in In Plain Sight

Hanoi's Largest Indoor Aquarium Is Surprisingly Impressive for a Mall Attraction

I am a champion of the public aquarium. For many people, the aquarium is the only place where they can meet marine life outside of perhaps a wet market or seafood restaurant. Some research suggests that watching fish swim around can reduce stress and lower blood pressure, and that seeing marine life in their (simulated) habitats can inspire people to care more about these endangered species in their besieged environments. For the serious study of marine life, aquaria allow biologists to observe the behaviors of animals that are otherwise difficult to observe in nature. Vietnam has a few public aquaria: the Viện Hải Dương Học and Trí Nguyên Aquarium in Nha Trang, the Vinpearland-branded aquaria in Hanoi, Phú Quốc, and Nha Trang, and a handful of others. When Vietnam’s newest aquarium opened at the end of last summer, I had to go take a look.

Paul Christiansen

in Loạt Soạt

Social Commentary, Empathy in Nguyễn Quang Thân's Short Story Collection

Nguyễn Quang Thân passed away on March 4, 2017, several weeks before I moved to Saigon. So of course I never met him, but I feel like I know him. My first introduction was via An Insignificant Family, the fictionalized memoir written by his wife, writer Dạ Ngân, which includes a description of the 10 years they spent apart, writing letters to one another from opposite ends of the nation, followed by their life together. In the years since I first interviewed her about that novel, I’ve been blessed to be adopted as her son; one of the greatest gifts of my life. No visit with her goes past without him being mentioned. For years, Nguyễn Quang Thân has simply been Ba Thân. 

Paul Christiansen

in Music & Arts

At Bùi Chát's Painting Exhibition, a Freedom to Feel Without Preconceptions

Contemporary art can intimidate viewers. People often think they need familiarity with certain histories, theories, philosophies and biographies to appreciate a painting. I have friends who do not have a formal art education or extensive art background and thus think visual art is not for them. 

Paul Christiansen

in Literature

How Nam Cao Almost Ruined My Favorite Canal Cafe

Spoilers for an 80-year-old story that every student in the nation is required to read: the dog dies, the old man dies, his son's misfortunes show no sign of abetting. Simply, misery abounds at the end of “Lão Hạc.”

Paul Christiansen

in In Plain Sight

On a Boat Ride Through Nhiêu Lộc Canal, a Fish's-Eye View of Saigon

Could your life in Saigon be made into a quirky indie film? 

in Music & Arts

Galuocad's Artworks Create a Universe of Very-Vietnamese Whimsy

Staying in one place for an extended period can lead to what's known as the "boiled frog effect."

in Loạt Soạt

A World of Riveting Medically Inspired Magic in Vanessa Le's YA Debut

Captured by Butchers, the “blackmarket bogey men who deal in rare goods,” Nhika Suonyasan is caged and auctioned off to the city’s elite. A figure in a fox mask attempting to purchase her is outbid by a rich family that carts her off to a mansion that boasts luxury beyond anything Nhika has ever seen. The family immediately commands her to heal a witness to the wealthy patriarch’s death.

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in Music & Arts

Illustration Series 'Phố Trong Hộp' Preserves Our Street Corners in a Tin Can

The cheeky illustration project “Phố Trong Hộp” (City in a Box) was conceived when its author Khánh Băng started merging Vietnam’s quaint street corners with some of the country’s most iconic FMCG pro...

in Literature

Guilt, Mortality, and Hope in 'Khát Vọng Cho Con' by Poet Du Tử Lê

“We are like fruits forcefully ripened, a generation of premature adults, a generation of misery.”— Du Tử Lê.

Paul Christiansen

in Loạt Soạt

Thuận’s Novel 'Chinatown' Targets the Tedium of Migration

Vĩnh, born in Hanoi to a Vietnamese mother who studied in the Soviet Union and teaches English in France, and an ethnically Chinese father raised in Hanoi but now working in Chợ Lớn, dreams of the day...

in Music & Arts

OHQUAO Lifts Young Designers to the Forefront of Vietnam's Creative Presence

“What we wanted was to bring iconic images of Vietnam to a global audience — metal doors, plastic stools, cà phê sữa and at the same time use these as tools for people to become connected,” said Hoa P...

