This month, AsiaLIFE examines the lives of eight expatriates from around the globe in our first People Issue. Hailing from Ghana, Israel, France, Kyrgyzstan, the Philippines, Australia, South Korea and the United States, these individuals have made Vietnam home for many different reasons, but they all live a life less ordinary. Taken together, their stories reveal something more about modern-day Vietnam and the opportunities it holds for the enterprising and adventurous.

Also this month: Hiphop legend DJ Premier in the Q&A seat. Dave Lemke brings us on a photographic tour of the streets of Havana. Beth Young wonders whether Bui Vien is growing up in Street Smart. Jeremy Kressmann immerses himself in Myanmar’s colonial past. Jade Bilowol travels to a Central Highlands village where women rule the roost. Alexandra Karina gives us the skinny on the sticky Vietnamese staple xoi. Krista Lambie learns how individuals afflicted with leprosy overcome stigma in Vietnam. Thomas Maresca heads to Mui Ne to attend a triathlon rooted in environmental and social responsibility. Brett Davis profiles a new social networking site that’s uniting the Vietnamese diaspora in the digital domain. And Jade Bilowol visits perhaps the coolest office in Saigon (and revs up a Segway).

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This month AsiaLIFE delves into contemporary pop culture in Vietnam. Tom DiChristopher speaks to industry insiders about delivering better homegrown television programming in “I Want My VNTV.” Thomas Maresca profiles the efforts of producers and artists to champion R&B and hiphop over saccharine karaoke-ready pop in “Vietnamese Music Searches for a Groove.” Jade Bilowol follows up on our September Vietnamese Film issue in “Filmmaking’s Wild Wild East.” And Chi Huyen Mai traces the curious lifespan of Vietnamese blogs in “The Birth, Death and Revival of Vietnam’s Blogging Culture.”

Also this month: Dinh Q. Le sits for a Q&A to speak about the opening of his solo show at New York’s Museum of Modern Art. Jeremy Kressmann discovers hiking in Hong Kong. Thomas Maresca reconnects with famed foodie Patricia Wells on her return to Vietnam. James Beard Award-winning food writer Richard Sterling begins his regular column for AsiaLIFE. Alexandra Karina gives us the skinny on the peak of Vietnam’s fruit season. Lolita Guevarra explains how bamboo-oriented economists are lifting legions out of poverty. Ginny Becker discovers how to harness Qi. And Tom DiChristopher explores the career of modern-day Renaissance man Quasar Khanh in a visual retrospective (expect lots of inflatable furniture).

AND: AsiaLIFE breaks the news on the biggest concert to hit Phnom Penh in … well … perhaps ever!

The issue is hitting the stands right now. Pick up your copy at: Al Fresco’s, Au Parc, Bernie’s Bar & Grill, Black Cat, BoatHouse, Buddha Bar, Jaspa’s, Juice, Kim Hai, La Brasserie, Le Pub, Mekong Merchant, Mogambo, Mojo Café, Pacharan, Peaches, Phattys, Refinery, Sheridan’s, The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, The Deck, The Tavern, ZanZBar.

Or download it online at www.asialifehcmc.com. Available in the coming weeks in Hanoi at Ipanima, Le Pub, La Restaurant and R&R Tavern; Nha Trang at Rainbow Divers, Sailing Club and Zeno Designs; and Phan Thiet at Joe’s The Art Café, Princess D’Annam and Sailing Club.

After being shut down this weekend for a supposed breach of WordPress’s Terms of Service, we received notification today that WordPress had made a mistake and had shut the blog down without reason. We received this email this morning:

“I am really sorry for that happening – I cannot see why yet but I can assure you it will not happen again. The blog is back just as you left it and I very much apologise for the trouble we caused you.”

We’ve already reported on what appears to be biased coverage by the Associated Press of the recent Sean Flynn discovery (see preceding post), but the matter is now getting out of hand. In an article printed in The Australian, writer Mark Dodd has referred to David Macmillan and Keith Rotheram, the two men who may have discovered the remains of Sean Flynn to the U.S. embassy in Phnom Penh on Friday, as “bounty hunters.”

