Pricey pursuits

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Vietnamese celebrities are as susceptible to addictive hobbies as anyone else. But theirs are just a little bit more expensive.

Singer Lam Truong said he didn't think twice about investing tens of thousands of dollars in his own private photo studio.

The 36-year-old artist spends all his free time either snapping pictures or enhancing the photographs in the 42-squaremeter sanctuary from the stresses of celebrity life.

Truong says the studio is his own private corner of the universe that he can retreat to after a hard day's work. Many celebrities say their hobbies provide them with much-needed respite from the spotlight fame shines on their everyday lives.

Despite his amateur status, Truong's photographer friends admire his Italian Manfrotto camera stand, his British Bowens lightning kit and his Nikon D300 camera, equipped with various fancy lenses.

"Taking photos is easy, but capturing life beautifully is not," Truong says, adding that he's learned a lot about camera equipment on trips abroad.

"Whenever I work at professional studios, I wish my studio could be that well-equipped. But my private studio is still the place where I design my own new images."

The cover of Truong's latest album, Con duong tinh yeu (The way of love), was done in his lab.

But Truong's most memorable photography moment was snapping shots atop Hawaii's Haleakala Mountain at sunset.

At 3,000 meters above sea level, Truong spent the night on the peak to capture the perfect dawn light by placing his camera on a dustbin as he didn't have his tripod. He came home satisfied with a gorgeous sky-scape of the sun lying between the mountain and the clouds.

Shopping away the stress

Singer Dam Vinh Hung, better known as Mr. Dam, is crazy about shopping. According to Hung's friends, when the star gets a pressure headache, shopping is the only reliable cure.

"Shopping really has become an addiction for me," says Mr. Dam. "I don't smoke cigarettes or drink, so shopping is the way I release stress."

On trips abroad, he spends a lot of time and money shopping for clothes, belts, shoes and scarves. He is a big fan of famous brands, especially L.V. But he's still got a long way to go if he's going to compete with Imelda Marcos as the garment collector only has just over 400 pairs of shoes in his closet.

Mr. Dam says he not only loves shopping but also ironing and choosing his clothes each day. He says he never keeps track of how much money he spends on clothes. Another part of his metrosexual hobby is doing his own hair, which he's an expert at because he used to be a barber.

Fishy duo

Pop star Dan Truong and designer Thuan Viet are both friends and fish lovers.

Truong loves freshwater fishes and Viet goes gaga over his sea fish tank. The pair regularly talk shop and share insights into their expensive hobby.

"My first fish tank was just around 0.2 meter long, but now it is 2.2 meters," says Viet.

Viet keeps 12 kinds of fish and 10 types of coral, all of which cost him thousands of dollars in total.

Truong's two homes are both "flooded" with several types of rare fish.

According to his friends, Truong collects fish from Singapore, Thailand, and Malaysia and has even opened his own fish store.

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