh Ton, D1
www.robata-an.com
Sushi Dining Aoi
Sushi Dining Aoi is one such restaurant,
where the whole atmosphere of the
place evokes the best of the culture.
With its typical Japanese-style decor
– the smooth earthen tones of the
wooden furniture and surrounds, the
warmth and privacy of the VIP rooms –
it's possible to believe you're in a more
elegant realm.
53-55 Ba Huyen Thanh Quan, D3
3930 0039
www.sushidiningaoi.com
Yoshino
The decor is straight out of the set of
Shogun, with black wood, tatami mats,
stencilled cherry blossoms and all
the trappings of Japanese exoticism
– tastefully done. While Ho Chi Minh
City is certainly not short of fine
Japanese eateries, this one is particularly
impressive.
2A-4A Ton Duc Thang, D1
3823 3333
65
Korean
Galbi Brothers
Kang Nam Ga
Superb casual BBQ venue focusing on every
foreigner’s favorite K-dish: galbi. Home of the only allyou-can-eat Korean BBQ in Saigon, GB is distinguished
by its inexpensive lunch sets and unabashed
enthusiasm for Korean spirits.
R1–25 Hung Phuoc 4, Pham Van Nghi – Bac, D7
5410 6210
An exceptionally refined style of Korean BBQ fit out
with high-tech smokeless racks, Kang Nam Ga is fast
becoming the Korean go-to venue for a wide-ranging
and clean introduction to the cuisine. Delicious beef
sets and the infamous and eminently popular ginseng
chicken soup – all Kangnam style.
6B Le Quy Don, D3
3933 3589
kangnamga@gmail.com
Seoul House
Won’s Cuisine
Long-standing venue serving Korean delicacies in this
city for many years, Seoul House is simple on décor
and strong on taste. Specializes mainly in Korean
hotpot and grills.
33 Mac Thi Buoi, D1
3829 4297
Lee Cho
The venue may be upscale, but the service and feel of
this local-style Korean restaurant is very much downto-earth. Enjoy the pleasure of casual outdoor streetstyle Korean dining without worrying about the proper
decorum for an international venue. Great Korean
dishes at good rates.
48 Hung Phuoc 2, D7
5410 1086
One of the city’s most important Korean venues – not
for reasons of authenticity, but rather for straying from
the norms. The restaurant’s proprietress has infused
so much of her own quirky tastes into the menu she’s
completely ignored the conventions of the cuisine,
making Won’s a unique creation with an unforgettable
taste.
49 Mac Thi Buoi
3820 4085
THAI
Baan Thai
Stylish modern restaurant with a
superb bar, Baan Thai serves authentic
Thai cuisine with additional local
and European twists. Friendly venue
with large screen TVs for casual
entertainment.
55 Thao Dien, D2
3744 5453
www.baanthai-anphu.com
Koh Thai
Supremely chic Thai venue with all the
authentic burn you need – or without
if you prefer. An opulent, fashionable
decor with the cuisine to match – often
reported to serve dishes comparable
with those of Thailand itself.
Kumho Link, Hai Ba Trung, D1
3823 4423
Lac Thai
Hidden away down a narrow alley in
the heart of downtown this unique Thai
restaurant boasts authentic flavours and
surprising character. Eat downstairs at
tables in a cosy, themed environment
- or be brave and climb the narrow
For full review, please visit: www.oivietnam.com
spiral staircase to the attic and crouch
on cushions in true Thai style while
attentive staff serve plates to share.
71/2 Mac Thi Buoi St. D1
3823 7506
Tuk Tuk Thai Bistro
Kitch and authentic, Tuk Tuk brings
the pleasure of street-style Thai food
into an elegant but friendly setting.
Now a fashionable venue in its own
right, Tuk Tuk’s menu features some
unique dishes and drinks you won’t see
elsewhere.
17/11 Le Thanh Ton, D1
3521 8513/ 090 688 6180
The Racha Room
Brand new fine & funky Thai venue with
kooky styling and a great attitude – and
some of the most finely-presented
signature Thai cuisine you’ll see in
this city, much of it authentically spicy.
Long Live the King! Reservations
recommended.
12-14 Mac Thi Buoi, D1
090 879 14 12
Steakhouse
Au Lac Do Brazil
Au Lac do Brazil is the very first authentic Brazilian
Churrascaria in Vietnam, bringing a new dining concept
- an “All you can eat” Brazilian style BBQ where meat
is brought to your table on skewers by a passador and
served to your heart’s content.
238 Pasteur, D3
3820 7157 | 090 947 8698
www.aulacdobrazil.com
El Gaucho
Indaba
New York Steakhouse
Samba Brazilian Steakhouse
High end steakhouse with fine American and Wagyu
beef steaks along with traditional Argentinian
specialties. Outlets in Hanoi and Bangkok too. Expect
to pay for the quality. Reservations recommended.
74/1 Hai Ba Trung, Ben Nghe Ward, D1.
5D Nguyen Sieu, D1
Unit CR1-12, The Crescent, Phu My Hung, D7
www.elgaucho.asia
New York Steakhouse is definitely in the upmarket
category and serves exclusive American imported beef
dishes, with a whole range of steaks from rib eye, New
York strip steak and tenderloin being popular options.
25-27 Nguyen Dinh Chieu, D1
Indaba Steakhouse combines German style steak and
Italian coffee under one roof. Expect fusion dishes
like Indaba Spring Rolls, Mexican BBQ Spare Ribs,
and Grilled Duck Breast served with sesame sauce,
steamed rice and salad.
35 Ly Tu Trong, D1
3824 8280
www.facebook.com/indabacafe
Serving the popular Brazilian buffet style, where
enormous skewers of meat are circulated around the
tables for diners to enjoy as much of as they can.
10C Thai Van Lung, D1
3822 0079
67
Vietnamese
Com Nieu
Famous for its inclusion in the Anthony Bourdain No
Reservations program, the venue is best known for its
theatrics. Every bowl of rice is served in a terracotta
bowl that is unceremoniously shattered upon serving.
Unforgettable local food in a very pleasant traditionallystyled venue.
59 Ho Xuan Huong, D3
3932 6363
comnieusaigon27@yahoo.com
comnieusaigon.com.vn
Frangipani Hoa Su
Frangipani Hoa Su offers Vietnamese cuisine with
a variety of dishes from different parts of Vietnam
ranging from pho, bun bo Hue to mi quang. It serves
breakfast, lunch and dinner. It also has an open space
and a VIP air-conditioned room together which can
hold a maximum capacity of 500 people, making it an
ideal venue for different types of events and functions.
26 Le Van Mien, D2
frangipani.restobar@gmail.com
Quan Bui
Papaya
Brightly-styled and perfectly lovely, this is a minimalist
local venue with international appeal that features a
menu designed by the former head chef of Hanoi’s
Sofitel Metropole. Refined and distinguished without a
hint of being stuck-up about it and very affordable.
68 Pham Viet Chanh, Binh Thanh
6258 1508
papaya@chi-nghia.com
www.chi-nghia.com
Leafy green roof garden, upmarket restaurant with
reasonable prices and a wide menu of choices. Open
style kitchen advertises its cleanliness. Designer interior
with spotlighted artwork and beautiful cushions give
an oriental luxurious feeling – augmented by dishes
served on earthenware crockery.
17a Ngo Van Nam, D1
3829 1515
Hoa Tuc
Relaxing, airy indoor-outdoor venue serving gourmetstyle local food. The ideal place to take visitors from
abroad if you want to impress them with an authentic
Vietnamese dining experience. Set in the refinery
courtyard that formerly officially produced the region’s
opium.
74/7 Hai Ba Trung, D1
3825 1676
Quan Na - Vegishouse
A Vietnamese vegetarian and vegan restaurant that
uses the freshest ingredients to create dishes such
as fresh spring rolls, sticky rice, curry specialties and
coconut-based desserts. Decor is swathed in dark
mahogany wood and red curtains.
796/7 Truong Sa, Ward 14, D3
Opening time: 10:30am-2pm; 5pm-9pm
9526 2958
Facebook: quanna.vegishouse
Also Try...
3T Quan Nuong
Tasty BBQ venue situated above Temple
Bar. The venue has a traditional, rustic
theme with old-style furniture and a quaint
Vietnamese decor, making this a nicely
atmospheric restaurant and a great place
to dine with international friends new to
the cuisine. The menu features a number
of local favorites.
Top Floor, 29 Ton That Hiep, D1
3821 1631
Banh Xeo 46A
Fun Vietnamese-style creperie popular
with locals and expats alike for its tasty,
healthy prawn pancakes, along with a
number of other traditional dishes.
46A Dinh Cong Trang, D1
Cha Ca La Vong
If you do only one thing, you'd better do it
well – and this venue does precisely that,
serving only traditional Hanoian Cha Ca
salads stir-fried with fish and spring onion.
Delicious.
36 Ton That Thiep, D1
Cuc Gach Quan
Trip Advisor, this delightful restaurant
serves up traditional, country-style foods
and contemporary alternatives in two
character-filled wooden houses located
on opposite sides of the street from each
other. Unique food in a unique setting and
an unbelievably large menu.
10 Dang Tat, D1
3848 0144
Highway 4
The menu reflects the ambiance of the
north and wider Vietnam, although dishes
are carefully selected to meet a more
universal palate.
