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  • Giving children the gift of inner tranquillity.

    Not every parent is convinced that yoga is suitable for their kids, but in fact, there are yoga centres here that explicitly advertise sessions for children, even those from three years old. Some of these are expat-friendly yoga centres such as Sivananda Yoga , Bliss Yoga , Sculpt n’ Shape , Kindermusik , and California Yoga . Ho Chi Minh City is actually the first place in Vietnam to have brought yoga to kindergartens – some local kindergartens use yoga as a light exercise for children from three years old and above. This follows the theory that yoga is not only good for adults, but also a healthy activity for kids. It’s believed to help children to strengthen and maintain flexibility, to get fit, and to ensure their healthy physical development. The main issue is the method of practice, and in this regard it’s especially important to watch what children eat before they take part in yoga activities. If kids practice yoga when they’re either hungry or too full, they are likely to experience side effects on their health. The difficulty in enjoying yoga for kids is that it’s difficult to keep them interested in doing any kind of activity for a prolonged period, let alone one that by its very nature requires focus and stillness. If yoga for adults revolves around achieving a sense of calmness, yoga for kids must focus on the fun aspects, drawing on their attention and concentration to make an impact on their endocrine system. Yoga for kids mainly concerns activities such as playing, storytelling, and using poses by pretending to be a tree, an animal, river, mountain, airplane, butterfly, or turtle, and so on. The practice environment for kids’ yoga should be fun and dynamic, not calm and peaceful in silence as it is for adults.

  • Do it yourself okonomiyaki.

    You’re certainly in the right place to eat Japanese food if you’re partial to the cuisine – just take a stroll along the fashionable end of Le Thanh Ton around the Sky Garden apartment complex, and you’ll see more restaurants serving the delights of Japan than you can comfortably shake a chopstick at. After 40 years of bilateral relations between Vietnam and Japan and billions of dollars’ worth of investment here, the cuisine of the Japanese has had a profound impact on local dining. If that’s not enough for you, however, and your bent for the bento box extends to your own kitchen, you may want to seek your own instruction into the fine arts of sushi and soba. There are busloads of locals willing to try their hand at Japanese cuisine, and the number of courses in the subject delivered in the Vietnamese language are many. If you need your teaching in English, however, you have a couple of options. The first is Overland Club (36Bis, Huynh Khuong Ninh, Da Kao, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam | 84 8 38209734 | email ), which opens classes every Saturday from 1.30pm to 3pm under the guidance of a professional Japanese instructor. They teach a daily menu of Japanese dishes, such as fried shrimps, miso soup, rolled fried eggs, Japanese curry, ramen, chicken rice, and so on. Every class has at least 4 students, and the fee for 2.5 hours of learning starts from VND270,000. You can register for the class via phone, email or using their online form here . A more recent option is the Japanese by Blanchy Street (74, Hai Ba Trung, Ben Nghe, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam | 84 8 38238793 | email ) course offered by Saigon Cooking Class. Taught at the restaurant itself by in-house chefs Martin Brito and Yogo Oba, the course is in two sessions spread across two consecutive Saturdays and costs VND1.4m to join.

  • The Korean Wave has served up some spicy cuisine in its wake.

    With its acerbic tastes and scalding hot chilli dishes, it took a while for Korean cuisine to gain any traction at all in the West. Its recent coming into favour owes more to the success of celebrity chefs such as Edward Kwon and David Chang (as well as the good-looking pop stars of the Korean Wave) than it does to a sudden international penchant for kimchi. Indeed, it was with the gradual ascendance of its popular culture – which made its biggest worldwide splash with the viral Youtube hit Gangnam Style – that the Korean administration began to see an opportunity to spread the influence of Korea’s culture, and one of its most famous resolutions in this regard was the decision to establish Korean food as one of the world’s pre-eminent cuisines within five years. Whether by their efforts or otherwise, the net result has been that the unique taste of Korea has now earned its place on the world’s culinary stage. This, however, is nothing new to the Vietnamese people, who were introduced to Korean food much earlier through the television dramas that became popular here well over a decade ago. Nowadays, Korean cuisine has become a Vietnamese dining-out staple. The emergence of multiple Korean restaurants in Vietnam and its annual Korean cuisine festival that attracts young Saigonese and expats alike speaks volumes about the high regard in which Korean food is held here. In addition, the expansion of the Korean community in Ho Chi Minh City is another reason for the popularity of hansik here. There are generally three types of Korean restaurants you might encounter here: Vietnamese-owned targeting mainly Vietnamese customers; Korean-owned targeting a range of International customers; and Korean-owned and opened especially for their own community. Each of them has different style of service, menu focus, and different taste as well as price range.

  • Death and taxes apply in Vietnam too.

    The romantic image of old Saigon with its grand colonial manors and girls in white aodai carrying baskets of lotus flowers still has a powerful hold over the minds of many expats who want to make this place their home, and Ho Chi Minh City is full of such dreamers. The economic realities of making a living in this town are often far from the minds of these new arrivals, and with most employers taking on responsibility for the formal stuff on their behalf, many never bother to wonder how much of their income they’re spending on tax – and neither would they need to. If only the taxation department were so forgiving – for many foreigners, a failure to become properly acquainted with their basic tax obligations hits back hard. Some expats discover at the wrong time (usually after being slapped with a fine) that they need to prove they’re not earning an income in another country, while others are being taxed far more than they should be, with dishonest employers pocketing the difference. At the end of the day, it pays well to have a grounding in how much of your salary is and should be handed over to the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. We all have to pay them The one fundamental principle of Vietnamese personal income tax is that if you’re living here, then you pay tax on whatever you make, from any source. This is true even if your earnings are technically being made overseas – as long as you’re a resident of Vietnam, you need to pay here . If you’re employed by a foreign company – let’s say you’re living in Vietnam, but you’re commuting online and earning a salary for your work back home – then yes, you’re still liable for tax

  • Across the metropolitan sprawl – in a flash.

    The logistics industry in general is currently considered one of the new stars of the Vietnamese economy. According to the Economics Ministry, 2013 marked a period of significant growth and development for logistics with the birth of countless small to large firms and the expansion of existing logistics giants into new specialised fields – one of which is the emerging express courier service, as well as fully-fledged courses on logistical fields offered by the Ministry of Transport itself. The driving force behind this growth is the booming e-commerce industry in Vietnam. In 2012 alone, the Ministry of Economy reported an industry growth rate of over 100% for e-commerce – Vietnam’s young population and robust network infrastructure being exceptionally suited for development in this sector. It was identified as being literally the only shining point in an otherwise bleak national economy. The majority of transactions within the Vietnamese e-commerce industry require short-distance fast shipment of goods from sellers to buyers, which in turn necessitated the creation of the Vietnamese express courier industry. When regular snail mail won’t do To date, despite being incredibly young, the express courier service is a very quickly-developing industry due to cheap local labour, the prevalence of motorbikes as a form of transportation (which can be easily converted into transport unit by grafting a mini container to the back seat) and an inexhaustible market demand. The express courier service industry is made up of a short list of legitimate specialised express service corporations and countless unregistered freelancers running their own one-person service. Unlike large logistics firms such as Fedex, DHL, and so on, courier companies specialise in third-party courier services whose courier division is a part of a longer logistics route (they usually either don’t offer their service to other entities, or charge an exorbitant fee for

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