A Dragon’s Sống: Metiseko’s New Sustainable Silk Collection

By: Molly Headley

Designing textiles that value both artistry and ethics.

The importance of a positive workplace.

Whether it’s luxurious silks or quality cottons, Metiseko has exactly what you’re looking for.

Sống - Definition: life [noun], to live [verb]

In the Metiseko silk boutique at 101 Dong Khoi in Saigon, an array of beautifully displayed garments beckons visitors to step inside and run the glossy silk through their hands. Ruby red dragon scales wind their way through cumulus clouds on a bomber jacket in Metiseko’s signature print - Long Dao, while across the room, tangerine waves awaken electric blue depths on a flowy dress in the Sunrise print. Beyond their beauty, there is an ethical advantage and underlying meaning woven into each piece in Metiseko’s new Sống collection. 

Metiseko

Vietnamese Artisans and Universal Elements 

Designed to stir the viewer to delve into the legend of Vietnam, The Land of the Dragon, the hand screen printed mulberry silk textiles are splashed with motifs from traditional folk paintings. Air, Water and Fire, the elements that are believed in the East to make up the universe, create an additional layer of meaning. 

The colour palette of the Sống collection was created to reflect the theatricality of Cải Lương, the country’s traditional opera, with shades of tangerine, carmine, black and Persian blue. This bold collection is a departure from their previous botanical prints and water coloured pastels.

Metiseko was created with the idea of designing textiles that value both artistry and ethics with a strong Made in Vietnam identity. 

Metiseko

How Positivity in the Workplace Results in Excellence at Metiseko 

One of the first truly sustainable and fair-labour fashion brands in Vietnam, Metiseko is constantly working towards complete transparency in the production process. Every piece in Metiseko’s repertoire is made by one single artisan, from the first cut into the fabric to the finishing touches. The company uses the small production motto of “Sell one piece. Make one piece.” 

As Owner and General Director Erwan Perzo put it... 

“When you buy something from us, you’re truly purchasing the work of an artisan from A to Z...” 

Metiseko

Beyond simply constructing the pieces in the collection that end up in their boutiques, there is a strong ethos behind the work at Metiseko. Organic; sustainable; ethical; handcrafted...these are buzz words that actually mean something to the company. 

Things such as fair wages, reasonable working hours, medical insurance for workers and their children, partnered with low environmental impact dyes and Global Organic Textile Standards certifications create a positive workplace and low staff turnover that is difficult to surpass in Vietnam. 

Metiseko

Two Textile Universes in Saigon 

Dong Khoi, Ho Chi Minh City’s premiere luxury shopping avenue is home to two separate Metiseko stores. One encompasses their organic cotton collections while the other showcases gorgeous mulberry silk pieces. Above Metiseko’s Silk Boutique, you can also shop the artisanal homewares of Sadéc District Boutique, as well as quality lingerie offered by Miss30, making 101 Dong Khoi a true stand-alone shopping destination, celebrating local design and local creativity. In District 2, their newly redesigned store features a curated selection of both collections. 

Metiseko

Metiseko’s screen printed textiles and ethical ideology optimise quality and consumer confidence while constantly reinventing their creations. It takes commitment and hard work, but in the Land of the Dragon the creative inspirations run deep. 

Where to Shop for Metiseko in Vietnam:

SILK BOUTIQUES 

101 Đồng Khởi, P. Bến Nghé, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City
140 Trần Phú, Minh An, Hoi An

TANMY DESIGN CORNER 

61 Hang Gai, Hoan Kiem District, Ha Noi

ORGANIC COTTON BOUTIQUES

157 Đồng Khởi, P. Bến Nghé, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City
142 Trần Phú, Minh An, Hoi An

SNAP CAFE BOUTIQUE

32 Tran Ngoc Dien, district 2, Ho Chi Minh City

VICTORIA CORNER

Victoria beach resort & spa, Cua Dai Beach, Hoi An

www.metiseko.com

Image source: Metiseko


Top 7 Souvenirs to Buy in Vietnam

By: Quang Mai

The top 7 souvenirs to buy in Vietnam, whether you are on holidays or on a business trip.

