Monday, June 1, 2015

"A Happy Life Begins with a Healthy Life"...Saigon Fitness

Saigon Fitness...
I have been asked to write a testimonial for my personal trainer in under 200 words. I am going to guess that is an impossible task as there are too many positive things to say about him. Seeing that many of my readers live in Saigon or have plans to move here in the near future...I thought I would make this post for you!

Danny Duong of Saigon Fitness

Enter Danny Duong of Saigon Fitness. Danny and I have been working together, three times a week for two months and I am only too happy to spread the good word. 

"I am so happy, you make me so happy"...Danny Duong
Let's start with the operative word for Danny, HAPPY.  Danny is positivity personified. Your success is his success. He takes every comment to heart and totally commits to you. If things are not going to plan and you have an off day, never fear, he will find a way to turn things around and send you away renewed and recharged. When you have a positive result to report...pure's truly infectious. Danny genuinely loves what he does...and because he is so committed, you do not want to disappoint him. A clever motivation tactic if you ask me. It works!

"You can do it!"
When we first started, I was like most enthusiastic clients. I had a 'hit list' and I wanted to start right away. Danny was wise in suggesting we build up to it rather than jump right in. He wanted to assess my skills, consider my movements and build strength to avoid injury. We eventually got there and I am glad we did. 

"Don't wish for for it!"
Danny's workout routine is anything but dull. I can never predict what we will do next. I liken it to  aerobic calisthenics, the military way...we are always on the move and we never leave the room. His counting methods are creative...I say ten he says five. There is no slacking off.  If you are prone to smiling, coughing, laughing or asking endless questions to get out of a few repetitions, he is wise to it. At the end of each session, you stretch. I call it "death by stretching'..and I always feel great afterwards. I still do not know how he does that. 

The "DD" (Danny Diet)
I waited eagerly for Danny to give me the thumbs up to start his recommended diet, tailored to my age and dietary requirements. When I looked at it, I wondered why I was so eager. That thought quickly passed for I was there to commit, so I did. I had to make a few significant changes to my diet but I knew they were the right ones. It has been four weeks since we started the "DD" and I have never felt better. The weight is coming off, slowly but surely, my energy levels are up, I am sleeping better and I feel..happy.  Danny is right, A Happy Life..begins with a Healthy Life. 

Happy, Healthy Life
If you are looking for a professional and committed personal trainer, in Saigon, with a Happy Healthy Life kind of attitude, it is my pleasure to recommend Danny Duong.

Phone: +84 0903 006 988

If you have any questions for me,
 please feel free to write to me

More 'healthy' posts from Jeanne
Once I was and now I am..
Hip Hop Happening Mama and a Paleo Priest

Tuesday, May 12, 2015


Afternoon light...Saigon


I was recently asked what I will miss about living in Vietnam. It seems a strange question because our time here has yet come to an end, but at the same time, this is not our forever home and it will end in the not to distant future.

When does a country become a home?

We have lived in Saigon for nearly three years. I always feel that once you pass the two year mark in a location it becomes dangerously like home...the kind of home you will have to pry yourself away from. We spent over ten years in Sydney, five years in Auckland, two and a half years in England and of all the moves, England was the easiest. I loved what London had to offer but all the friendships had expat roots and moving was just part of the expat story. I think leaving Saigon will be easier this time because we are empty nesters and do not have to worry about the challenges of moving children and like London, our lives are woven into the same expat story. Yet...there is something about Saigon that will be hard to leave..

A curse and a blessing...

There are times when I could blow the house down with some of the frustrations of living in Vietnam. Things run a bit slower, it takes ten people to deal with a problem that does not get solved, the traffic and noise can put me over the edge at times and you do not want to get me started about the speed of the internet service when things go awry in the deep blue sea. Yet....there is a charm about Vietnam that is captivating and once it has you in it's can't help but fall in love.

I love that adventure is waiting outside my doorstep.

I love that I can travel through time, as if walking through a montage of vintage films, from street corner to street corner. It is every photographers dream, professional or amateur, to have life bursting forth around them as they travel with a camera. Saigon has it in spades.

I  love Vietnamese food...we eat it nearly every night, I am certain I will miss the flavours of Vietnam.

I will miss our Vietnamese garden and all the delicious Vietnamese herbs we pick for, basil, lemongrass, kaffir lime, betel leaves, gourds, Asian greens...and our cherry tomatoes.

I love that people are so warm and friendly... smiles radiate goodwill and happiness at every turn. Even the few grumpy Vietnamese have a way about them.

I curse the traffic but I love the rhythm and the excitement. Give me a road to cross and I will take the challenge.

