ChinChin Bar, Ho Chi Minh City Vietnam

Apothecary speakeasy, ChinChin cocktail bar in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Vietnam

On the last night of my weekend trip to Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Vietnam, I was walking around District 1, close to the Bitexco Tower looking for a place to have some local dinner. It was one of those nights where you’ve run out of things to do, and you’re still full from the previous meal, but you’re also too tired to keep walking around, so dinner it is.

For no particular reason, I looked up and saw this logo that says “Chin Chin” on the side of a narrow building. Frankly, it reminded me of a fusion bar & restaurant called “Fang Fang” in Lan Kwai Fong in Hong Kong. Its oriental look and dark windows have me convinced it’s a pretentious bar I can afford (because we’re in Vietnam), which was perfect because it really was too early for dinner.

We crossed the street and checked out the menu. Turns out, it’s a three-story building with two bars and two restaurants in it, probably from the same group. We headed up to ChinChin which was a tad fancier than I thought it would be. Thanks to language barriers, we were invited into the bar even though the staff was still on their break. No problem, they’re super nice and hopped up: the music came on, the lights dimmed a little, and the place came to life even though our small party was the only customers there. The menu came and man, was I confused. First, I was sitting in front of one out of two windows in the whole place, where the only light streaming in was from a huge bubble tea sign from across the street. Defeated, I got my phone out for the flashlight, and after confirming with another human being, I came to accept that what turned out to be a very strong and over-the-top cocktail was indeed only less than US$4 during happy hour.

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MahaNaga / Gypsy Spell Bar – Bangkok

It has been a while since I last travelled for work, and it definitely reminded me of the good old crew life.

In Bangkok I stayed in Sukhumvit, a very international part of the city. So international in fact, that I actually struggled to find Thai food. Everything in the area seemed to be Japanese. I was told later that there are a lot of Japanese expats in Bangkok, and my office was also in the Japanese Village.

On my first night in Bangkok, I had to walk around a little and brave my way down the streets leading off the main road to find some Thai food (as my husband Jon text to assure me I’ll be able to find something while in Thailand). When I saw a small stand on the street corner saying “Modern Thai Cuisine”, I went for it. It didn’t really matter whether it was modern or traditional, as long as it wasn’t Japanese.

mahanaga

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