Apart from the joy of discovering a new culture, taking photos and tasting the exotic flavors of Vietnam, shopping might bring you more opportunities to get in touch with local habits.

A shopping tour is usually the last step of a trip and it is always a bit tricky. The second “HCMC 100 exciting things”, a campaign promoting activities in the city, announced some time ago the top 7 souvenirs to gift to friends, family members and loved ones. The results came from a poll voted on by travelers and expats.

Hopefully more of these events will be coming to other major cities, such as Hanoi, Hoi An, Hue and others.


1. Conical hat

conical hat - souvenir in Vietnam 

Non la (leaf hat) is a circular cone made of bamboo cataphylls, notable for it’s romantic adornments. The non la is more than an indispensable tool for people in Vietnam: it has become a cultural symbol. The style differs by region, so for example those of the Tay people have a distinct color, while in Thanh Hoa they use only a 20-hem frame. Hue’s is thin and elegant, while Binh Dinh’s is thick.

Vietnamese wear the non la all year. The shape protects the wearer from the downpours of the rainy season like an umbrella, and provides shade and protection from the heat during April and May, when temperatures climb to unbearable levels.

Local Insight: At a workshop, you can get a hat for only VND 3,500 - VND 10,000. Depending on the quality, price at souvenir shops range between VND 30,000 and VND 100,000.


2. Ao Dai

Since the 18th century, the ao dai has been Vietnam’s national costume. There are three main styles of ao dai nowadays.

“Trendy” ao dai reach to the floor and fit the curves of the body by using darts and a nipped-in waist; the “hippy” ao dai is brightly colored and very popular among young teenagers; and the “mini” ao dai have slits extended above the waist and the panels reach only to the knees.

The usual way to acquire an ao dai would be to pick the fabric first. Usually there are two different colors, one for the long dress itself and a second contrasting color for the trousers worn underneath. After the fabric is chosen, you bring it to a tailor specialized in creating ao dais. Usually it takes around one week until you can pick up the finished product, but please keep in mind that during the preparation for Tet (lunar new year), it can take significantly longer.

Local Insight: An ao dai costs at least VND 700,000. If you can spend the time and have experience finding decent cloth and a good tailor for ao dai, you might have your stylish ao dai at a reasonable VND 1,500,000.


3. Silk

Silk from Vietnam

Silk is woven from the cocoons of the silkworm. Thus, it has always been considered extremely luxurious and only available to the nobility. The days when silk had only been manufactured for Vietnamese royalty is long gone, and the fabric has become widely used throughout the country. Silk and its beautiful products are affordable nowadays, so tourists have a chance to choose their favorites and gift them to friends and family.

Local Insight: The price for regular Vietnamese silk is at least VND 70,000/m and over VND 100,000/m for premium kinds. Silk below that price is originating from China and of questionable quality.


4. Hand Embroidery

hand embroidery from XQ

The art of hand-embroidered pieces of clothing and framed silk pictures is an old handicraft tradition in Vietnam. You will mostly encounter picturesque natural scenes like flowers, trees, animals and birds, patiently stitched one colorful thread at a time. But also daily life scenes, even portraits can be created with this ancient technique. Tourists are frequently baffled by the vast variety of designs, offered in hand embroidery shops, the vibrant colors and the intriguing depth of the artwork.

In some shops, tourists can explain or sketch their individual idea to the artist, who creates a personalized present for friends and family.

If you visit Da Lat, there is a workshop & gallery for marvelous and artful hand embroidery images upstairs in the central market.

Local Insight: You can buy a small hand embroidered product for around VND 500,000. For bigger pictures, the price can be VND 2,000,000 and above.


