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Indulging in the Natural Splendors of Phu Quoc

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Phu Quoc’s rapid rise in popularity has come, in part, thanks to people’s desire to escape claustrophobic cities and their accumulation of traffic, construction noise and hectic routines, and connect with nature.

And while the 574-square kilometer island off the coast of Cambodia is more spacious than many people imagine, development has ramped up drastically, with numerous international flights resulting in increasingly crowded stretches of resorts on the island. Large sections, however, remain relatively pristine, especially on the northern end, where Fusion Resort Phu Quoc rests near the national forest.

“Here, try this!” my Fusionista, the resort’s version of a personal concierge, Nguyen, says while leading me to my room. Plucking a light purple fruit from a tree, she explains: “This is a sim berry, a specialty on the island.” The somewhat tart, subtly floral berry grows naturally on the expansive property, along with a variety of colorful flowers, palm trees and bushes. The carefully manicured grounds make a great first impression and serve as the ideal location for a romantic getaway or family-focused vacation.

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During a visit earlier this month, Peter Neto, the resort’s general manager, explained that in the not-so-distant past, when the island was largely undeveloped, this northern region was neither good for growing crops nor especially near any suitable port for fishing, and thus it remained largely untouched. It retains that sense of remoteness and privacy to this day.

“Fusion’s design team envisioned a resort where guests would feel at home from the moment they walk in,” Neto explained when discussing the layout for the resort, which consists of 130 private villas spread across 24 hectares. Each villa has its own private pool and the natural, gradually sloping walls that surround each one allow guests to rest in the spacious gardens and savor a sense of isolation. The shade trees lining the walkways and large room windows revealing verdant swaths of grass instantly remind people of what they are missing out on when living in a concrete-cluttered metropolis.

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The property is bordered by a river on the north side and 240 hectares of native jungle to the south. The 5.3 km private road weaving through the thick forest and down the beach is perfect for hiking, running or cycling with one of the bikes available for all guests. Among the other opportunities to enjoy the outdoors are a tennis court and adventure club for kids filled with games and activities.

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Additionally, the wide stretch of meticulously managed oceanfront allows visitors to play volleyball, go kayaking or simply lounge at the beach bar sipping on a tropical drink while watching a beautiful sunset.

While the ocean, of course, offers people a chance to swim, Fusion also features two large public pools. One is a relaxing spa pool, and the other an infinity pool that seems to spill directly into the sea, which makes it among the resort’s most popular Instagram spots, especially as a sunset softly enflames the tips of waves in the background.

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The plants growing on the grounds are far from just ornamental. The pepper is collected and used for essential oils in the spa, along with the aloe vera employed in various treatments. A popular bee farm not far from the resort provides Fusion with honey for use in its three dining locations. It is also sold in the gift shop for those looking to bring home a sweet reminder of their vacation harmoniously spent with nature.

Considering the centrality of nature and green space to the bliss of one’s stay, Fusion places great importance on protecting it. Through small acts like replacing all plastic straws with paper and rice alternatives and abandoning single-use shower essentials, they help each guest leave a much lighter footprint. They also have grander visions, including teaming up with the World Wildlife Foundation and other Phu Quoc resorts to reduce and reuse plastic, as exemplified by the large fish statue on the sand that serves as a receptacle for recovered rubbish. They are also researching a system that will allow them to do away with all plastic bottles used in the resort.

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Whether looking to spend some quality time with friends and family or a special couple’s retreat, the clean, nature-filled expanses of Fusion Phu Quoc make for a perfect setting. The elegant, understated rooms with soothing jet bathtubs and shell-accented walls create a cool environment great for lounging if one prefers the indoors over a private backyard and pool. In contrast, the large grounds foster a variety of activities for the adventurous. Such diverse ways to savor nature and experience serenity make Fusion a truly special destination.

 

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Vandalized by Loan Sharks, Pho Hoa Pasteur Announces Temporary Closure

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The shop owner’s brother-in-law is suspected of racking up the debts that attracted the vandalism.

