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  • Vietnamese Coins

    Vietnam’s own heavy metal is fading away.

    It was December the 17th, 2003, when the Vietnamese State Bank began issuing the 5,000, 1,000, and 200 dong coins now in circulation. The coins for VND2,000 and VND500 followed on almost four months later. They were quite distinct from one another, with the larger denominations cast in the same coppery colour while the VND500 and VND200 coins were a silvery white. All of the coins featured the Vietnamese emblem. They were issued in the anticipation of coin-operated technologies in public

  • Tanning

    Getting your tan in a can?

    It won’t be news to you that Vietnam is a country where being a little darker than average is a whole lot less likely to be considered beautiful by local standards. This is a place where the poorest of manual labourers are those who by force of necessity have to stand in the sunshine throughout the whole day, every day – making a deep tan a telltale sign of poverty. Those with enough leisure hours in their lives to wonder about getting a tan in Ho Chi Minh City are precisely those least likely

  • Being Asked to Leave

    It can get much worse than a pink slip.

    Whether you’re a bigwig at a multinational corporation or a fresh graduate working your first gig as an English teacher, getting the pink slip is one of the least pleasant things that can happen. This is especially true in the case of Vietnam: since the work permits are issued for a specific workplace, losing your job will also mean losing your right to legally remain in the country on a temporary residence card. It is, therefore, important to familiarise yourself with the local laws governing

  • Nha Trang: History and Attractions

    Beyond sand and sea, Nha Trang has something to offer to everyone... even on a rainy day.

    Looking at Nha Trang today, it’s hard to believe that the area used to be deserted until the 20th century. The city itself was established in 1924 by decree of the Governor-General of French Indochina, and since then it grew rapidly to become the bustling resort town it is today. Given Nha Trang’s short history, it’s not surprising that there are very few historical sites there – but whatever the city lacks in the sightseeing department it makes up for with its long sandy beach, as well as many

  • Limes

    The goliath of Southeast Asian exotic fruit.

    Vietnamese people may put on an expression of mild confusion if you start to ask questions about lemons and limes. Ask for a lemon here, and you’ll be handed something smaller and greener than you might expect – the reason being that in the Vietnamese language, the two fruits are just different species of the same thing, known collectively as chanh. All varieties of chanh are usually translated using the English term “lemon”. That being said, most Vietnamese lemons are invariably limes, and

  • Tattoos in Vietnamese Culture and History

    You’re not Vietnamese unless you have a tattoo – that’s how it used to be.

    As an art form, tattooing is viewed with a considerable level of prejudice in Vietnamese society. There’s a clear divide in opinion here concerning tattooing and tattooed people. Generally, people over the age of about 35 see tattooing as something only done by the criminal elements of society or by those close to them, whereas younger Vietnamese people are much more open (although some are no less prejudiced) to tattooing. As Vietnamese celebrity Cuong Em (member of the Vietnamese rock band

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