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 Culture

The Mud-Tastic Fun of An Giang's Cattle Race Festival

Every year when the 8th lunar month comes around, people from different walks of life gather in the land of Seven Mountains (Bay Nui) to immerse themselves in the jubilant atmosphere of the bare,...

in Quãng 8

Pain, Hazard Clique's 'Big Brother,' on the Trio's Formation and Friendship

If you consider yourself acquainted with the local rap and hip-hop scene, you probably have Pain aka Đại Ca P on your listening radar. As one part of the creative trio Hazard Clique, this charismatic ...

in Culture

How to Make a Bamboo Basket Boat, as Demonstrated by Phú Yên Artisans

As part of the sweltering south-central coast, Phu Yen Province has cultivated strong roots in the arts of gathering and rearing seafood.

in Literature

Literary Journal Áo Trắng Ceases Operations Today After 31 Years

Once a home for aspiring young writers to take their very first steps on their journey towards literary finesse, Áo Trắng will now close its doors for good.

in Podcast

Saigoneer Podcast: The Demise of the Saigon Tax Center; Old v. New Photos of Vietnam

It's time for the second season of the podcast!

in Music & Arts

How a Hanoi Collective Found Audio-Visual Beauty in Bamboo and Red River Soil

Traditional music in Vietnam is a complex fabric woven of many threads. Some strands extend hundreds of kilometers across the country and others reach across borders and oceans to nearby neighbors.

in Music & Arts

The Artist Making a Miniature Saigon Out of Lego Blocks

If a bowl of hủ tiếu were the size of a Lego brick, how many hủ tiếu would you have?

in Music & Arts

The Timeless Beauty of Vietnamese Women in Mai Trung Thứ’s Legacy

Mai Trung Thứ, who lived from 1906 to 1980, was a remarkable Vietnamese artist who graduated from the Indochina Fine Arts College.

in Film & TV

Film Adaptation of Mạc Can's 'Tấm Ván Phóng Dao' Wins Award at Busan Project Market

If Wood Could Cry, It Would Cry Blood was awarded the ArteKino International Award as part of the 2021 Busan International Film Festival. 

Michael Tatarski

in Music & Arts

Nocturnal Animals Music Livestream Series Unites Artists for Pandemic Relief

While bars and nightclubs remain closed, a special monthly livestream series starting tomorrow will give those of us in Vietnam the chance to experience nightlife without leaving the house.

in Quãng 8

From Germany to 'King of Rap' Runner-up: How Tuimi Becomes a Hip-Hop Breakout Star

Tuimi, a Vietnamese German singer and rapper, has become one of the most notable female voices in the local hip-hop scene and been making big waves since her return in 2019.

in Music & Arts

Can Street Art Help Restore One of Hanoi's Poorest Communities?

Can street art lead to urban restoration? Or is it wilful gentrification? In February 2020, the Phuc Tan Public Art Project officially opened — the work on display offers engaging art and stirs up int...

in Music & Arts

The Zoologist Who Makes Animal Origami out of Vietnam's Banknotes

What if you could make art with just VND200?

Linh Pham

in Music & Arts

Hanoi Photographer Marcus Lacey: 'To Photograph a Subject Well, Learn From How It Was Painted'

Marcus Lacey’s first experience in Hanoi was sitting in a bia hơi for seven hours.

in Music & Arts

A Nguyễn Văn Tỵ Artwork Is up for Sale in Hong Kong. His Family Says It's Fake.

Nguyễn Văn Tỵ's family claims he never produced the lacquer screen of a jackfruit tree that was recently put up for bidding.

Paul Christiansen

in Quãng 8

Kim Chi Sun and Charles on the Evolution of Good

"I haven’t lost myself yet, but there are many new angles of me, new realizations; there are some new feelings, new vibes I want to share with you. I want to open up to you," Kim Chi Sun says to her l...

in Music & Arts

Phi Nhung, Bolero and Folk Songstress, Passes Away at 51 Due to Covid-19

Over the years, the resurgence in popularity of bolero music in Vietnam has spawned numerous new stars, but Phi Nhung’s place in the genre as a veteran chanteuse can never be replaced.

in Literature

Vietnamese Novel 'The Mountains Sing' Honored by Prestigious US Peace Prize

The Mountains Sing by Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai was named the runner-up for this year's Dayton Literary Peace Prize in the fiction category. 

in Arts & Culture

An Illustration Project Brings Life to the Pages of 16th-Century Literature

Find yourself immersed in the world of mythical fiction through these enchanting illustrations from the art project Truyền Kỳ Mạn Lục.

in Music & Arts

'Thần Đồng Đất Việt' Author Lê Linh: 'I Will Never Stop Working With History'

For Vietnamese comic fans of the past two decades, the names Lê Linh and Thần Đồng Đất Việt will most definitely ring a bell.