Browsing Category Vietnam

Ma Belle Box – Vietnam’s First Beauty Box

mabellebox

Living in Ho Chi Minh City is great. There’s delicious food, friendly people, and warm, sunny weather. But things get a bit murky when you’re faced with having to shop in the city.

Beauty shopping in Ho Chi Minh City is difficult. Yes, major beauty brands (Western and Asian) are here, but the markups are often so awful (literally $25 for a FaceShop eyeliner #GIRLGOODBYE) that it’s better to just wait until you make a major trip back home. Or you can put your faith in the mail system and cross your fingers that everything makes it to you in one piece and you don’t get charged a bajillion dollars in taxes and customs fees.

That’s why I’m SO happy about Ma Belle Box, a beauty startup that launched in Vietnam this summer.

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Life in Vietnam 3

Hi hi! Here’s another round of photos from life here in Vietnam. As with the rest of the photos in this series, all were taken with my iPhone 6 and edited on my MacBook Pro using the CameraBag 2 app.

The past few weeks have been busy, but I’ve been making time to have dinner and coffee dates with friends, and of course, play with my new puppy, Sophia Loren-Petrillo. She’s pretty much the best puppy of all time and I AM OBSESSED. I held back on posting the 94535 photos I’ve taken of her so far but just know that anytime you want to see a photo, I have them.

Hope you enjoy!

theworkshop

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Life in Vietnam – iPhone Edition

I don’t share nearly enough photos of my life in Vietnam on the blog. Now that I have a fancy-pants new iPhone 6, I take pictures constantly, but I don’t want to flood Instagram. I’ve decided to start a little photo series here each week where I can share with you what I’ve been up to, where I’ve been eating, all the good stuff.

This week, I discovered a new cafe/restaurant in Phu My Hung called Eden Cafe. They have a delicious brunch and excellent coffee. They even have a mini library of English books that you can read while you’re there!

brunchateden2 tiles dinnerswithfriendstaco night with friends in D2

pretetflowers notredame operahouse babaskitchenYummy Indian food at Baba’s Kitchen down Bui Vien

saigonstreets apartmentliving beerclub prembistroLunch date at Prem Vegetarian Bistro

buddha saigonviews brunchatedenBrunch at Eden Cafe

valentinesday2Valentine’s Day Dinner at Cobalt Restaurant

lusine notredamesaigon 40years notredameflowers sherylljohnnysaigon quanututThe BEST pulled pork sandwiches at Quan Ut Ut

favoritecafeMy favorite Korean coffee shop in Phu My Hung

fruitsandveg afternoonlight pinkcatholicchurch refineryLate night drinks at The Refinery

I love sharing my photos, so let me know if you like this sort of thing!

xoxo

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Driving a Motorbike in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

motorbikevietnam

Never in a million years did I think that I would ever be able to say that I can not only drive a motorbike, but I can drive a motorbike in Ho Chi Minh City. If you have ever seen the traffic in HCMC, you know that this driving a motorbike here is both exhilarating and a nightmare.

When I first moved here, I was pretty adamant about never driving a motorbike. I used only taxis for the first few months, then graduated to only taking a xe om (motorbike taxi).Then I bought my own electric bike that was cool to use in Phu My Hung, but completely useless for longer rides. After about 7 months of spending money, waiting around, and wasting time, I finally decided to pull the trigger and rent my own motorbike.

I started off with a Mio Classico, built specifically for short women (I’m barely 5’0 ft). I liked it because it’s super tiny, my feet could touch the ground, and it was lightweight. However, it had basically zero storage, and was really awful to ride with two people. I’ve since upgraded to an Attalia Elizabeth and it’s AMAZING. It’s much bigger, and I like it because it has enough storage space to fit a large bag, so I don’t have to worry about driving with a bag on me (a big NO NO in Ho Chi Minh City).

So say you’ve just moved here, you got a bike, and you’re ready to go…here are my tips for staying safe and not losing your mind.