101 Vo Van Tan, D3
www.highway4.com
Hum
Hum is a vegetarian restaurant where
food are prepared on site from various
fresh beans, nuts, vegetables, flowers,
and fruits. Food are complemented with
special drinks mixed from fresh fruits
and vegetables.
2 Thi Sach, D1
3823 8920
www.hum-vegetarian.vn
Deservedly one of the highest ranking
Vietnamese restaurants in Saigon on
For full review, please visit: www.oivietnam.com
May
Fine Vietnamese fare served in a
character-filled three-story rustic villa
located up a narrow alley, off the beaten
track. Watch the chefs prepare authentic
food from a varied menu in an open
kitchen.
3/5 Hoang Sa
3910 1277
Temple Club
Named after the old-style Chinese
temple in which the venue is located,
the ancient stylings of this impressive
restaurant make for an unforgettable
evening spent somewhere in Saigon’s
colonial past. Beautiful oriental art that
will please all diners and great local
cuisine.
29-31 Ton That Thiep, D1
3829 9244
templeclub.com.vn
Nha Hang Ngon
Possibly the best-known Vietnamese
restaurant in Ho Chi Minh City, Nha
Hang Ngon serves up hundreds of
traditional local dishes in a classy
French-style mansion.
160 Pasteur, D1
3827 7131
www.quananngon.com.vn
8am - 10pm
Thanh Nien
A favorite with tourists and locals for
many years, Thanh Nien behind the
Diamond Plaza is a buffet in a home
setting, with a-la-carte dining available
in the leafy garden outdoors. Relaxing,
beautiful place to eat.
11 Nguyen Van Chiem, D1
3822 5909
www.vnnavi.com/restaurants/
thanhnien
Propaganda Bistro
Spring rolls and Vietnamese street food
with a Western twist. Serves breakfast,
lunch and dinner. The restaurant
features hand-painted wall murals in an
authentic propaganda style.
21 Han Thuyen, D1
3822 9048
www.facebook.com/PropagandaSaigon
International
MAY Restaurant and Bar
Boathouse
Portofino
With a great view of the Saigon River, this restobar
serves imported steak, healthy salads and much more
in an alfresco environment.
40 Lily Road, An Phu Superior Compound, D2
3744 6790
www.boathouse.com.vn
We have over 20 years
experience in hospitality
business in Vietnam with
some famous Brand such
as Shadow Bar & Café and
MAY Restaurant & Bar.
MAY- short for ‘Me and You’, it is all in one premium
casual kitchen & bar downtown. Located centrally on
the historic Dong Khoi street with a fusion of Western
and Asian cuisine and pride themselves in their wine
list and international standard of service. Happy Hour
from 3pm to 7pm. You can even receive a 10% discount
by calling 091 711 1921 or make reservation at www.
mayrestaurant.com.vn
19 -21 Dong Khoi, D1 / 8am - 1am
6291 3686 / 0917 111 921
may.restaurant19@gmail.com
Facebook: “may.restaurant.bar”
Saffron
TnT BBQ
Zombie BBQ
TnT BBQ delivers authentic
American BBQ right to your
doorstep. This delivery only BBQ
joint specializes in smoked ribs, chicken, beef brisket,
pulled pork and turkey breast.
0166 666 7858
11am – 10pm
facebook.com/tntbbqvietnam
Zombie BBQ is a modern American BBQ
restaurant featuring smoked ribs over
Beachwood smoke for 8 hours. Offerings
include BBQ chicken specialties from
around the world as well as Alligator,
Fresh Jalapeño poppers, Mexican street
tacos with grilled meats as well as Vegetarian food. A
never ending parade of meats find their way into the
spit roaster as well as new creations every week.
4 Thao Dien, D2
6685 3756 / 09 1851 0139
4pm - 11pm
Facebook: ZombieBarbequesaigon
The first thing that will strike you when you enter
Saffron is the terracotta pots mounted on the
ceiling. Located on Dong Du, this restaurant offers
Mediterranean food, some with a distinct Asian
influence added for further uniqueness. Prepare to
order plates to share and don’t miss the signature
Cheese Saganaki! Guests are welcomed with
complimentary Prosecco, fresh baked bread served
with garlic, olive tapenade and hummus.
51 Hai Ba Trung, D1
382 48358
Also Try...
Boomarang Bistro
Located in The Crescent by the lake, the
spacious Boomarang Bistro Saigon serves
Australian and other Western food in the
most pedestrian friendly, relaxed part of
town.
107 Ton Dat Tien, D7
3841 3883
www.boomarang.com.vn
Chit Chat
Daily menu change for their breakfast
and dinner buffets, served in a relaxing
atmosphere with eight live cooking
stations with over 60 varieties of domestic
and international dishes. A meeting place
to enjoy a cup of coffee from selected
premium blends and delicious homemade
pastries and cakes.
Hotel Equatorial
242 Tran Binh Trong, D5
3839 7777
info@hcm.equatorial.com
www.equatorial.com
Corso Steakhouse & Bar
With an extensive wine menu,
contemporary Asian cuisine and wide
range of juicy, sizzling steaks cooked
to your liking by our professional
Chefs, Corso Steakhouse & Bar is the
perfect choice for a special celebration
or formal business dinner.
117 Le Thanh Ton, D1
3829 5368 ext 6614
www.norfolkhotel.com.vn
Deutsches Eck / German Corner
The restaurant is fast becoming
known for its sausage, beers, and
their Schweins Haxe or pork knuckles
(served with white cabbage and
mashed potatoes). A number of
German beers to select from including
Konig Pilsener, Bitburger, Koestritzer
Black Beer, Benediktiner Weisse,
HB-Hofbrau Weisse, Schwarzbrau
Exquisit, and Schwarzbrau Weisse.
A001 Nguyen Van Linh St., Phu My
Hung, D7
54106695
Portofino serves cicchetti - a tradition from Venice best
likened to Spanish tapas, but usually served in larger
portions, featuring cheeses, salad, pasta, prawns, pork,
beef, salmon and seafood. Highlights for innovation:
Trippa alla Romana – tripe with chickpeas, marinara
sauce and fried egg; Slow braised pork belly served
on mascarpone polenta; and Mozzarella in Carozza –
breaded fresh mozzarella, anchovy and basil toasted
with pomodoro sauce.
15 Dong Du, D1
Hog’s Breath
An Australian family diner and bar
concept. Renowned for steaks, seafood
and other Western fare served in an
informal environment. Smoke-free
indoors.
Ground Floor, Bitexco Financial Tower
2 Hai Trieu, D1
www.hogsbreathcafe.com.vn
Khoi Thom
Khoi Thom has evolved into an
authentic Mexican-style cantina
serving home-style dishes, many
from the Mexican chef’s family. With
bright colors, a large breezy outdoor
deck with an open bar and a long
street frontage, Khoi Thom has earned
respect for its adventurous hues and
style since opening.
29 Ngo Thoi Nhiem, D3
www.khoithom.com
La Fenetre Soleil
Literally ‘window to the sun’, LFS
showcases a fusion of old-world
fittings (exposed bricks, antique
furniture and chandeliers) with new-
world elements (fur cushions, mosaic
tiles and glass tables). Serves a range
of cocktails, imported beer, coffee and
smoothies together with a JapaneseVietnamese fusion menu.
4 Ly Tu Trong, D1
Market 39
Market 39 unites the best of East and
West in a buffet and a la carte dining
experience, along with one of the best
Sunday brunch buffets in town.
6am – 10pm
Ground floor – InterContinental Asiana
Saigon
3520 9099
dine@icasianasaigon.com
Scott & Binh’s
All-heart Western cuisine and family
friendly venue in the D7 neighborhood.
Scrupulous attention to good service
and a commitment to great food that
makes customers happy.
15-17 Cao Trieu Phat, D7
69
Travel & Leisure
IMAGE BY JIMMY VAN DER KLOET
70
Cusco Cathedral
Peru
71
G REA T ESCAP ES : THAILAND
Coming to Thailand means different
things to different people. For some, it’s an
opportunity to delve deep into Bangkok’s
emerging food scene. For others, it’s a chance
to break away from the crowds and hit up
some of southern Thailand’s still gorgeous
beaches. For my wife and I, our last two years
in Thailand have been filled with the offbeat
and bizarre destinations. These are our five
favorites amongst a 100 plus destinations
explored - many of which require your own
wheels or a negotiated tuk tuk ride.
How Bizarre
The weird and wacky side of Thailand
Text and Images by Chris Backe
Black House
Home to the most skulls and horns in northern
Thailand
About three hours northeast of the betterknown Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai features
two must-see destinations: the popular
‘White Temple’ replete with sparkles, and
the Black House, a collection of skulls and
horns worked into artistic forms. There’s
little question to the skulls’ authenticity, and
it almost feels like a collection somehow
smuggled out of the Game of Thrones props
department.
Called Baan Dam in Thai, it’s a destination
that has managed to go from a private
artist’s house to a can’t-miss stop in northern
Thailand. First used as Thawan Duchanee’s
private home, it become a private museum
in 1986 and was later opened to the public.
Beyond the skulls and bones, meander the
grounds and take in a building that looks like
a UFO from one angle and a dolphin’s open
mouth from another.
While there’s no guided tour available,
some staff are around to ensure tourists don’t
get into private buildings. The souvenir shop
by the parking lot is worth a short visit.