Eight acts of vandalism over the last month, including throwing pig organs, paint and mắm tôm on the facade of District 3’s famous Pho Hoa Pasteur, forced it to shutter starting Thursday, August 3. During the most recent attack, Media reports that customers were hit with the stinky detritus and Linh, the owner of the more than 50-year-old noodle shop, admitted the assaults were harming business. He posted a multi-lingual apology for the temporary closing, citing “interior construction.”

At the time of the closing, rumors swirled regarding the owner’s brother-in-law, Tuan. Linh said he ran a phone and automobile accessory shop nearby and owed VND8 billion (US$340,000) to creditors. Tuan was unable to repay the debt in a timely manner, so — in true Vietnam fashion — the loan sharks resorted to threatening his family members to get back their money. Linh claimed Tuan had nothing to do with the ownership or operation of Pho Hoa Pasteur, and it was thus unfair that his collectors were targeting the phở restaurant.

While originally unable to locate Tuan, on Monday, August 5 police detained him at his District 3 home. The 44-year-old is allegedly cooperating with authorities and is suspected of falsifying documents to obtain property to sell. Authorities arrived at his house with search warrants, some of which related to various vehicles he’d recently purchased.

The individuals who carried out the attacks were captured on security footage and allegedly identified. In a press conference held this afternoon, the HCMC Police Department said that they have detained five men suspected of carrying out the vandalism and two others for aiding them.

Located at 260C Pasteur, Pho Hoa has been a local mainstay for decades. The casual phở joint is popular among locals and tourists alike and is featured on numerous travel blogs and guidebooks.

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Vietnamese style of massage. What to expect in Ho Chi Minh City

Each country has its unique massage methods, so does Vietnam. Not with a lot of oil like Swedish massage, not too much stretching and deep pressing like Thai, massage in Vietnam seems a mixture of a little Thai, Swedish and hot stone, foot and body together.

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Story of Vietnamese massage

I’ve no idea where and when the massage came to Vietnam but from the feudalistic time. The concubines or servants for the King or sorts of had to do something similar once their owners ordered. Then, there were people earning a living just by being a street masseuse when most of their clients were men. They did their work right on street pavement.

Along with the “open door” policy, where free entrepreneur was allowed and encouraged, facilitated massage establishments were opened and operated as to meet the demand of that new market economy.

At that time, there was quite a negative rumor running around the masseuses who are mostly young girls. Everyone doubt that there could be something hanky-panky happened between the girl and her clients (mostly men) in the massage room. It was ironically a lose-face situation then if your friend/relative saw you stepping into a massage shop in Vietnam. The doubt was correct as the majority of massage parlours then were where men looking for happy-ending service.

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Today, there are more and more proper-run establishments opening. Believe or not, massage business has been mushrooming in all the big cities of Vietnam for over 20 years now. Of course, people don’t see it with a curious eye anymore.

 

Massage while traveling

Some good establishments offer not only a full package but also a detailed menu for you to choose from. A package of 75-90′ should be right for everyone. It is starting from the foot with some herbal medicinal foot dip, the body, the hot stone and ending by the head.

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Tips to get massage in Vietnam

  • Make sure your belongings are well watched or safely placed while being during your massage in Vietnam.
  • Expect some private talks probably happening between the two masseuses. Feel free to advise them to stop for the good sake of your relaxing hours.
  • Even tip included, 90% of the case is nice to try for a further tip. The choice is on you, to give them a little more or to ask for the Manager.

 

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Vietnam to Host Formula 1 Grand Prix in 2020

For the first time, Vietnam is set to host a Formula 1 Grand Prix during the 2020 championship. This will be the debut race of the brand new Hanoi Circuit, and constitutes the first year of a multi-year contract with Liberty Media.

The circuit will be placed in the Nam Từ Liêm District of the capital Hanoi, and contains 22 turns and will run for 5.565km across 55 laps; making for a total race length of 306km. Pictured below is a map of the planned circuit route. Hanoi will be the third city in Southeast Asia to host a grand prix (after Kuala Lumpur and Singapore) and one of five Asian host cities in the 2020 championship.

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Circurt Map – Vietnam Host Formula 1 Grand Prix-in 2020

The first race is set to be held in April 2020, one of the first of the 2020 championship, right in the middle of tourism high season in Vietnam. Thus we recommend any Formula 1 fans aiming to see the race book their flights, accommodation and tours well in advance to avoid sold-out facilities or increased prices for the high season.

