In Hotel, Travel, History | On 15-04-2013
Think of all the great places that are verboten when it comes to travel these days. Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, all lands of great, exotic appeal, and all off-limits to people who put a premium on safety.
I was thinking of this last week when I happened upon a tourist brochure from 1961 touting the allure of Saigon, Nha Trang, Dalat and the “ultimate in Saigon Viet - Nam,” the Hotel Caravelle. There we were on the back page of the Visit Fascinating Vietnam brochure, “fully air conditioned” and “centrally located on fashionable Lam-Son Square.”
Back then, you could rent a room in the country’s top luxury hotel for USD 12.20 per night, or USD 15.40 for double occupancy. I’m sure we didn’t accept credit cards back then. In fact, credit cards didn’t come into widespread use until much later, so our front desk must have stocked lots of American nickels and dimes to make change for those price points.
My predecessor general manager was, presumably, a French man by the name of J. Ch. Mornand. Where are you today M. Mornand, and what stories I bet you had to tell?
What stories this glimpse of Vietnam in 1961 suggests. So many aspects of travel back then caught my eye, not the least of which was the big game hunting. “Vietnam is a hunter’s paradise,” the brochure says over a picture of a young elephant. If not elephants, you could bag yourself a tiger, leopard, gaur, wild ox, wild buffalo, bear, deer or pheasant.
This hunting was not all that far form Saigon. The best grounds were but 50 - 250 “miles” away near Dalat and Buon Me Thuot and Di Linh. If you took an elephant, you’d have to pay about USD 140. A gaur cost almost half as much, and a buffalo or ox only one third as much. You could, with “license A,” kill one male elephant, two male gaurs, two male oxen, two male buffalos, four bears, six deers and as many tigers and leopards as you like and for no fee. “The number of wild and harmful beasts killed is not limited,” reads the brochure.
What a place.
• Back then, you could go dancing at the Arc-En-Ciel at 52-66 Tan Da Street in Cho Lon, where Graham Greene had his characters dancing in The Quiet American.
• You could get 73 Vietnamese piastres for one USD.
• Americans didn’t need a visa if they stayed in the country less than seven days.
• Air Vietnam, not Vietnam Air, was your in-country carrier.
• Two million people lived in Saigon.
• Tourists routinely drove their own vehicles
• And “a visit to the Caravelle Skyroom Restaurant and Roof Garden is a ‘must’ for all tourists.” Well then, some things haven’t changed about Saigon!
Beyond Saigon, the brochure was steering travellers toward the usual suspects — Bien Hoa, Tay Ninh and Thu Dau Mot, then renowned for its lacquer craftsmen, now a part of Ho Chi MInh City. Further afield, they wanted us in Dalat (55 minutes by DC3 from Saigon), Nha Trang (where you could even then take a glass-bottomed boat out onto the bay) and Hue (where Ngu Binh Mountain was then called the King’s Screen).
After whiling some time away from this brochure, I looked up from my armchair here on Lam Son Square, wondering how much promise this country had in 1961, how alluring it all was, and just how much suffering the Vietnamese would have to go through before the days would be as bright again.
In F&B, Hotel, Travel | On 03-03-2013
|Chef Le Xuan Tam, 38 years old
Whatever the country was famous for in the past, these days the word ‘Vietnamese’ brings up images of steaming beef pho, fresh spring rolls, crispy banh xeo, caramelized claypot fish and grilled pork belly. Vietnamese are passionate about their food and make time for it at all hours of the day, on every corner of the street. In an environment where good food is given such status, cooking competitions like Iron Chef Vietnam take on a whole new dimension.
At the Caravelle Hotel, we followed the first season of Iron Chef Vietnam with interest, as one of our own sous chefs from Reflections was first a contestant, then a semi-finalist, then a finalist. You can imagine the elation from our entire staff when Le Xuan Tam was announced the champion of the competition. Since his return to Reflections, we’ve managed to sit down with our winning chef to gather his thoughts about the show and his cooking career in the interview below. Enjoy!
Chef, can you tell us a little bit about where you grew up?
I was born to quite a poor family in Quang Binh Province. My mother passed away when I just a boy so my father raised me on his own.
How did you first become interested in food and cooking?
