I visited Saigon, or Ho Chi Minh city, about 5 or 6 years ago. I didn’t have time to explore it properly. But from whatever little I’ve seen, I felt that the city was in its resurrection, powered by the famous economy power.
Then last year something caught my attention. A conference was to be held in Saigon. I was interested to participate for two reasons: I was hungry for knowledge and connecting with researchers from other countries, and I wanted to see Saigon again.
This time, I was more prepared. Or, Cip helped me to prepare for the short visit a lot better!. I had my map, and my planned itineraries. I was all set.
Result of 1 long morning walk, a night walking tour by myself, and a whole day of swirling here and there on a motorcycle: I was impressed.
The first night I went out and explored the city, I was already very impressed. I once again felt the energy, the passion to move forward, the dynamism. Yet at the same time, there were parts of the city that still felt provincial with all its charms. Many parts also reminded me of Jakarta! – the many motorcycles and its riders riding like crazy, the old buses, people honking here and there. And the people – happy, smiling, friendly people (yet just like in any big city, I guess you still have to be very careful..).
And as expected I was charmed by the many historical as well as the not-so-historical old buildings. I was charmed by the roads lined by big trees. By the people having their breakfasts, lunches, dinners, coffee breaks on the streets, sitting on their small tables and low benches, having a laugh or a hearty conversations. By the wide sidewalks providing comfortable walking spaces – a REAL luxury that we don’t have in Jakarta, THE megapolitan city of Indonesia!. Even when some motorcycles are parked on those sidewalks, there is still enough place to walk!. I love the parks I’ve seen everywhere at almost every corner of the city.
In short, I was impressed and amazed looking at Saigon. Considering this is a country devastated by a long war in the 70s, merely 30 something years ago, looking at how Saigon has become now is really heartwarming. And yes they may now be having a bad inflation rate, but people’s energy and optimism are everywhere.
This really is a teen in her best of times – using Cip’s description of Saigon.
I am actually quite lost for words to describe more of Saigon. So I’ll just try telling some stories through some photos that I’ve taken. I am so eager to share this so we can all feel this teen’s energy, passion and strong sense of freedom that this city’s inhabitants have.
-- The comfort of trees, and a beautiful mix of old and new --
|Sidewalks lined with tall, shady trees...|
|...really is a comfort to walk around...|
|And parks are everywhere!. This is in front of Reunification Palace|
|What I found interesting is there are parks with fitness facilities!, for free of course||.|
|Old, lovely buildings can be seen at any point in the city|
|Maybe for you, or for others, these aren't beautiful. But to me the remnants of the old buildings though covered with all those chaotic electrical cables and billboards, still have its charms|
|KFC using a lovely French style building - right in front of the old market in China Town|
|There are shimmering new buildings...adding lights and energy to the whole city|
|Dong Khoi, the posh area of Saigon where boutique malls reside|
|That is the tallest building in Saigon. It can be seen at any point within District 1. You can go up and for US$ 10 you can see the whole city. I didn't do it|
-- The two wheelers --
|To some extent this reminded me of Jakarta :) Yes, motorcycles are everywhere in Saigon too. With the same ruthlessness! :)|
|I guess what makes it different from here is that their pavements are so wide that even when there are motorcycles parked there, there is still space for people to walk|
|there are Police raids too to motorcyclists!|
|And they also get on pavements at times! My motor taxi rider did this, having seen the long traffic jam in front of us. This picture was taken as he rode on the pavement and I learned to keep my balance while busy taking pictures! It was fun!|
-- The Lively Pavements --
|The pavement is also occupied by these sellers - who can peacefully sleep in the open air|
|Parks for people to gather, have a break in their short time outs at work|
|You'll see these a lot all over the city. People having their breakfast, lunches, dinners, coffee breaks, on small tables and low benches like these|
|Breakfast before work, meeting friends, having a chat, enjoying their Vietnamese coffee and pho|
|There are also posh places like this, if you wish to have dinner in the open air|
-- What can get into your stomach while you're walking around in Saigon! --
|There are also various sellers on these pavements. These are tamarinds - huge, don't you agree?!|
|I am not sure what it is, smells like salted fish|
|And of course, the famous Vietnamese sandwich!. Result of adaptation of French baquette and Vietnamese unique condiments - their contribution to the world's cuisine|
|If you're familiar with 'Es Cincau', then this is similar with that. Look at her small benches hanging on the her left's basket. All of these sellers carry those so people can sit while enjoying what they've bought|
|The Vietnamese 'Es Cincau' - very refreshing|
|Another seller makes quail eggs omelette. Each of the pan's compartment is used for 1 quail egg. Then it is mixed with various vegetables and condiments. Smells really good.|
|You eat it with chili sauce|
-- Works of art --
|They were about to celebrate a national day, and I saw these cute posters everywhere. What I thought was interesting, was the style of these posters were still like those in the olden days!|
|Maybe this is about protecting your country or something :)|
|This maybe about development!|
|Family planning? :) - Oh I don't know...But I just love the style of these posters|
|What I mostly enjoyed was whenever I saw ladies wearing their Ao Dai - traditional Vietnamese dress. They looked so graceful (and of course, so slim!!!!) in it. And they wear it everywhere|
|When I visited the old market at China Town, those dresses are sold everywhere - side by side with t-shirts, blouses etc|
|although of course I saw more of sellers wearing these hats compared to others|
|The Vietnamese rickshaw. Only fits 1 person!|
(R I R I)