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F1 Grid – The drivers and teams racing in 2019
We encourage F1 enthusiasts who wish to make the most of a trip to Vietnam to watch the race to book their trip as soon as possible to ensure you get an amazing and authentic experience in Indochina at the best possible rate, making for a far more memorable trip than simply coming to see the race and leaving again.

Vietnamese Airline Flights Hit by Hong Kong Protests

Many flights of Vietnamese airlines have been cancelled or rescheduled for being affected by on-going protest chaos at Hong Kong International Airport.

National carrier Vietnam Airlines and budget carrier Jetstar Pacific have announced to change the time of some of their flights from and to Hong Kong today, August 13.

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Vietnam Airlines will delay two flights VN594 and VN595 on HCM City-Hong Kong for seven hours and 40 minutes compared to their scheduled departure. The carrier’s other flights from and to Hong Kong today will be conducted as scheduled.

Meanwhile, Jetstar Pacific has cancelled two flights BL160 and BL161 on the Hanoi-Hong Kong and Danang-Hong Kong routes respectively.

The affected passengers will be supported to change for other flights if they want.

Budget carrier Vietjet’s two flights VJ876 and VJ877 on HCM City-Hong Kong-HCM City routes will be also suspended.

All flights which departed from Hong Kong International Airport were cancelled due to the anti-government protests which entered the fourth day by Monday.

Vietnamese airlines have advised passengers to keep up-to-date with Vietnam and Hong Kong flight information for their trip.

Passengers should arrive at Hong Kong International Airport three hours before the departure time.

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VNA Gifts Round-Trip Tickets to Japanese Tourist Swindled by Xích Lô Driver

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Oki Toshiyuki, an 83-year-old Japanese tourist, was charged VND2.9 million for an approximately two-kilometer ride.

After the incident made the rounds online, the police tracked down the xích lô driver and the Japanese tourist in question in hopes of making things right, Nguoi Lao Dong reports.

The Ho Chi Minh City Department of Tourism and Vietnam Airlines then decided to gift Toshiyuki and his Vietnamese daughter-in-law, Le Thuc Anh, a pair of Japan-Vietnam round-trip tickets as a gesture of apology.

According to local media, Toshiyuki traveled to Saigon with his daughter-in-law and two grandchildren to visit the city and his son. On August 3, Toshiyuki rode a xích lô from Ben Thanh Market to his hotel in District 1. After the ride, the Japanese man gave the driver VND500,000, but the driver said the amount was not enough. Before Toshiyuki could get more money out, the xích lô driver deliberately took a few additional bills from Toshiyuki’s wallet and rode away.

Dung, the xích lô driver in question, has penned a letter of apology to the Japanese tourist. Toshiyuki also expressed that he doesn’t want to pursue any legal action against Dung when asked by authorities.

 

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‘Amazing Race Vietnam’ Apologizes for Challenge Harming Coral Reef

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An underwater challenge during this year’s installment of The Amazing Race Vietnam is not sitting well with environmentalists.

Season 6 of The Amazing Race Vietnam officially premiered in July. Like its international predecessor, the reality TV show takes teams of contestants through several stops across various geographical destinations, where they have to undertake challenges to move forward. This year’s Vietnam version became the center of controversy after the sixth episode recently aired.

The episode is based in Phu Yen, a coastal province famous for its exquisite beaches and coral reefs. To proceed past this stop, contestants had to put their scuba diving skills to the test by solving a puzzle on the beach using a clue they observed underwater. What got the show into trouble with netizens was how the production team placed the submerged clue — a steel frame with a handful of cement blocks — straight onto a coral reef.

Many viewers were quick to point out that the heavy-looking structure could cause irreversible damage to the reef, which took many years to grow. Among the most censorious was a comment by Sasa, an independent marine animal rescue group based in Da Nang.

“We were really shocked to see this through the Facebook page of a friend,” the group says of the underwater challenge. “You can see in the photo that they put the steel frame right on a colony of brain coral.”