5. Sand Pictures

Sand painting is the art of pouring colorful sand and powdered pigments on a sticky surface and fixating it later with spray, so it doesn’t come off again. However, there is a second art form called sand painting, which is practiced in Saigon: The artist pours the colorful sand between two glass panes or in a specially designed mug or vase. The layers of sand form an enthralling piece of art, that looks stunning on every shelf and makes an excellent souvenir. Vietnamese sand picture art comprise 4 categories: landscape, portrait, labor scenes and the traditional art of calligraphy.

Local Insight: The price for artful sand pictures ranges from VND 300,000 to VND 700,000.


6. Wooden clogs - Guoc moc

Wooden clogs (guoc moc) were a sort of traditional footwear for men and women alike in the past. After the feudal period, they mostly remained in a trio of Non la, Ao dai and Guoc moc to increase the gracefulness of Vietnamese ladies when attending important festivals or any special events in town. Guoc moc are rarely used nowadays, but tourists can catch a glimpse of them at traditional activities like the Cai Luong and Ca Tru performance.

Local Insight: Being considered as quite old fashioned footwear, the real Vietnamese wooden clogs are hard to find. If you can find some around VND 150,000 then go for it.


7. Musical Instruments

T'rung

A handmade musical instrument can also make a nice keepsake. Bamboo flutes and mini t'rungs are very popular among visitors. Since the flute is just a small bamboo pipe and the t’rung can be easily disassembled for transport, they are convenient to carry home and don’t use up too much space in your already stuffed luggage.

The sweet tone of these instruments will thrill your ears and remind you of the most memorable moments from your trip to Vietnam.

If you are in Saigon, there is a nice old man, playing and selling simple flutes in Le Loi street at the sidewalk. If you are interested in hearing more traditional flute play, there is a student club of young flutists, who meet in the evening hours at 23/9 Park near Ben Thanh Market to play and practice. Nguyễn Thiện Thuật street in District 1 is also known as “guitar street”. There are many shops and workshops for instruments, mainly guitars and their relatives - like the ukulele.

Local Insight: Prices for a t’rung range from VND 300,000 to VND 1,000,000. Simple bamboo flutes come at around VND 10,000.

You should expect to bargain for the items you want to take home as souvenirs. One “trick”, that can be applied in Ben Thanh Market is to browse the fixed-price shops outside and negotiate with the inside shops for the items you want to buy. We also have a blog post on bargaining at the market which shows you some tips to bargain and suggest some of the best places for shopping apart of the Top 5 Places to Go Shopping in Saigon.


If you liked this blog, you might like those:

Top 5 places to go shopping in Saigon

The art of bargaining in Vietnam

Top 5 dishes to eat in Hanoi


Key Opinion Leaders: Influencing Retail Decisions in Vietnam

By: Sivaraj Pragasm

The term “influencer marketing” is a common marketing buzzword used globally by brands and advertising agencies to target specific groups of consumers by involving an individual or personality with a strong social media presence to create branded and unbranded content.

Influencers—also generally referred to as Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs)—are seen as both ambassadors for a particular brand and a representation of the typical consumer with an opinion that goes far and wide, thereby being able to influence consumer choices.

By helping to build awareness and sales among a target demographic—usually the tech-savvy and those who spend more time online than in front of the television—influencer marketing is on its way to becoming more popular than traditional marketing tactics relying on print and television ads.

Influencers in ShoppingImage source: www.cmo.com

The Country’s Influencers in Various Industries

So who are the notable influencers in Vietnam today?

According to Influence Asia Council, Vietnamese influencers are listed in various categories. Well-known “Beauty” KOLs include: Changmakeup, Chloe Nguyen, Trinh Pham and Quynh Anh Shyn.Decao, Chau Bui and Kelbin Lei are sought after for their opinions on fashion. And for food, Helen Le, Kiyoshi Jiro, Ninh Tito and Esheep Kitchen top the charts in terms of followers and social media reach.

