04 Nov 2013
Tags: couture, friends, Ho Chi Minh City, Park Hyatt, sandra, Thien LE, traci
Thien LE is a Vietnamese Canadian fashion designer and founder of the Thien Le label which specializes in exclusive couture. He is internationally recognized and has been featured in several fashion fairs. Most recently, he had his first show in Ho Chi Minh City. Sandra, Traci and I had the pleasure of attending his trunk show at the Park Hyatt.
modeling our Thien LE scarves
We loved the attention to detail and the luxurious fabrics that are hallmarks of Thien LE’s designs. Unfortunately, the jacket that caught my eye was a little out of my budget. Saving now to be ready when he returns to reinvent the Saigon couture scene. Saigon LOVE to all, Lisa
23 Oct 2013
in Attraction, Food & Drink, Travel
Tags: Ao Nang Beach, Bangkok, Beach, corn waffles, Elephants, jungle, Krabi, night market, Rain, rainy season, Seafood, Shrimp, Thailand, Trek
My friend, Suzanne, and I made the lightning quick flight to the southern Thailand town of Krabi from Bangkok earlier this year. Even though our visit was during rainy season, we never felt crabby in this brilliant beach town facing the Andaman Sea.
One of two daily low tides
We stayed at the beauteous Nakamanda Resort and Spa which was located on a private cove in the quiet and secluded Klong Muang area of Krabi.
Dazzling pool at the Nakamanda
We made time to visit the night market and even made the scene one evening at a 70′s club on touristy Ao Nang beach. Otherwise, we were quite content relaxing in our villa, spa-ing, and indulging in some delectable dishes! Our best dining happened in the form of a corn waffle from the market and the freshest seafood joint down the beach from our resort.
Thai shrimp with tamarind sauce on the beach
Best part of trip was getting to know Suzanne better. This was our first jaunt together. We have since made another one to Hong Kong and are heading back to Bangkok next month! I know a good travel buddy (have you heard me mention Laura?) when I see one. Saigon LOVE to Suzanne and all, Lisa
Our frequent Krabi window view…sigh
22 Oct 2013
Tags: Ho Chi Minh City, ILV, International Ladies in Vietnam, Laura
This post is long overdue! My participation in the International Ladies in Vietnam (ILV) organization has contributed greatly to my happy lifestyle in Ho Chi Minh City. I am still grateful to my friend, Lydia Ozuna, for bringing me to an ILV meeting shortly after I arrived in Saigon. Diversity smiles on this group with over 300 members from over 45 countries. There is someone or something for everyone. And there is no better way to learn where to shop, eat, find resources, travel, and have FUN!
Every Thursday morning, we meet for coffee at the Sherwood Residences, where we catch up and often entertain an interesting guest speaker. After our coffee morning, the good times usually continue over lunch. There is also Shanghai rummy, bridge, mahjong, line dancing, cooking class, flower arranging, calligraphy and more. We have evening ILV, book clubs, charity bazaars, parties, tennis tournaments, golf outings, tiara parties, bowling, crafts, holiday luncheons and dinners. We love a reason to dance, dress up, celebrate a good cause and just have FUN!
I have made wonderful friends (maybe you’ve heard me mention Laura?) through my involvement with ILV. But, there is a downside…expats tend to leave right when you get to know them (sniff, sniff…goodbye Nanna)! But there is a silver lining. There is always a newcomer ready to make friends and have FUN!
22 Oct 2013
in Attraction, Travel
Tags: Buddhism, Burma, Myanmar, Nuns, Pink
In addition to the 500,000 monks, there are approximately 75,000 nuns in Myanmar.
Shoes during lunch
They have to study Buddhist scripture, shave their heads, and wear pink robes.
Young nun with ‘tude!
Nuns range in age from 9 to 94 years of age. Many girls become nuns to escape poverty and/or abuse. And sometimes an unfortunate event like the loss of a loved one or indebtedness lead women to become nuns.
They lead very simple and austere lives. They do not preach and are expected to carry out domestic duties for both monks and the public.
Nun laundry day!
Officially their status is no more than any other religious person, but it was very obvious to this lay person that they adhere to very strict vows and rules of conduct.
