Tuscan Tower in the Heart of Old Saigon!

Tuscany in Saigon?  Doesn’t sound quite right.  Would expect a more Asian home, wouldn’t you?  But no, there is one very sophisticated SIX level European style home right here in the heart of Old Saigon.  It’s new…built in 2011.  It’s a cool Eclectic/Euro home built by one cool guy!  He’s Vietnamese American come back to live in his Home Country.

He has impeccable taste and a casual elegant style himself as well as in his home!

I got the privilege of a Grand Tour of Mr.An’s home about six months ago.  Delicious!  Loved the place!

Recently I asked Mr. An if he’s let me crash his home and take some photos for my Little Blog.  He consented.  So yesterday I took my trusty camera with me and snapped away.

I’m new a Home Blogging.  I need a better camera.  I need more experience to stage my photos just right. But for now I’m just thrilled to be able to take you with me on this tour!  The house staff were busy cleaning.  I think I gave them a novel interruption.  They were great flicking lights on and off for me as I traipsed to the top and made my way down all FIVE flights of stairs taking in the sights of Mr. An’s Tuscan Tower.

Click on a smaller image below to view the full size slideshow.



After a few hits for homerun and finding myself striking out regarding posting photos, I went into beginner’s remorse and thought if I ignored my blog it might go away!  But no such luck…it just kept calling me back.  So I’m not going to quit.  Well, not YET anyway.

I’m off to Vung Tau tomorrow for a few days.  I’ll keep in touch.  Will snap a lot of photos…and AFTER I complete my BROTHER VISIT posts…..((!)……..I’ll get to whatever happens on this little foray out of Saigon.

SO…tomorrow morning it’ll be “All Aboard” the Vina Express Hydrofoil.  Catch ya later!

HOW TO LINK….link….!?

Today’s experiment day with links.  I’m such a goof when it comes to “just knowing” what to do with all this blogging IT.  How is it many folks…especially the young ‘uns “just know” how to zip that cursor through the maze of clicks and saves and copying and cutting and pasting.  It’s like magic.  Half the time when I’m being instructed I don’t even see the cursor. I’m still in shock that it can be possible to travel at light speed like this and get all the linking done post haste…and all the photos inserted.  And all the other myriad of operations that make blogging easy and entertaining.

But…today I’m experimenting.  Let’s see how I do. Snail’s pace, I know.  But bear with me.  I’m trying!

I introduced myself  here.  Did this work?  Well I’ll just wander back and check.  Hang on a minute.  I’ll be right back.

Yup…Got it.  At least I think I did.  We’ll see Next Time!

How to link blogs

As a Beginner Blogger and inordinately illiterate on my computer. Well obviously I’m not illiterate.  Quite the contrary I’d like to hope.  And hope it’s obvious.  Just as obvious may well be the ineffective way(s) I but the graphics and photos…and especially the links…together here.

I hope to rectify this distasteful situation.  As I check out other blogs, I’m amazed at the variety and gloss and interest that is out there.  Mind blowing.  Quite.  I can’t compete.  So I’ll just try to be an Improved Me and try to keep your interest in someway.

But you see, I can’t seem to decide who I am as a blogger….Hmmm….?  Am I a frustrated…or fulfilled…Interior Designer?  An incompetent…or incredible…photographer?  A glib…or glittering…poet?  Or perhaps I’m a credible…or crazy…artist?  Well.  There you have it?  Obviously I don’ t know (yet)) who I am (as a blogger)  Or possibly even as an homme human!  You be the judge!

And I’ll keep working on it!




Dalat reigns as the Go To Cool Off City in Vietnam.  Not just today.  But thankfully during the dynastic desires of the Colonial French.  Whatever France did, good and/or not so good in this charming country, they certainly did to perfection in erecting notable architecture.

Mingling the mountainous splendor of Dalat with the high and low but always striking summer home architecture of Dalat is a mix that is heady and enduring.  Ergo,…Vietnam’s Go To Cool Off City!


With a population of 200,000 people Dalat stills retains a somewhat small town aura.  The 2500 summer homes of the French spread over the city from faded glory to restored reverence.  Some homes are so far gone it will take a gilded hand to bring back to life.  Others are in a mediocre state of (dis)repair.  And some are lovingly cared for.  Most are not furnished with the European ethos which the French would have accomplished.

A few represent a satellite of a nearby hotel.  Some comprise a resort.  

All are protected and owned by the government of Vietnam.  Maybe a deeply ingrained Socialist Republic like Vietnam does find ways to preserve some important elements of the past. This has not always been their raison d’etre for ownership of heritage properties.  The long, strong arm of a communist party in charge of the country since 1975 held property for the sake of holding property.  Nevermind who lost out in doing so.  