After I graduated from Gia Hoi high school in Hue in 1992, I moved to Phan Thiet where I spent a few years working as a fisherman. The fishing life wasn’t really for me, so in 1995 I moved to Ho Chi Minh City and took a job in a Russian restaurant. One of my relatives was a chef there and he was the first person who encouraged and supported my culinary talent. The kitchen of that restaurant on Nguyen Dinh Chieu is where I first became interested in cooking.
Who do you think had the biggest impact in your culinary education?
I was extremely lucky to work with Chef Lê Ngọc Lân (former executive chef at the Sofitel Plaza Hanoi and former executive sous chef at the Sofitel Saigon Plaza, where Chef Xuan Tam worked in 1998.) He is an amazingly talented chef, clever manager and great teacher. His instruction helped me a great deal.
What were some of the turning points in your career as a chef?
My time at L’Oliver Restaurant at the Sofitel Plaza Saigon was crucial to my career, as was the two years I spent working in Singapore at Le Tonkin Restaurant, and the day I joined the Caravelle I remember clearly.
How would you describe your cooking in three words?
Creative, whole-hearted, passionate
What do you enjoy most about being the sous chef of Reflections Restaurant?
The best part of course is that I love what I do: creating and cooking new dishes. I also appreciate the chance to work in an international environment, which not many Vietnamese chefs have the opportunity to do.
What are some of the ingredients you enjoy cooking with the most, and why those?
I find it hard to choose favorite dishes and favorite ingredients. I like all ingredients.
You recently won Iron Chef Vietnam 2012. Going in, did you think you had a good chance of taking home the title?
Actually, when I entered the competition my goal was not to win the trophy but mainly to learn from other chefs and to discover things about myself. I wanted to find out how much pressure I could take and what new challenges I could meet.
What were your first thoughts after they announced that you were the winner?
My mind went to all the teachers and coworkers and friends who have encouraged and taught me, and how much I appreciated them. That includes the team at the hotel who supported my decision to take part in the competition.
Which of the judges were you the most keen to impress, and why?
I most wanted to impress David Thái, who is a great chef and was with the competitors throughout all the challenges. Also, I talked to David a few times and always learned so much from him, so I really respected his opinion about my food.
Of all the challenges in the show, what was the hardest part of the competition for you?
The hardest challenge, but also the challenge I enjoyed the most, was the “Memory” challenge, where competitors had to cook something related to memory. The main ingredient was pork. At first I had no idea what dish to cook that would reflect memory and at the same time impress the judges. All of the dishes in my memory are simple dishes from the fishing village in Central Vietnam where I grew up.
After lots of thought, I chose ‘canh khe thit heo’ (sour star fruit and pork soup). This dish was connected to a dear memory of my father from when I was a little boy. It was the cold season when my father could not go fishing and we had nothing left to eat. For two days I went to school with an empty stomach. While I was at school on the third day, my father helped a neighbor slaughter a pig and as thanks the neighbor gave him some of the pork. My father used the pork to make canh khe thit heo. When the soup was ready, he came all the way to my school to call me home to eat together.
What do you think were your advantages over the other competitors?
Everyone had their own advantages; the older ones were more experienced while the younger ones were dynamic and creative. I would have to say my only advantage was my confidence, stemming from years of working with top chefs.
What is it like coming back to the Caravelle after the Iron Chef experience?
It felt good, happy, exciting to be back. More people know who I am now, but at the end of the day, I count Iron Chef as one more positive, memorable experience. Life is back to its normal routine, but I have gained valuable skills and experience.
In terms of gastronomy, do you have any plans or goals from here?
My goal is to keep learning as much as I can to improve my cooking. I would also like to master my English speaking skills to be able to communicate well with the people I cook for and with chefs from all over the world.
In | On 14-01-2013
As cultural landmarks go, the Saigon Opera House falls easily into the ‘right under your nose’ category. The 115-year-old theatre reigns majestically over bustling Lam Son Square, the historic and cinematic heart of Ho Chi Minh City. Traffic pours into the square at all hours from the arteries of Le Loi, Dong Khoi and Hai Ba Trung, whirlpools around the Opera House, and shoots out at some other corner.
Captured on hundreds of DSLRs every day, lit up like an oversized music box in a sea of motorcycles, the nucleus of Vietnam’s most progressive city is impossible to miss. And yet as long as I’ve worked at the Caravelle Hotel just opposite the theatre, I’ve had the sense that the vast majority of visitors do miss, or at least overlook, the building at 7 Lam Son Square.
