April 10, 2012

Wear in the World: Vietnam

By Toni Tran In Holiday
Back tracking my previous holiday in Vietnam and winning the Hg2 and style passport for stylish city blogs, it's the perfect timing and I am proud to share my post on Vietnam that interlinks my photos and experience of my holiday. Surprised to even be nominated in the top 20 when I got the email, was all I wanted, but you have given me much more. Many thanks to everyone who voted and especially Dylan Jones, editor and chief of GQ magazine for selecting my blog winner. 

Favourite destination: Having been to several holiday destinations, I am a right explorer when it comes to living the life away from home. I have to say my favourite destination is probably my homeland Saigon, Ho Chi Minh City, South of Vietnam. The excitement and adrenaline of when you’re just about to board a 13 hour flight and experience a new life is a memory you will never forget. My previous visit was two months ago, spending time with my family and related loves one, reunited, as a family of 9; words cannot describe. In the time of one month, there were endless things to do, amazing weather, food, entertainment and historical attractions to visit. Best known for the Vietnam War,the city has many things to offer and has become a part of my life, as my dad was in the war. The photos here are just a percentage that describes Vietnam, more is to be seen on the blog soon.

Tradition Vietnamese Pho Noodle Soup at Pho 24 Restaurant. £2 for a bowl thats ridiculously cheap!
Best place to eat: It’s a hard choice on selecting the best place to eat when the food is amazing no matter where you eat it. Whether it’s the restaurant, shopping courts or street markets, you are sure to have divine food at ridiculously cheap prices. To be on the traditional side of Vietnamese cuisine, Pho noodle soup would be a good option. There are so many food options to choose, perhaps try something new when it comes to another culture, but it’s guaranteed to be tasteful!

Sky Bar in Saigon Vietnam, breath taking venue and city scenery. Photo from website below
Best place to drink: If were talking about alcoholic beverages, the best place to drink would be Skybar. Located on the top of the tower, the impeccable breath taking view of the city is a view you can’t imagine. It can be considered expensive, but its not just the bar experience your paying for. The venue is something you couldn’t even imagine existing on ground level. Accompanied with music DJ, definitely considered for the high class and money spenders.

Blue Diamond Hotel Reception & 2 Bedroom Ensuite
Best place to sleep: Depending on your location, a quality experience and service is provided at all the hotel’s I have stayed at. The hotel’s I have stayed at are ideal for location right in the centre, easy walking distances or cheap taxi access. When you’re in a city like this, the last thing you want is to sleep, exploring the outdoors and nighttime is where the experience is. Supposing the city never sleeps, but make sure sleep is a must, as the day starts again rather early.

98% of the days I was there for one month was sunny. Sometimes you just need water to cool down the humidity.
Best time of year to visit: There is no excuse of not choosing the time of year to visit, as the food and weather is amazing most of the year. Dry weather from Dec to April, for the beach. In November/December the weather is cool, ideal for going outside refreshed and good for shopping. The new years calendar is a favorite time of the year, the streets are crowed and animated with festive decorations. The hottest and most humid is Feb-July ideal for the seasonal trips to the beaches.

2 Wheel transports are definitely a circus act in this city when it comes to transporting.
Don’t miss: An attempt in walking cross the city roads, walking in between the never-ending flow of impossible traffic. Dodging the hundreds of motorcyclists, cyclists, cabs and cars is a mission you have to take on with safety. When it comes to two wheels, the tip is just walk and they will mind you, just be sure to look each direction check your travelling in as there are vehicles coming from all directions, there is no systematic route in parts of this city.

