Category Archives: History & Culture

The General’s Tomb | A Memory

Sometimes referred to simply as ‘The General’, Võ Nguyên Giáp is a giant of Vietnamese history. Following his death, in 2013, millions have made the pilgrimage to his tomb in Central Vietnam, myself included…

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First Rains: An Ode to the Monsoon

Monsoon downpours & tropical storms are the quintessential expression of the tropics, representing the exotic & the mysterious. For me, the monsoon embodies the excitement & romance of living far from home….

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Vietnam Reading List & Book Reviews

A categorized reading list including personal reviews of over 50 books about Vietnam, ranging from Vietnamese authors in translation to travel writing, journalism, history, poetry, politics & more…

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The Quarantine of Taz in Vietnam

My friend, Taz, was quarantined for 17 days in Vietnam as part of the government’s strategy to contain COVID-19. After her release, I interviewed Taz about her experiences at the quarantine facility, just outside Ho Chi Minh City….

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Plants, Flowers & Trees of Vietnam

The colours, shapes, sizes, smells & variety of flora in Vietnam is mesmerizing. In this guide I’ve compiled an illustrated index of some of the flowers, plants & trees I regularly see in Vietnam’s countryside & cities….

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The Cham Towers & Ancient Citadel of Vijaya

Scattered across the plains of Binh Dinh Province, the ruins of the ancient kingdom of Champa are a powerful reminder of the rich history of what is now Vietnam. Visiting the remains of the Cham towers & Vijaya citadel is a rewarding day trip from Quy Nhon….

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VIDEO: Saigon, My Saigon

My Saigon is not the high-rises or attractions of downtown. My Saigon is the local neighbourhood where I live – the alleyways, the market, and the people who inhabit it. In this film I’ve tried to capture the rhythm of daily life over 24 hours on a rainy season day in the area I live in…

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Portrait of Ms Ca

This is Ms Ca. Born sometime in the 1930s (she can’t remember the exact year), I met her sitting in the shade of a cashew tree, sheltering from the midday sun….

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6 Reasons to Slurp Your Noodles

Slurp and suck: this should be every traveller’s primary objective when sitting down to enjoy a bowl of one of Vietnam’s famous noodle soups. Here is my guide to why you should embrace local etiquette and leave your preconceived table manners at home….

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Trash Talk: Litter in Vietnam’s Beauty Spots

Vietnam is an extraordinarily beautiful country, but thousands of scenic areas across the nation are increasingly ruined by trash. A major catalyst for litter in beauty spots are picnickers, who neglect to clean up after themselves….

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Bac Ha Sunday Market

In the rugged mountains of northwestern Vietnam, the town of Bắc Hà holds a big, bright and busy market every Sunday. Attracting colourfully dressed ethnic minorities from across the region, the market has become a major magnet for tourists…

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Don’t Miss the Dawn

Dawn is the best time of day in Vietnam. Yet most travellers and expats never experience it. Wake up before sunrise and you’ll witness exquisite skies and the ‘roots’ of Vietnamese daily life. Rising early should be on everyone’s list of things to do in Vietnam….

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Ho Chi Minh’s Cave: Hang Pác Bó

In the winter of 1941, Ho Chi Minh returned to Vietnam for the first time in 30 years. For several weeks he lived in Pac Bo Cave. Right on Vietnam’s northeastern frontier with China, Pac Bo is an important historical site in an enchanting location…

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Theatre of Rice: Mù Cang Chải

Every year, from summer to autumn, the terraced rice fields of Mù Cang Chải, a rural district in northern Vietnam’s Yen Bai Province, put on a luminous show of picturesque harvest colours. I call this spectacular sight ‘The Theatre of Rice’….

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Ho Citadel

Rising from the rice paddies of north-central Vietnam, the impressive ruins of this 14th century former royal capital were designated a World Heritage site in 2011, yet few foreign travellers pay a visit to Ho Citadel.

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Hoi An: The Lantern Festival

During the Mid Autumn Festival, Hoi An’s old town echoes to the sound of dragon dances and the streets are lit by colourful lanterns hanging from trees and adorning shop-fronts….

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Cà Phê Bệt: Saigon’s Street Coffee Scene

At 5 o’clock in the afternoons in Saigon, high schools and universities disgorge their students into the busy streets. Dusk is one of the coolest times of day, and many of these students head for one of the city’s parks, where they buy food and drink from street vendors and sit on the grass talking into the evening hours – this is Cà Phê Bệt.

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