A venture up the steps, a stroll past on the sidewalk, a few obligatory wide-angle shots are not enough to appreciate the building’s century-long story.
Built in 1897 under the direction of three French architects to a design specified by Monsieur Ferret Eugene, the façade of the Opera de Saigon as it was then called was an echo of the Petit Palais, built the same year in France. Its revolving stage and three-tiered 800-seat galleries soon became a stopping point for touring French troupes.
For a time, evenings at the Opera de Saigon provided cultural diversions and world-class shows to the city’s thriving middle class. But as the mood shifted between WWI and WWII and the expatriate community flocked to dance halls and nightclubs for their after-hours entertainment, audiences at the theatre dwindled, and performances grew more sporadic.
In the early 40s, together with the rest of the country, the building entered into a turbulent period that lasted more than three decades. In 1943, some of the ornaments and statues on the theatre façade were removed after being criticised as overly ornate. The following year, the building’s exterior was further disfigured in Allied air raids. Its halls sheltered French civilians fleeing North Vietnam before being occupied by the lower house assembly of the State of Vietnam in 1955.
After the Fall of Saigon in 1975, the building was renamed the Ho Chi Minh Municipal Theatre and took up its original function again. The exterior was restored and the interior renewed in 1998 to mark the 300th anniversary of the founding of Saigon, yielding the Opera House that greets tourists today.
|View from Reflections Restaurant
From the street or from the windows in the old wing of the Caravelle Hotel, you can glimpse a pair of luminous statues of the Goddess of Art gazing out over the stone veranda, and the winged angels resting atop its central arch. But the real aesthetic value of the building’s classical European style is best appreciated from inside the theatre.
An evening at the opera is still a viable excuse – perhaps the only one left -- to dress to the nines. On performance nights, a stylish stream of guests ascend the stairs and are greeted on the marble-tiled first floor, before being seated in the auditorium beneath a ceiling awash in Greco-Roman engravings. During intermission, guests spill from the halls onto small verandas to take in the evening ambiance of the street outside.
The sensation of being on your own balcony overlooking the centre of Saigon is at once nostalgic, romantic and hard to pin down, but there is perhaps no better place to catch the afterglow of a city once adored as the “Paris of the East.”
To encourage more travellers get up close with the Saigon Opera House, the Caravelle has just launched ‘Opera Nights’ a luxury package with accommodation in the 118-square-metre Opera Suite overlooking Lam Son Square, a three-course Opera Dinner at Reflections Restaurant and two tickets to the critically acclaimed show “Hon Viet: The Soul of Vietnam” staged on the 15th and 23rd of each month.
For a review on the 'Hon Viet' show, click here.
For more about Opera Nights, visit this link, or email: email@example.com
In | On 10-12-2012
|View from Saigon Saigon Bar
As many of you know, the 1930s-built Eden Building on Lam Son Square recently fell to the wrecking ball. With trepidation, we all wondered what would take its place? Now we know. The Vincom Building on Lam Son Square has made its debut, and I’ve found that my trepidation was for nought. The building is a stylish addition to our storied square.
Its architecture is an echo of the old French aesthetic, and its ground floor shops (Hermes anyone?) speaks to this city’s ambitions as a destination for upscale shoppers.
Recently, I stood in our Signature Lounge with a friend and ticked off all the buildings that have redefined our skyline since I started here almost six years ago. There is the Artex Building right next door, which was under construction when I arrived and which now stands on the site of an older building that was once home of the infamous Five O’Clock Follies during the American War.
There is the Vincom tower, the CCB tower and loftiest of all the Bitexco Tower with its jutting skypad. Fortunately for us at the Caravelle, the views from our windows and from the Saigon Saigon Bar are still superb and still drink in a good deal of history.
Here’s my tip of the month: If you go up to the Saigon Saigon Bar, look up Dong Khoi toward the cathedral. Halfway up on the right, you can still make out the famous elevator penthouse that was pictured in that famous ‘Last Helicopter’ photograph from 1975.
In Hotel, Travel, Spa | On 05-11-2012
|Caravelle Kara Spa
Fifty-three years after the Caravelle opened its doors on Lam Son Square, we're opening the doors on the first in-house spa to be managed by the hotel.
