La Residence Hotel & Spa featured in Tokyo Weekender Magazine, October 2012 issue
weekendertokyo OCTOBER 2012Japan’s premier English language magazine Since 1970 IMF & WORLD BANK GROUP COMES TO TOWN INTERVIEW WITH TOKYO’S GOVERNOR ISHIHARA ENTERTAINMENT AUTUMN TRAVELFINE DINING & SHOPPING IN GINZA IWATE, TOTTORI & VIETNAM ALSO IN THIS ISSUE: The Latest APAC news from the Asia Daily Wire, an Education Special, Movies, Events and much more...
40 | AUTUMN TRAVEL | VIETNAMGOOD EVENINGVIETNAMA journey through time onthe Perfume Riverby James K. TodaB ack in the early 90s, a French friend of mine was let go from a magazine when it was having a hard time but I always remember how much he seemed to relish his new found freedom. He told me that he had received what he called a “golden parachute” and that he would travel toVietnam for a while with a bundle of Francs. When he came back toEurope - I lived in London at that time - I crossed the Channel and sawhim at Les Deux Magots in the Latin Quarter of Paris.“Five years on from the Doi Moi, the Vietnamese Renovation[economic reforms of the 80s] things have changed a lot,” I rememberhim telling me. “Saigon was crowded - there were a lot of cars andmotorbikes. In Hanoi, though, there were only 10 cars in town; believeme, I actually counted them from the airport, one by one.”I did believe him, but I didn’t manage to go there until 2002, 12 yearslater, and found things had changed yet more. I could not count carsin Hanoi, there were too many. I could not even cross the streets dueto the extremely heavy traffic.Heading back to Vietnam, a country with such a fascinating past, Idid not know quite what to expect in the present. Hanoi’s traffic wasgetting heavier, with more cars and motorcycles and fewer bicyclesbut they have, finally, set up traffic lights here and there. I could crossthe streets this time.One of the biggest changes I found was in the habits of the people.I got out of noisy central Hanoi and went north west to visit Ho Tay(West Lake), a large but quiet and fairly wealthy residential area. Iwanted to explore a lakeside temple called Chua Tran Quoc and whenI entered I saw a potbellied man in his seventies, sitting in a brokenchair, looking like a typical fortune teller or palm reader. Workingbeside a gold and red temple, his naked belly was exposed to the sunand his eyes were fixed to his own upturned hands. ‘Reading his own,surely short, remaining life?’ I thought. But he was not. His thumb wasswiftly moving on the screen of his iPhone.In Vietnam many people - young and old - are embracing technologyand modernizing their lives in quite a surprising way. I saw a lot ofyoung girls searching for information or writing emails with theirright hand at lightning speed while their left hand was busy steeringtheir motorcycle. Almost everybody has a smartphone. Wi-fi iseverywhere. In hotels, cafes, pubs, even temple grounds you can beconnected – and the connection seemed even better than Tokyo. I can’timagine how the country is going to be five years from now.OCTOBER 2012 www.tokyoweekender.com
42 | AUTUMN TRAVEL | VIETNAM 1 the order of the first Nguyen Lord, Nguyen Hoang, who at that time was the governor of Hue, the area was full of historical lessons. I saw the Austin-made car in which Thich Quang Duc was driven to his self-immolation in protest against the Diem regime in then Saigon in 1963. It was the first of a series of self-immolations by members of the Buddhist clergy which brought the plight of Buddhists to the attention of the international community. 2 3 My guide put me in a car and we went to Lang Khai Dinh, a tomb which blends western and eastern architecture named after the man who, in 1916, became the “Last Emperor” of Vietnam. The Emperor worked closely with the government of France and, by the end of his reign he was considered to be little more, according to 4 some, than “a salaried employee of the French government.” 1 Imperial City in Hue, Vietnam 2 Minh Mang Tomb 3 Stuning views of the Sapa landscape 4 Hanoi, Halong Bay Due to his close closeness to the French, he was very unpopular amongst the people of Vietnam. “He was physically very weak,”“In Hue, you can travel in time by feeling the Nguyen my guide told me, “so he had only 12 concubines.”Dynasty, French domination, US destruction and the “Only?” I asked back. “Only 12. Early emperors such as Minhrealization of Ho Chi Minh’s ideas.” Mang had more than 500.” I chatted with my guide along the way and found he had so many stories to share. InMy recommendation to our readers is this be reached by a journey of historical Hue, you can travel in time by feeling the- stay short but stay in a five-star hotel in discovery along the Song Huong (the Nguyen Dynasty, French domination, USmodernizing Hanoi; use it as the gateway to name, meaning ‘Perfume River’, is derived destruction and the realization of Ho Chiyour trip and fly swiftly on to Hue and/or from its faint aroma due to flowers Minh’s ideas.Hoi An. This time, I went to Hue, an ancient from