22 Oct 2013
in Attraction, Travel
Tags: Bagan, Burma, Heho, Laura, Mandalay, Monastery, Monks, Myanmar, Novices, Yangon
“You must become a monk, before you can become a man.” Burmese saying
Young novice monk at Mandalay temple
The answer in Myanamar is yes….500,000 plus strong! Buddhist monks hold the highest status in the society of Myanmar (Burma) where 89% of the population is Theravada Buddhist. Incredibly, in the city of Mandalay, over 20% of the population are monks. In Bagan, Laura and I were so moved during a visit to a teaching monastery of young, orphaned novices. As I watched them chanting thanks and fanning flies away from their simple lunch, I was mesmorized and transported to another world. You will understand why they tugged at every heart string I own when you watch this video:
Monks typically rise very early in the morning. In addition to meal preparation and cleaning, there are lessons to be learned. By mid morning, they leave for their daily alms walk. It is a very common sight all over Myanmar to see monks in their maroon robes walking with their alm or offering bowls. They do not beg. People come out of their homes and businesses and put offerings in their bowls as part of their good deeds. This is how monks receive most of their food. Monks have two meals a day: breakfast and lunch. They are not allowed to eat after noon.
Monk with alm bowl full of offerings
Most men in Myanmar will spend at least a few days as a monk to learn the basics and to earn spiritual merit. Many will do it twice. Some boys enter as early as 10 years old as a novice. Often, sons of poor families enter to have a roof over their heads and to receive an education. When they reach the age of 20, they will decide whether to continue as a full monk. Here are some of my prized monk photos taken during my visit in Myanmar:
Obviously, monk life in Myanmar is much more complicated than I have presented here. They are very personable and we were approached a few times by monks wanting to practice their English or to share. In 2007, monks led and participated in protests called the Saffron Revolution against the military dictatorship of Myanmar. Many were killed and arrested in that movement. This blog post does not even begin to scratch the surface of this subject. Still, I feel so blessed to have witnessed up close a tiny bit of this fascinating culture in our big world!
သြာေတာ့မယ္။ (Goodbye) and Saigon LOVE to all, Lisa
21 Oct 2013
in Food & Drink, Travel
Tags: Beer, Egg Tart, Macanese, Macau, Minchee, Portugal, Portuguese, Shrimp
Many things to love in Macau, but mostly I delighted in the food which is unique to Macau. Much like the city’s identity, Macanese food is a fusion, combining the best of southern Chinese and Portuguese cooking, along with exotic influences from Latin America, Africa, Europe, India and Malaysia. This distinctive cuisine came as a result of Portuguese sailors collecting spices and ingredients while journeying to Macau in order to replicate their favorite dishes.
While some suggest that it’s the national cuisine of Macau, the vast majority of restaurants are Cantonese (yes, I did enjoy a few dumplings) and rarely have Macanese fare on the menu. If you want to try the real food of Macau, you’ll need to head to one of just a few Macanese restaurants or to a Portuguese dining venue. And if you are really lucky, you will meet someone like Miguel. He was my bellboy extraordinaire at the Four Seasons Hotel. He was so helpful in giving me awesome local restaurant suggestions. Portugal and Macau can be proud of this guy!
Thanks, again, Miguel!
One thing you could not help but notice, was the huge number of bakeries all over town. Macanese people love their bread, cookies and cakes! But one of the most revered bakery items is the famous Portuguese egg tart. I had several from different places but agree with the prevailing wisdom that the original from Lord Stow’s Bakery is still the tastiest!
Lord Stow’s Portuguese egg tarts
This is a standard dish called “minchee”, and it was delicious. It is made with minced beef and pork and flavored with molasses and soy sauce. When it is served with a fried egg on top is is called “minchee chow dan”.
My minchee with fried egg and potatoes
I did not have time to try everything and I am already regretting that I did not have the popular African chicken (Darn, guess I’ll have to go back!). But there is one dish that I will be dreaming about for a long time…shrimp with clam sauce at Fernando’s on Hac Sa Beach. This shrimp dish with its tangy and garlicky sauce just begged for your bread to dive in! Fernando’s is my kind of place. Super casual with great ambiance and amazing food. Loved that only Portuguese wine and beer are served. The bread comes from their own bakery and the vegetables are grown in the restaurant’s garden across the border in China.
Fernando’s shrimp in clam sauce
And as you may have guessed, I loved the Portuguese beer!
Saúde and Saigon LOVE to you, Lisa
07 Jun 2013
in Attraction, Cyclo, Food & Drink, Saigon, Travel
Tags: Da Nang, Hoi An, Laura, Mama, Mom, Tien
I proudly learned this new sentence during my Mom’s visit. I loved introducing her to everyone and our life in Vietnam.
Hoi An with Mom
Besides meeting many of our friends, we enjoyed cyclo rides, cooking class, visits to the tailor and fabric street in China Town, runs to the market and eating at beaucoup of my favorite restaurants. Lots of shopping including the purchase of these very authentic Vietnamese socks that my Mom can’t wait to wear this fall!
