This Week in Saigon: Best Events 4 - 11 January

By: Angee the Diva

Angee the Diva rounds up her hottest events in Saigon.

It’s the first full week of the new year, and we’re all settling into 2019. Time to get set on those resolutions - or not! Whether you’ve recommitted to old goals, established new ones, or it’s business as usual, this week you’ll find all kinds of happenings to enrich the mind, body, and heart. This week, why not try a brand new experience with the best events in Saigon?


Art, music and dance - these experiences are sure to tantalize the senses and enrich the mind.

Opera Screen #6: Don Giovanni

Ca Phe Thu Bay Tre, 264A Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, D3 
8 January | 7:00pm - 10:00pm | VND50,000 suggested donation

Saigon Classical, in conjunction with Ca Phe Thu Bay, regularly brings classical opera screenings to Saigon. Through support of donors, they provide screenings with English and Vietnamese subtitles. This time, they present “Don Giovanni”, an operatic masterpiece by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. The story is about a charismatic playboy named Don Giovanni, who commits the murder of the father of one of his conquests. He is then haunted by the ghost of the murdered man who encourages Don Giovanni to repent. If you are unable to attend this showing, the official screening is on 12 January at 2:00pm. You can register online for the event through TicketBox.

Video source: Royal Opera House

Soundscapes: Poetry and Desire by Laura Chislett

Salon Saigon, 6D Ngo Thoi Nhiem, D3 
11 January | 7:00pm - 8:00pm | VND450,000/VND300,000 students (advance purchase), VND500,000/VND400,000 students (on the door)

Salon Saigon welcomes Laura Chislett for its Friday night recital. Laura Chislet is an accomplished flute player whose music is inspired by poetry and desire. As Adjunct Academic at The University of New South Wales in Sydney, Ms. Chislett has released five solo CDs. She seeks to take listeners on a journey of imagination and human expression. Now, she brings CPE Bach, Debussy and recent sounds from Europe to metropolitan Saigon. All proceeds from the program go to benefit the St. Vincent Diem Orphanage for Disabled Children near Dong Hoi, Quang Binh Province. Tickets are available on TicketBox.

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The Heart of Darkness Vietnam Comedy Competition

Game On Saigon, 81/83 Nguyen Cong Tru, D1 | Facebook 
9 January | 8:00pm - 11:00pm | VND200,000

Every year, International Comedy Saigon hosts the Vietnam Comedy Competition at Game On Saigon. The best amateur comedians from all over the city come together to compete for a piece of the VND10,000,000 prize!  The winners of this competition will go on to compete in the All-Vietnam Final in March. Come hear Saigon’s funniest present their best material to the most important people - YOU the audience. Game On Saigon has an extensive craft beer selection and a delicious pub food menu, so it’s sure to be a worthwhile event. Tickets are available at the door, or in advance by email or ticket link. Advance purchase is recommended, as the venue is likely to become quite crowded.

Event in SaigonImage source:


When shaking your booty should always be a life goal!

Afro-Latin Pool Party Vol. 4

New World Saigon Hotel, 76 Le Lai St, D1   
8 January | 7:00pm - 12:00am | VND100,000 includes drink

Salsateka Dance Studio is hosting their fourth installment of the Afro-Latin Pool Party at the New World Saigon Hotel to welcome in the new year. Bring your swimmers, dancing shoes, and happy spirit to enjoy the afro-latin music in a chilled but fun setting. Come at 9pm to learn a few moves in the kizomba class, then stay late to enjoy the party! If you’re a Latin dance enthusiast, you may even consider joining the Salsateka Girl Gang, who is recruiting new members to join their dance family. Get your heart pumping and body moving to the pulsating rhythms of afro-latin music!

Event in SaigonImage source:

Gender Funk Presents: Space Disco - The Future of Drag

The Observatory, 85 Cach Mang Thang Tam, D1 
10 January | 10pm - 5am | VND150,000

If you have yet to experience the gender-mashing spectacle that is GenderFunk, your life is incomplete! But don’t worry because Saigon’s most famous drag troupe is back for their first show of 2019 to bring the future of drag with Space Disco! Teaming up with The Observatory, this show is sure to be full of innovation, antics, sexiness, humour and outstanding music from a great DJ lineup. Expect an out-of-this-world, out-of-the-box, out-of-your-mind experience! GenderFunk unites the party community of Saigon by bringing all-inclusive, gender-fluid extravaganzas that leave audiences gagging. If you plan on attending, you'd better get there early, because this show WILL sell out!