I love the industriousness of the Vietnamese, give them a problem and they will find a solution. It is a country of waste not want not. Our garden hoses are proof of that. We have more patches than I can count and every time I suggest we buy new ones...the tape comes out. "No need, can fix" is the reply.

I love the flora and fauna of Vietnam...I love my lotus flower garden and our flowing specimens of orchids. While I am not as fond of snakes as the Vietnamese are, I love the lizards that come calling and the birds that flit between the trees.

I love our mango trees...even though we have yet to see more than one lone mango. I love our crazy mango colored house...and the honeysuckle that tucks and tips it's way through every curve of our veranda.

It is an ongoing list, one that I am happy to add to as the days and months go by.

It's a process....

This thought process came about as I read through some of my early posts, the ones where I hashed out the whole idea of moving from England to Vietnam. I recently had a few people write to me about their impending move to Vietnam. They are where I was three years ago...wondering and hoping that life in Vietnam will be ok. I respond to them with many of the things listed above...because it is something I would have liked to know at the same point in time. To know that life would be ok with the next makes the packing and planing just a little bit easier.

I am going to leave these thoughts with wise words by Mark Twain...

"Twenty years from now you will be more 
disappointed by the things 
that you didn't do than the ones you did do. 
So throw off the bowlines. 
Sail away from the safe harbour. 
Catch the trade winds in your sails. 
Explore. Dream. Discover. "
by Mark Twain

I love Mark Twain...

Beep Beep from Saigon

Monday, March 9, 2015

Soul of Saigon..Notre-Dame Cathedral

Not every Sunday, but most Sundays, you can find me
in the 9:30am English mass at Saigon Notre-Dame Cathedral. 

The official name is
Basilica of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception
and for many, this is the soul of Saigon.

If you travel to Ho Chi Minh City, you will most likely
find it on your list of  "must see" attractions.

The cathedral was designed 
by the French architect Jules Bourard
and constructed between 1863-1870. 

It is a space and place 
with a beauty of it's own.

 It is just as interesting to observe life 
around the cathedral as it is to observe from within.

Hang about any day of the week
 and you are sure to see couples 
posing alongside the cathedral 
for wedding photos.

The photos are a planned event.

The wedding follows on another occasion,
allowing the bride and groom to share photos on the day.

Tourists flock to see the cathedral 
and the statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary,
standing in a garden outside of the cathedral.

In 2005, the statue was reported to have shed tears,
creating pandemonium on the surrounding streets.

The "tear" was said to have flowed down the right
cheek of the statues face. The incident was
dismissed by the Catholic Church in Vietnam 
and that was the end of that.

Still...if you visit, 
you might want to check...just in case. 

While you are there...look around
for those hidden gems.

When life happens quietly and patiently.

If you are lucky....while taking in the mass and
wonderful music that accompanies it,
you just might find yourself behind 
a budding Michelangelo.

From me to you, a glimpse inside and out
of the Saigon Notre-Dame Cathedral.
The soul of Saigon.

 Photos taken by me, inside and out 
of the Saigon Notre-Dame Cathedral.
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Jeanne Henriques

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Working and Volunteering in Vietnam...

Views to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Readers often write to me for advice on living and working in Vietnam. Unfortunately many of the question are out of my depth and knowledge base.

I did a little investigative research to get you started. I will add to this list as my research continues. If there is a link you would like to recommend. Please write to me at

Happy Searching!

Thinking of volunteering in Vietnam?-nongovernment organisations (NGO's)
VUFO-NGO Resource Centre Vietnam -latest job offerings
Service Civil International- volunteering for peace
SOS Children's Villages International- Vietnam
Vietnam Friendship Village Project USA 
Center for Sustainable Development Studies Vietnam
Volunteers for Peace in Vietnam
Projects Abroad
VSO- Voluntary Service Overseas in the UK
Australian Volunteers International
Volunteer Service Abroad in New Zealand
UN Volunteers
Global Volunteer Network-teaching in Vietnam
Transitions Abroad- Vietnam

Interested in finding a job in Vietnam?
Vietnam Briefing- Vietnam's Visa and Work Permit Procedures
Vietnam Onlinework permit for foreigners in Vietnam
Immi Vietnam Visahow to apply for work permit in Vietnam
Australia-Vietnam Skills & Education- teaching English in Vietnam
GO Overseas- Teach English in Vietnam
Learn 4 Good- job search in Vietnam
Go jobs abroad in Vietnam

Doing Research on working and living in Vietnam?