A big highlight was time spent together at the Fusion Maia Resort and Spa in Danang and a side trip to the exquisite town of Hoi An. The only bug was the one that found its way into our tummies early in Mom’s visit. But it didn’t keep her down! Enjoy this little video montage of my Vietnam mama:
We made so many lovely memories that I am already cherishing and will hold dear for the rest of my life. I consider myself very fortunate to have had this very special time with my Mama. Con yêu Mẹ rất nhiều (I love you very much, Mom)! Saigon LOVE to all, Lisa
15 Mar 2013
in Attraction, Food & Drink, Paul, Travel
Tags: Bill Clinton, bomb shelter, Charlie Chaplin, Citroen, croque monsieur, french onion soup, George Bush Sr, Hanoi, ice cream, Jane Fonda, Joan Baez, John McCain, mango ice cream, Metropole, Sofitel, Vietnam War, wedding anniversary
Magnifique is the Sofitel Legend Metropole‘s motto for magnificent reasons. I have been dying to stay at this historic Hanoi hotel since dining at their poolside restaurant over a year ago with Laura. Paul’s business meeting and our second anniversary were the perfect reasons to return for a special one-night getaway. Upon entering this legendary hotel, you are transported back to a bygone era of chic and gracious living.
Gorgeous 1953 Citroen cars
Fabulously, we were upgraded to the elegant Charlie Chaplin suite (his favorite Hanoi hotel) in the historical wing. From scrupulous attention to detail and divine gastronomical offerings (I would travel to Hanoi just for the croque monsieur and french onion soup!), this hotel was the perfect choice to celebrate our anniversary.
Celebrating two years at Metropole
The Hôtel Métropole first opened its doors in 1901 and was soon recognized as one of the world’s best and was without equal in Vietnam. It was the first venue to show “moving pictures” in all of Indochine. More recently, the Metropole was chosen as one of only two Vietnam hotels to make Conde Nast’s “Best Hotels throughout the World” list.
Poolside mango ice cream
During 2011 renovations, the hotel rediscovered the bomb shelter used during the Vietnam/American war to shelter hotel guests. It is now part of their fascinating Paths of History tour. Jane Fonda and Joan Baez both were sheltered in the bunker during Hanoi bombing raids. And because this is an apolitical blog, know that the hotel has also welcomed George Bush, Sr., Bill Clinton, and John McCain. More recently, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie made the Metropole their home during a visit to Hanoi. No matter which side you were on during the war, most would agree that it was a horrid chapter in our world’s history. Much nicer to enjoy all the other wonderful offerings at the Metropole and in life!
Touring the Metropole’s bomb shelter
Saigon PEACE & LOVE to all, Lisa
12 Mar 2013
Tags: BEST DAD IN THE WORLD!, Dad, Daddy, Father, Padre, Papa
Dad, your 80th birthday is so BIG here! All of Saigon is celebrating. Everywhere I went today, people were wishing you a happy birthday. Today was also a great opportunity to showcase those great vocal genes you passed along to me:
I am so sad not to be in New Orleans to celebrate this momentous day. But know that I am thinking of you from afar…my one in a million DAD! I am who I am and my beautiful children are who are they are in large part because of you. Thank you for loving me, caring for me, teaching me, spending time with me, and for always being there for me. I am so proud to be your daughter on this very special day and everyday. Saigon LOVE to you, Daddy! I LOVE you. Chúc mừng sinh nhật!
My Dad with all five daughters!
07 Mar 2013
in Food & Drink, Paul, Saigon, Travel
Tags: China Beach, Da Nang, Laura, wedding anniversary
Seems so fitting that my 100th blog post coincides with two years of Saigon Love blogging, my two year wedding anniversary, and two years of living in Vietnam. Please indulge me for a minute as I express a few thoughts about these little milestones:
- SAIGON LOVE – Although excited when I began this blog, two years later, I am also grateful for this online diary of my time in Vietnam. I have learned so much about writing, video making and photography. So far, Saigon Love has had over 17,000 visits from 97 countries! So crazy when I think that this began as a medium to share my photos and experiences with family and friends.
Love my photo of this fisherman on China Beach in Danang
- VIETNAM – I fall more in love every day with this amazing country. There are so many dimensions to its diverse culture that I could live here 100 years and still have more to explore. In the past two years, I have traveled over 250,000 miles to 31 cities in over 9 different countries. And I would be lying if I said the exquisite cuisine did not factor into the pleasure of my time here! But sweetest of all, is my widening circle of friends in Saigon. I am so blessed to have made meaningful friendships here that I will carry with me long after I leave Vietnam.
Laura and I are masters of self portrait iPad photos!
- PAUL – So appreciative of my husband for his contributions to this wondrous and beautiful chapter of my life. Thank you, my sweetie.
Celebrating 2nd wedding anniversary in Hanoi
And thanks to everyone who reads Saigon Love. So gratifying to know people are interested enough to read my blog. It keeps me blogging away. Here’s to year three! Saigon LOVE to all, Lisa