Why did we wait so long? Well, the short is answer is we were focused on other things. There was the war, of course, back in the day. And then there were the privations of running a hotel in a post-war economy 1975-1985. And then there was the gearing up for the return of foreign visitors after doi moi opened the door to Vietnam again in the late 1980s. And there was our landmark renovation in 1998. But no more excuses!
Kara Salon & Spa is open and is revitalizing our identity day by day.
Before the soft debut of the spa in mid-September, we asked ourselves what our goals were for the new facility. We knew we wanted to bring the hotel’s character into the space; but more importantly, we wanted to shoot for the highest possible standard of quality in the actual spa services.
Towards the first goal, we refreshed the spa’s reception area and ordered a host of new accessories and uniforms in the hotel’s signature aubergine shade. We made the Poolside Bar’s drink and snack menu available to spa-goers in the foot massage parlour (I hear champagne and manicures go nicely together.) And we chose to use products from coveted Thai brand THANN in the spa treatments and showers as we do in the hotel’s guest bathrooms.
Perhaps you already know this, but some of the best views in the house are saved for Kara Spa’s 10 treatment rooms. On the seventh floor of the original wing, you’re at eyelevel with the tops of the majestic trees planted by the French around the Opera House. If you book a treatment in the evening, you’ll see that the real allure of Lam Son Square comes out after dark.
But of course, the measure of any spa is not in the trappings, but in the treatments. To get our services up to the level we’re aiming for, we called on Thuy Hoang Vi – who’s directed premier spas all over Vietnam, such as Lacochinchine, L’Apothiquaire and St. Gregory -- to be our new spa manager.
Just last week, we signed a partnership with eco-friendly brand Pevonia Botanical who, together with THANN, are providing additional staff training for an all-new menu of luxury facial treatments, including some designed exclusively for men.
To execute a menu that has expanded with more than a dozen new body scrubs, wraps and massages, we hired eight outstanding therapists who’ve all previously worked with, and were handpicked by, our new spa manager. These ladies can rightfully boast some of the best techniques in town -- but don’t take my word for it. Ring up Ms. Vi, set a time and experience the Kara touch for yourself.
In Hotel, Travel, F&B | On 25-09-2012
Food is an important component in every holiday, meeting and special occasion the Caravelle hosts. For several years now, German-native Timo Reuss has been at the head of the hotel's F&B operations, helping us reach our current reputation as a destination for sophisticated and dynamic culinary experiences. In his own words, Timo lets us in on life as the Caravelle's executive chef.
How did you happen to enter the world of cooking?
I got a taste of life in the kitchen early on while working with my uncle who was also a chef; but I really started my journey with food at the age of 16.
Where were you before Vietnam/before Caravelle?
Before I arrived in Vietnam I was working in Thailand at one of the Meridian Hotels, the Plaza Athenee in Bangkok.
How many countries have you worked in as a chef?
Including Vietnam I’ve now worked professionally as a chef in nine countries: Great Britain, Switzerland, France, Germany, Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and now here.
We heard that you’ve cooked in several Michelin-starred restaurants. Which/where were they?
I am very lucky in that I have been able to work and cook in some of Europe’s most highly regarded restaurants. I’ve worked in the kitchens of Tantris in Munich, Michael Geurard in France, and La Tante Claire in London. Those are all three-starred restaurants. I’ve also cooked at the two-star Mosimann’s in London and at the 1-Michelin starred restaurant in the Hotellerie du Bas-Breau in France.
What’s a typical day for the Exec Chef of the Caravelle?
On a normal day I start working at seven, and check on the hotel’s breakfast and the overnight reports. We usually have several meetings each day, some to discuss upcoming culinary events. I oversee lunch and dinner service at all of the hotel’s restaurants. I may write special menus or follow up on guest requests in the afternoon, and there are always some internal tasks to handle before I finish up. If there’s nothing going on in the banqueting rooms or in the restaurant that requires special attention, I’m usually finished work by 9 pm.
What do you like best about your job?
No day in this job is the same as the one before. Every day there are new changes and challenges. Nothing stays the same in this industry and that makes it exciting. I also enjoy meeting people from all over the world and seeing their reaction to the destination, the hotel and of course, the food.
What’s the most challenging aspect of your job?
I make it a point to try to meet everyone’s expectations. This is a big challenge because it means addressing the expectations of guests from abroad, but also the hotel’s local clientele, which can be very different. If I can, I try to please everybody.
How has your time in Vietnam affected your cooking (if at all)?