Other content categories where these figures are active include health, lifestyle and parenting. YouTube personalities such as An Nguy, Pho Dac Biet, JVEvermind and HuyMe Productions are also constantly engaged by brands to incorporate branded and unbranded content into their channels.

Becoming an Influencer

Celebrity endorsements on television commercials are still a common marketing tool for brands. However, these commercials are mostly staged and the personality in question may or may not actually be using these products.

This is part of what gives the opinions of KOLs a stronger edge. They typically have active Instagram and Facebook accounts specialising in a particular topic, and they start to gain recognition as an opinion leader.

Beauty bloggers for example, often start off by highlighting products which they feel are best for their skin and by applying the products in front of a camera. They then post reviews about the product. This format gives consumers a chance to see the products in action, with a credible review by someone who actually used it.

Sometimes the road to becoming an influencer can appear by chance. For example, when popular YouTube content—like video game commentary by bloggers like PewdiePie, or even videos of new products getting unboxed by tech geeks—receive high viewer numbers the content creator can be transformed into an influencer.

GIF source: Chloe Nguyen

Almost Everyone Online Follows One

In Vietnam, influencer marketing has reached new heights with global brands such as Samsung getting into the fray. Samsung recently launched their Galaxy S9 phone with a campaign featuring YouTube personalities creating content using the phone’s camera and highlighting its enhanced slow motion feature.

More than 60 percent of internet users of all age groups in Vietnam have interacted with an influencer by either liking or sharing their content, according to consumer research firm DI Marketing.

Nearly half of internet users have gone one step further and commented directly on the content.

Most internet users in the country rely on Facebook or YouTube to follow influencers. According to a 2016 survey by DI Marketing, 84 percent of respondents follow an influencer on Facebook, 61 percent on YouTube and 59 percent rely on online news sites. The wide reach of these influencers is the main reason why marketers in the country are resorting to social networks as a key marketing channel.

Three Modes of Engagement

There are three styles that define the way influencers and brands interact.

The first is that of mutual benefit.

Influencers and brands can share a symbiotic relationship by giving influencers the freedom to post content the way they always do, while incorporating the brand’s message. This was achieved by Samsung Vietnam, with the Samsung Insider Circle, a community made up of invited influencers with tailor-made content for the brand. This allows influencers to post Samsung-related content on their own channels without veering away from their usual content and still get paid for it.

One example would be the social media campaign for the new Galaxy S9 phone where KOLs such as beauty blogger Chloe Nguyen released videos of her usual makeup routines that were shot on the phone, using its “super slo-mo” function and uploaded on her Facebook and Instagram accounts. Although the actual video was unbranded, the captions that accompanied the videos, including the hashtags #samsung_vietnam and #WithGalaxyS9 were more than enough for audiences to know what camera the videos were shot on.

The second style is drawing the KOLs by designing events tailored to the influencer’s needs.

Influencer marketing is still a very new trend and many brands view influencers as a media channel, instead of a creative in their own right. Le Meridien Saigon solved this by offering a 6-month long campaign that invited influencers to give workshops and be a part of the hotel’s coterie of luminaries.

The third style is to provide a real experience.

The current practice among beauty brands is to provide a sample of their product to an influencer to showcase and review, which usually yields a positive response by the influencer.

For the launch of beauty brand Kiehl’s’ Calendula line for example, they created a creative concept titled Peace, Love and Calendula and sent out physical invites to influencers for an event at Takashimaya Saigon. At the event, beauty bloggers were invited to the Kiehl’s counter to get exclusive access to the products, and the chance to meet their fans while at it.

Influencers in ShoppingImage source: www.diva-in-me.com

This turned what could have just been a digital campaign, into an interactive, offline experience where products could be seen and touched and the audience could see the product applied in real time on their favourite personality, instead of just through a cold photograph or video on their newsfeed.