in Culture

Ghosts and Other Myths: How Vietnam Celebrates the 7th Lunar Month

In Vietnamese customs, the lunar month of July contains many special days of worship and celebration, with various traditions.

in Music & Arts

Khánh Hợi, Incomparable Cải Lương Icon of Northern Vietnam, Passes Away at 100

Earlier this month, Merited Artist (NSƯT) Khánh Hợi passed away in Hanoi at 100 years old. She was a cải lương legend with enthralling roles that shall live on in the heart of the community....

in Ton-sur-Ton

Great Vietnam Resurrects Nguyễn-Era Fashion, One Traditional Costume at a Time

In the last four to five years, ancient Vietnamese costumes have gained more visibility, becoming a welcome sight among young locals thanks to the efforts to reproduce and promote historic fashion fro...

in Loạt Soạt

Once Derided, 'Lục Xì' Is a Trail-Blazing Lesson in Nuanced Sympathy

Lục Xì is a reportage written by Vũ Trọng Phụng in the first volume of Tương Lai newspaper in 1937. In the series, Phụng describes his experiences visiting the dispensary (nhà lục xì) where prostitute...

in Music & Arts

Japan-Vietnam Football Manga 'Sơn Goal!' Releases 1st Volume in Vietnamese

If Captain Tsubasa was a treasured part of your childhood, perhaps you can give Sơn Goal! a try. 

in Culture

From Oral Lore to a Mini Encyclopedia of Folk Demons, Ghosts, and Restless Spirits

River entities hiding the bodies of drowned victims, spectral ma lai whose head and guts hover in the air, ma trành spirits luring unassuming victims into the path of tigers, or the ghosts of a family...

Paul Christiansen

in Quãng 8

Born in Cần Thơ and Raised in the US, Rapper Mixed Miyagi Stays True to His Many Roots

"Miền Tây sông nước tao ngắm cánh đồng xanh / Buổi sáng là thức dậy để đi cày mà làm ăn / Trên đời này thành công là siêng năng / Không có giống mấy thằng chó, có chút tiền rồi kiêu căng."

Linh Pham

in Culture

Banana Island Is a Peaceful Oasis Amid Hanoi, but for How Much Longer?

As the xe ôm is about to reach the halfway point of Long Biên Bridge, I tell him to stop.

in Culture

An Exploration of H'Mông Fashion Through the Eyes of a Young H'Mông Curator

Combining elements of the traditional and the modern, Hnubflower and her collaborators have brought to life a project to recreate the fashion of many H’Mông communities in provinces across Vietnam.

in Culture

The Collector Preserving Decades of Saigon History, From Vintage Brands to Pandemic Memories

"A Việt Kiều customer living in France paid me a visit. She looked at my sofa and started tearing up because its design was so similar to one she had in her childhood home. She said she missed home an...

Paul Christiansen

in Loạt Soạt

'Chronicles of a Village' Is an Avant-Garde Deconstruction of the Familiar Rural Vietnam

How would you tell the story of your birth soil?

in Quãng 8

From Indulgent Sadness to Renewed Optimism: The Evolution of Nhạc Của Trang

Over the last few years, Ngô Minh Trang (better known as Nhạc của Trang) has become a household name of the local indie scene thanks to a repertoire of melancholy, poignant songs. This year, after tak...

in Postcards

Saigon Postcard No. 30: The Cacophony of a Healed Saigon

It doesn’t feel so long ago that Saigon went into battle mode against invaders of microscopic scales.

in Quãng 8

Hiimhii Used to Struggle at Karaoke, so He Decides to Write His Own Songs

Despite his late entrance in the music scene, Hiimhii and his trusty ukulele has quickly won the hearts of many Vietnamese indie fans with his mellow, contemplative compositions.

in Ton-sur-Ton

In Seattle, a Vietnamese Jewelry Maker Finds Comfort in the Quirky and Queer

The big, bold, and fun accessories with an air of mystique that Đinh Nguyễn Song Khanh and their spouse, Meiyin, create under their brand XYZ reflect their definition of queer fashion in the US, where...

Khôi Phạm

in Film & TV

Review: 'Maika' Is What Happens When You Take Children Seriously

Maika is a loving tribute to Vietnam’s childhood icon of the 1980s, but for those who didn’t grow up with the original Eastern European series, what’s in it for us?