Hello Saigon turns 7

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Photo by Sang Huynh on Unsplash

It’s been hectic especially now that we’re moving towards the Christmas holiday. But have to take time to mark today as this blog turns 7.

In 7 years, how has Saigon changed through my eyes?

  • Influx of Western fast food (Hello Popeye’s, Texas Chicken, Carl’s Jr., Starbucks, Yellow Cab, Dominos!)
  • Christmas decors that used to be hard to find (Hello Cholon!) can be found at malls now.
  • Traffic is getting way worse with motorbikes competing with lots of cars — partially due to Uber and Grab.
  • I used to pay 10,000 VND riding the shuttle bus from my district to CBD, now I pay 18,000 VND.
  • Nguyen Hue has been hugely transformed. Can’t wait for the subway!
  • A lot of my favorite small shops along Dong Khoi have folded up to give way to bigger businesses. 😦
  • Notre Dame Cathedral is under construction till 2019.
  • Bigger malls.
  • L’usine just opened its 3rd shop.
  • My neighbours are practically non-Vietnamese now — Koreans, Indians, and Japanese.

Do I still find the city exciting? Interesting? It still is.

Ultimately, am still a passerby in this city. And for the opportunity to live here, am filled with so much gratitude.

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Dragonfly Theatre & Soul Academy to mount the broadway sensation “Lend Me A Tenor” in November & December 2017

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Dragonfly Theatre is kick-starting its 7th season with Ken Ludwig’s award-winning play “Lend Me A Tenor”, performed on the stage of Soul Music & Performing Arts Academy (SMPAA) in November & December 2017, marking the first milestones in its endeavor to bring authentic Broadway productions to Vietnam.

Directed by Aaron Toronto, the play follows the escapades of a world famous Tenor singer, Tito Merelli, who is unintentionally drugged before a big performance.  Thinking he is dead, the excitable opera manager persuades his assistant to pretend to be Tito so the show can go on.  But Merelli is very much alive and the story unfolds into a riotous chain of mistaken identities, lingerie flashes, death threats, and sizzling romance that keeps the audience roaring with laughter.

With an internationally diverse cast, Dragonfly’s version of Lend Me A Tenor aspires to delight audiences from all walks of life with comical farces and hearty laughs, and provide an escapism from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. The play will be performed in English with Vietnamese subtitles.

Lend Me A Tenor is most suitable for audiences aged 16 and above. Several ticket packages are available for purchase, and Vietnamese students wishing to improve their English are eligible for special discounts. To book these fast-selling tickets online, please visit ticketbox.vn/LMAT.  For group bookings of 6 or more or for details of our corporate packages or bulk student packages, please contact Dragonfly Theatre at dragonflyvietnam@gmail.com
About Dragonfly Theatre

    Dragonfly Theatre Company is a group of professional Western and Vietnamese actors and directors with the following mission:
  • To create professional English language theatre in Saigon and to make it accessible to the Vietnamese community.
  • To develop a sustainable business and creative model that provides a platform for the collaboration between Vietnamese and Western performing arts communities.

Formed by Aaron Toronto and Jaime Zúñiga in 2011, Dragonfly is passionate about the need for Saigon to have professional quality, English language theatre not only for the expatriate community but also for English speaking Vietnamese. Theatre-going audiences in Saigon have come to expect a high-quality, thrilling experience from Dragonfly Theatre which entertains, challenges and inspires.

In 2017, Dragonfly joined forces with Soul Live Project, a performing arts hub aiming to facilitate the growth of the music and the performing arts industry in Vietnam. SOUL Live Project and Dragonfly Theatre are proud to be able to instigate a new partnership, that aims to prove fruitful to both the arts industry in Ho Chi Minh City and the community at large.

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Hello, Penang!

I know it’s been awhile since I have last updated Hello Saigon and am re-starting with a post about a recent trip to Penang, Malaysia. Also, since we’re entering Hello Saigon’s birth month of November, am lining up some activities that I would like to share with you soon.