If You Go:
From Chiang Rai’s Central Plaza or the
Princess Mother’s Garden, head north on
route 1 (Phaholyothin Road). After crossing
the Kok River (just north of the Princess
Mother’s Garden), go 8.4 kilometers - you’re
looking for a brown wooden sign and a
brown wooden awning on the left. This will
have three lines of Thai text and the number
13 (for Moo 13, the side street number). Take
the left just before the sign, then go about 450
meters - you’re looking for the first left turn
that isn’t someone’s driveway. Next, go 300
meters - you’ll see some of the sights on the
left and a parking lot on the right.
GPS: 19.992088, 99.860255
Puek Tian Beach
Black House
72
A naked ascetic, a dragon ridden like a horse,
and a six-meter she-demon in the sea
Out of a Thai fairy tale rise these three
characters. The six-meter tall she-demon
is Pee Seua Samut, the giant that turned
into a woman and bore a child with Aphai
Mani, a flute-playing prince. The man to
thank is Phra Sunthorn Vohara (1786–1855),
Thailand’s most famous poet. His famous
epic poem, Phra Aphai Mani (Prince Aphai
Mani) runs 30,000 lines long. It follows Prince
Aphai Mani, who plays a magic flute that
causes people to sleep and eventually die.
Aphai was later kidnapped by a giant that
transformed himself into a beautiful girl...
Siriraj Medical Museum
Puek Tian Beach
then the plot gets weird and long-winded.
The statues date back to 1982, a few years
before UNESCO honored him as a great poet
on the 200th anniversary of his birthday.
Today, a giant turtle sits on the beach;
ready to be climbed, while the she-demon is
somewhat further out - best photographed
from the shore. Look also for a statue of the
author, who looks as though he was sitting
on something sharp as he was being sculpted,
and a family of mermaids. Make a daytrip of
it from Hua Hin by visiting the peaceful Chaam beach (20 kilometers north of Hua Hin)
and Puek Tian beach (46 kilometers north of
Hua Hin).
If You Go:
From the Cha-am beach area in southcentral Thailand, head north on route 4033 for
about 20 kilometers. Follow the signs to Hat
Puek Tian. From Hua Hin’s beach area, head
north on route 4 (which turns into route 4033)
for about 46 kilometers.
GPS: 12.946533, 100.034058
Siriraj Medical Museum
Some awesome gruesomeness
Few trips to Bangkok are truly complete
without a requisite stop here. Sometimes
called the Museum of Death, what’s called
the Siriraj Medical Museum is actually the
amalgamation of six permanent exhibitions.
The exhibitions are organized into several
rooms across a single floor, which often
includes a temporary exhibition.
After the unfortunate cases have passed
from the land of the living, the more unusual
cases get dissected and preserved for their
eventual museum exhibition. Look for the
slices from different hearts - more than a
few of the exhibitions serve as warnings to
turn your unhealthy habits around. Seeing
an alcoholic’s liver, or what happens to your
heart when you have high cholesterol might
just do the trick. While they’re not always
explained, it becomes a game to figure out
what body part it is and what the person
might have died from.
The most famous resident here is Si
Ouey Sae Urng. Convicted and executed for
cannibalizing and eating children during the
1950s, his withered mummified remains are
perhaps the most gruesome thing here. The
story’s scarier than what you see - especially
when there are a lot of other seriously odd
things around. While here, ask around
for Congdon’s Anatomical Museum. First
established in 1947, it’s an old-school look
at how specimens were preserved for further
study.
If You Go:
Jump on one of the ferries that traverses
the Chao Phraya River in western Bangkok.
The easiest way to arrive is to get to the
Saphan Taksin BTS station – it’s a short
walk from subway to ferry. Get off at Wang
Lang pier, and then walk west on Thanon
Wang Lang (away from the river) for about
250 meters. Turn right, then walk about 300
meters and look for the Adulyadejvikrom
Building on your right.
GPS: 13.758956, 100.485031
Swiss sheep farm
Complete with country music and a Hulk
This kid-friendly sheep farm is a bit of a
journey, but upon arrival the journey is
soon forgotten. Admission comes with a
complimentary handful of grass to feed the
sheep, but some milk is available as well.
The sheep may be the first tourist attraction,
but there are also dozens of opportunities for
selfies amongst the facades and backdrops.
73
It has the look and feel of a place thrown
together for the local hi-sos, yet works
nicely for the foreign tourists that venture to
these parts.
Other sheep farms in Thailand are worthy
visits as well: the Hug You Sheep Farm
(Lampang, northern Thailand), the Dairy
Hut Sheep Farm (Phang Nga, southern
Thailand), and the Chokchai farm (a daytrip
from Bangkok). This ‘Swiss’ sheep farm
takes the cake for being the weirdest of
them, however - the larger-than-life Hulk
made of mechanical parts is but one visible
piece. Some graffiti decorating a facade
and a mechanical bull help to complete the
ensemble of oddities.
If You Go:
Rent a scooter or car in Cha-am, then make
your way northwest on route 4 until you see
the signs for Prachuap Khiri Khan. Get in the
left lane and follow the sharp curve around
the left to eventually head north on the
expressway. Go about 700 meters and you’ll
see the Swiss Sheep Farm on the right – take
the next U-turn and double back to it.
GPS: 8.421917, 98.532750
Swiss Sheep Farm
Wat Mae Kaet Noi
The creepiest, scariest Buddhist hell temple
around
There’s little sign of what’s to come from the
outside - in fact, it’s far too easy to pass it and
assume there’s nothing unusual about the
place. Walk by some bowling chairs cast off
from the Western world while approaching
the inner circle of hell - each person suffering
from the fate of their karma being worked
out in naraka, a sort of purgatory or hell.
Hell temples, by the way, are Thailand’s
truly unseen gems - dozens are scattered
throughout the country, but all aim to
show Buddhists what awaits them in
the afterlife. Failing to make merit or
not heeding to Buddhism’s precepts all
result in punishments, often graphically
portrayed with gallons of red paint. Here
(and elsewhere), punishments are shown
to fit the crimes - a thief gets his hands cut
off, an alcoholic is forced to drink boiling
oil, and the unfaithful are forced to climb a
spiky tree while nude. Some temples (like
this one) go beyond concrete statues - insert
a 10 baht coin into the metal box and watch
the scene come to life. They’re not for kids
or the squeamish, but for anyone seeking an
otherworldly scare, it’s worth the trip.
If You Go:
From the northern part of the Chiang
Mai-Lamphang super highway, head north
onto route 1001. This is about 800 meters
from where you cross the Ping River. Once
on 1001, go 9.3 kilometers to an intersection
(Maejo University is across the street). Take
the sharp right, go 3.3 kilometers, and look
left for the temple.
GPS: 18.877943, 99.03681
BIO: Chris Backe is the author of Thailand:
a One Weird Globe guide, a guidebook to
over 100 of Thailand’s bizarre and off-the-path
destinations. It’s available on Amazon as a
print and e-book, or as a PDF for any device.
He blogs about the world’s weirder destinations
at www.oneweirdglobe.com.
74
Wat Mae Kaet Noi
BLANK CANVAS
art Column
A Budding
Friendship
The irresistible charms of the capital
illustrationS BY Bridget March
A professional artist and author of A Week in Hoi An,
Bridget March specializes in urban landscapes and aims
to reveal the hidden treasures of city life and small town
cultures through her illustrations. Bridget offers art
classes and sketching tours in Ho Chi Minh City. For
more of Bridget's work, visit bridgetmarch.co.uk
I have traveled to Hanoi more often
than usual this year and I feel the city
is becoming a friend to me. I used to
believe that Hanoi and I were destined
to be forever strangers but I confess I am
warming to its charms.
My first visit in 2011 was during my first
trip to Vietnam. I was overwhelmed by the
seeming chaos of narrow streets, traffic,
unwalkable pavements and the cultural gap
that loomed between this inexperienced
European and the ancient mysteries of
this exotic, enigmatic city. I felt very out of
place.
Last summer, I had occasion to spend
two short periods in Hanoi to collect
materials, images and sketches for a
future project that involved drawing ten
ornamental gates that form entrances to
villages, the ancient citadel and some of
the inner city neighborhoods. This was
a fascinating journey of discovery. To
the untrained eye, the difference between
village gates and temple gates is not readily
apparent but I soon learned that village gates
are seldom decorated with any of the four
sacred creatures of Vietnam: the dragon,
tortoise, unicorn and phoenix. Village gates
are plainer and, sometimes, they will even
have the village name on the pediment.
The city and old citadel gates are fortified
and have gorgeous Chinese lines and
proportions with their tapering walls and
pagoda-style pavilions on top.
But, to date, my favorite gate is one of
the simplest. The gate to Yen Phu Village is
just off Yen Phu Street on the southwestern
shore of beautiful West Lake. Yen Phu is
a bustling, trading street where you could
probably buy almost anything imaginable.
Shaded by tropical trees and bougainvillea,
it is typical of the vibrant neighborhoods
around Hanoi. I passed through the village
gate and dropped down a winding street
towards the ancient pagoda sitting on a land
bridge connecting the island to the shore.
Here, in Yen Phu, they are known for
breeding brightly colored ornamental fish.
