Sunday, July 29, 2007

Vietnam - Ho Chih Min City (Part I)

Vietnam is a war torn country. They had a war with the French, with the Americans, with the Chinese, with the Cambodians, from my limited knowledge of history. The entire 20th century was a century of war. War had destroyed many of the country's civilisation & cultural heritage. What is left is only the natural beauty.

This is the Reunification Palace in Ho Chih Min City. Once the presidential house for the southern government. Many Feishui elements had been incorporated to bring good luck. The building itself resembles the Chinese characters of 'prosperity', 'austere', 'central', etc, but I think this building looks very ugly. Whatever it is, the end result is the southern government fell & lost the civil war. That must be something wrong with that Feishui advisor!

Some interior shots of the place.

Ho Chih Min, known as Saigon previously, is the country's commercial capital. Thriving business activities, good bargains are what draw visitors from overseas. There are many markets in saigon, some of the major ones are Ben Thanh, Bin Tay, An Dong. In addition, there are many night markets too. Do be careful, though. You have to know the price. For the same goods, price can vary more than 100%. Some market research and good bargaining skills will pay off.

A busy traffic junction in front of Ben Thanh Market

There are also many road-side food stores. They come into life when the night falls. The prices are generally reasonable, the food is done the Vietnamese way. That means lean in oil, rich in taste.

We had our first dinner at one of the stalls shown in the photo. Fish was fresh from the tanks in front of the stall. I should have taken a shot of the food that we had, but then we were all too hungry and meeting the basic needs of a human body seemed a lot more important at that time :D However, as it is a road-side stall, you have to bear with the pollution from the exhaust of the passing motorbikes.

Ho Chih Min City is one of the most polluted city that I had ever been to. Thousands of motorbikes crammed into the small city roads, more or less like thousands of chimneys discharging smoke at the same time.

With the opening of Vietnam to the outside world in the past few years, there are some new western-stye departmental stores popping up. Their Christmas decoration can be really good.

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