Beautiful Hội An | Chula House

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Laura in her Hội An Chula House, wearing her husband's design. Her hair pin is a dried plant she picked up on the street while taking a walk.
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The house has Hội An's signature yellow walls and roof tiles.
Laura and Diego are a Spanish couple living in Hanoi, Vietnam. Their fashion brand, Chula, makes lively, sophisticated couture designs with tropical inspiration. Last September I took a calligraphy workshop in their riverside house in Hội An and I knew I had to photograph it someday. The ground floor is dedicated to an Artists in Residence Program where artists can host workshops and art programs. The pictures below are of their second floor, which is the living area. Despite it being quite small, about 60 square meters (around 650 square feet), this space is very thoughtfully designed and charming because of its bright colors and unique furniture. Read more

Beautiful Hội An | My Favorite Arts & Crafts Houses

I adore the houses in the old town of Hoi An! They're uniform in their antiquity but individually unique. They look ill-tended with their old paint and rustic wood shutters but charming because of that look. They're zen but lively, simple but sophisticated. And because of that, I decided to have a series on this blog named Beautiful Hội An to share this town's beautiful places that have inspired me. Read more

Vietnamese Mango Tapioca Pudding

*The Vietnamese word for mangoes is xoài, pronounced soai. Mango_coconut_tapioca_pudding_Vietnamese food_Indiechine-5 Mango_coconut_tapioca_pudding_Vietnamese food_Indiechine-2 If you happen to be in Vietnam in xoài season, you have to try them. Seriously! The mangos here are one-of-a-kind. I remember that sentiment being expressed in an endearing scene from the movie "Indochina" where the main character, a French colonist, handed her adopted daughter a plate of mangos that looked so juicy and delicious. I don't remember much else about the movie but that scene has stayed in my mind for years. Read more

Butternut Squash & Salmon Cháo

*There's a video tutorial at the end of this post. Salmon porridge_Vietnamese food_Indiechine blog The weather in Hoi An has been so beyond perfect lately. It's the kind of sunshine and breezes that are so delightful that it brings me instant joy just by looking out the window. Craig says this weather reminds him of beautiful early summer days when he was in high school in Kentucky. He remembers the soft sunshine on his front porch, the irresistible smell of barbecue in warm breezes that his father was grilling on a lovely Sunday evening. It's interesting how similarities in temperature and humidity can bring back vivid memories from years and years ago. Read more

Vietnamese banana blossom salad

Banana blossom salad_Vietnamese cuisine_Indiechine-2 Everybody knows each other in the small local market near my house, and the sellers there know not only me but also my husband. It must be difficult for them not to remember us - I speak Vietnamese with a Northern accent and my husband is an American who's too tall to walk under the low bamboo roof in the market. Read more

Vietnamese Salad Rolls

Vietnamese food_Fresh rolls_Goi cuon_Indiechine_Vietnamese food blog-3 Two weeks ago, I had the honor to do the photography and web design for my favorite restaurant and cooking class in town. It was two weeks of shooting, tasting good food and wine (which was the best part), editing, and panicking at times. Now it's all done and I'm quite happy and proud with what I was able to finish within two weeks' time. I presented the two websites to my client today and he loved them and I got paid! Now I'm beyond ecstatic because it was my first professional commissioned photography work. By the way, here's the link to the restaurant and the cooking class if you'd like to take a look at my work. Note: If you spot a handsome model in some photos and you think he looks familiar, you're right. That's Craig! (wink wink) Read more

Tết – Vietnamese Lunar New Year

Vietnamese Tet takes place at the same time as Chinese New Year and Korean New Year because we use the same lunar calendar. However, we celebrate with food and customs which are unique to Vietnamese culture. 
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I also carried bunches of flowers on a scooter like her, but nobody took pictures for me.
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Buddha's fist fruits. I'm not sure if they're edible but many people place them on the altar because, well, I guess they do look like Buddha's fists.
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Lanterns, vases and ornaments for Tet in Hoi An. In the North we don't use lanterns.
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Cages of best cage-free chicken for Tet
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6 am in the market
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Dried fruits in the market
Tet has always been my favorite time of the year. When I was small, Tet meant a week off from school, which was the biggest fun followed by new clothes and lucky money. Read more

Hội An Mornings (Photos)

I had never been a morning person until we moved to Hoi An. During our first week here, because of jet lag, I got up early and went into town for coffee, and that has been my morning ritual ever since. Morning is the most beautiful time of the day here, when the whole town is calm but cheerful, quiet but up-lifting. Early risers drink tea, read newspapers, play chess on the street. (Craig mentioned some interesting observations of morning activities here.) I love sitting in the corner of an old coffee house, sipping my coffee, watching people and occasionally snapping a photo or two. This morning I came across these pictures of friends and strangers that I took in the morning hours that I've been accumulating over the past few months.
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A dreamy / sleepy boy sitting on the sidewalk when his parents were having breakfast in our favorite coffee shop. Behind him was a street vendor carrying heavy baskets, selling noodles for breakfast.
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Da Lat – A Vietnamese Colonial-Era Time Machine

Dalat, Da Lat, adventure, travel, vietnam, coffee, wine, colonial, french, romantic I remember many years ago watching the old Mel Gibson, Sigourney Weaver film “The Year of Living Dangerously” one rainy afternoon on television. The otherworldly mix of Southeast Asian climate and emerging communist revolution against the backdrop of decaying colonial elegance made for an almost unbelievably beautiful setting. I remember most clearly a scene in which the main character, played by Mel Gibson, was on the run and hiding in the highlands in an old colonial hotel, sitting by the pool while his caretaker’s wife swam amongst the leaves and lillies covering the water. It was the perfect all-in-one picture of the beauty of decaying colonial decadence, enjoyed by the very people it once cruelly oppressed. Read more

How Sapa, Vietnam can fulfill your childhood social studies dreams

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Standing on the edge of a childhood dream
When I was 10 years old I had to create a model of something from a foreign culture for my social studies class. I remember looking through my encyclopedia (yes, very pre-internet) to see what pictures caught my eye and might be somewhat fun to make. I remember that I kept coming back to a photo that I had seen before, that depicted terraced rice farms somewhere in the world (now I know it was in Vietnam) and so I spent about a dozen hours with cardboard, construction paper, glue, markers, toothpicks and lord knows what else, in order to create a plausible facsimile of the the amazing picture. Read more