If you’ve heard of Bibi then you’ve heard of one of Saigon’s best-known restaurateurs. Famed for his long-running restaurant on Thai Van Lung which closed its doors in 2007 after 10 years, his latest venture teams up with Alibi to bring his take on Gallic fare back to Saigon.
Born to a Vietnamese mother and French father in Vung Tau, Bibi earned his stripes in the restaurant trade from the age of 14 in Aix-en-Provence, his career including a stint at a two-star Michelin-rated establishment in his hometown.
Returning to Vietnam initially to work at the city’s first French restaurant, Augustin, he specialises in French-influenced Mediterranean cuisine.
Using freshly-sourced market produce, the menu at his new venue mixes anything from duck confit to his famed, prepared-at-the-table steak tartare through to fisherman’s soup and classic grilled fare such as the rack of lamb and the rib of beef for two, which with a flourish from the old master is carved at the table.
Everyone knows the advantages of a bicycle: it does not require gas and does not emit pollution. Riders have time to look around the city while training their health. However, those who ride bicycle sometimes are discriminated against in big cities in Vietnam.
When I was a student, I cycled to school. After getting a job, I was able to buy myself a scooter. However, since my workplace is close to home, I started to ride a bicycle again. On the first day, everyone at the company quickly learned about me cycling to work and started to ask various questions, embarrassing me.
People were doubtful on hearing that I opted for a bicycle to cut down on gas and do morning exercises. Only after a month did my cycling to work become normal in everyone’s eyes.
Riding a bicycle, I cannot wear a skirt to work or go out with colleagues who only ride motorbikes. At the Gia Dinh People’s hospital, they put out a sign: “We do not take bicycles”.
It is indeed difficult to search for a place to park. Last month in the evening, I paid a visit to a friend in a hospital. When I arrived, I was told that there was no more space for bicycles, while those on scooters could easily get in. I tried to park on the pavement but got a polite refusal, although there were both prices for bicycles and motorbikes written on their sign board. In the end, I went back home and rode a bike to the hospital!
Now, whenever I go to a new place, I do not want to ride a bicycle anymore for fear I may have to spend a lot of time looking for a parking lot.
Earth Hour is not the only event during the year that suggests riding a bicycles. In my opinion, these activities are just formalism, as they simply have groups of cyclists riding around the city. There is as yet no way to apply the campaign to daily life, such as encouraging employees of a company to cycle to work for a day.
In developed countries, locals go to work on bicycles and there are roads reserved for cyclists. In Vietnam, there was a time when people rode bicycles on the street. But now, there is only discrimination for those who ride this eco-friendly vehicle.
Thai authorities arrested two men as they attempted to smuggle 120 dogs to Vietnam last month, according to the Bangkok Post.
Civil volunteers stopped two pickup trucks carrying fertiliser sacks containing the dogs, 31 of which had suffocated, at Pho Sai Village near the Mekong River in Nakhon Phanom Province.
The volunteers, who are members of a taskforce unit under the Ban Phaeng District office, apprehended the drivers of the two vehicles. The pair confessed to local police that they had been hired by a gang to take the dogs across the Mekong River to Vietnam, where dog is a delicacy served at restaurants.
They face charges of unlicensed trade of animals, transporting unvaccinated animals, and torturing animals. It was not known where the gang had collected the dogs. The 89 dogs saved by the unit have been sent to Nakhon Phanom Animal Quarantine Station.
As the dog meat trade in Vietnam has flourished over the last several years, so have dog thieves. In some rural areas, local residents have taken the law into their own hands to punish dog thieves, as they think the legal penalties against stealing dogs are too light.
Ash Apollon’s unlikely football career has taken him from his native Boston all the way to the pros in Vietnam. Words by Harry Hodge
Ashkanov “Ash” Apollon has certainly taken the path less travelled in his professional football career. And that journey has brought him from the other side of the world to playing for Long An FC of the V-League.
Apollon was a late bloomer in the game, playing it sparingly growing up in Massachusetts since he was more into other sports like basketball.