You can take your pick from the tanks of the
dealers dotted along the perimeter road. The
village is also known for its 1,000-year-old
tradition of manufacturing incense sticks
that is said to have come from China. It
was a gorgeous day when I went in hope of
seeing thousands of colored sticks drying on
the shore in the sunshine. On this occasion,
however, I was unlucky so I consoled
myself by taking a table at one of the pretty
waterside cafes to rest in the quiet, dappled
shade of some cherry trees to enjoy the
atmosphere that had a distinctly French
flavor.
This quiet little enclave, hidden away
behind the towering Hanoi Club is such a
delightful retreat from the noise of Hanoi
and the perfect place for an artist to be
inspired by the tranquil lake, the pretty
houses, an ancient pagoda and a few
fishermen. So, I guess it’s not necessarily the
gate’s style, nor its plain lines that makes
it my favorite, but maybe the romantic and
peaceful neighborhood beyond that makes it
special to me.
75
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Fusion Suites
Da Nang Beach
Bringing a new beach lifestyle to the central coast
76
Situated on a prime beach location on
the central coast of Vietnam, Fusion Suites
Da Nang Beach is a significant modern
establishment on Da Nang boulevard.
Based on the Fusion philosophy of
providing ultimate relaxation with a heartbased hospitality approach, Fusion Suites
Da Nang Beach brings a new beach
lifestyle with trendsetting holistic
concepts to the hospitality industry.
Fusion Suites Da Nang Beach’s wellness
approach encourages healthy living, and
brings guests one daily in-room designer
foot reflexology that is included in the rate.
The all-inclusive reflexology is based
on programmes developed from the
principles of Fusion reflexology science,
and uses special custom-formulated
massage balms for ailment specific
therapy. Wellness also includes aerial
yoga, meditation, customized fitness,
nutritional programmes, wellness apps
support and even programmes for kids.
At Fusion Suites Da Nang Beach, a
range of 123 suites and 6 penthouses
provide a home away from home
experience, perfect for young families,
couples, or groups of friends. Designed for
the modern traveller, Fusion Suites Da Nang
Beach provides all the in-room facilities
required for your next beach holiday.
Using fresh pale green and white tones
with wood, this 23-storey hotel captures
gorgeous ocean views through its expansive
windows that also offer plenty
of natural light.
Chic Studios are intimate
accommodations for couples or solo
travellers. The 2-bedroom Ocean Suites
and Signature Fusion Suites have a second
bedroom with a functional single-overdouble bunk bed, making them the ideal
choice for small families with 2 children.
The Penthouses, Duplex Penthouses and
Grand Penthouse cater for friends or
families. These have a master bedroom
and a twin bedroom. For comfortable
boutique living, suites and penthouses have
integrated living areas and well-equipped
kitchenettes with French Press coffee maker,
full-sized fridge, induction hob, microwave,
and a NutriBullet extractor (accompanied
with fresh fruit basket) for making
supercharged smoothies. Other aspects
include complimentary Wi-Fi, bluetooth
speakers, cable TV and bathroom amenities.
Dining options at Fusion Suites Da Nang
Beach includes Fresh, the all-day cafe with a
fun grab-and-go service. Here you can enjoy
natural Fusion style cuisine using fresh
ingredients. Fun and relaxation is ultimate
at the Pool Lounge. It’s a great socializing
spot to enjoy the coolest music while
sipping creative mixes. Enjoy chic elegance
at Zen, the rooftop lounge exclusive to hotel
guests, where sundown cocktails and fine
dining is served with extravagant views.
FUSION SUITES DA NANG BEACH
An Cu 5 Residential Area, Vo Nguyen Giap
Street, Man Thai Ward, Son Tra District,
Da Nang
0511 3 919 777
reservations@fusionsuitesdanangbeach.com
www.fusionsuitesdanangbeach.com
77
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FROM TOP: Bamboo Hero and Tai Chi
78
Alma Courtyard
Hoi An
making this journey an authentic Hoi An spa
experience that visitors should not miss.
At Alma Courtyard Hoi An,
wellness is a part of everyday living, hence
one daily 90-minute Spa Journey is already
included in the room rate. Oils and balms
used for each journey are customized
formulations that complement and enhance
the specific benefits of each journey. Using
natural local ingredients and traditional wellbeing recipes, the oils and balms themselves
are truly unique products.
Each journey includes a gentle tai chi
session or quiet meditation, steam or sauna,
a 50-minute signature massage ritual, and
ends with relaxation in the Silent Sanctuary.
Where there is also a lovely indoor hot pool.
Non-resort guests can also discover the
signature rituals and other treatments that
are available in the My Chi Day Spa menu,
including facials, manicure and pedicure.
Wellness offerings include Kundalini yoga
and tai chi, based on a scheduled timetable.
My Chi Spa, impressive with its 40
treatment rooms, is supported by intuitive
therapists that are professionally trained
in-house, and by specialized consultants for
specific added skills (yogis, shiatsu and reiki
masters). In support of the local industry, spa
products are all locally manufactured using
natural ingredients.
As one of Alma Courtyard’s guests
remarked, “The journey at the spa is definitely
a gorgeous experience. I am convinced clients
will be amazed by having such journey in their
room package.”
ALMA COURTYARD HOI AN
326 Ly Thuong Kiet Street, Ward Tan An, Hoi
An City, Quang Nam Province
0510 3666 888
reservation@almacourtyardhoian.com
www.almacourtyardhoian.com
My Chi Spa Journey Wins 2015 Spa Award
from Harper’s Bazaar Singapore
What an achievement for Alma
Courtyard Hoi An! My Chi Spa Journey,
Fable of the Hundred Knot Tree, won the
Harper’s Bazaar Singapore Spa Awards 2015
for Holistic Health just four months after
opening.
Fable of the Hundred Knot Tree is Journey
II of the 3 distinctive Spa Journeys offered at
My Chi Spa. Each holistic journey is a unique
blend of easy wellness with a signature
massage ritual that draws inspiration from
ancient remedies and local legends, to provide
different benefits. The signature ritual in Fable
of the Hundred Knot Tree journey is inspired
by a story of a peasant who manifests a
hundred-knot bamboo tree with help from a
powerful ancient herbalist in order to marry
a wealthy landowner’s daughter. The Bamboo
Hero ritual combines shiatsu pressure point
with a bamboo-roll technique. It is enhanced
with a deep penetrating balm based on
an age-old recipe pre-dating Tiger Balm,
customized exclusively for this treatment.
My Chi Spa Journeys offer spa enthusiasts
a completely new and exciting experience.
The Hundred Knot Tree re-interprets
charming ancient Hoi An and old Vietnam
through a mythical wellness concept. It
incorporates shiatsu, reflecting the historical
impact the Japanese had in the region,
Alma Courtyard Hoi An is a tranquil
resort offering a lifestyle experience
- a journey of self-discovery. Guests
immerse themselves in Hoi An charm,
enjoy daily 90-minute spa journey
(included in the room rate), and receive
caring local hospitality. All 145 rooms
are set around a stunning courtyard,
relaxing pools and tropical gardens.
79
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Alma Oasis Long Hai
An oasis only 90 minutes away from Saigon
Alma Oasis Long Hai is destined to be
the perfect idyllic resort for anyone wishing
to spend a peaceful beach holiday whilst
being surrounded by lush greenery and a
gorgeous hilltop panoramic view. Just 90
minutes away from Ho Chi Minh City, its
accessibility makes it even more inviting.
With a low-density built-up area and only
low rise structures, you’ll find an open
freshness at Alma Oasis Long Hai that is
uplifting and truly relaxing.
Double or twin rooms, quaintly housed in
bungalows scattered over the undulating hill
slopes, offer a lovely range of accommodation.
Rooms are spacious, with patios or balconies
for outdoor lounging with garden and ocean
views. The Ocean Family Pavilions are ideal
for families with 2 young children, as a twin
room is cleverly integrated into the main
double room. Rooms are well-appointed
80
with modern décor and fresh colour schemes
that bring the calm ocean feeling indoors.
Bathrooms are ensuites, most with seductive
outdoor bathtubs. Espresso machines,
bluetooth speakers, comfy beds with fluffy
pillows and ambient adjustable lighting are
just part of what makes a stay at Alma
Oasis Long Hai such a wonderful treat.
For luxurious living, there are the 5 villas
located on a more secluded part of the hilltop.
Each villa has a private swimming pool set
in a garden-surrounded courtyard, with a
delightful outdoor lounge area, and absolutely
stunning views. Choose either 2-bedroom or
3-bedroom villas, all with ensuite bathrooms,
walk-in showers and outdoor bathtubs.
Separate living-dining areas, and wellequipped kitchenettes provide additional
comfort. The largest villa has 4 bedrooms
and is right on the beachfront – step out of
your pool into the ocean! Not quite, but the
Beachfront Pool Villa is on a prime spot.
Whether rooms or villas, Alma Oasis
Long Hai with its beautiful gardens and
pathways that lead you down to quiet white
sandy beaches is an idyllic must-stay resort.
Historically a site for the private residence
of Bao Dai, Vietnam’s last emperor, Alma
Oasis Long Hai is all about discovering
yourself in a charming local culture of
simplicity, with heartwarming people
sharing local hospitality and quaint
journeys to traditional fishing villages and
surrounding markets.