According to the group, human interference could harm the algae layer, with which the coral has a mutual relationship, helping the damage to spread. “Coral brain is among the slowest-growing types of coral, at just 1-2 millimeters a year,” they add in the post.

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Dr. Vo Si Tuan, director of the Nha Trang Oceanography Institute, also warned of the detrimental effects of human and tourism on coral species in an interview with Tuoi Tre.

“It takes thousands of years to form a coral reef. I’m not saying that we can’t touch coral reefs at all, but when you interact with them you need to be mindful and knowledgeable,” he said. “Through our observation of Phu Yen’s reefs, we see that tourism here is developing rapidly, resulting in tourists treading in reefs and stomping on them. These are destructive behaviors that need to be regulated.”

After the online complaints started piling in, the team behind The Amazing Race Vietnam responded with an apologetic statement two days ago on the show’s official Facebook page. The statement explains that originally the challenge would have made contestants swim across the reefs to an underwater sandbar to look for the clue, but due to changing water levels and opacity, the crew had to move the steel frame to the coral reef for better visibility.

“Our crew made a mistake when we moved the clue to the reef. We understand that it’s wrong and would like to apologize to viewers and Phu Yen,” the post reads. “We’ll use this as a learning experience to make sure it won’t happen again in the future.”

 

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Vietnam currency falls to historic low

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The Vietnamese dong has fallen to its lowest level ever against the U.S. dollar, and banks are fixing their exchange rates accordingly.

On Tuesday the State Bank of Vietnam set the reference rate at VND23,004 and lowered it to VND23,013 the next day.

The Vietnamese currency has lost VND179 to the dollar, or 0.78 percent, since the beginning of this year.

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On Wednesday Vietcombank sold the greenback at VND23,270, down VND5 from Tuesday, while Vietinbank sold at VND23,278. Eximbank sold its dollar at VND23,260, unchanged from Monday.

VNDLocal banks’ dollar selling prices

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On the free market, there is a difference of around VND15 to a dollar with banks.

Experts said it is too early to say if the exchange rate would remain stable through this year.

Economist Nguyen Tri Hieu told VnExpress International the U.S. Federal Reserve’s interest rate is only one of the factors affecting the exchange rate, and others need to be taken into account such as the depreciation of the Chinese yuan and changes in the global financial market.

“If China decides to devalue its currency, Vietnam might have to do the same to reduce the influx of Chinese goods into the country.”

Last year the dong fell by 1.6 percent against the dollar as the Fed hiked rates four times.

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Vietnam Breaks All-Time High Temperature Record as Heat Bakes Nation

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The searing heat has occurred much earlier than when it usually arrives.

Last Saturday, Vietnam notched its highest recorded temperature ever in April, at 43.4°C, Washington Post reports. The record was measured in Huong Khe District, Ha Tinh Province, in the North-Central Region of the country. This area usually experiences temperatures of 26°C at this time of the year. The news source adds that the record temperature is hot enough to melt crayons, liquefy chocolate and raise temperatures inside a parked car with the windows closed to 60°C.

Temperatures in Hue and Da Nang, meanwhile, soared to 40.5°C and 37.7°C respectively, while Saigon saw a high temperature of 35°C on Monday. The weather has been unforgiving for locals trying to carry on with their daily lives, as the temperature at 6am is already 29–31oC.

As southern Vietnam’s dry season marches on, daily highs could reach up to 35–36°C from 11am to 3pm.

According to VnExpress, Saigon has also been experiencing dangerous levels ultra violet (UV) levels. The index reached the “very high” level of 10 in mid-February, and in late March the index hit the “very dangerous” level of above 11. Currently, data from WeatherOnline shows that the city’s UV index is at 12, an extreme level that poses health risks such as skin cancer and other dermatological issues like hyperpigmentation, dermatitis and aging.

The punishing heat and brutal sunshine also poses risks of eye damage, overheating and dehydration to vulnerable children and the elderly. Even healthy adults are advised to wear quality sunglasses and cover their skin, or at least wear strong sunscreen, particularly during the hottest hours of the day.

The National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration recorded March 2019 as the second-hottest March on record, while the World Meteorological Organization confirmed that 2015-2018 were the four warmest years on record.

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