upstream orchards falling into thecity full of temples and historic residences water) a boat trip I took and would highly My river trip was one of historical discoveryonce described to me as the Kyoto of recommend. It was simple to charter a boat and an escape from Tokyo which I couldVietnam. The traffic is slightly lower than with a guide for just a few dollars. make again and again. After a few days, Iin Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, the air is was back in Hue city and then Hanoi forcleaner and the place feels just slightly After a slow cruise along the massive the final couple of nights of my trip. There Imore relaxed. stretch of water, watching locals who live found luxury hotels that must rank amongst off the river – fishing and washing as we the best in the world, the perfect place toOrdained by UNESCO as a World Heritage drifted by – we arrived at the shore of relax and reflect before the journey backsite in 1993, this capital of the Nguyen Chua Thien Mu temple. Built in 1601 on home to Japan.emperors shows us much of the historyof pre-communist Vietnam. In the TetOffensive of 1968, during the Battle of Hue,the city and its historical buildings sufferedconsiderable damage, most of it fromAmerican firepower and bombings butalso due to the massacre at Hue committedby the communist forces. America did notburn Kyoto during the second world warbut, before the end of the conflict and thewithdrawal of troops in 1975, was gettingdesperate with what they saw as a ‘warwithout exit’ and burned Hue down. Somemay be familiar with the area or that storyfrom the Stanley Kubrick movie Full MetalJacket, which was in the main set aroundthe area of Hue and the Song Huong river.Many sights around Hue, including ThienMu Pagada and several Royal Tombs canOCTOBER 2012 www.tokyoweekender.com
VIETNAM | AUTUMN TRAVEL | 43 La Residence Hotel & Spa 1 3 2 4 6 1 Spa treatment room 2 Hot stone therapy treatment 3 Exterior of the Hotel 4 Colonial Suite - “Voyage En Chin” 5 Delicious cuisine from the Hotel restaurant 6 Traditional Vietnamese food with a modern twist 5 Located on the banks of the fabled Perfume River overlooking the former Imperial Citadel, La Residence Hotel and Spa is a luxurious boutique accommodation steeped in historyT he hotel is just a short, pleasant stroll from the town, the building, which boasts the largest private terrace, with panoramic dazzling 122-room building has a huge swimming pool views of the city. and numerous resort facilities. La Residence Hotel andSpa is the ideal place to unwind after a day of sightseeing in the Other highlights at La Residence include a tennis court, a gymnasium,enchanting UNESCO World Heritage City of Hue. an art gallery and a 30 metre outdoor infinity style saltwater swimming pool and pool bar on the banks of the Perfume River. On top of that,Originally built for the French Colonial Governor in 1930, a there is Le Spa, an area with seven relaxation rooms, a herbal saunarefurbishment in 2005 helped transform it from a deteriorating and a Jacuzzi. Walking around the city can prove quite tiring, so agovernment-run hotel to a place of sophistication and grandeur traditional Vietnamese massage is a wonderful way to recuperate. Allthat has gained international prominence, appealing to diplomats, of the staff are knowledgeable and attentive, adding to the allure of thetravellers and celebrities. place.Two annexes were added during the renovation, giving the hotel an La Parfum, the hotel’s main restaurant, is an elegant place to dine atultra-modern feel but at the same time an art-deco design help to the end of any day in Hue. The restaurant is proud to serve the verypreserve the charm and atmosphere of a classic colonial villa. The old best of Vietnam’s fresh and vibrant produce combined with top qualitypictures of Hue in the reception area reflect the pride La Residence imported speciality ingredients, its talented chefs experimenting withtakes in the culture and heritage of the city. and creating the best in Asian, Vietnamese and European flavours. The same chefs can arrange for a private poolside seafood barbecue.All of the rooms and suites are stylishly decorated, featuring darkstained wooden furnishings, silks and various other local materials. Yours will be a memorable stay. La Residence Hotel and Spa is aImmaculately prepared with the careful attention to detail one can charming art deco resort in a tranquil setting, it a place you will wantonly find at such a boutique hotel, they also come equipped with to go back and stay in again and again.modern day comforts such as Wi-Fi. La Residence Hotel and SpaFrom your room’s private balcony or terrace at La Residence Hotel Address: 5 Le Loi Street, Hue City, Vietnamand Spa you will find a stunning view across the Perfume River Web: www.la-residence-hue.comtowards the imposing Flagtown Bastion of the Citadel beyond. Of all Tel: + 84-(0)5 4383 7475the unique rooms it is the Resident Suite, on the top floor of the main www.tokyoweekender.com OCTOBER 2012