You know the feeling of staying in one place for a time and you’re itching to go somewhere? Well that’s how it was for me since our last trip was early this year. I just wanted to get out of Saigon and fly somewhere else. So when my husband said we could tag along with him to Penang, I was ecstatic.

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I love Penang. We spent our first year wedding anniversary in Penang and Langkawi. Then the second time, we went with my eldest son. And now, my youngest could get to know Pulau Pinang too.

Penang in 2005 is oh so different from Penang of 2017. The airport is much bigger and nicer, the streets are more crowded, and there actually is traffic. But still, getting out of Saigon is a huge breather.

Honestly, I didn’t research much on places to visit except that I wanted to visit the Street Art in Georgetown and hit the bookstores for some English books. Plus, I really was looking forward to a lazy and relaxing trip.

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Penang in October is humid. HUMID. And on the day we decided to do a walking tour in Georgetown, it was alternately hot and drizzling. Good thing, it was just a drizzle because with two kids in tow, I wouldn’t know how to manage. It was already a challenge itself having two boys wanting to go back to the hotel as soon as we stepped on the street.

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Before we hit the alleys, it started to rain a bit. Since we were not prepared, we dropped by a local souvenir shop, Pinang to buy a couple of umbrellas. I super love this shop. The price of souvenirs is affordable.

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Ofcourse we ended up not just buying umbrellas. 😛

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The area reminds me of Hoi An with the alleys, ancient homes, and temples.

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And the postcards! I just had to get them all!

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There were other interesting street art that weren’t part of the “official” street art but hey, you have to admire the work as well.

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The Little Children on a Bicycle is one of the most popular mural in Georgetown. In fact, we had to wait for our turn to be able to get a shot. The fact that this ain’t closed to vehicles, was another challenge.

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Now the photo above is definitely an alternative rock band.

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We didn’t get to all the murals unfortunately as my boys were both whining about how far they’ve walked and how hot it was.

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You cannot imagine my happiness when my boys agree to have their photos taken despite the weather on these murals. The eldest would just do so because he knew we’d take a much longer time if he didn’t agree to have his photo taken. While my little one would happily pose as long as his brother does so too.

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The Container Hotel was right by the corner from the kids on the swing mural. It stood out amidst the old neighborhood.

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And there was a postcard shop right across it too.

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I just wished we had more time to explore this area of Georgetown.

Should you visit? Most definitely.

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Movie: Finally Find Someone

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Image from ABS-CBN

Last night, I found myself amidst the throng of people queuing to watch the tandem of John Lloyd Cruz and Sarah Geronimo at Bitexco. It’s not usual to watch a Filipino film on the big screen here in Vietnam, so you can imagine why the Filipino community was raring to watch this. For some reason, I only got the wind of the film being shown in Ho Chi Minh City last Monday.

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Living here in Vietnam, I am amazed by the number of Filipinos that I haven’t met yet. We actually filled two cinemas for this movie.

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A lot left work early — and I was just happy to be among people who I don’t need to speak English to. Hahaha!

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I went with my 8 yo son and my friends — so totally fun laughing at Pinoy humor or crying about things that only Pinoys could understand – I guess especially the OFW portion where Tetchie Agbayani had to leave to work abroad and come back broken. That resonated for most of us — and also the fact that Sarah as Aprilyn is a school teacher — lots of Filipino OFWs here in Saigon are teachers.

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MOR 101.9 DJ Jhai’ho hosted the start of the film with a game. Love this DJ’s vibe and I knew how she was trying to keep everyone in check when we had to line up for the meet and greet with John Lloyd Cruz. Love that she kept her cool.

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The icing on the cake was of course meeting John Lloyd Cruz who played the role of Raffy.

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So how was the movie?

The plot of the movie is about these 2 unlikely people meeting in the most unusual of circumstances – Aprilyn (Sarah) recovering from heartbreak while Raffy (JLC) did damage control for Randy’s family, when he left Aprilyn at the altar.

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I’ve always been a fan of these 2 actors and despite the mixed reviews I from friends, I enjoyed the film — not much on the plot but the amazing cast behind it. You can really see how Sarah and JLC have grown such versatile actors over the years. So amazed at how people like them can just slip into character so effortlessly.