ALMA OASIS LONG HAI
Tinh Lo 44A Long Hai, Long Dien, Ba Ria Vung Tau
064 366 2222
reservations@almaoasislonghai.com
www.almaoasislonghai.com
81
Peru
Images BY jimmy van der Kloet
82
TOP: 15th-century Inca site
Machu Picchu is located
2,430 metres above sea level
BOTTOM: no caption
83
84
LEFT: Stairs leading to the Temples in the upper
town of Machu Picchu
TOP: Beachside town Huanchaco approved as
a World Surfing Reserve in 2012
BOTTOM: Lake Titicaca, located in the Andes
on the border of Peru and Bolivia
85
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Urban Oasis
Life is simpler in Thanh Da
Set on more than 500 hectares, Thanh
Da is actually an island in Binh Thanh
District to the northeast of the city, with
Thu Duc across the river to the north and
Thao Dien to the south.
Currently connected to the rest of the
city by a singular, newly constructed
bridge, the island, sometimes called the
“lung of the city” is an anomaly. The four
lane road lined with the usual restaurants
(including duck rice porridge for which
Thanh Da is known), beauty salons and
the one lonely KFC, quickly turns into
two narrow lanes where shops are just as
likely to sell simple bamboo poles, hooks
and floats as they are more traditional
household goods. Other than the apartment
blocks to either side as you cross over into
Thanh Da, most of the houses are only one
or two-story, in contrast to the high-rises
visible on the other side of the river that
hugs three sides of the island.
Maps usually show the one main road,
Binh Quoi, but only a small fraction of the
labyrinthine unnamed paths that make up
the interior of the island, some concreted
to about the size of a large sidewalk, where
86
traffic jams are most likely caused by pigs
and ducks, but most still dirt paths leading
to simple dwellings surrounded by lush
green fields. To the uninitiated, it’s mind
bending to find rice paddies and fish ponds
just five miles from the city center.
It is in fact this surreal bilocation that
brings the locals to Thanh Da. There is a
small Cao Dai temple about halfway down
the main road that has served the area’s
faithful for more than 40 years. Men and
women take separate winding staircases
up to see the colorful room dedicated to
God the Father, or pay homage to the
Mother Buddha in an adjoining building.
Visitors are welcome to any of the four
daily services, but especially on the first
of January, July and October, when a
vegetarian feast is prepared and up to 200
local devotees show up.
But the most obvious comparisons are
drawn between Thanh Da and the Mekong
Delta. Besides carpets of rice fields that
checker the island, many houses maintain
ponds stocked with fish for home use or
for pleasure fishing. Some of the canals are
even wide enough to accommodate large
boats. Area businesses have been quick to
jump on the eco bandwagon, many with
variations of nha la (grass hut) in their
names. The real beauty of Thanh Da lies off
the main road and in the many unmarked
paths towards the island’s interior.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that fishing
is Thanh Da’s most popular pastime. On
both sides of the main road, man-made
ponds and pools beckon anglers looking to
catch butterfish, tilapia and carp. Shrimp
fishing in oxygenated one-meter deep pools,
surrounded by plastic chairs with poles at
the ready, is also popular. Customers are
allowed to keep whatever they catch, either
to be brought home or cooked to order on
site. Deeper into the island are larger fishing
ponds in more natural surrounds. One of the
biggest is A Xay, four acres of pond ringed
by thatched huts and hammocks.
Discover a new side of Ho Chi Minh City,
a hidden corner where very few tourists go.
Enjoy a half-day tour cycling around Thanh
Da Island and try some tasty local dishes.
The flat road makes this ride accessible to
everybody. Riding in Thanh Da is a real
pleasure as traffic is smooth and roads are
lovely, bordered with small local houses
and big shady trees. A perfect tour mixing
cycling, local discoveries and food tasting
can be booked through Exo Travel by
visiting:
Exo Travel Agency
41 Thao Dien, D2
3519 4111
www.exotravel.com/travel/vietnam/daytrips/
thanh-da-island-biking-tour
The List
Travel
BEST WESTERN PREMIER
Havana Nha Trang Hotel
Bhaya Cruises
Fusion Maia | Danang
InterContinental Nha Trang
A unique and exciting fusion of resort and spa where spa
treatments are inclusive and a part of daily living in this
beach resort. It’s the first all pool villa style resort in the
destination and offers 87 pool suites, spa villas and beach
villas each with modern, open-plan living and private
courtyard with swimming pool. ‘Freedom’ options such
as spa treatments and breakfast available at multiple
locations are a few of the surprising offers in store.
maiadanang.fusion-resorts.com
InterContinental Nha Trang is a luxurious modern
beachfront hotel where an enriching urban retreat
harmonized beautifully with its surroundings. Right in
the heart of Nha Trang, a 40-minute scenic drive from
Cam Ranh International Airport, experience the perfect
blend of local charm and nature.
32 - 34 Tran Phu, Nha Trang
(058) 388 7777
www.nhatrang.intercontinental.com
Novela Muine Resort & Spa
Princess d’Annam | Phan Thiet
Pullman Danang Beach Resort
Ana Mandara Villas | Dalat
Ana Mandara Villas Dalat comprises 17 restored
French-style villas from the 1920s and 1930s,
preserving the original design, décor and charm; and
set in the cool climate of the rural highlands of Central
Vietnam. Striking views of the surrounding town
and countryside abound from all areas of the gently
sloping hillside property. Some of the villas have been
converted into 65 guest accommodations, with each
villa comprising between three and five ensuited rooms.
www.anamandara-resort.com
The Princess is an exquisite resort with an almost
celestial atmosphere that is hard to find anywhere else
in Vietnam. The look of the resort is classical, bright
and impeccably clean and private. The two Empress
Suites are the very pinnacle of luxury accommodation
in Vietnam – they are mini millionaire’s mansions in
themselves, fully-equipped, bright and spacious, and
possessing of the same ethereal design quality that
pervades this whole resort. Set in the remote Ke Ga Bay
– wordlessly beautiful.
www.princessannam.com
Situated in the center of Nha
Trang, the biggest five star hotel in
Vietnam – Best Western Premier
Havana Nha Trang will leave you an unforgettable
experience. Spacious suites with breathtaking
ocean-view, massive outdoor pool 3-faced to the sea,
underground tunnel connecting to the beach from the
hotel, Sky Bar on the roof of the City and more. Come
and enjoy your time!
38 Tran Phu Street, Loc Tho, Nha Trang
T: (058) 388 9999 / Fax: (058) 388 9900
www.havanahotel.vn
info@havanahotel.vn
Located on the stunning white sands of Danang beach,
the stylish Pullman Danang Beach Resort is an oasis of
activities and facilities for the modern traveler. With an
idyllic setting on the silver shores of Central Vietnam, this
luxury resort is perfect for a family holiday or romantic
beach getaway.
Vo Nguyen Giap, Khue My, Ngu Hanh Son, Danang
0511 395 8888
www.pullman-danang.com
Bhaya combines oriental style with contemporary
luxury to create an unforgettable experience cruising
Halong Bay. The Bhaya fleet (Bhaya Classic, Legend
Halong and The Au Co) offers a total of 178 luxury
cabins and suites accommodating more than 400
passengers for Ha Long Bay cruises or hosted events
(weddings, corporate retreats, incentives, meetings,
and more).
www.bhayacruises.com
093 344 6542
A 150-meter beach resort that offers
luxurious accommodations, countless
modern facilities and amenities with
attentive services. A private and unique
space in the heart of resort, Novela
restaurant serves a daily breakfast, lunch, dinner and
any other banquet with Asian and European cuisine.
With two floors, guests can enjoy wining and dining
and view the beautiful beach and sand hill.
96A Nguyen Dinh Chieu, Ham Tien
Mui Ne, Phan Thiet
www.novelaresort.vn
(62) 374 3456
The Island Lodge
Newly-opened, The Island Lodge is a 12-room
Indochine-themed lodge set on Unicorn Island
(Thoi Son). Mekong River view rooms and bungalows
are scattered around the grounds, but the jewel is
the open air restaurant/lounge fronting 50 meters of
riverfront along with a French restaurant. There’s also
an infinity swimming pool and Jacuzzi.
390 Ap Thoi Binh, Thoi Son, My Tho
073 651 9000
www.theislandlodge.com.vn
87
AD V ERT ORIAL
Century Riverside Hue Hotel
An international four-star luxury hotel in the heart of Hue
Text and Images by Century Riverside Hue
An international four-star luxury
hotel in the heart of Hue, the hotel features
a harmonious blend of colonial elegance
and traditional architecture, creating a
relaxing vibe for visitors. The resort-like
hotel features 135 deluxe rooms and suites,
surrounded by flower gardens and lawns,
next to the historic Truong Tien Bridge.
There are different categories of rooms such
as Deluxe River View facing the Perfume
River, Deluxe Garden View with all the
conveniences and amenities, and Century
Suites Riverview that’s high class and
elegant. All the rooms are designed with
all modern conveniences such as broadband
WIFI, cable TV, mini bar, safety box
and more.
House restaurant accommodates up to 800
guests.
Restaurants& Bars
Meeting Venues
The riverfront Terrace restaurant holds
150 guests with views of the Perfume
River. Diners can enjoy traditional Hue
food, international dishes, and a buffet
breakfast. Riverside restaurant holds 350
guests, surrounded by gardens, next to the
swimming pool. The Imperial restaurant
can hold 40 guests. The restaurant is
sophisticatedly designed in Hue’s Royal
Court architecture, serving royal dishes
that are unique to Hue’s gastronomy. Full
Function rooms include conference halls
with modern equipments linked together,
which consists of a New Century Service
Center for Holding Events and 5 conference
halls inside the hotel with 1 large room, 1
medium room and 3 rooms for break-out
sessions. New Century Service Center has
just been built inside the yard. With its
modern equipments, the Center is an ideal
place to hold conferences for up to 800
participants. The Pagoda Conference room
is the second largest room, together with 3
smaller conference rooms (the Imperial, the
Citadel, and the VIP 3 room).