Every country I’ve been to has widened the horizon of my culinary knowledge. In Vietnam, my cooking has grown a great deal, since the cuisine is unlike that of any other country I’ve worked in.
How do you feel about the Caravelle’s standing in the local F&B landscape?
I can honestly say the hotel runs one of the city’s leading F&B operations. We’re not only very innovative; we’re also driven strongly by quality in everything we do. That’s from top to bottom, from the selection of ingredients to plating, from midnight room service to glamorous wine dinners. We also run many internal F&B promotions in all our outlets, and those change throughout the year. We never stop asking ourselves, “How can we do this better?”
What do you think distinguishes the Caravelle from other hotels in HCMC?
Since we’re an independent hotel and not part of a big chain, we have much more freedom and flexibility. We can be quite innovative at times. We’re also not quite as large as some of our competitors, which allows us to focus much more on quality versus quantity. Because of these factors and its long history in the heart of Saigon, the Caravelle does stand out from the general set of hotels in the city.
What is the most memorable experience you’ve had working for the Caravelle?
That would have to be when I married my wife, who is Vietnamese.
What’s your favourite meal or dish inside the hotel? Outside?
Of course I like local Vietnamese food, all the dishes the cuisine is famous for. I usually go with my wife to try out the local restaurants. Within the hotel I eat in Nineteen. I’m always testing how well the food is presented and fits together, to see if there’s any room for improvement.
What’s the best meal you’ve ever had?
The last really memorable meal I had was with my wife in Germany. It was by Joachim Wissler in the Grand Hotel Schloss Bensberg, and it was excellent. There isn’t one absolute best meal for me, but rather several great experiences I’ve had. That was one of them.
Do you have a signature dish you like to prepare for family/friends?
Well, If I find the time to cook for my loved ones I like to cook traditional, hearty dishes, since that’s the kind of food I grew up with and I always appreciate. A good example would probably be beef cheek. If you want to try it, we have a similar dish that’s highlighted in our menu at Reflections.
What current culinary trends do you find exciting?
Definitely Molecular Cuisine. I’m not very familiar with it, but it is something I’d like to know more about, as the trend is becoming more and more popular all around the world. It would be fantastic if one day we could bring some of those techniques to guests in the Caravelle.
In Hotel, Travel | On 30-08-2012
|Lobby of Caravelle Hotel
Back when the Caravelle opened its doors on Christmas Eve of 1959, it was not only the tallest hotel the city, it was the only one boasting bulletproof glass windows, a backup generator and air-conditioning. All very avant-garde inventions at the time.
Last month, the Caravelle brought another first to Vietnam.
If you check into the hotel today, you’ll see we’ve abandoned the old “sign-here-and-here” sheet for a digital tablet and stylus. As well, there are no more passport photocopies. We scan those straight into our computer. And when you leave, your invoice is more likely to be a file in your inbox than two sheets of paper stapled together.
In short, we’ve launched the first paperless check-in and checkout system in the country’s hospitality industry.
Just how much paper are we saving? Each month the hotel processes some 3,500 arrivals, on average. With the entire system of registration, copying, receipts and envelopes that’s at least five pieces of paper per guest (or 17,500 sheets a month) that are no longer being consumed by our reception desk.
That’s not an overwhelming number in itself, but after only one month of paperless check-ins, we’re already seeing a significant drop in our paper waste. Ultimately, we’d like to implement this system not only at the reception desk but in all our F&B outlets, as well.
I’ve always looked at environmental protection as a series of steps. Several years ago the hotel decided to take that first step. Since then, each move we’ve made –- like this paperless system -- has led to where we are now: One of only three hotels in the country with Silver Certification from the internationally recognised EarthCheck Program, and gaining ground every day.
In fact, when the EarthCheck benchmarking team visited the hotel earlier this year to review that rating, they found nine out of 11 of the hotel’s key indicators at best practice levels or above.
What’s more, and this came as a surprise even to me, the report for 2011 revealed that the hotel had managed to cut back on its consumption of diesel oil, water and electricity per guest night, even while room occupancy grew. In 2011 the Caravelle managed an 8% reduction in diesel oil, an 8% reduction in water consumption, and a 2% reduction in electricity, while occupancy was 8% higher than 2010.
I find these numbers heartening. To me they are proof that a hospitality property can be at once fashionable and responsible, cutting-edge and conscientious.