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Hardcore Punk Brutality: Koteka Is the Reason - Live in Saigon

Soma Art Lounge, 6b Le Van Mien, D2 
6 January | 7:00pm - 11:00pm | VND120,000

Event in SaigonImage source: Koteka Is The Reason

Hardcore monsters, Koteka Is the Reason, are appearing live in Saigon, bringing their own version of savage fastcore from Indonesia. Local acts to accompany them include District 105 doing beatdown hardcore, and 7UPPERCUTS with pop punk - both from Saigon. The expansive space of Soma Art Lounge will be filled with chaos, screams, and hardcore tunes all evening long. Head down, grab some drinks, and hit the mosh pit!

Video source: Mental Productions


Kids can have new year’s resolutions, too! Help your whole family expand their minds and rejuvenate their bodies.

Kids Art and Sound Bath

Mandala Wellness, 41 Tran Ngoc Dien, D2
12 January | 2:00pm - 3:00pm | VND200,000

These days, children are constantly bombarded with images, sounds and lights from all sorts of devices. It’s important for their growing minds and bodies to learn to take downtime and relax. At Mandala Wellness, Gabriella Mozelle Pineda offers a class to do just that. She plays the Tibetan singing bowls for them, which sends vibrational energy to a cellular level. After finding a calming space within, children are then encouraged to express their feelings through art. Mindfulness and self-care isn’t also great for adults, so while your little ones are taking some “me” time, Mandala Wellness has a host of classes and services to give you a break too. Advance registration is required for this class by signing up here.

Event in SaigonImage source:

Family Sundays at Push Climbing

Push Climbing, 188/1 Nguyen Van Huong, D2
6 January | 10:00am - 3:00pm | VND100,000 for kids 12 and under; VND50,000 with own gear

Join the Push Climbing staff for a fun and fit time with the family. Every Sunday, they offer a special discount for children to explore rock wall climbing, learn better technique, and push themselves to greater heights. Housed in the eclectic Saigon Outcast space, kids can also enjoy ripping up the skateboard ramps or competing in giant board games. With plenty of food and drinks for both adults and youngsters, Family Sundays is a great outing for the whole gang.

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After you’ve fed your mind and spirit, be sure to feed your belly!

Free-Flow Wine Event

Sago Bistro Cafe and Restaurant, Vinhomes Central Park, Park 2-SH08, 208 Nguyen Huu Canh, Binh Thanh District
+84 90 635 7839 | Facebook 
10 Janurary | 6:00pm - 8:30pm | VND350,000

Reward yourself for sticking to your new resolutions with a glass (or few) of wine. Sago Bistro Cafe and Restaurant and the Warehouse are again holding their monthly wine-food event. Enjoy free flow red and white wine from the Warehouse, accompanied by delicious canapes by Sago Bistro Cafe and Restaurant. After the event, enjoy more wine by the glass at just VND85,000. Gather some friends to eat and drink to the brim at Sago. They also offer a 10% discount for advance tickets purchased, or you can buy tickets on the door. Please be aware that tickets are limited.

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Macho of the Month: Spiciest Taco Challenge

Macho Taco, Shophouse at Galaxy, 9 Nguyen Khoai, D4
+84 76 590 5108 | Facebook
6 January | 6:30pm | VND100,000

Every month, Macho Taco hosts the Spiciest Taco Challenge. Five “Machos” will compete to see who can eat the four spiciest tacos in Saigon without a drink for 5 minutes. The authentic Mexican tacos are prepared by Chef Luis Borja, Jr., who is an international chef with more than 24 years of experience. For this fiery occasion, Chef Luis presents four types for the competition: very hot, even hotter, crazy hot, and “hay mama esto pica mucho” tacos! The victorious competitor will win a free t-shirt and a VND600,000 voucher for a future visit. Reserve your spot in the competition by calling or messaging their Facebook page.

