I only had one day to check out Saigon/Ho Chi Minh City (most residents still call the central city by its pre-1975 name), so I had big plans and a full itinerary mapped out. But my immune system failed me at a crucial moment and I woke up the day of my departure with a full-blown cold. Needless to say, the 6-hour drive in a packed minibus was not enjoyable. Saigon reminded me of Bangkok, except smaller and without guys trying to con you into buying bogus gems. I kind of liked it, despite the circumstances.
Managed to rouse myself early the next morning for a thorough exploration of the Cholon District, a sort of Chinatown 7km southwest of downtown.
First stop was the Binh Tay Market, which was like pretty much every other big Southeast Asian market I’ve seen. Entire sections devoted to solely to hats, strange herbs, cooking utensils etc. If I ever need 400 bottles of fish sauce I know where do go. Some good early morning street photos here.
The market spilled into side streets and the whole area was bustling with commerce.
Cholon is noted for its many Chinese pagodas. I visited three or four.
Very atmospheric, with swirling smoke from incense and ornate decoration.
The humidity was absolutely killer by noon and I needed a nap. In the late afternoon I went to the War Remnants Museum, which had an interesting but somewhat one-sided perspective of the Vietnam War. One highlight was a section showcasing the work of photojournalists who died during the war.
Outside was a collection of captured American guns, aircraft, tanks etc.
I didn’t have the energy to take more photos of Saigon, and I was going to be back for one night on July 4th. At least that was the plan until Jetstar Pacific dropped the ball and canceled my flight without telling me, forcing me to stay another night in Hanoi and drop big money on a direct flight to Phnom Penh. More on this later. And more of the Saigon set here.