A girl is on the move…to Saigon!

Now I’m glad this blog is called A Girl in Asia rather than A Girl in Cambodia – as a move to Saigon is imminent!

After nearly 2.5 years in Phnom Penh it’ll be sad to leave in some ways, yet it’s onwards and upwards to slightly more dynamic and cosmopolitan Saigon – a city that’s almost unrecognisable from ten years ago. Sure, there are still a few cone-hatted oldies roaming the streets but those streets are also home to glittering restaurants, chic bars, 5 star hotels, shops including Louis Vuitton and Gucci (real ones, not knock-offs!) – even Chloe and Marc Jacobs have opened their doors. But the great thing about Saigon is the contrast – a few metres down the road from the high-end stores might be a local restaurant where a steaming bowl of pho will set you back a few thousand dong. There are fantastic, bustling local markets and cheap finds galore, plus all the western comforts you could ask for too. It’s the perfect blend of old and new, Asian and western, local and expat…ok, you get the point!

Although I have visited Saigon plenty of times, I’m really looking forward to exploring the city further and getting to know it in more depth and attempting to learn some Vietnamese. But before heading off, I really need to do a few more all-important Phnom Penh posts. Coming soon – my ultimate Phnom Penh day, and things I wish I knew when I first moved to Phnom Penh…

Shoptalk: Ipa-Nima

A purchase from colourful bag boutique Ipa-Nima is to Saigon as an Ambre dress purchase is to Phnom Penh – that is, a must-do for any Asia-bound (or dwelling) girl! Ipa-Nima’s unique creations, designed by a Hong Kong lawyer turned fashionista are mostly boho-vintage with ethnic influences. Their bags feature lots of embellishment and colour and craziness rather than a sleek or minimal look –

While in Saigon recently, I visited Ipa-Nima’s three-storey bag parlour on Rue Pasteur and left toting this much embellished green leather satchel – a perfect day bag and large enough for Z’s paraphernalia (without looking like a naff baby bag).

Cafe crush: La Fenetre Soleil

I was just in Saigon for a few days and spent much time checking out the cafes. One of my favourites was La Fenetre Soleil – not as much for the food (there’s not too much to choose from apart from fried snacks and some desserts) but its eclectic Parisian style décor. With wooden floorboards, exposed brick walls, a super high ceiling and massive French glass doors, the space is dramatic in scale with a grungy European feel. Mismatched vintage furniture, a crystal chandelier and a massive vase of birds of paradise complete the look.

La Fenetre Soleil’s drinks menu is a drawcard – the spicy ginger juice is delicious and there’s a selection of teas made with fresh ingredients (like mint and lemongrass). Despite its dingy stairway entrance (though it kind of adds to the charm) I wish La Fenetre Soleil was my own apartment!

La Fenetre Soleil, 2nd Floor, 135 Le Thanh Ton, D1, Saigon