The first question one should ask is, “Does Mark Dodd, and for that matter any editor at The Australian, know what a bounty hunter is?”

Presumably, if Macmillan and Rotheram were bounty hunters, they would have collected some sort of payment upon turning over the remains to the American embassy in Phnom Penh, Cambodia on Friday. This was not the case.

Dodd’s complete ignorance of the facts is illustrated when he writes, “The Australian-born Errol Flynn died in 1959, but [Lili] Damita has funded several searches for their son. It’s not known if she bankrolled the latest search.” First off, Lili Damita died in 1994. Second, had he read the Sunday Mail article that broke the news of Macmillan and Rotheram’s discovery written by AsiaLIFE contributing editor Thomas Maresca and Simon Parry of Red Door News Agency, he would have known that Flynn’s sister Rory, who was quoted in the article, partially funded the excavation.

Further, it should be questioned on what sources Dodd is relying for his own facts. At one point he writes: “David MacMillan, 29, and his bar owner friend, Keith Rotheram 60, found the remains which they claim are Flynn’s earlier this month.” According to Macmillan, who AsiaLIFE is in touch with, neither he nor Rotheram have made any such claim to any news agency or the U.S. embassy in Phnom Penh.

Further he quotes Tim Page, the photographer and friend of Sean Flynn as saying, “I have had hundreds of people contact me over the years about Sean and I’m always interested in what they have to say…” This quote is exceedingly misleading, as Page and Macmillan are personal acquaintances. It was Macmillan who set up Tim Page’s interview with Thomas Maresca for the story The Last Search for Sean Flynn in the March 2009 issue of AsiaLIFE.

Page also claims that Macmillan and Rotheram tried to sell their story. We cannot speak for any subsequent dealings, but Macmillan personally contacted Thomas Maresca and AsiaLIFE with the story and asked for no compensation, nor has he received any. Maresca then traveled to Phnom Penh, where he spoke to Macmillan and Rotheram for the story that broke the news in the Sunday Mail and South China Morning Post. They are, however, well within their rights to grant an exclusive feature to a periodical.

Dodd says that he could not reach Macmillan and Rotheram for comment. Again, it would appear that Page is the only source that reporters are turning to, and thus, his is the only narrative being propagated to potentially hundreds of thousands of readers. Dodd’s amateurish reportage is part of the reason that Macmillan and Rotheram have been advised to wait until the DNA results are in to speak to the press.

However, the result of hair-trigger reportage like Dodd’s is quickly amounting to a smear campaign.

Contributed by Tom DiChristopher

David Macmillan handing over potential remains of Sean Flynn to the U.S. embassy in Phnom Penh. Photo by Fred Wissink

On Sunday, AsiaLIFE contributing editor Thomas Maresca and Simon Parry of Hong Kong’s Red Door News Agency, along with AsiaLIFE photo editor Fred Wissink, broke the story in the Sunday Mail and South China Morning Post that the remains of Sean Flynn, the famed war photographer and son of actor Errol Flynn who went missing in Cambodia in 1970 along with colleague Dana Stone, may have been found by Australian David Macmillan and Briton Keith Rotheram.

Soon after the story broke, the Associated Press began widely distributing an article by Sopheng Cheang reporting on the impending forensic tests that will be carried out to determine if the bones–which Macmillan and Rotheram turned over to the U.S. Embassy in Phnom Penh on Friday–are indeed the remains of Sean Flynn.

The article, however, appears heavily biased against the find, and at the very least overlooks or intentionally omits important information.

By the ninth graf, the article seems to cast suspicion on Macmillan and Rotheram’s motives, noting that: “Freelance ‘bone hunters’ have also taken up the search for both missing journalists and US service personnel. Some proved to be swindlers who demanded money from relatives of the missing.”