If You’re Big, It Pays

As the relationship between brand and influencer continues to evolve, with more integrated brand messaging platforms thanks to digital marketing agencies and influencer platforms innovating ways to reach bigger audiences, being an influencer might just be a legitimate career path for those seeking to establish themselves as a credible source of information, while enjoying the spotlight and the many benefits that come with it.

YouTube pays the most, according to Forbes. Those with 7 million followers earned US$300,000 for sponsored content. On Facebook and Instagram, the influencers reported earnings roughly half that.

Influencer platforms such as Hiip, the largest in Vietnam, has a database of over 2000 influencers with a clientele that includes international brands such as Heineken and Unilever. There are also dedicated media production companies such as Yeah1 Network that specialise in working together with influencers to create video content for them in partnership with brands.

Influencers in ShoppingImage source: image.vtc.vn

Ultimately, it is up to the influencer to determine if they want to be a credible source of information for their followers, or turn into a media channel themselves by becoming the bridge between brand and consumer, or in an ideal situation, striking the right balance between both. This can only be done by being particular with the campaigns they choose to get themselves into and not be bogged down by posting content they don’t believe in.

Banner Image source: Shutterstock


Travellers: VN Lacks an Essential Souvenir

By: Jesus Lopez Gomez

On a muggy afternoon, Vladimir Egoshin—a Russian national living in Indonesia who just arrived in Vietnam that morning—passively eyed the wares that were facing him at Ben Thanh Market.

Asked if he would be purchasing any souvenirs apart from the non la he was already wearing, the only Vietnamese memento seemingly de rigueur for tourists, he shrugged noncommittally.

“I don’t know,” Egoshin said, laughing.

“Everywhere I just buy a bottle,” he said, signalling the beer he was swilling streetside, “and just, you know, have a look.”

As tourism grows, travellers’ spending has failed to follow suit.

souvenirImage source: citypassguide.com

In 2017, Ho Chi Minh City hosted 6.4 million tourists in 2017, according to the municipal tourism department. The 23 percent increase in tourism that year delivered a mere 12.6 percent increase in tourist spending in the same time period.

When Tuoi Tre reported on the phenomenon in March, the city’s tourism officials rued the lack of major shopping destinations but also cited the 2.6 day-long stay that the average tourist spends in Ho Chi Minh City.

souvenirImage source: res.cloudinary.com

That’s about how many days Joost van den Elsakker was staying in Ho Chi Minh City when he spoke to #iAMHCMC. Outside of the “Tintin” comic painting he wanted to buy for his dad in the Netherlands, he said most of his purchases had just been food and drink.

souvenirImage source: justgola.com

A traveller who’s come to Vietnam after visiting Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand—a country that he noted aligns itself strongly with elephant imagery as a sort of de facto brand on its souvenirs—he said nothing in Saigon had yet enticed him as something he needed to remember his short visit.

Video source: iTravel Channel


Metiseko’s Moment

By: Leroy Nguyen

At the 10th Vietnam International Fashion Week in Hanoi

Metiseko made their runway debut and firmly planted their artisanal heels as a major player in Vietnam’s fashion scene.

Metiseko Vietnam
One of the many elaborate headpieces created especially for the runway

The room dims to pitch black and the hum of conversation dwindles out to heavy silence. The twang of a traditional Vietnamese zither fills the room and a woman’s gentle singing falls upon the crowd. Deep, steady drum beats join the chorusas the lights draw up, and supermodel of the moment, Nguyễn Quỳnh Anh, confidently stomps onto the runway in silk-tasseled blue-suede ankle boots. A slinky silk maxi dress in all-over white and blue floral print is reminiscent of porcelain fine china. The sensual flow of her feminine dress, complete with thigh-high split, is offset by the masculinity of a clean-cut, cropped bolero jacket in solid navy. Her intense stare is amplified by precise cat-eye winged liner in a deep shade of crimson, and sharp, bold brows that could cut through ice... 

...Metiseko has arrived.