Lonely Planet- working and volunteering in Vietnam
RMIT UNIVERSITY- things to know
Working in Vietnam- talking salaries and working hours
InterAction- A United Voice for Global Change
TEFL Jobs World. com- Teaching English in Vietnam
InterNations -Connecting Global Minds- if you are already working in Vietnam
International Ladies in Vietnam

Government Organizations
Embassy of the United States Hanoi-Vietnam
Embassy of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam in the U.S.
U.S. Department of State- Vietnam
The Vietnamese Embassy in Australia
Australian Embassy in Vietnam

About life in Vietnam in English
AsiaLIFE- Vietnam
Word -Vietnam
Oi -Vietnam
Saigon Times
Tuoi Tre News
Viet Nam News
Hello Saigon!
On Facebook
Teaching Jobs in Vietnam
Vietnam Embassy in United States
Nomadic Notes- Local/Travel Website
Rusty Compass- Travel/Leisure
U.S. Department of State
U.S. Embassy in Hanoi
Saigoneer-Society/Culture Website
Positive Expats and locals in Vietnam
Expat in Vietnam
Historic Vietnam

If you are interested in books, movies and travel tips for Vietnam/Saigon, please read here

Friday, February 27, 2015

Life in Vietnam...questions and answers

When I was told we were moving to Vietnam I went into full Google search mode. Who, what, where, when, how...lay it on me. I searched out other expat bloggers living in Ho Chi Minh City, sent my list of questions and waited patiently. One person answered and I was grateful to her for taking the time. It was a start.

So here I am, nearly three years later and now the questions are coming to me. I feel like the expat "Dear Abby" of Vietnam. What goes around, comes around. I like that. 

Taking a moment...Saigon

I started
 Expat Diary: Viet Nam before we moved to Saigon, as a place store all the information from my Google searches. Since then, I have written sporadically.... but it seems to be enough for people to reach out.

"Fruit for Sale"...Saigon

My most recent request came from Esteban in Argentina in response to my blog post.. A Love Affair..with Vietnam


I'm thinking to live in Vietnam for a year to change the air, imbue my in their culture and break with my actual routine. I'm independent translator and I have many happy and loyal clients, so it I can work in any place in the world with Internet.
I like nature, sailing, reading. I consume tons of silence, makes me happy :)
I don't want to be travelling like a tourist during this year, so my plan is to rent a place that will be my home during the entire year. Eventually I wish to visit on some weekends other places in Asia: Cambodia, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, other places in Vietnam, Hong Kong and China. 
My wish is to live alone with my wife in a place near some river, beach or sea, with kitchen (I like to cook every day, this make me feel in home), minimum comfort. Nightlife is not for me, I prefer family lifestyle.
Can you recommend me some cities in Vietnam to do this?

Thank you very much!

Best regards from Argentina,


"Fruit Juice for Sale"...Saigon

Did I mention how much I enjoy receiving notes like this? I think Esteban has the making of a great story. I wrote to him with a few suggestions. I am curious to see if he makes his dream a reality. 

The questions I recieve vary...

Do Vietnamese eat dogs?
Should I bring mine?
What is compound living like?
Which schools do you recommend?
How do you find the medical care in Vietnam?
Do you drive in Vietnam?
What is it like living in a Communist country?
How do I find house staff? How much should I pay them?
What should I bring with, medicine, beauty products?
I am looking for a job, what should I do? How does it work?
How much money do I need to make to live comfortably?
Where should I live?
How do I find an apartment, house?

and from future Vietnam travellers..

I want to travel to Vietnam, where should I go?
Can you recommend shops, restaurants, places to stay?
I want to have furniture made, where should I go?

I admit, some questions are beyond me and some are to complex to answer, but for the most part, I try to answer them the best I can. I am now to the point where I can copy and paste information in response to the most popular questions. I wonder if "Dear Abby" does that..  ;)

"Park Here"...Saigon

So.. in the spirit of powering along with my 28 Day Writing Challenge (the one I am five days behind on).. I thought I would ask if you have any questions for me about life in Vietnam or any other topics that interest you. I find that when you live in a place for a time, you start to forget about the gems that intrigued you when you first settled in. The questions coming my way keep it fresh, allowing me to make the most of my time here.

If you would rather write to me, please do!

Sending you a big "Beep..Beep" 
from Vietnam 
for a wonderful weekend!

Jeanne xx

From Saigon...."Beep..Beep"

Photos above taken along my travels
around Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon).

Monday, February 2, 2015

Hanoi in the Pink, Vietnam

I was in Hanoi this past weekend.
Grey and rainy weather could not overshadow
the beauty on nearly every street corner, shop and home.