Don't worry this was a one off occasion with thousands and thousands of people and motorcyclists leaving church
Chu Ben Thanh which means Market. The Famous indoor market in Saigon, stalls, clothes & food.  Just be streetwise.
Things to avoid: Try to avoid being fooled into buying market products at high prices. Trust me they know that you’re a foreigner; by the way you dress and look, so they start the prices at the highest. After all it’s a tourist attractive place, and who said you can’t bargain even if you say 70%. A tip that works is walking away because there is another stall that will sell for cheaper, and then coming back with a lower price, they can’t say no, it works every time. Their produce will always be there the following days and weeks, and your money is all they want. But, when there is a bargain, just try your luck with the discount unless it says fixed prices.

My holiday home in Vietnam, 2 hours from the main city. The luxury in the village.
Off the beaten track finds: I think the real experience is finding out things for yourself and not having things fed to you. Finding the unknown is probably something I call ‘Off the beaten track finds’. Exploring life with no expectancy to what you’re going to experience is something that came about on our tractor ride. Taking a step back in relaxation away from the city and living in the village at my holiday home. The impeccable difference between city lives and life in the village is a place where Iphones or the Internet is unheard of. It comes to show how societies worked without technology influencing and shaping there live, the real back to basics with living.

Capturing the essences of happiness and life that comes with age. The 85 year old brings wisdom shown in his eyes; brings a tear everything. 
Living their traditional lives off farming, growing crops and working for nothing is an ethic you don’t find in the city.  The appreciation of living no matter the money, as families is what brings together their happiness regardless the pay. We managed to come across a small village community that started all from scratch, located a lot further from the main towns. As a less developed country I was able to understand the need for education in this small classroom, supposedly a school of children and the kids faces lit up when they was greeted by visitors like us. I am still yet to discover the undiscoverable; travelling is a definite factor in my life.

Two of my best examples of Street Fashion, Traditional Vietnamese Ao Dai Dress and Saigon City Fashion
Beauty tip: As a man, I would say I don’t have a beauty tip, except drinking a lot of liquid to keep you hydrated and radiant in the sun. Sun lotion is a must, but I still managed to tan like a roasted chicken. When the weather is sunny and humid, makeup is definitely not an accessory during daytime, a hint for the ladies. The last thing you want is to be sweaty with water droplets of foundation running down your face. It’s a different story at nighttime. Being clean and having several showers during the day, you want to be refreshed and cleansed in this weather.

Sneak peak of lookbook posts coming soon! Best yet.
Best outfit or fashion item for destination: For going outside in style, the fashion accessory must have are sunglasses, perfect for the sunny weather. You want to wear light, pastel toned colours in the sun, as they don’t absorb heat. Less material is preferably better as there is no escape from sweating once you exit the hotel. So your outfit would consist of shorts, shirts and good footwear. It’s hard looking stylish in the summer, when all you need is to show skin.

Holiday packing tip: My Holiday packing tip would be to pack less than what you bring before on holiday. For me this was not the case. I ended up bringing more kilograms of clothing for a month than I needed, and you can’t imagine I had to share luggage’s to accompany my new purchases. Pack light and go crazy when it comes to bargains and shopping, just make sure you have luggage space.

What I bought: Where do I begin when it comes to buying on holiday? Being a fashionister and bargain hunter that I am. Buying anything in this country is surely a bargain, but you don’t realize as your paying with the currency known as Dong, starting from 1000Dong equivalent to 3p. I love the market stalls for the craftsmanship, hand made produce, and unique products only sold in Vietnam. Buying clothes at the shopping malls, designer department stores is a must visit.

Capturing the sunset everytime amazes me, no matter where I am in Vietnam. Inside the airport, village or the beach
What I listened to/read/learnt: It’s great coming from an ethnic oriental background; I have grown living in London all my life. It’s a pleasure visiting relative and experiencing another culture every time I visit Vietnam. The country has something to offer every time I visit. With my parent’s guidance I can only speak the language and only respect my life I have now in comparison for less developed countries. I have learnt to respect everything I have, as I can’t imagine what some people go through everyday fighting for their lives. Appreciate the people around you while you can, as you will only realize once they have gone just like the one in a million sunsets.