This issue’s cover story is based on a recent visit to lively Ho Chi Minh, a vibrant city that’s so unpredictable that hawker stalls and rundown dry goods mom and pop shops exist alongside chic Vietnamese boutiques, a beautiful opera house and even a six-star hotel with equally surprising design.
To discover what’s good about Ho Chi Minh – or Saigon, as many old timers have reverted to calling it – the Travelife Magazine team split up in search of all kinds of adventures.
Travelife General Manager Angelica Bayona took our TV crew on a tour of the Ho Chi Minh’s main attractions, and then they all ended up on a wooden boat for a relaxing sail down the Pearl River.
Meanwhile I hit the streets of Saigon in search of iconic souvenirs, clothes by indie designers, and the best things to bring home from Vietnam. One of the brands I stumbled on was Minh Leong, a company that has been making fine Vietnamese porcelain pieces for decades. At one of its branches, at the Takashimaya Shopping Center, I met Min, great-granddaughter of the founders of Minh Leong, and she showed me the heirloom items she is proudest of.
BUYING VIETNAMESE PORCELAIN
A blue-and-gold dinnerware service was laid out beautifully on a long table in one corner of the store, mixed with pieces from their other collections. “The President of Vietnam has this same dinnerware set,” she told me with a proud smile. I had already been thinking about buying a service for eight, but the idea that the Vienamese head of state was using the very same one for his guests literally “sealed the deal.”
I quickly handed over my credit card before I could change my mind, and with some expert packing I managed to fit everything into my luggage and bring this home.
A HOLIDAY HOME IN MYKONOS
In this issue, too, are some wonderful articles featuring truly interesting travels.
The award-winning architect Galal Mahmoud talks about his family holiday home on the Greek island of Mykonos and recalls a visit to Bali that blew him away with new ideas about designing in harmony with nature.
THE ULTIMATE ROADTRIP FROM BEIJING TO BERLIN
It was the stories of Shangri-l Mactan General Manager Rene Egle, however, that literally left me open-mouthed. Some years back, he took to the road with a replica of a 1936 BMW motorbike, and motored on a road trip from Beijing to Berlin. This is an 11,800 kilometer roadtrip through some of the least traveled places on the planet.
It wasn’t really a race, but it certainly felt like it as he and his friends tried to make it to some form of civilization to find shelter before nightfall each day. One of his best memories involves an unexpectedly warm welcome with sausages and vodka in the middle of a rainy night by a small group of villagers in Siberia.
The tales travelers live to tell are indeed wondrous. And this issue will definitely give you many ideas for wonderful adventures of your own.