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Weekend Dinner Buffet

Hotel Equatorial Ho Chi Minh City, 242 Tran Binh Trong, D5
4-6 January | 6:30pm - 10:30pm | VND878,000 for adults; VND439,000 for children

Every weekend, Hotel Equatorial Ho Chi MInh City opens its doors and fills its tables with a feast fit for a king and queen! Enjoy an extensive spread of Vietnamese and International dishes, including salads, appetizers and sushi. Be sure not to miss the seafood grill with all of your favorite delicacies from the sea. Your gourmet meal is complete with a wide selection of international cheeses and delectable desserts. Make sure you wear your stretchy pants for this one!

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Escape Hunt and Ubiquest in HCMC

By: Aleksandr Smechov

City Pass tries out two of Saigon’s most popular live detective games, Escape Hunt and Ubiquest, playing the role of a hard-nosed detective investigating a murder mystery.

Outside of theatre and video games, you don’t see much role play or interactive activities in Ho Chi Minh City. Luckily, we uncovered two detective games that drop you in the middle of a murder mystery, letting you live out those Sherlock Holmes fantasies (minus tobacco pipe and risk of death). Escape Hunt and Ubiquest are difficult (to an extent), immersive and rewarding – read on to find out exactly why they are some of the most fun you will have in Saigon.

Escape Hunt

Located somewhat furtively above The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf is the quietly decorated lobby area of Ho Chi Minh City’s Escape Hunt office. Four rooms sit at various angles, blocked off by tall curtains. These are the escape rooms, and you will know nothing about them until you walk in, have the door shut and locked on you, and be given one hour to solve the mystery and find the key to unlock the door.

Escape Hunt HCMC

Escape Hunt is the brainchild of an English Psychologist who, after experiencing health issues and moving to Thailand, developed the idea of a detective game that has 2-5 players pitted against an intricate mystery.

Escape Hunt now has 25 locations, with a slew of others set to open in North America. The Ho Chi Minh City Escape Hunt branch was opened in September and has been popular with teens, universities, companies, tourists and expats.

Escape Hunt Saigon

Three of our staff stopped in for a 60-minute sleuth session. We were ushered into a low-lit room, explained the rules and left to solve the mystery and find the key to the door within an hour timeframe.

We heard the door sadistically lock and some moody music creep up. The game master was available for hints, but each time we asked for help from her we got minutes shaved from our remaining time.

Escape Hunt in Ho Chi Minh City

The puzzles are tricky, teamwork-oriented, and require some outside-the-box approaches. Few if any have solved the mystery and escaped the room without at least a few hints from the game master. Finding the next clue or coming upon an item you were searching for feels highly rewarding, and you get sucked into the role quickly. Time flies as you use a whiteboard to jot down notes and figures, collect pieces of evidence and nervously glance at the large LED clock ticking away.

It’s thrilling, addictive and relies on individual strengths working in unison rather than outsmarting the other person. As a team-building exercise or a rainy-day diversion, Escape Hunt is ace.

To check out available mysteries and booking options, check out the Escape Hunt booking page.


Ubiquest Vietnam

Ho Chi Minh City’s second live detective game takes players outside the claustrophobic confines of a room and throws them in the streets of Saigon.

This doubles as a self-directed walking tour, but you may want to do the tour part after the live game – you’ll be too busy role playing a hard-nosed detective, questioning actors in various roles, finding mafia-tied ancient artifacts or any of the other challenges Ubiquest presents.

For our experience, we chose the Urban Tales game, a murder mystery set in Cho Lon, Ho Chi Minh City’s China town. We were picked up by a cute yellow 1967 Citroen 2CV, a happy-go-lucky young driver creaking away at the ancient dashboard. We arrived at a dilapidated living space, escorted up to the top floor and into one of the rooms, a few curious residents peeking at us through open doorways.

We were briefed, told to search the evidence room and given our gear (map, notebook, water, etc.), including cell phones for further instructions from the head detective.

Urban Tales takes three to four hours to complete. Be sure to go when the wind blows and the sun’s behind the clouds – you can easily get exhausted walking around in the unbearable heat on a cloudless day. Sun block and a decently wide hat are all but mandatory. You’ll be provided water but it’s a good idea to bring a bottle of your own too.