– My friend Nicole gave me the best advice about motorbikes – only drive when YOU are ready. Don’t let people pressure you into riding if you’re not ready. I honestly believe that being here for 7 months and dealing with the traffic daily before I started to ride made me more confident, and in turn, a much better driver. I wasn’t afraid to ride, whereas I’m about 99.9% sure if I had started driving when I first moved here I would’ve been in many an accident.
– Get used to the fact that there the traffic rules are non-existent here. When I first moved here, I couldn’t believe the shit I was seeing on a daily basis. Red light? Doesn’t matter. Looking before you make a right turn? Doesn’t happen. Yielding to make a left turn? HA! It’s extremely frustrating and at times, super dangerous, but that’s just how it is. At the same time, know that 97% of the time, motorbikes will drive to avoid you. Say you’re trying to make a left and there’s just a mass of motorbikes you’re turning into, they’ll move out of the way. I don’t know how it works but it does.
– While driving, try to move with the group of traffic, and stay in a “pack”. Someone once told me the traffic in HCMC moves like water, and they’re totally right. You want to stay with the “river”. If there’s a giant group of people making a left turn, join the group.
– The pollution and exhaust is a HUGE problem for me. I’ve noticed that if I drive without wearing a face mask, my skin freaks out. I bought a pack of 200 medical face masks for about 5 bucks, and I keep a stash in my bike storage. If you drive long distances during rush hour traffic, it’s probably best to invest in a high quality mask that not only protects your skin, but filters the harsh pollutants.
– On the subject of skin, wearing an SPF is a must. The sun is NO joke. I used to have the worst short tan lines on my legs from wearing shorts without sunscreen. There’s a reason why Vietnamese women are typically covered from head to toe while driving. If you’re particularly sun sensitive, wear a light jacket/cardigan while driving.
– As ridiculous as motorbike drivers are, cars, taxis, and buses are even worse. Taxi and bus drivers drive like maniacs. If you’re driving near buses, be aware that they can, and will pull into different lanes at a moments notice, and generally don’t give a fuck about motorbike drivers.
– Driving in the rain here is one of the worst possible things ever and I HATE it. Rainy season sucks, no way around it. Grab your poncho, buy a pair of shoes that you don’t mind getting wet, and drive slow, homie.
– Look forward at all times, don’t worry about what’s happening behind you. Be aware of your surroundings at all times. Driving in HCMC requires 100% attention at all times.
– I’m not that familiar with the small streets in the city center and other districts, so I always have my GPS on if I’m going somewhere I don’t know. If I get lost, I’ll pull over (somewhere safe!) to look at my map.
– Don’t drive with your valuables on you, if you can help it. Always drive with your purse in your storage. I am absolutely paranoid about being robbed on my motorbike, which is why I don’t drive into D1 with my computer that often. Sadly, my laptop doesn’t fit in my bike storage, so if I go work in D1 it’s a special occasion for me. I’m sure that it’s safe most of the time, but better safe than sorry for me.

Have you ever driven a motorbike? What are your tips for staying safe?

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Life Lately: Shopping, Shopping, and More Shopping

Hi everyone!

I only have 3 more days of summer school and then I’m FREEEEEE! I’m so excited that I’ll be able to start posting on a normal schedule again. I can finally start taking product photos in the morning, start going back to yoga/the gym, and focus on what I want to do. I’ve had a blast teaching summer school, and I’m definitely going to miss my kids, but I’ll be so happy when I have free time again.

To celebrate finishing summer school (Johnny actually worked 10 weeks of summer school!), we’re jetting off to Bangkok next week for 5 days. I’m SO excited! I can’t wait to eat lots of food, see some new sights, and most importantly, GO SHOPPING! There’s a Sephora in Bangkok and I’ve already made a wish list.

I mentioned previously that sometimes the shopping in Ho Chi Minh City can be a bit blah, but I’ve found out that all the action is actually on Instagram! I met up with a friend last week and she showed me all of the cool, independent retailers that are making their way online. There are people that sell everything from clothes, to shoes, to authentic cosmetics, typically much cheaper than what you can find in the stores. My favorite shops are popbirdy, where I ordered this AWESOME see-though jacket, linhlipstick for authentic, high-end lipsticks, lookbook saigon for edgy street wear (I totally bought the Bitch, Please t-shirt), and yenshop_vnxk for awesome shorts and jumpsuits.

helloweekendmarketBesides working, I’ve been hitting up flea markets in Saigon. It’s my new favorite thing to do. This past weekend, I went to the Hello Weekend Market in District 1. It was pretty bad ass! It was bigger than the Saigon Flea Market, and featured more local, independent designers. I bought some perfume, some gorgeous kimonos, a new pair of shoes, and a new makeup bag. If you’re interested in seeing a haul post, let me know!

bagsfleamarket bitchplease

Once I get back from Thailand, posting will resume as normal. I’ve just ordered another package (sent this time via express mail) from w2beauty.com, so I hope to get that soon so I can post what I bought. My skin has finally returned to sort of normal (although I have a TON of acne scarring leftover, sniff sniff), and I feel more confident about testing out products again. I also plan on exploring much more in Ho Chi Minh City, as there are so many cool cafes, shops, and restaurants that I haven’t been to yet.

And now, I’m going to get in my bed and watch Broad City because my little ones were all sniffly on Sunday and I feel a bit under the weather. I refuse to be sick for my trip!

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