Entertainments
The Spa has 10 separate rooms that offer
massages, a Jacuzzi, and a sauna with
relaxing treatments, new equipments and
professional therapists. Spa services will
provide our guests relaxation and energy to
start the day. The large outdoor tennis court
is free for in-house guests. The swimming
pool is by the river bank where guests can
enjoy sunshine and relax in a quiet and
peaceful space.
For further info, please contact Century
Riverside Hue’s Sales & Marketing Dept: 49
Le Loi Street, Hue
Tel: (054) 3 8 23390 / 3 8 23391
res@centuryriversidehue.com
www.centuryriversidehue.com
88
The List
Health & Beauty
DENTAL
Also try ...
2000 Dental Clinic Trung Tam
Implant
Established in 1999, 2000 Dental
Clinic now has 65 dentists serving
3 locations offering the full range
of dental care, including surgery,
implants and extractions.
125 Le Thi Rieng, D1
Elite Dental Group
Dr. Hung & Associates
Dental Center
A centrally located dental
center that uses the latest
modern equipment with a
team of skilled specialists.
Services include cosmetic,
implant, braces, prosthodontics, pedodontics and more.
Expect high quality service at a
reasonable price.
Building 244A Cong Quynh, D1
08 3925 7526
08 3925 7527
nhakhoadrhung@gmail.com
www.drhung01.com
Elite Dental is an international
and well-equipped clinic that
provides a wide range of dental
services including general
dentistry, cosmetic dentistry,
Implant, pediatric dentistry and
orthodontics. Luxury design and
their dental experts will bring
you an extremely comfortable
experience.
57A Tran Quoc Thao, D3
and supreme quality, this dentistry
is truly dedicated to their patients.
17-17A Le Van Mien, D2
www.europeandentalclinic-asia.
com
German International Dentistry
German International Dentistry
offers excellent consultation
services from experienced,
international dentists so that you
can make informed decisions
about your dental care.
1489 Nguyen Van Linh, D7
Saigon Smile
European Dental Clinic
With a group of experienced
doctors and professional staff
trained to do teeth cleaning, dental
work and other teeth enhancing
procedures.
96 Tran Nao, D2
6674 4255
8am to 8pm
Offering state of the art
technology, competitive pricing,
Smile Dental Center
cleaning, and orthodontic
services. Japanese equipment and
techniques.
173 Ton Dat Tien, D7
Starlight Dental Clinic
Award-winning quality care and
personal service in clean premises,
offering general dentistry,
whitening and cosmetic surgery,
implants, orthodontics, pediatric,
and preventive dentistry.
2 Bis Cong Truong Quoc Te, D3
Westcoast International Dental
Clinic
Large, international team of
dentists and support staff from
Canada, Australia, Japan, France,
Italy, Thailand, and Vietnam. The
clinic regularly hosts visiting
dentists from many other
countries.
27 Nguyen Trung Truc, D1
3825 748
Quality dental care with whitening,
SPA
Maison Mikio Boutique Salon
Sweet Spa
Moc Huong Spa
District 7’s Premium Boutique Salon. Two floors
providing full beauty services nestled in a quiet
residential area in Phu My Hung’s Garden Plaza 2
Complex. Equipped with a café, nail bar, 2 VIP rooms,
and a spacious massage room - this boutique salon is
like no other in Ho Chi Minh City.
Garden Plaza 2 Complex
8 Ton Dat Tien, D7
5412 4773
The spa is intimate and beautifully
decorated. The staff consists
of both highly-skilled men and
women. Sweetspa serving you
from hand to toe to give real
spiritual and physical relaxation.
As well as sport injury therapies. After hours of
meetings or full days of working, treat yourself to a
relaxing massage or soothing reflexotherapy.
204B / 12 Nguyen Van Huong, Thao Dien, D2
www.sweetspa.vn
Moc Huong Spa is supported by top-ranking
professional physiotherapists who combine Eastern
with Western techniques resulting a full body wellness.
Reasonably priced with a wide
range of services that include
manicure, pedicure, facial, both
body and for your complete well
being.
9C Ton Duc Thang, D1
3911 7118
Villa Aesthetica Cosmedi Spa &
Laser Center
Nail Salon Cherir
Orient Skincare & Laser Center
One of HCMC’s finest newlyestablished spa and beauty centers,
Villa Aesthetica is the only venue in
Vietnam to offer premium-​class LPG
Endermologie treatments, erasing localized fat and
imperfections. Also known for their unique Turkish
Hammam massage.
54 Ngo Quang Huy, Thao Dien, D2
6264 3388 / Hotline: 090 969 2901
www.villaaesthetica.com
info@villaaesthetica.com
High - Quality Gel Nail
Cherir is Japanese Nail Salon
providing the world lastest design
under hygienic management.
Please experience our hi-end
Japanese gel nail nowhere else
but at Cherir in Vietnam. Polish gel package from
VND400.000.
20% OFF for new customers.
15B4 Le Thanh Ton St, D1
08 3822 3750
10:00~ 19:00 (Closed Tuesday)
Facebook: Cherir.hcm
Founded in 2005, Orient is currently known as the
leading center in laser treatment in Ho Chi Minh city.
The center offers non-surgery aesthetic treatments
by the certified dermatologists as well as pampering
services for any type of problem skin. A variety of
treatments includes: wrinkle removal, acne & scar
treatment, rejuvenation & pigment augmenting
treatment, slimming treatments, permanent hair
removal and massage therapy.
244A Cong Quynh, D1
3926 0561-62-63-64
89
AD V ERT ORIAL
Beauty Before Age
Nonsurgical ways to lift, tighten and tone skin
Image by Ngoc Tran
Orient Skincare and Laser Center
244A Cong Quynh, D1; 3926 0561/62/63/64
3 Phung Khac Khoan, D1; 3824 4650
64D Truong Dinh, D3; 3932 5781
945 Cach Mang Thang 8, Tan Binh; 3970 3674
www.orientskin.com
With the advance of new high tech
beauty solutions, the phrase “turn back
the clock on your skin” is no longer just
a saying. New nonsurgical treatments
are claiming to reverse the natural aging
process. Oi discusses new skin rejuvenation
technology with Dr. Ho Xuan Vuong
(Medical Practitioner License Number:
10112847 - SCT/BS).
What is skin rejuvenation exactly?
Sun, skin disorders, aging and even genes
can all contribute to skin irregularities
on the face and body, including textural
irregularities like wrinkles and acne
scars, pigmentation changes like freckles
and sunspots, or visible blood vessels.
In addition, skin may lose tone, feel less
firm and certain areas of the body may
develop cellulite. Skin rejuvenation involves
therapies aimed at rectifying these skin
conditions.
What kinds of skin rejuvenation
technologies are available in Vietnam?
Whatever new technologies are available in
America, Europe or South Korea, Vietnam
is bound to have it too. However, there are
90
three therapies that are most popular now:
Ultherapy, Trinity and Thermage.
What are the differences between
these three?
In principle, they are very similar. All three
involve using various radio frequencies,
light or laser pulses to target problem areas
deep inside the skin. Their differences lie in
the particulars of each therapy.
Trinity is a treatment that utilizes three
types of light pulses to treat skin problems
such as wrinkles, discoloration or sagging.
It is especially popular with office workers
and younger people because it’s relatively
inexpensive compared to the other two.
Thermage, on the other hand, is much
more expensive since it is a one time,
instant treatment that functions exactly
like a facelift, one that the client won’t
have to go on the surgical table for. It’s a
treatment that curtails aged collagen strings
and induces a generation of new strings,
thus creating more youthful looking skin.
You can see the effect within 30 minutes
to an hour of treatment. The only reason
why Thermage hasn’t already overtaken
other procedures is that it requires an
experienced specialist doctor to operate the
machine.
Ultherapy is the newest treatment in the
same radio frequency rejuvenation family.
It functions very much like Thermage only
the waves are created inside the skin and
the effect follows a ripple-like movement to
the outside. Ultherapy takes slightly longer
for the effects to really show, around two to
three months, but speaking from personal
experience, Ultherapy has shown better
results than Thermage in facial areas whereas
Thermage is more effective for the body.
Can they really reverse the aging
process?
I’m sure the marketing people would very
much like me to say yes, and in a way, all
these treatments do reverse aging. They work
on the same principle of curtailing aged skin
cell and inducing the growth of new skin
cells. So in truth, what they reverse is the
signs of aging on the skin.
Who are suitable for each of these
treatments?
Trinity is typically the best option for those
in their 20s or 30s. The treatment is cheap
and has little risk or side effect. It can be used
as an exercise treatment for younger skin.
The other two are better suited for those with
aged skin - around late 30s and up – these
treatments offer the best results then.
Do these treatments require renew,
upkeep or further sessions?
They certainly do. You can turn the clock
back but there’s no stopping it. The good
thing about rejuvenation tech, however,
is that it takes a long time until you need
to do a checkup, around one or two years
depending on the exact procedure.