Ubiquest detective game

For entirety of the game, we set out into the streets of Cho Lon with our map and collection of evidence, going from actor to actor, uncovering details of the murder. The characters drop you clues and hints when you press them for information, sometimes refusing you if you don’t put enough pressure or reasoning into your argument. The acting is hilariously campy, and the game would benefit from some natural English speakers with an acting background, but the campiness is tolerable in the grand scheme, and allows you to play out your own amateur detective fantasies without judgment.

Ubiquest Cho Lon

We were pitted against two other teams, and although we were the first to find out the murderer, another team found the sacred artifact before us. Afterwards we all took cyclos to a Chinese restaurant for free lunch.

Urban Tales is an eclectic way to discover Cho Lon – or any other part of Saigon – just be sure to go when the sun isn’t blazing.

For more games, check out the official Ubiquest page.

Best Things to Do with Kids in Saigon

By: Barbara

Many of Ho Chi Minh City's things to do are suitable for families with kids of all ages. If you are living in Vietnam as an expat or just visiting, we list the 10 best things to do with your children in Saigon.

Don’t forget to comment below to let us know what are your recommendations!

City Parks and their Playgrounds

The city's parks are places where childish exuberance, which can be hard to contain in a hotel room, can be unleashed. Van Thanh Park in Binh Thanh District has paths and a field for little people who just need to run, as well as a small playground and a swimming pool. While the kids are busy being energetic, adults can relax in a bamboo hut over a small pond or work up a sweat on the tennis courts.

Saigon Parks

Listening to Songbirds

Tao Dan Park in downtown District 1 also has room to move, making it a popular spot for city dwellers to take their morning and evening exercise. And it's not just people who visit the park. Songbirds are taken to the park's little cafe (fronting Cach Mang Thang Tam Street) every morning, their cages hung from purpose-built frames to encourage them to sing. It's a fascinating experience to visit the bird cafe, especially watching the bird owners take their beloved pets home by motorbike.

Golden Dragon Water Puppet Theatre

The park, which has large playground and an indoor play centre, is a short walk from the Golden Dragon Water Puppet Theatre. The 55-minute water puppet shows, all in Vietnamese, need to be booked a few days ahead.

You could continue the bird theme with a visit to Pet Me Coffee in Phu Nhuan District. This small drinks-only cafe has a resident mini-owl and several parakeets, which can be petted, as well as some larger more exotic birds who hang out at the front of the coffee shop.

Photo Source: Golden Dragon Theatre

Family-Fun in Suoi Tien Amusement Park

One of the city's wackiest attractions in town is the Buddhist-themed Suoi Tien Amusement Park. Allocate a full day here, especially if you plan to visit the vast water park section. The amusement park can be quite baffling if you're not well versed in Buddhist stories because there is limited signage in English. Still, a stroll through the strange displays, which include a wish tree and The Royal Herbal Wine Palace, can be very entertaining. There is also an aquarium, 4D cinema, a dolphin show and the Snow Castle, the perfect place to escape Ho Chi Minh City's heat ... by plunging into a sub-zero world of ice and snow.

Photo Source: Suoi Tien - Andrea Hale

Pretending to Be Adults in Kizciti

Younger kids will enjoy learning about the world of work at Kizciti in District 4. The staff here usually has enough English to explain how each activity centre works. Each child receives a small amount of kizo, the Kizciti currency, on entry and they must decide how to manage it. Some activities cost kizo, and some earn it. A small open-air cafe serves basic food and coffee to sustain the "kiz" and their parents through a long day of "work", which can entail learning to be a pilot, a paediatrician, a delivery person or a firefighter.

Photo Source: Kizciti

Indoor Kid’s Play Centres and Playgrounds

Ho Chi Minh City has several indoor play centres and amusement arcades. In the city centre, Vincom Center has a play area and a game zone in its basement. In District 2, there's a play area in the garden of Snap Cafe and in District 7 there's an air-conditioned indoor playground inside Bee Bee Premium Kid's Cafe (4th floor, 96-98 Cao Trieu Phat, Phu My Hung).

Older kids can while away a few hours at Paintball Saigon, X-Rock Climbing, in the pool at Lan An Sports Club or at the bowling alley on the fourth floor of Diamond Plaza.