“Football really started to become my passion around the age of 16 when I was living in Haiti with my parents,” he recalls. “The passion for the game there is enormous; it was then that I started getting into it.”
In spite of his late start, he was able to secure a scholarship to Peninsula College in the Pacific Northwest of the US. From there he made the cut for the academy side of the Seattle Sounders of Major League Soccer (MLS).
Apollon’s pro career started in Thailand, where he played in 2014 and 2016. He called it a “slow start” to his career since he was already 23 when he signed the contract. A Thai connection contacted Long An’s manager and suggested him, and he was on a plane as soon as his Thai contract ended. Prior to arriving he’d watched some videos and Asian Football highlights to get a feel for the Vietnamese game.
“Nothing can really prepare you (to play here), there are so many unexpected things and it is a mistake to ever underestimate the league,” he said. “After the team had discovered me, their main expectation after signing me was for me to bring some flair into the attack, to score and create goals in general.”
As for the team, that’s another story. After the first few games, Long An FC was languishing near the lower end of the league standings. This included a bizarre match against Ho Chi Minh City FC where a soft penalty led to an on-pitch “boycott” by his Long An team-mates, who refused to try playing despite the game being locked at 2-2. Their goalkeeper even turned his back during a penalty kick in what ended as a strange 5-2 loss.
The fiasco made worldwide headlines for all the wrong reasons. Suspensions and two-year bans ensued, with a new chairman appointed shuffling the line-up over the black eye it gave Vietnamese football.
“For me, as long as I’m playing, living well and getting paid I’m good,” Apollon said. “The league is not easy, any team can get a result anywhere at any time, nothing is ever given.”
But Apollon has remained positive about prospects for the rest of the season. He’s currently on a one-year contract with Long An FC.
“It’s been a great experience so far and it’s nice that I’m starting to make my name in the league,” he said.
The Class of 2016 at the International School of Ho Chi Minh City (ISHCMC) has set the new highest average IB diploma score in the institution’s history.
In addition, more than half the class earned the IB Bilingual Diploma, maintaining the school’s reputation for excellence. 19 nationalities are represented in this year’s class of 60 students, marking ISHCMC as a truly international school.
Graduates will be attending further education in places as far flung as New York University, Seoul National University, University College London, UCLA and California Berkeley.
Saigon Eating & Drinking
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3A3 Bun Bo Hue
Banh Cuon Tay Ho
Banh Xeo 46A
Beefsteak Nam Son
Com Ga Hai Nam
Com Ga Hong Thang
Com Tam Moc
Hu Tieu Hong Phat
Pho Hoa Pasteur
Vietnamese – Mid to Top End
3T Quan Nuong
Buffet An Nam
Com Nieu Saigon
Lan Gio Moi
Quan An Ngon
Wrap & Roll
185 Bui Vien, Q1 Tel: 3837 1311
Attractive but informal restaurant in the backpacker area serving authentic Thai cuisine. The prices are good, with seafood, pad thai, green curries and som tam dishes going for between VND35,000 and VND65,000. Extensive menu. Open until 11.30pm, no air conditioning.
3 Truong Dinh, Q1; Now Zone, 235 Nguyen Van Cu, Q1; Diamond Plaza; Parkson Tan Son Nhat; Lotte Plaza; Parkson Le Thanh Ton; Parkson Hung Vuong
Tel: 6290 6404
Inoodi doesn’t have a huge menu like other Thai restaurants in town, it has instead chosen to offer a few traditional dishes and to do them well. They specialise in international noodles from Korea, Japan and of course, Thailand and Vietnam.
Lac Thai Restaurant
12-14 Mac Thi Buoi
Tel: 9 5500 0560
A new resto-bar serving up high-end Thai-Vietnamese dishes for the discerning pallet. The interior design, crafted by the same owner as The Lost Art, will also sway heads with its 1930’s Shanghai theme.
Lion City Café & Restaurant
Singapore Chicken Rice