My first ever expedition to Vietnam began with a brief stay in bustling Ho Chi Minh City or what was formally known as and still commonly called today, Saigon. Flying into Saigon city at night is like flying into a carnival with billions of dazzling neon lights promoting busy outdoor markets, food stalls, karaoke bars, cafes and the like. By daybreak, the city transforms into a maze of industrious people, shops selling everything imaginable, electric cables and death-dying traffic chaos which seems to emulate some sort of Zen flow to it all. Here is a collection of my photographic impressions of this busy city:
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Built in 1871 and named Norodom Palace when it was used as the colonial mansion of the French Governor-General of Indochina. In 1954, Ngo Dinh Diem took it over as his Presidential Palace. It was renamed the Reunification Palace after the famous incident on April 30, 1975 when tanks smashed through the front gates and Saigon surrendered to Ho Chi Minh’s NLF soldiers.
Built between 1877-1883 from imported materials shipped from France. Vietnam has the second largest Catholic minority in Asia, after the Philippines.
The Saigon Opera/Municipal Theatre, built in 1898 by the French to entertain but closed during the revolution. It was reopened by the Americans but shut down again when they left. It was re-opened and used by the Vietnamese government for administration and finally, in 1993, it was re-opened as a theatre!
Built between 1901-1908, known as the Hotel De Ville during the French period.
Saigon was both exhausting and interesting. Unfortunately, I couldn’t take advantage of all the cheap shopping so soon into my 3 week trip. Next up, the Mekong Delta!