Photo Source: Snap Café

Visit a Witch-Themed Café

Younger kids can be entertained for hours at the witch-themed Ba Cay Choi (Three Broomstick) cafe on the third floor of The Vista Walk in District 2. Activities at the cafe, which can be entered via the stairs or a giant slide, include candle-making, baking, hat-making and painting. Make sure you order something with a suitably disgusting name from the food and drink menu, such as bug mud or ghost pumpkin spaghetti.

There are more cool cafés for you to bring your children to: A long rainy Saigon afternoon can be spent playing board games and snacking on poutine at Monopolatte Au Play Cafe, while a long scary evening can be spent eating ribs. (There's a pool in the outdoor section).

Photo Source: Witch Coffee

Playing Detective in Escape Hunt

Escape Hunt is a game played indoors with a group of two to eight people. You are locked inside a room with a mystery murder to solve. It is one of the best thing to do in Saigon for families with teenagers. You must work together to find clues that will help you find out who is the killer and how to escape.

Learning Arts in Vinspace

In the expat area of District 2, there is a range of activities for older kids. Some of the more interesting include taking a workshop or joining a summer camp at Vinspace art studio.

Photo Source: Vinspace

Saigon Reunification Palace

The Reunification Palace is a prime example of a must-visit family-friendly attraction that has a special appeal for kids. The roomy but slightly run-down public areas could be the backdrop for a princess fantasy, while the basement war rooms will appeal to hero-types. Making the palace even more appealing is its location, a short walk from the Haagen-Dazs ice cream cafe.

Families traveling to Vietnam with kids should not worry about things to do in Saigon. We only listed our top 10 attractions but there are many more great ideas that will make your stay memorable. You may also want to read our article What to Do in 24-hour in Saigon.

Arabian Night in HCMC

By: Quang Mai

Funds raised from the event will be donated to Nguyen Dinh Chieu School for the Blind in District 10 to renovate and buy equipment for a Multi-Sensory Room that supports 305 students here to develope their academic learning. Multi-Sensory Learning happens when more than one sense is used to acquire and retain information – so applicable for children with multi-disabilities.


Saturday, 15th September 2012


From 7pm till late


InterContinental Asiana Saigon
Corner of Hai Ba Trung & Le Duan St., Dist. 1, HCMC

Ticket cost:

VND3,165,000 per ticket
VND31,650,000 per table of 10

Tel: (84-8) 3832 9912

Please click here to visit Arabian Night micro website

XO Tours: Much imitated but never replicated!

By: Barbara Dorothy Clarke

We all know that it is near on impossible to copyright an idea and protect intellectual property in Vietnam.

But what does that mean for your day to day business when you have an original idea and an excellent product?

Luckily although people can steal your ideas – in minute detail – and almost totally replicate your offering - it’s the little things that make a brand – and ensure that brand still stands head high above any pale imitations.

Spend 5 minutes with Tung who is the founder of XO Tours and his passion and enthusiasm for what he does is palpable. It is a simple idea – tourists want to see the real Saigon but not on the back of a grubby motorbike and behind an even grubbier driver. Step up XO Tours with female drivers with class, style and excellent English who are also able to provide a female perspective on life in Vietnam.

XO Tours was the first company in Vietnam to offer affordable motorbike tours with attractive female tour guides dressed in traditional Vietnamese Ao Dai. All the XO guides are handpicked and fluent in English but it is Tung’s focus on service that really sets XO Tours apart.

Tung invests heavily in every detail of his brand and his employees imbue the same high brand values. All his employees are trained to the highest standards – whether it is presentation, language skills, driving skills or personability . All employees are full time and their bikes are upgraded at Tung’s expense to ensure maximum comfort and safety for clients.

This is a business where the customer experience is king – people are buying memories and that is what he aims to deliver. Staff retention is key and bonuses and profit sharing make for motivated and loyal employees who are focused on growing the company by providing the best experience they can.

Customers come from all over the world and a high percentage of business comes from word of mouth – simply the best publicity you can get – being number 1 on Trip Advisor for 2 years can’t be bad either.

Bristling with new ideas, Tung started with basic tours – he was the first to do night tours – then first to do foodie tours. Now others are jumping on the bandwagon - some good -some not so good….

