sleepless in saigon

 

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Saigon became Ho Chi Minh City in July 1976 – a year after armies from the North took over the South, drove the Americans out and remade Vietnam as one. Hundreds of thousands refugees perhaps millions fled communism by sea. Many were drown, robbed or raped by pirates trying to reach Hong Kong and Malaysia.

Today 40 years on, Vietnam is one of the few remaining communist countries in the world. However, red banners, logos and slogans and a grand post office that sells colorful postage stamps are the only signs of socialism overseas visitors will encounter in Vietnam’s largest city. The experience of Ho Chi Minh for many will surely be one of capitalism, near naked and on steroids.

 

Ho Chi Minh City is brash, animated and intensely money-minded.

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Quan Am Temple in Cholon in District 5 was built in 19th century by migrants from China
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Ho Chi Minh City is Vietnam’s economic and financial hub.

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Vietnam despite impressive economic growth remains  a poor country with minimum wages at around USD150 per month

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As a tourist you can perhaps get better food, coffee and massages in neighbouring cities but you cannot afford to skip Saigon (as locals still call the city) if you want to understand the hunger and relentless energy that drives success and entrepreneurship in this part of Asia.

 

There is really no season to avoid when you plan to visit Ho Chi Minh City. The weather reports say June to September is rainy season but I find Ho Chi Minh City pleasant at this time of the year with slightly reduced heat and fresh balmy breeze at night, conducive for roof top club music and a cocktail.

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Phuc Long Coffee is well known for its ice peach tea served with slices of real canned peace

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Late afternoon shoppers at the popular Ben Thanh Market
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The Notre Dame Cathedral of Saigon was built between 1877 and 1883 using entirely materials from France including the characteristic red bricks shipped from Marseilles

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The market for luxury cars sees strong growth with car sales in 2015 for Mercedes Benz and BMW respectively increased by 50% and 40% from the previous year

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Motorcyclists on Le Loi Boulevard. Ho Chi Minh City has 7.4 million motorbikes.

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One of the classified reasons why foreign armies lost the war in Vietnam
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Vietnam’s population grows by a million people annually and will soon reach 95 million by 2017. The population is young with a quarter of Vietnamese below 15 years old.

4 thoughts on “sleepless in saigon

  1. The Tonkin Lie.

    “By their attack on American vessels in international waters, the Viet have themselves escalated the hostilities.” -Johnson, 1964

    “For all I know, our Navy was shooting at whales out there.” – Johnson, 1965

    • Heinz you must make another trip there. Being a food connoiseur and epicurean your take on Saigon’s eating scene means a lot. I suspect that Vietnamese have managed to elevate soup noodles to haute cuisine level. Thanks buddy

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