In Hotel, Travel | On 20-07-2012
This month we're welcoming a new director of rooms, Bryce Seator. Before I tell you a bit about him, I’ve got to bid a fond farewell to Linton Borthwick, who did a fine job managing our rooms for the past three-and-a-half years. Linton, as many of you who've visited the Caravelle know, was a visible presence around the hotel. He’s moving on in his career to the J.W. Marriott in Hanoi, so do look for him there if you make a move in that direction.
Bryce joined us as director of rooms on July 9. Most recently, he spent five years at Hayman Island on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef where he pushed on from event services to the front office to acting director of rooms. Not a bad climb at one of Australia’s most renowned 5-star resorts.
He was educated at the prestigious International Hotel and Tourism Training Institute in Lucerne, Switzerland, and then again at the Pacific International Hotel Management School in New Zealand. Most of you know about Lucerne. But let me go on the record to state that I am more impressed by his education in New Zealand!
And now, on a completely unrelated note, let me steer you toward the pages of this month’s Travel + Leisure magazine, where Ho Chi Minh City has cracked the top ten list of Asia’s best cities for travel. Bangkok is #1 in Asia and, remarkably enough, the top city for travel in the world, according to the magazine’s survey.
In Hotel, Travel | On 18-06-2012
Raising awareness about the need to be environmentally sensitive is not easy. We all know, on one level, that we shouldn’t litter, shouldn’t pollute, should conserve, should recycle and so on, but it’s hard to generate awareness for that message.
One of the most famous game-changers in the history of environmental stewardship comes from the United States where the Crying Indian television commercial in the early 1970s proved to be a major watershed, at least in the United States. Before that, Americans were heedless about littering. Today, they’re very sensitive.
It only takes a generation to make such changes, and we in Vietnam are embarked upon these changes now. That’s why we at the Caravelle Hotel are enthusiastic supporters of World Environment Day. Last year, we dispatched a huge team of hotel employees to clean up the Opera House. And this year, we decided to do it again.
But how, we wondered, could we attract even more attention to the need to be more sensitive, cleaner and greener. A team of hotel employees scrubbing the steps of Opera House would attract some attention, but we wanted to attract more attention, a lot of attention. So, we decided to bust a few moves.
How so? With a flashmob, that seemingly impromptu dance phenomenon that’s swept shopping malls around the world, surprising shoppers and attracting attention to all sorts of causes.
|Flashmob dance in front of the Opera House
We hired some professional dancers to start, and then we started training nearly a hundred members of the hotel staff. We trained and trained and trained, hour upon hour. In the beginning, watching my staff bear down on this choreography, I thought to myself, ‘This is never going to happen.’
But gradually, enthusiastically, we came together. On June 3, we put our plan in place. We donned green shirts, advertising the clean-up efforts, and trooped over to the Opera House, as if only to pick up trash and scrub the steps.
Then, seemingly moved by the spirit of the day, one of our trainers stepped out onto the apron of one of this city’s most famous landmarks, and he started dancing. A few more ‘cleaners’ joined him, and then dozens of us from the Caravelle took to the apron of that building and shimmied to the beat of Black Eyed Peas’ “Time of My Life” and Thao Trang’s “Feel the Life”.
The flashmob danced for nearly four minutes, attracting a great crowd, some of whom reciprocated with a few moves of their own. You can see the video of this event here. We’ve got more than 1,000 views on this mob so far. It hasn’t gone viral (yet!) and we’re not going to move public opinion the way the Crying Indian did, but we had a ton of fun. We got a whole bunch of people focused on World Environment Day. And, in some small way, we’re helping to make a difference.
In Hotel, Travel | On 28-04-2012
Every day hundreds of tourists stroll along Dong Khoi -- the tree-lined artery that runs along the southwest side of the Caravelle Hotel -- oblivious to the stories contained within its buildings.
Many of the landmark structures in Graham Greene’s novel, ‘The Quiet American’, the historical reference points we associate with the country’s notorious war, and the best signs of emerging Vietnamese enterprise are clustered side-by-side on Dong Khoi’s picturesque sidewalks, which still pulsate with activity as they did in Greene’s day.
Just this month, the Caravelle’s team completed work on a short documentary about the colourful history of Dong Khoi Street, which I’m extremely glad to share with you here.
Keep an eye out for my cameo appearance midway through, and feel free to share this clip with your friends who are thinking of visiting this remarkable city.