(At the time of writing, neither Macmillan nor Rotheram have made any claims that the bones they found are the remains of Sean Flynn.)

Tim Page, the photographer and friend of Flynn who has been on the hunt as well, is quoted in the following grafs regarding his doubts about the dig:”It was not a forensic dig – they used an excavator and uncovered a full set of remains, which they removed from the site,” Page said.

The AP article fails to note two major aspects of the dig. First, Macmillan and Rotheram’s efforts were partially funded by Flynn’s surviving sister, Rory, who was quoted in Maresca and Parry’s article as saying, “I grew up with Sean and also named my son after him, so we have hoped and prayed that his remains would be found … Information came to me in the past year that motivated this private search and we hope that the person found is my brother so that he can finally come home.”

Second, Tim Page worked alongside David Macmillan to some degree to make advances in the search. It was Macmillan who put AsiaLIFE in touch with Tim Page in February 2009 for a special feature that ran in our March issue, “The Last Search for Sean Flynn. At the time of the interview, Page told AsiaLIFE he was at work on a book chronicling his search, tentatively titled Bones of Contention. He also expressed interest in having a documentary film on the subject made. The article made no mention of Page and Macmillan’s past history.

What is troubling is that Cheang’s AP article has been distributed to hundreds of newspapers around the world, including The Guardian, The New York Times, and The Australian.

AsiaLIFE was contacted about two weeks ago by Macmillan after he made the discovery. He requested that Thomas Maresca, who wrote the March special feature, cover the story. Macmillan was later approached by AP. He inquired about payment for photos taken of the dig and was told that AP does not pay for photos.

UPDATEThe Australian ups the ante on irresponsible coverage of the discovery. Read about it here.

Contributed by Tom DiChristopher

This Weekend in Saigon

February 5, 2010

If you’ve been putting off your New Year’s resolution to get in shape, think about giving it a jump start this weekend at NTFQ2’s first fitness Boot Camp, happening Saturday from 9 to 11am. The trainers drill sergeants at An Phu’s NTFQ2 will motivate you through an intense round of circuit, yoga, pilates, powers and spinning. Thankfully, NTFQ2 skips the mess hall part of the military theme and instead serves up a Boot Camp breakfast at Good Eats.

NTFQ2 Boot Camp

Or for those who prefer their physical activity from the sidelines, head over to RMIT for the Inaugural International Sixes cricket tournament on Saturday and Sunday. Six regional teams and four local clubs from the Vietnam Cricket Association will compete for the top spot, and there’ll be entertainment (including a kids’ corner). Food & drink served throughout the day. Entrance is free.

If retail therapy is more your speed, head over to Anupa Boutique’s location at 84 Pho Duc Chinh in District 1, where the sample sale Anupa’s eclectic range of design and fashion items continues. All sale items are marked down 50 to 70 percent. If you can’t make it this weekend, get there before the sale ends on February 11. Tel: 08 3915 1473. Open 9am to 6pm.

This month, contributing editor Thomas Maresca and staff photographer Nam Quan head south to pose the question, “Is the Mekong Delta disappearing?” Climate change and human development have placed this critically important corner of the world in peril, but for the farmers and fishermen who live off the land, daily life remains unchanged. The gulf between the slow country life and impending crisis is rendered in stark contrast in “Delta Blues.”

Also this month: Director Victor Vu sits down for Q &A. Thomas Maresca explores one of the quaintest streets in HCMC. Tom DiChristopher demystifies Buddhist temples and speaks to the survivors of Vietnam’s F&B scene about life before Western restaurants. Dave Lemke explores the north country by motorbike. Kristen Avis solicits Chef Vincent Tan’s favourite eats in HCMC. The ed staff compiles a list of street food hotspots. Ginny Becker gets the scoop on the new netball league. Amy Morison helps us relax with a guide to Hoi An spas. And Anne Branigin gives parents a lesson in learner-centred methodology.