Are there any risks associated with
these procedures?
With new technology, there is always a
small percentage of risk. However, all three
treatments have been certified safe and
effective by the American Food and Drug
Administration. As long as you’re in the
care of a capable specialist doctor, you have
nothing to fear.
Kids & Education
“The best way to avoid Influenza is by keeping strict and good
hygiene. When you’re in public places, avoid touching rails and
handles (e.g. escalator rails); avoid touching your eyes, nose and
mouth. Wash your hands thoroughly before eating or taking care
of your baby. If you cough or sneeze – use a single use tissue.”
92
Flu Proof
Understanding and protecting kids against Influenza
Text by Michael Arnold
I doubt there’s any parent in Saigon
who doesn’t at least know someone whose
children were hit by this season’s powerful
flu virus. If your own kids got it (you’ll
probably have caught it too, if this was the
case) you’ll know that this was a bad one – a
major hit at the beginning followed by weeks
of chesty coughing, and no guarantee that
the initial symptoms wouldn’t recur.
Vietnam wasn’t alone in going through
the worst flu epidemic in years during recent
months – in an article in the Washington
Post entitled Yes, this is one of the worst flu
seasons in recent memory, statistics showed
an inordinate number of child deaths caused
by influenza in the United States; a CNN
report attributed the majority of the serious
infections to strains of H3N2, which has been
described by the CDC as “nastier” than other
strains for causing far more hospitalizations.
It’s been the same story here in Asia – Hong
Kong figures show that more people were
killed by H3N2 in the first two months of this
year than by any flu virus throughout the
whole of 2014.
It was probably me who was responsible
for infecting my own children. I’m still angry
with myself; that day I just knew I had it,
and while I was meeting with a colleague
and doing my best not to pass out, I joked
that perhaps I should avoid going home that
night and just stay in a motel instead to avoid
exposing the kids. I should have done just
that – the following week, my one-year-old
daughter was admitted to a hospital while
my eldest was writhing on her bed with
temperatures going off the scale.
I’m sure I’m not the only parent who has
wondered what I could have done to avoid
all this. A few months ago I was thinking
about getting the flu vaccination, although
recent medical reports have stated that it
may not have been much use this season.
A BBC health report calls this year’s flu
vaccine “barely effective,” with only three
percent of people who were vaccinated with
it showing any resistance to the virus – about
as many as you’d expect in an unvaccinated
population.
Rent a Room
Our own Dr. Jonathan Halevy, who practices
as a pediatrician at Family Medical Practice
Vietnam, concurs that the flu vaccine hasn’t
proved effective this year. Although known
as a very ‘pro-vax’ physician, Dr. Jonathan
is in fact highly skeptical of flu vaccinations.
Citing a recent published medical review, he
says “it takes 40 people to be vaccinated to
avoid one case of ‘the flu,’ which means that
many of the people that did get the Influenza
vaccine will still get sick. In babies below two
years old, the vaccine seemed to be as useful
as placebo (empty vaccine), which means
none at all.”
There are good reasons why even those
who are usually outspoken supporters
of child vaccinations don’t feel the same
way about flu vaccines. “Influenza,”
says Dr. Jonathan, “causes symptoms of
‘the flu’ – high fever, nasal congestion,
cough, headaches, muscle pain, weakness.
Unfortunately, these are not specific only to
Influenza. There are over 200 viruses that can
cause the same symptoms. Influenza A and B
viruses actually cause only 10 percent of ‘flu’
cases. It’s impossible to differentiate between
‘the flu’ and Influenza without testing.”
As for treatment of Influenza with Tamiflu,
Dr. Jonathan also warns parents to take
care: “There is an overuse of this medication,
which may lead to fast-growing resistant
viruses. The data we have so far shows that
giving Tamiflu to otherwise healthy children
and adults doesn’t have much benefit beyond
shortening the disease time by an average
of 17 hours. There are specific guidelines
indicating who should be treated with
Tamiflu and when. So before taking Tamiflu,
you should consult with your family doctor
or pediatrician and be tested for Influenza.”
In cases like mine and most people’s,
there’s no way to effectively set up
quarantines between parent and child, and
so Dr. Jonathan recommends that the only
practical way to protect your family from
spreading the flu virus around is to follow
some basic hygiene measures.
“There is no 100 percent proven way to
avoid viral infections,” he says. “The best
way to avoid Influenza is by keeping strict
and good hygiene. When you’re in public
places, avoid touching rails and handles
(e.g. escalator rails); avoid touching your
eyes, nose and mouth. Wash your hands
thoroughly before eating or taking care of
your baby. If you cough or sneeze – use a
single use tissue.”
Otherwise, if you want to be completely
certain that you won’t pass on your flu virus
to your kids, then a night or two in a motel
(presuming you have this option) may not
be such a bad idea after all. You may have
some explaining to do when you get home,
but you’ll never have a better excuse for
staying in a private room and catching up on
some neglected TV series while you recover.
Anything for the kids.
93
HI GHER LEARNING
Multiple
Intelligences
Think differently about being smart
As adults, we all have a view about
ourselves on whether or not we are
intelligent. We reach this conclusion after
years of being compared to and comparing
ourselves against others.
Sadly, for many children, they reach
a conclusion during their school years
that they are not. This is understandable
considering the amount of testing that is
done. And what happens when children
reach this conclusion? Well, there is a real
danger that they can become ‘turned off’
from school and education.
For far too long we have been thinking
about intelligence the wrong way. Even
now, most people think that ‘intelligence’
94
means being good in literacy and numeracy
- the academic subjects. Regular, rigorous
testing in reading, writing and maths
gives the impression that intelligence is a
unitary attribute that can be measured and
summarized by these two areas alone, and
if you don’t excel in these areas you are not
intelligent. This is simply not the case. For
example, take a renowned artist that can’t
read, or a world-class footballer that doesn’t
know the times table. Does that mean they
are not intelligent?
Developmental psychologist Dr. Howard
Gardner stated: “We need to broaden
our notion of what can be considered
intelligence.” He adds that there are eight
Brendan Hearne is a senior teacher at Saigon Star
International School. He moved to Vietnam in 2013,
having previously taught at two award-winning
schools in the UK
ways to be intelligent. We each have all eight
but we have varying degrees of intelligence
in each one - and maths and English only
form two of the eight.
Fortunately, many online tests now exist
allowing us to determine in which of the
eight areas we are strongest. It is useful to
imagine your multiple intelligences as a bar
chart. If you were to stack all eight
bars on top of each other, you would
probably have a similar gross score to
anyone else, however, we each have a unique
blend. So it is no longer a question
of ‘How intelligent are you?’ but ‘How are
you intelligent?’
While we tend to be stronger in areas that
EDUCATION Column
While we tend to be stronger in areas
that are of greater interest to us, it
is important to remember that we can
strengthen any intelligence. A test is
meant to empower the learner, not
label them. If we know we have a weak
area, we can work on it.
are of greater interest to us, it is important
to remember that we can strengthen any
intelligence. A test is meant to empower the
learner, not label them. If we know we have
a weak area, we can work on it.
It makes sense then that the results of
such a test are only a snapshot in time they will change many times throughout
our lifetime, depending on our changing
interests and the time we spend in each
area. It is also useful to know that people
with strengths in particular areas often end
up with careers in related fields. Therefore,
if children know their strengths, they may
also gain a better understanding of which
careers they might be more suited towards.
Hopefully by now, you are beginning to
think this makes a lot of sense. You may be
surprised to hear then that this is not a new
idea. Dr. Gardner first presented the theory
of Multiple Intelligences in 1983, yet it is
still relatively unknown. If more children
in schools were taught about this theory,
and gained an understanding of their own
personal intelligences, it would eradicate
the possibility of children ever believing
that they are not intelligent. For parents
too it is important to understand that
not every child will excel in literacy and
numeracy, but that this is not the be all
and end all.
Remember:
• We each have a unique blend of
intelligences.
• We can strengthen each intelligence.
• An inventory is meant as a snapshot in
time - it can change.
• A Multiple Intelligence test is meant to
empower, not label learners.
The Eight Intelligences
Where do your strengths lie?
1) Verbal-Linguistic: People with linguistic
intelligence are naturally good with writing
or speaking and memorization.
2) Logical-Mathematical: People with
logical intelligence are driven by logic and
reasoning.
3) Visual-Spatial: People with visual
intelligence are good at remembering
images and are aware of surroundings.
4) Bodily-Kinesthetic: People with
kinesthetic intelligence love movement,
have good motor skills and are aware of
their bodies.
5) Musical: People with musical intelligence
are musically gifted and have a “good ear”
for rhythm and composition.
6) Intrapersonal: People with intrapersonal
intelligence are adept at looking inward.
7) Interpersonal: People with interpersonal
intelligence are good with people and thrive
in social interactions.
8) Naturalistic: People with naturalist
intelligence have a sensitivity to and
appreciation for nature.
95
The List
Education
international Schools
ABC International School (ABCIS)
Inspected and judged an outstanding
school by British Government
Inspectors (October 2013), the ABCIS
is one of the few schools worldwide
awarded this Department for Education rating. Progress
of students puts the ABCIS among the top 8% of
schools in the world. Providing education for 2-18 year
olds in a supportive and friendly environment, it delivers
a culturally adapted version of the British National
Curriculum supported by Cambridge & AQA IGCSE and
AS/A levels. Students are prepared for Universities in
the UK, USA, Australia, Korea and Canada.