Metiseko Vietnam
The opening look on supermodel of the moment, Nguyễn Quỳnh Anh

For the 10th edition of Vietnam International Fashion Week, it was expected that everyone involved would be pulling out all the stops. But in a sea of jaw dropping red carpet looks worthy of a museum Metiseko with it’s clean, easy, ready-to-wear garments, was a welcome breath of fresh air. 

The biggest obstacle for Metiseko in the lead up to the show? How to stand up to the rest of the outstanding designer talent and not look out of place while presenting a collection of wearable everyday looks. To answer the challenge, Metiseko turned to what their brand identity roots itself heavily in… supporting the true artisans of Vietnam. Since starting Metiseko as a school project in 2010, Erwan Perzo has focused on building an ethical brand providing high-end RTW collections that - from initial concept through to final product in store - are proudly designed, developed, sourced, and produced in Vietnam, for Vietnam. 

Metiseko Vietnam
‘Lady in Red’ - styling, makeup, and hair were inspired by the traditional costumes and makeup looks of traditional Vietnamese Opera known as ‘Cải lương’

The team worked closely with Fashion 4 Freedom to create three pairs of their iconic wooden platform heels, hand-carved by artisans from the carpentry village of Kim Bong just south of Hoi An. Metiseko also collaborated with a distinguished Vietnamese family who create traditional costumes for the Vietnamese Opera. The collaboration produced the elaborate headpieces that made an impact on the runway with their height, volume, movement, and drama. A French designer based in Hoi An who specializes in embroidery and embellishment was also called upon to create a series of delicate sequined fans that models slowly sauntered down the runway with, as well as silk-tassel belts and standout costume jewellery neckpieces comprised of large brass panels. 

Metiseko Vietnam
‘Fashion 4 Freedom’ created three pairs of their iconic wooden platform heels for the runway show, hand-carved by artisans from the carpentry village of Kim Bong just south of Hoi An

By supporting local artisans and celebrating generations of Vietnamese tradition and talent, Metiseko were able to create elevated editorial looks that completely represent the brand from head to toe, transporting the sartorial crowd into the Metiseko universe. By participating in Vietnam International Fashion Week Metiseko confirmed themselves as an established RTW brand in Vietnam. Validating themselves as a heavyweight player within the industry.

Metiseko Vietnam
Delicate sequined fans, silk-tassel belts and brass-panelled neck pieces were created in collaboration with a French designer based in Hoi An

As the models take to the runway for their final walk, the steady gait of Metiseko’s army of strong women picks up speed. They step harder. Faster. The trill of saxophones and fast-paced strums of electric guitars is reminiscent of a Quentin Tarantino soundtrack. Two months of sweat, tears and dedicated teamwork has produced a runway show that is a true celebration of Vietnam, a celebration that builds to a climax of flaming reds and deep blues...

...Metiseko has arrived.

Where to Shop for Metiseko in Vietnam:

SILK BOUTIQUES 

101 Đồng Khởi, P. Bến Nghé, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City
140 Trần Phú, Minh An, Hoi An

TANMY DESIGN CORNER 

61 Hang Gai, Hoan Kiem District, Ha Noi

ORGANIC COTTON BOUTIQUES

157 Đồng Khởi, P. Bến Nghé, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City
142 Trần Phú, Minh An, Hoi An

SNAP CAFE BOUTIQUE

32 Tran Ngoc Dien, district 2, Ho Chi Minh City

VICTORIA CORNER

Victoria beach resort & spa, Cua Dai Beach, Hoi An

www.metiseko.com

Image source: Metiseko


“Mac Qua!”: Why We Bargain in Vietnam

By: Tran Thi Minh Hieu

Bargaining might seem like a strange custom to first time visitors to Vietnam. Most of us are used to the fixed price system in supermarkets and malls, so it may be perplexing to walk into Ben Thanh Market, one of the oldest and largest markets in Saigon, and bargain your way down to half the initial price to get a simple souvenir.

