All good things must come to an end. After a very privileged four-and-a-half years of slumming it in a lake-view apartment, eating out every day, taking multiple holidays and working a back-breaking two to three weeks a month, it’s time to go home. The initial clichéd year of teaching English abroad/putting off growing up was thrown into the air after meeting someone who gave me … Continue reading Homecoming

Vietnam in Cyanotype

Since arriving in Hanoi seven years ago, French photographer Julie Vola has snapped, taught and edited her way to the forefront of the photography scene in the capital. She had always been interested in alternative photography processes, and a recent trip to Singapore’s House of Photography sparked a new love affair; cyanotype printing. Before modern printing methods rendered it obsolete, cyanotype was once the medium … Continue reading Vietnam in Cyanotype

Behind the Bún

Every day, thousands of people pull up a stool and dig into a bowl of bun cha, that quintessential Hanoi dish. Even American presidents such as Obama are susceptible to its charm, despite being invited to try one of its lesser examples, according to most. But let’s not argue about whose bun is best. Let’s instead meet one of the families working day in, day out, to make … Continue reading Behind the Bún

X.Lan – The Cartoonist

This is the first time someone’s used ‘Bohemian’ to describe me,” laughs X.Lan, the name she uses in the artistic community. “I don’t think I follow social norms, but I also don’t categorise myself as something more special than anyone else.” The candidness and modesty of X.Lan’s words are just as present throughout our chat, as they are in her work. With a cute, cartoonish, … Continue reading X.Lan – The Cartoonist

Anything But English

Vietnam is a well-established destination for unqualified foreigners in baggy elephant pants to earn a living teaching English, such is the constant demand for new classes. However, the Vietnamese appetite for learning new languages goes well beyond paying too much for an unplanned lesson delivered by someone who can’t define a gerund. We spoke to a dozen Vietnamese language learners who can already speak English, … Continue reading Anything But English

Christian Routin

If anyone knows the importance of cross-cultural integration, it’s Christian Routin. Born and raised in Saigon, he moved to Paris aged nine. After an initial two-year stint at the French Embassy in Hanoi in 1991, he’s now been back in Vietnam since 2009, having previously lived in 12 countries. Christian specialises in smoothing out the relationships between foreign and local businesspeople. He irons out the … Continue reading Christian Routin

Jordan Vogt-Roberts

Interview conducted April 16 2017, arranged in collaboration with TEDx Ba Dinh. Everyone is vulnerable to the mesmerising charm of Vietnam. Some people fall victim to its beauty during a gap year, others while volunteering. American film and television director Jordan Vogt-Roberts came under the spell while he was filming Kong: Skull Island. Now in the process of packing up his Los Angeles home to move … Continue reading Jordan Vogt-Roberts

Agent Orange in the Central Highlands

“The photograph is really just an excuse for the experience,” says Catherine Karnow, an American photographer with National Geographic. “Getting out and learning stories, showing emotions; that’s what I want to show in my photographs.” In 2010, the opportunity came to join a project which allowed Catherine to take photographs of families with children who suffer from disabilities caused by Agent Orange, the toxic herbicide … Continue reading Agent Orange in the Central Highlands

Chef Duc

Quality international cuisine in Vietnam is starting to make a name for itself. While much of the cuisine served up in this country is driven by chefs from overseas, increasing numbers of chefs cooking up top-end fare come from Vietnam. But they’re doing more than just replicating existing styles and flavours. They’re experimenting. Vu Duc is one of this new breed of chefs. Familiar with … Continue reading Chef Duc

Turning Prejudice into Frosting

“Coming here was a bit of a shock,” says Singaporean Sheereen Amran, 21. “You rarely get racism straight up in your face back home.” The blatant prejudice Sheereen faced during her first two months in Hanoi as a budding ESL teacher was not something she had prepared for. “No one wanted to look at my qualifications, just because I’m not white,” says Sheereen. “I tried … Continue reading Turning Prejudice into Frosting