In spite of this, XO Tours is expanding and bookings are full – anything between 18-24 guests go out on any one night.

So competitors can steal his ideas, follow the same routes , and visit the same areas, cosy up to the same suppliers…..

Imitate they may – replicate never!

Do you know of any businesses with similar experiences?

Saigon Artbook Did It Again!

By: Phuong Tran

Saigon Artbook Did It Again!

Saigon Artbook is a quarterly publication that catalogs the work of three artists who live in the Saigon area, in the hope of promoting innovative and undiscovered artists. With each catalog, Saigon Artwork hosts a party where people can come to meet the artists and enjoy their work. For more information, visit Saigon Artbook Webpage.

The third Saigon Artbook, held on 24 and 25 April at 2 Le Cong Kieu Street, District 1 in Saigon, attracted a huge number of spectators and fans to the illustrations of Kristopher Kotcher (Frenemy), Khoa Le and Laurent Judge. Strong interest during the first two Artbooks had prompted the organizers to hold the third Artbook over two days. Given the success, they may have to extend future events even further.
The exhibition was only open to people who had registered online for a limited number of free tickets, but such was the interest that all tickets had been claimed within the first half-hour! This proved the effectiveness of Saigon Artbook’s viral marketing.
With each ticket, a person was given two coupons: one for a bottle of Peroni beer and one for the beautifully designed book featuring artworks of the three artists – the main reason most people come to the quarterly exhibition.

Saigon Artbook third versionTwo coupons were used to exchange for one Peroni and one artbook copy

The building that Saigon Artbook chose was a run-down, old-style house on Le Cong Kieu Street in District 1. They had spent several days painting and decorating it, and I was surprised at how they virtually turned it into a new house.

Saigon Artbook third versionFrenemy Artwork on the rooftop

On the first floor, right after a typically French, narrow stairway, was a big room with a yellowish wall offset by windows painted red. This provided a good background for the artworks.

Most people could lurk around this exhibition area, have a chat, exchange their coupons for a beer and the book, and of course talk to the artists.
Each artist had their own ways to express their skills and artistic sense. Kristopher (or Frenemy) occasionally chose a random wall to draw on. Khoa Le created an awesome body-painting on a female model. Meanwhile, Laurent was busy signing fans’ books – well, he not only signed but drew: every single one of his signatures was an artwork in itself.

Saigon Artbook third versionLaurent's signature (I think this one is specially for me!)
Saigon Artbook third version


Frenemy was busy with his iconic cartoon creatures

The second floor was the rooftop where people could enjoy the DJ’s performance and watch Khoa Le’s body-painting model (many guys took photos with her as well). This was a great place for people to relax in the fresh air while sipping Peroni beer and having a good chat with new friends.
I went to the last two Saigon Artbook parties but this one was the biggest and it just keeps growing. I really look forward to introducing my foreign friends to this must-see event in Saigon.

City Pass Guide caught up with the three illustrators:

From left: Frenemy, Khoa Le and Laurent

City Pass Guide: Could you define your style in one sentence?

Frenemy: Cartoonist, colorful with a mixture of graffiti.
Khoa Le: Pop-surrealism meets illustration.
Laurent: Many, many styles mixed together but mainly impressionism and surrealism, I think. 

CPG: What is your source of inspiration?

Frenemy: From the cartoons and comic books that I watched and read when I was a kid. I have read a couple of manga titles before but never get into it much because I don’t like the style.
Khoa Le: From many things, music, film, cartoons, books, novels, magazines, etc. I particularly listen to Radiohead and Muse.
Laurent: I basically read, watch and observe whatever exists around us.
CPG: What is your favourite artwork out of all the ones displayed here today? And why?

Frenemy: Each of my artworks communicates a different message and has its own beauty and characteristics. It would be unfair if I favour this over that.
Khoa Le: It would be my “Deep Sleep”. It completes my satisfaction.
Laurent: It is “Lightning Bolt” because it comprises many styles: impressionism, surrealism, cubism, etc. I also have all the times and a huge variety of objects combined altogether. Its details are so rich that one can easily get lost while looking at the piece.Saigon Artbook third versionDeep Sleep by Khoa Le

Saigon Artbook third versionLigtning Bolt by Laurent Judge


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