Was it worth watching? Definitely. Plus the fact that JLC came to meet the Filipino community.

Can I just say that it’s so much easier to meet celebrities here in HCMC than in PH? Hahahaha!

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Crafts Haven: Dai Quang Minh

I know I have these bursts of creativity and this month, I’ve been interested in aromatherapy bracelets. I didn’t know that beads for bracelets are expensive until I’ve started making them myself. LOL.

So yesterday, after much research online — there wasn’t exactly a lot of information on where to get raw materials. I gambled and decided to go to Dai Quang Minh with our Vietnamese helper.

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We actually got lost. I thought it was some market-like building. But it totally, wasn’t. We only got to explore a third of this place though.

I was interested to find lava beads and I did! 🙂

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Sharing with you some photos I took to help those who might be looking for arts and crafts materials. They also sell loads of things for sewing, accessories, and appliques.

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Then we found this shop. And I got confused.

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I don’t get why there aren’t more information on Dai Quang Minh so I hope this post helped a bit.

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Chợ Đại Quang Minh
31,33,35 Châu Văn Liêm
Phường 14, Quận 5
Hồ Chí Minh City

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Aromatherapy Bracelets

Cross-posting this from my other project in Oilbularyo.

Last Thursday, I checked the web on lava beads supplier in Ho Chi Minh City. Honestly, it’s not so easy finding stuff in Vietnam especially if you don’t know the Vietnamese equivalent. But I got lucky and came across Saigon Spring Jewelry. The lady behind this site, Trang, designs absolutely inspired jewelries!


Trang and I spent the entire morning of Thursday just exchanging messages and designing an aromatherapy bracelet. And by Thursday afternoon, it arrived together with some beads I ordered.


Yes! It was that easy. Shipping within the city is real quick as long as you’ve got all things ironed out.

And so last Friday, I spent the entire day trying my hand on bracelets. I honestly thought it would be easy but seriously, thinking of color combination and the sizing made my head hurt. The knotting was another issue. I had several tries on knotting and even had to redo some. Finally, I gave in and consulted You Tube University on advice on how to knot elastic threads.

Here are the aromatherapy bracelets I came up with and am super stoked that I got to try it out with my favorite Stress Away EO.



So far, my beads are on Day 2 and I can still smell the oil I put in. But like a friend pointed out, it would depend on the climate.





Okay so am obsessed with tassels too so I added tassels to all the bracelets — except for one that my son told me to make for him.


My son chose the beads and I didn’t want to argue with what goes with what. I just wanted to make sure that there was enough lava beads because he’s currently under the weather and needed some RC EO in his beads. This is also a perfect alternative for repellants. Now, if I could just order Citronella EO. 😀

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Breakfast at Eden Coffee House

I’ve been thinking about featuring different coffee shops in Phu My Hung — at least near my place. Aside from the abundance of Korean restaurants in PMH (with it becoming more known as K-Town), there is a coffee shop on every street in Hung Gia.

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We usually bike on Sunday mornings and end up having breakfast at either Dunkin Donuts, McDonald’s, Boomarang or Mimi. But today, we decided to check out Eden Coffee House which have some great reviews online.

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With both my boys now having a say on where to eat, it’s now a bit difficult to persuade them to try a different place.

Eden Coffee House is tucked in a quiet street of Hung Phuoc 1.
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There is indoor and outdoor dining, and I believe they also have rooftop dining.

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We decided to stay outdoors. Today we the sky is overcast and looks like it’s on the verge of rain.

There were a number of customers around too and all foreigners.

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The coffee is delicious! Love the coffee here!

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We ordered the Bacon Benedict, Big Breakfast, and a crepe. There wasn’t any pancakes, so we got the crepe but it wasn’t what we expected.

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We didn’t realize how big the servings were! Would definitely recommend their food for sharing.

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Eden Coffee House serves Western dishes that are really good. I enjoyed my Bacon Benedict and would definitely order that again when we visit next time.

The price point however is quite on the pricey side. Think Boomerang. But I guess, you get your money’s worth and it’s a pleasant surprise to find this near our place.


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