The Vietnamese are getting ready for the Tet holidays.
 Commencing February 15, 2015

Pink peach flowers are the celebratory flower in Hanoi,
the first sign of spring and symbol of good luck.

It was wonderful to see...Hanoi in the pink.

On bicycles..

and along the curbside,
peach blossoms are for sale everywhere.

 I spotted this lovely stylish woman 
waiting for a bus,
peach blossoms in her arms.

If you visit Hanoi 
this time of year
be sure to have a wander 
and bring your camera.

Find a busy street corner,
hold on tight to your camera
and wait for passing traffic.
Be will not want to miss 
a single peach blossom. 

I was tempted to purchase a bunch for myself
but decided they might be unruly 
in the overhead storage on the airplane.

The pink peach blossom is a specialty 
in the northern areas of Vietnam.
The climate is cooler and more suitable.

If you travel to Ho Chi Minh City 
during the Tet holiday,
be prepared for happy faces of sunshine.

Either way, you are in for a treat!

Photos taken on my travels..
Jeanne Henriques

Friday, November 14, 2014

A love affair...with Vietnam

It is so easy to have a love affair with food in Vietnam. Since moving to Vietnam nearly two and a half years ago, we have had it at least five out of seven nights of the week. All your senses are on full alert from the moment you first contemplate a menu. Walk through a Vietnamese market and you will fully appreciate the feeling. The sights, sounds, scents, touch, taste..they are all there, some exhilarating..some surprising...and all of them unforgettable. Just give me a stick of lemongrass, a whiff of lime, a crunch of Vietnamese mint and I will be beside myself with joy at the possibilities.

I recently had the chance to share it all with a friend, Paula, who asked to see "my" Saigon. She was coming to Saigon for a few days, post business trip, and said she wanted to experience the "tales" that I write and speak of. It was a challenge I wholeheartedly welcomed as I knew it was going to be  easy. I had a feeling that no matter what I suggested, she would be up for it...and she was. Best memory was when we were both on the back of a Vespa, riding side by side in Saigon, grins as wide as can be as she exclaimed "Amazing! I love this!". I was on the right track...and suggested if she loved riding around Saigon...then we had to take the day tour to the Mekong. I had done it before and loved it...especially the mussels and little pipi's in the photo above. We sampled, we sipped and both exclaimed at the same time when something was delicious...always a wonderful feeling when you share the same enthusiasm for travel and food with another.

If you plan to travel to are a few of my favourites.

I have tried a few cooking classes around Saigon 
and this is my favourite.

I highly recommend both. We took the day trip around the city
with XO Tours and the Mekong trip with Vietnam Vespa. I have also
taken the day trip with Vietnam Vespa around Saigon and thought it was great. 
You can not go wrong with either. 

I am partial to the spa treatments at the Hyatt.
 I know I can always count on them for offering
a great experience every time. 

As for the food...there are so many great options.
 I have listed a few here.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Atmospheric Saigon

Le Duan Street, behind Notre Dame Cathedral, Saigon

Atmospheric is one of the things I love about Saigon. 
You never know how the light is going to catch you. 
It is magic to behold.

images by Jeanne Henriques

Friday, September 19, 2014

Wellness and jet lag... #saigon

They say that to fully recover from jet lag you should allow one day for each hour of difference between time zones. For me, an eleven hour time difference between Saigon and Boston means I should be hitting my usual stride...about now. It has been ten days since I returned to Saigon.

We all have our ways of coping with jet lag. When I travel to the USA, I hit the ground running and do not look back. It never seems to hit me that hard, I am to busy to think about it. When I return to Saigon it comes in with a wallop. Throw in the heat and a slower and more limited pace to life and I feel like someone sedated me for days on end. I have learned to give in and take it slowly and gently...because I can. 

Slipping into something light and cool is the first order of business.

And then I walk...

around the compound where we live.

Looking for curious sights.

I always manage to find something.

If not walking, I hop on my bicycle for a spin...

or make my way to the pool.

and then...
a Vietnamese iced coffee
followed with a chaser of iced water...
because it is that strong..but oh, so good. 

It is all about the moment...and staying within it.

Healthy eating followed up by lots of water
and more water and more water.

and most important of all..
spa time.

Hyatt Xuan Spa

Sure to cure the worst case of jet lag,
wellness and beauty treatments.
Works every time.

I love to share...
If you live in Saigon or plan to visit,
Here are a few of my "go to" places...
you might enjoy them too.

Spa Treatments



 If you have places to recommend I would love to know!
You can write to me

Photos by Jeanne Henriques