Foundation & Early Primary Campus:
4, 1E Street, KDC Trung Son,
Binh Hung, Binh Chanh, HCMC
Primary & Secondary Campus:
2, 1E Street, KDC Trung Son,
Binh Hung, Binh Chanh, HCMC
5431 1833/34/35/36
office@theabcis.com
www.theabcis.com
British International
School (BIS)
Deutsche Schule Ho Chi Minh City
International German School
Inspected and approved
by the British Government,
BIS provides a British
style curriculum for an international student body
from pre-school to Year 13. The school is staffed
by British qualified and trained teachers with recent
UK experience. Fully accredited by the Council of
International Schools and a member of FOBISIA, BIS is
the largest international school in Vietnam.
An Phu Primary Campus
225 Nguyen Van Huong, D2
3744 4551
apprimary@bisvietnam.com
An Phu Secondary Campus
246 Nguyen Van Huong, D2
3744 2335
apsecondary@bisvietnam.com
Tu Xuong Primary Campus
43-45 Tu Xuong Street, D3
3932 0210
txprimary@bisvietnam.com
www.bisvietnam.com
Deutsche Schule (IGS) offers a
German curriculum from Early
Years to Grade 12 which is
approved and supported by the German government.
IGS is staffed by native German, Vietnamese and
English speakers who have many years of teaching
experience.
We offer a link between Vietnamese and German
culture, an international program with German
standards and the immersion of German
culture into everyday life.
12, Vo Truong Toan, An Phu
08 37 44 63 44
info@igs-hcmc.de
www.igs-hcmc.de
EUROPEAN International School
Ho Chi Minh City
International School Saigon
Pearl (ISSP)
The EUROPEAN International School
Ho Chi Minh City is an IB World
School offering an academic and
supportive English language education
for students aged 2-18 years. EIS is committed to
educating students to become creative critical thinkers
and problem solvers. Students are immersed in a
multicultural learning environment which values
multilingualism. Language programmes at
EIS include Spanish, German, French
and Vietnamese.
730 Le Van Mien,
Thao Dien, District 2, HCMC
www.eishcmc.com
International School Saigon
Pearl (ISSP) is an elementary
school catering for ages 18
months to 11 years. With 90% of our teachers having
master’s degrees, we are able to promise a vigorous
American curriculum whilst including specialist subjects
such as music, art, sport and the languages. ISSP
focuses on developing the whole child within a purpose
built campus.
92 Nguyen Huu Canh, Binh Thanh
2222 7788 / 99
www.issp.edu.vn
Science behind play
EtonHouse International
Pre-School Ho Chi Minh City
Following an international curriculum for children
aged 18 months to six years, in the early years, an
Inquire-Think-Learn approach is followed, inspired by
the Reggio Emilia Project of Northern Italy. It is a playbased, inquiry model in which children co-construct
their learning in close, respectful collaboration with
their teachers. This helps us provide an environment
where children take responsibility for their own learning,
allowing them a head start in life.
1st and 2nd floor, Somerset Vista, Hanoi
Highway, An Phu, D2
08 6287 0804
www.etonhouse.vn/schools/hcmc
info@etonhouse.vn
96
The Montessori International
School of Vietnam
For children 6 months to
9 years old. A registered
member of the American Montessori Society.
Montessori uses an internationally recognized
educational method which focuses on fostering the
child’s natural desire to learn. The aim is to create a
sense of self and individuality through an encouraging
and learning environment. Available are Extra-curricular
Activities, Summer camp and immersion programs in
Vietnamese, French and Mandarin.
Thao Dien Campus:
42/1 Ngo Quang Huy, Thao Dien Ward, D2
An Phu Campus:
Ground floor, Block B, An Khang/Intresco Apartment,
No. 28, Duong 19, Khu pho 5, D2
3744 2639 / 0903 858659
montessorivn@gmail.com
www.montessori.edu.vn
The American School
The American School (TAS)
is an international school that
has been granted candidacy
by the Western Association
of Schools and Colleges (WASC), representing 20
nationalities. TAS provides an American-based
curriculum with rigorous performance standards and
a variety of academic offerings including Advanced
Placement courses, university credit courses through
our partnership with Missouri State University, and an
Intensive ESL Program for English Language Learners.
177A, 172-180 Nguyen Van Huong, Thao Dien, D2
08 3519 2223 / 0903 952 223
admission@tasvietnam.edu.vn
www.tas.edu.vn
Renaissance International
School Saigon
Saigon Star
International School
Renaissance is an
International British School offering the National
Curriculum for England complemented by the
International Primary Curriculum (IPC), Cambridge
IGCSE and the International Baccalaureate. The school
has made a conscious decision to limit numbers and
keep class sizes small to ensure each pupil is offered
an education tailored to meet their individual learning
needs. It’s a family school providing first-class facilities
including a 350- seats theater, swimming pools, minipool, drama rooms, gymnasium, IT labs,
music and drama rooms, science labs
and an all-weather pitch.
74 Nguyen Thi Thap, D7
3773 3171 ext 120/121/122
www.renaissance.edu.vn
Saigon Star is a student
focused international school offering a high quality,
first class education. Specialising in the British
National Curriculum, all of the class teachers hold an
international teaching qualification. In our Early Years
programme, a Montessori specialist works closely
with the mainclass teachers to ensure a high rate of
progress and attainment. The school also provides
specialists for children requiring
additional ESL support.
Residential Area No.5,
Thanh My Loi Ward, D2
3742 STAR / 3742 7827
www.saigonstarschool.edu.vn
The French International
School Saint Ange
The International School Ho Chi Minh
City (ISHCMC)
Saint Ange welcomes children
for their Kindergarten and
Primary School. The school
follows the program of the
French Education Ministry,
and includes English lessons every day. Activities and
subjects such as arts, sports and school trips are also
an important part of their curriculum.
188A2, Nguyen Van Huong, Thao Dien, D2, HCMC
0120 304 8875
saintange2.vn@gmail.com
www.sa-saigon.com
The most established international
school in HCMC and recently celebrating
20 years of success. ISHCMC is a
fully accredited IB World School,
authorized to teach all 3 programs of the
International Baccalaureate curriculum
to students aged 2 to 18 years. ISHCMC
is fully accredited by both the Council of International
Schools (CIS) and the New England Association
of Schools and Colleges (NEASC), two of the most
prestigious international accreditation organizations.
ISHCMC has over 1000 students from
over 50 different nationalities.
28 Vo Truong Toan, D2
(08) 3898 9100
admissions@ishcmc.edu.vn
www.ishcmc.com
Also...
American International School
Australian International School (AIS)
Founded in 2006, American
International School (ΛIS) is a private,
coeducational, university-preparatory
school for students from preschool to
grade 12. The language of instruction
is English. The school offers standard
American curriculum with a complement
of performing arts, visual arts, music and
sport programs.
The Australian International School is
an IB World School with three world
class campuses in District 2, HCMC,
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).
Xi Campus (Kindergarten)
Elementary School (102C Nguyen Van
Cu, D1)
Middle School (35 Nguyen Huu Canh,
Binh Thanh)
High School (781/C1-C2 Le Hong Phong,
D10)
190 Nguyen Van Huong, D2
Thao Dien Campus (Kindergarten &
Primary School)
APSC Compound
36 Thao Dien, D2
Thu Thiem Campus (Kindergarten, Primary,
Middle & Senior School)
East-West Highway, D2
3742 4040
www.aisvietnam.com
Schools of North America
Offers a dual curriculum - instructing
students in a Vietnamese program
directed by the Vietnam Ministry of
Education and Training (MOET) in
tandem with an American program
aligned with the State of California.
Students graduate after accumulating
248 credits which is equivalent to high
school graduates in the US.
Binh Chanh
402 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, D3
www.sna.edu.vn
Saigon South International School
Founded in 1997, Saigon South
International School seeks to
accommodate an increasing need
for American education for both local
residents and expatriate families.
SSIS enrolls over 850 students in
Early Childhood – Grade 12 from over
thirty-three countries in a spacious sixhectare, well-equipped campus.
78 Nguyen Duc Canh, D7
www.ssis.edu.vn
Street 5A, Trung Son Residential Quarter,
97
Faces & Places
Running Rainbow
98
Up, Up and Away
Paws for a Cause
Color Me Run, a five-km run with
color cannons blasting runners
along the route. At the end was a
music festival with T-Pain, GRL, Toc
Tien, among others.
Newly opened Up Station (2nd
floor, 2B Thi Sach, D1) is Saigon’s
latest dance and meetup place
with weekly music performances
and themed dance nights.
The Asia Canine Protection Alliance
launches “Ve Di Vang Oi!” (Come
Home Golden!) campaign to stop the
Vietnamese dog meat trade.
Images by Ngoc Tran
Images Provided by UP STATION
Images Provided by ACPA
A great BIS teacher is:
50% Innovator
50% Entertainer
50% Motivator
And is apparently able to defy the laws of mathematics.
Dedicated, skilled and well-qualified teachers, with relevant British curriculum experience,
ensure that the education on offer is amongst the very best available anywhere in the world.
BIS teachers inspire students to make the best of their abilities – including solving
impossible maths equations like the one above.
Where is your child going?
Hanoi: www.bishanoi.com
Ho Chi Minh City: www.bisvietnam.com
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