WORLD TRIP 2010
The previous entry touched on traditional Vietnamese coffee. This is the other side of coffee in Vietnam; the Westernised cafe.
We’ve travelled south, near the foot of Vietnam. This is Ho Chi Minh City (named after the revered revolutionary leader), formerly Saigon. It’s still Saigon to the locals, and on train tickets.
La Fenetre Soleil is the sort of place you’re more likely to find in “HCMC” than anywhere else in Vietnam. It’s a stylish, atmospheric, Westernised coffee shop, with muffins, toast, lattes, cappuccinos, and so on.
It’s also very expensive, in regional terms; not the sort of place for a typical Vietnamese. It’s for hip students, young workers and the occasional traveller. You won’t find a traditional Vietnamese coffee here (more’s the pity).
But it’s not untypical of modern Vietnam, reckoned to be changing as fast as any country in the world. So for a slice of the hip side of HCMC, it’s a good place to head.
Unfortunately, my coffee was awful. Terrible. But I didn’t care too much, as this is a wonderfully inspiring place. Beautifully decked out, comfortable, quiet, friendly and relaxed, with bare brick walls, massive windows, equally massive curtains, flowers and antique furniture. There’s even a bed. One of those rare places that makes me day dream about my own hypothetical coffee shop.
The effect is augmented by the most easy-to-miss entrance imaginable, followed by the dingiest staircase in the history of the world. But don’t give up… it’s the perfect prelude to coffee shop heaven.
A Facebook group for swing dancing nights at the cafe: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=11013545458
135 Le Thanh Ton
Ho Chi Minh City
We visited on 24 March 2010.