Tatler Indochina-1

Tatler – Royal Command

It may be one of VIetnam’s most beautiful cities, but miserable conditions are all too common in Hue. The country’s former imperial capital has a reputation for bad weather meaning that a mission to reach the resting place of Emperor Gia Long, the oldest of the royal tombs scattered erratically along the banks of the Perfume River, during the winter months is often shrouded in mystery as thick as the freezing cold mist that regularly envelops the city. Indeed, the thick cloying mud and the cavernous puddles that pockmark the road to the tomb are enough of a deterrent for some local guides to feign ignorance of its whereabouts when quizzed by overenthusiastic tourists. Such amnesia is common in a part of the world that has grown weary of dwelling upon its past. After decades of war and deprivation, the former colonies of IndoChina have each emerged, in very distinct ways, as prime tourist destinations. In Vietnam, there is a sense of lightning progress and blockbusting attractions, such as the limestone karst-studded wonderland of Halong Bay. In Cambodia, the darkness…

Tatler Hanoi-1

Tatler – High on Hanoi

For a haven in the heart oF one of the world’s noisiest cities, Hanoi Social Club is getting pretty loud. Customers surround the chunky wooden tables that dominate the downstairs portion of the venue. Fuelled by potent, treacly sweet Vietnamese coffee, their fingers pound at the keys of their laptops creating a surprisingly intense low level burr. Later this evening, Hanoi’s contingent of musicians will take centrestage at one of the Social Club’s regular open mic sessions, rambunctious affairs that play host to everything from ukulele virtuosos to tone-deaf tryers. For now, however, the gorgeous 1920s colonial villa in the heart of the city’s Old Quarter is given up to a MacBook- toting motley crew of bloggers, journalists, curators and other creative types – both foreign and Vietnamese. Fusing Indochinese charm with a vibe familiar to anyone who has spent any time in hipster enclaves such as Fitzroy in Melbourne or Williamsburg in Brooklyn New York, the Social Club is indicative of a shift that has seen Hanoi cement its reputation as Vietnam’s cultural hub. When it comes to bohemia,…