Haute bourgeoisie buying haughty homes

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Ho Chi Minh City's richest neighborhoods are becoming mini-Beverly Hills as wealthy entertainers buy up sprawling million-dollar homes


Singer Dam Vinh Hung (L) in his future office. Hung says he will decorate his new home with furniture from abroad. Singer Cam Ly (R) said the location of her new home will be ideal. Both entertainers opted for an installment package to pay for their multi-million dollar pads, which have get to be completed.

Flamboyant, scandalous and always controversial singer Dam Vinh Hung recently began bragging about his nearly US$5 million penthouse at the new Sunrise City development in Ho Chi Minh City's District 7.

In the old days he might have been ridiculed for such a display of ostentatiousness. But that was then and this is now.

The 700-square-meter unit, which has yet to be built, will contain a garden, and all the exterior walls will be bay windows, which Hung said would bring him the "whole sky in just one reach."

Hung is just one in a growing trend of in-fashion celebrities doling out their riches to buy gargantuan homes in the Ho Chi Minh City suburbs.

The sky's not the limit

Hung said his new apartment would fit his personality: dynamic, adventurous but "sensitive."

"At the moment, it is hard to find a satisfactory house in the city center. But from my penthouse, I can take in the fantastic panoramic view with my friends and family," said Hung. "And with such a large amount of space, I can have my fill decorating and giving the home a special design."

So what does Mr. Dam, as he's known, have in mind?

The apartment will apparently be decked out in dozens of white square cubes. He said white is his favorite color.

Mr Dam also said he would make his new home a venue for private concerts and parties, just like Hollywood celebrities do in their homes.

"I want to be the trailblazer of the new trend in Vietnam: living in a really hi-end flat and organizing smart and cozy concerts right in my own home, the way international artists have done," said Hung. "I think in the near future, some Vietnamese artists, who are also my friends, will become my new neighbors."

The neighborhood gang

Before Hung, singer Cam Ly purchased a 400-square-meterapartment for over $1 million also at Sunrise City. Both Ly and Hung said that the location would be their new homes' biggest virtue.

"I used to spend a lot of time traveling and hunting for brand name clothes, which are rare in Vietnam, for my performances," said Ly. "But this fast-growing and great urban center [District 7] will be home to many splendid malls."

Huu Minh, noted local music impresario and Ly's husband, said the couple searched far and wide before settling on the abode.

"It will be convenient for our children to go to good schools there," he said.

The lap of luxury

Overseas model-turned-magician Ngo My Uyen had all the furniture and walls of her house on HCMC's Han Thuyen Street laminated in gold. The house is now valued at around $10 million, but Uyen didn't pay a dime for it initially as she inherited it from her family.

Miss Vietnam 1992 Ha Kieu Anh's house, which is situated in HCMC's District 2, is valued at over $2 million. Rumors said that the house is one of the Anh family's great fortune earned in the real estate business.

Soon, when people think of Vietnam, they will no longer think rice paddies and water buffalos, but "swimming pools and movie stars."

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