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Saigon

Officially it’s Ho Chi Minh City but most everyone still calls it Saigon. The heart of the city is more international and modern than Hanoi, while still keeping grounded in lots of Vietnam flavor. I was impressed with Saigon’s green spaces in the middle of the city. Where ever I travel, I’m drawn to parks, big or small, that are well done.

I was going to check out the Reunification Palace but it was closed for lunch. I’ll try again tomorrow. And I decided to skip all the war atrocity museums for now…. On the brighter side of Siagon:

The statue of Ho Chi Minh in front of the People’s Committee Building (city hall). I was so relieved when I landed in Saigon and it was 78 degrees and drizzling. What a relief after so much 95-100 weather!

 

As with Hanoi (everywhere really), crossing the street is sport. It takes some practice and quite often a leap of faith!

 

A large, central oasis in Saigon is Tao Dan Culture Park. Very nice! Some sections are like a botanical garden, with a variety of plants identified with placards. There is even a desert section with cacti.

 

 

 

Common to all green spaces I came across in Vietnam were areas with a snack and beverage vendor and lots of folks meeting up and relaxing.

 

Another popular feature of parks here is a sculpture garden. I thought Saigon’s was pretty nice!

 

 

I made a stop at the beautifully constructed Mariamman Hindu Temple. It was bustling with locals and full of a dizzying number of incense sticks.

 

 

Here’s the interior of the Jade Emperor Pagoda, a local Chinese temple built in 1909. Unfortunately there was nothing in English inside, but my guidebook said the paper-mâché figures represent characters from Buddhist and Taoist traditions.

 

 

 

 

Detail of the woodwork overhead.

 

 

Observation deck of the Bitexco Financial Tower.

 

Once again I am astonished at the ladies who make street food in Vietnam – here being set up about ten feet into a six-lane thoroughfare making it easy for people to pull up on their motorbikes for something tasty to-go.

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