2012 sees a kinder approach in action.  The summery old homes of those just as reprobate rulers in the early 20th centruy are safe from the wrecker’s ball.  Thankfully.  And now as Vietnamese get broader and broader views of their country with greater resources to bring some of the lovely parts of the (murky) past to a new kind of life, Dalat is rising as a Treasure Trove Star.

But the homes of Dalat would not be so notable without the wondrous scenic gorges and valleys and hills and mountains, rivers and streams and lakes and pools to populate the setting.  


And all of this in a climate that is hospitable and friendly.  One forgets the steam of the plains of Saigon, the bite of the heat…and the cold of Capital Hanoi.  No one could not love the thousands of kilometers of seaside flanking the east coast of Vietnam, wrapping itself like a delicious and delicate gem through inlets and bays and streaming sandy beaches along with rocky shores luxuriantly.  But to find solace in the cool-ish temperance of the Lady of the Central Highlands, Dalat is be held in kind arms.

I have visited Dalat many times.  A long bus trip.  Nine hours!  Or a short flight.  Thirty minutes.  The bus forages through countryside, farmland, towns and villages, hills and valleys, tea and coffee plantations. It’s a delightful ride.  Nice to stop and sample the teas and coffee of those green hills. See the bright white coffee bush blossoms and their delicate scent. Or when the blossoms are gone there are the great green bunches of beans hanging in fertile clusters.

Flying to Dalat passes so quickly one has barely buckled up for take off when one must buckle up again for landing.  The airport is a new yellow fancy rising out of the remains of the old airforce base.  It’s a large inviting child’s play structure.  Good connections on nimble new buses cool and comfortable zip to the city. 

Dalat…all those summer homes, cabins to cottages to villas, flora and fauna dancing everywhere, gardens and shops and cafe and markets.  They are all here.  Something for everyone.  And most of all…cool comfort.

There is something for everyone here.

DAY 4 OF BROTHER VISIT…Tuesday, May 29

Can’t believe that we have to say Good-bye today…already.  But never mind, we have the whole day. Dave’s plane departs at nearly midnight!  Maybe  today we’ll relax a bit more.  Find the time to breathe a bit.  We’ve been running around seeing the sights and dining a bit on the swank.  We’ll find something(s) quieter to keep us busy today.  How’s that for an oxymoron? Well, we’re not morons so we start with breakfast at the hotel.  It’s a small dining room, really just for guests.  But the manager’s assured me we can be guests for this morning.  We have eggs and coffee.

The ceiling makes me smile.  A bit of grandeur in a small space.  Vietnamese are good at inventing creative ceiling work. Can’t say I always find it appealing, but this one’s a STAR!

I said we’d relax a bit more today, didn’t I?  Off for some Royal Treatment.  My favorite place for a foot massage.  Here they include a head, neck, arms and back massage too!  Told ya it was the Royal Treatment!

I guess if the staff practice on each other enough they should know what they’re doing.  Well that’s the logic anyway.

Here’s the beginning…a head and face massage with some real old fashioned liniment to get the nose breathing in some healing fumes!

You’ll have to believe me…the masseur/masseuses really did a great job.  An hour and a quarter massage for 10 bucks including tip.  Even a BAD massage might be worth #10!

Time to head back to the hotel to check out.

There are some cool vintage cars schlepping around Saigon.  Those French officers knew how to live the good life.  Or did this one belong to an American officer…?  Anyway, it’s a Vietnamese car afficionado driving the old sedan these days…and a ton of new ones too!  They say there are more Rolls Royce’s per capita in Vietnam than any other country right now.  Hmmm….how did THAT happen?  (A little corruption sometimes goes a long way…ha!  Oh dear, what did I just say…?)

Here are couple of officials to direct Life In The Fast Lane here in Old Saigon.  Bet they don’t drive Mercedes Benz.  Probably not even a car.  Well, they do tell us where to park (our motorcycles) and keep Traffic Order.  What little there is.  Unless you’ve been here you’ll never get THAT joke!   Noon now.  Time to check out.

Checkout over.  Off to the new Bitexco Tower.  The tallest building in Vietnam.

Wikipedia explains again:

Bitexco Financial Tower is a skyscraper in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, owned by Bitexco Group, a Vietnamese company. With 68 floors above ground and three basements, the building has a height of 262.5 metres (861 ft), making it the 124th tallest building in the world. It was designed by New York City based Carlos Zapata Studio, and is located in the business district of the city. The tower was the tallest building in Vietnam from 2010 to early 2011 when Keangnam Hanoi Landmark Tower topped out on 24 January 2011.