There’s a history behind that.

The Old System

Before the introduction of the price tag, the only way to learn the price of an item was to ask the seller. It was entirely up to the seller to say whatever price they wanted as an invitation to bargain, and the buyer, having a general idea of what it should cost or a benchmark in mind, would adjust their offer accordingly.

bargainImage source: footprint.vn

The conversation would and still does go on for as long as one has the patience for it. Some sellers are more firm than others about their pricing strategy, and steadfast buyers can simply walk away when they don’t get the price they want. Sometimes this will make the seller think twice–—they’d rather make a sale for a lesser price than let a competitor get the sale.

Ask the Locals

If you want to learn how to bargain properly and effectively, ask an older Vietnamese person. Bargaining creates an opportunity for personal interaction, as opposed to a more convenient yet more impersonal purchase at a supermarket. This is why Vietnamese people from older generations still enjoy bargaining as a part of their life.

“You can haggle at almost every local store. It’s a common practice”, said Tran Van, a pensioner in his sixties. “For example, when I want to buy a chair I look up the price on the Internet, and then I go to a nearby store and they name a higher price. I’ll haggle until they give me a reasonable price.”

bargainImage source: blog.vemay

“Even when there is a price tag on the clothes, I still ask for a lower price to see if they give in”, Le Phuong, a middle-aged housewife added.

Meanwhile, younger people who’ve grown up with fixed prices already commonplace in many stores are more hesitant to bargain.

A group of office girls in their twenties who spoke to #iAMHCMC for this piece said they usually bargain only when going to the market. They feel that haggling in other places is uncomfortable and unwelcome, and they’d rather leave the store in peace. Saving face is more important than saving a few thousand dong, is an apt summary of what these young women shared.

Live Like a Local

Olia Raphaeleva, a young artist from Moscow said she has developed a rough idea of how things are priced after two years living in Vietnam. And with a basic command of Vietnamese phrases—“Bao nhieu?” (“How much”) and “Mac qua!” (“Too expensive!”)—she has become familiar with the process.

bargainImage source: madmonkeyhostels.com

“If the price is not fixed, I can talk about price”, she said with confidence. “As soon as I speak some Vietnamese in a friendly way, and show that I’m interested in buying it, only the price makes me hesitated [sic]. They will give me a lower price.”

When asked what she’d do if the seller refuses to give in, she replied, “I just walk away. They will run after me and tap on my shoulder and I’ll go back and get what I want.”

GIF source: giphy.com

Raphaeleva lives in a Hanoi neighborhood unfrequented by tourists. She has a few favorite stores that she often goes to for clothes, groceries and art supplies, and she usually gets a discount from the owner for being a friendly loyal customer.

“I always go to this hairdresser and once she just gave me a free haircut. And this morning, when I walked by the grocery store near my home, the owner bought me a beer. This has happened many times before.”

She noted that wherever she went, in Vietnam or India or Thailand, people tend to assume foreigners are rich, so they are surprised to learn that she also needs to save money and haggle to buy reasonably priced stuff. But since she lives among local people and gets acquainted with them, they start treating her more like a special friend than a foreigner.

It seems that no matter where you come from, you can learn new skills and appreciate different customs, and bargaining is one of those. It is part of life in Vietnam, so don’t be shy and embrace the experience.

Video source: Collin Abroadcast

A Super Brief History of Ben Thanh Market

Ben Thanh Market was first created as an informal gathering of street vendors near Ben Nghe River, now called Saigon River.

The name Ben Thanh came from the location of the market between a river port (“ben”) and Saigon’s ancient citadel (“thanh”), Gia Dinh, which was destroyed by the occupying French in a military struggle that preceded the establishment of the French colony Cochinchina. After the French colonial powers demolished the Gia Dinh citadel in 1859, they formally established Ben Thanh Market, and moved it to the current building in 1912.

Banner Image source: c1.staticflickr.com

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