The groundbreaking ceremony was held in September 2005. Two years later, in June 2007, construction of the tower started and was scheduled to be completed in mid-2009.[2] The tower, however, topped out in mid-2010 and had its inauguration ceremony on 31 October 2010.


Bitexco Financial Tower has more than 16 elevators that can reach any position and any floor in the building within 45 seconds. When the building comes into operation, about 10,000 people will work there. Because of its size, the project is designed with three basements covering 33,000 square metres (360,000 sq ft) for parking and for equipment for the building’s operation. The tower is located on an area of 6,000 square metres (65,000 sq ft) with the floor area of over 100,000 square metres (1,100,000 sq ft). Total estimated cost of this project is more than US$220 million. With the completion, Bitexco Financial Tower is the tallest building in Ho Chi Minh City, reaching 262.5 meters (861 ft) in height. The tallest building in Vietnam will still be the Keangnam Hanoi Landmark Tower at 336 meters (1,102 ft). The tower is mostly made of steel and glass and shaped as a lotus petal. The lotus is considered a symbol of Vietnamese culture


A helipad is located on the 50th floor at the height of 191 meters (627 ft) from the ground. This helipad is a unique feature of the tower, projecting outward from the tower itself. An observation deck is also located on the 49th floor, below the helipad. At this height, visitors can see a 360° view of the city. Access to the observation deck is a ticketed feature. Each ticket costs 200,000 VND (about 10 USD).

Yeah…about $10 each to the SkyDeck…floor 49…the official observation floor.  But we’ll beat the system.  We head to the 50th floor.  It’s free to get there.  We can get a coffee there for half that and take in the view while we’re at it.  Wow, expensive coffee!  (But let’s not be TOO cheap!)

Yup, it’s a long way up.

Hey, wait a minute.  It’s not THAT big a deal.  Just here in Saigon.  It’s the biggest deal we’ve got.  To get high anyway.

I suppose it’s always good to view a city from overhead.  Up there Saigon shows an unexpected amount of nature with all the trees those Green French planted a hundred years ago lining the streets.

Time for lunch.  We pass along the concourse of The Tower and head across the street.

We pass a huge window advertising a fashion shop.  “Katy is all in”.  I chuckle wondering if Dave’s grand daughter, Katy is “all in”.  She’s just completed High School. Graduates this week!  She MUST be “all in”.  It’s a big milestone!

And one last look at Bitexco Tower again…thanks to Wikipedia (again!)

Nhu Lan cafe is one of my favorite places for a cheap, good lunch.  Especially Banh Mi…the famous Vietnamese sub-style sandwich.  Subway, eat your heart out!  And the Banh Mi is only $1…!

Not sure how impressed Dave is with HIS Banh Mi.  Maybe Subway is calling!


Lunch is over.  We must stick to our schedule on this relaxed day.  Ha!  After a short stop back at home we head out to visit one of my great friends.  A famous Vietnamese art collector.  He and his wife live in a suburb about 40 minutes from Downtown Old Saigon.  Mr. Long began collecting only 10 years ago.  He has managed to amass more than 1500 paintings.  Most of the artists are dead.  So you can imagine his Collection is not Small Stuff.  Too bad it’s that way.  Why can’t more artists get famous before they leave us?  Well, who said life always makes sense?  Mr. Long and his wife Ms. Thao live in a lovely 4 storey home they built 3 years ago.  The second floor is a display gallery showcasing about 50 works of art.  Mr. Long and Ms. Thao’s most recent acquisition is their 2 month old Little Darling.  A girl.  She slept the entire time we visited.  We spent most of the time in the Gallery.  Mr. Long discussed a lot of history and information of his collection.  It was fascinating.  I’ve been there several times. But I always enjoy his talks.  Downstairs on the ground floor we admire some of their antiques and sit for awhile before we say Good-Bye.

Home again.  Dinnertime.  Before we get in a cab again.  Destination Tan Son Nhat International Airport.

Well…as they say, All Good Things Must Come To An End.  Asiana Airlines heads for Korea at 11:39pm.  The monitor says they’re on time.  Good-Bye is seldom fun.  But memories of this visit are!  A BIG HUG.  And you’re on your way, Dave.  Air flights are nothing new to you.  But no one really looks forward to those long hauls, no matter how seasoned one is.  Hopefully you’ll sleep well in the Seoul Airport…the famous Incheon Terminal.

See you next time…Soon I hope.