Saigon

by John Wilson May. 06, 2018 620 views

Saigon was treated mainly as an entry and exit point to Vietnam this time but we still squeezed in a little sightseeing.

Jade Emperor Pagoda, Saigon, is atmospheric and well worth a visit.

Jade Emperor Pagoda, Saigon, is atmospheric and well worth a visit.

Jade Emperor Pagoda, looking up.

Jade Emperor Pagoda, looking up.

Pagoda exterior.

Pagoda exterior.

These days of course it's officially Ho Chi Minh City, but I find Saigon is an evocative name that rolls off the tongue much more easily.

These days of course it's officially Ho Chi Minh City, but I find Saigon is an evocative name that rolls off the tongue much more easily.

Notre Dame Cathedral is an example of the very obvious French influence throughout downtown Saigon. Wide boulevards and plenty of tree plantings are also part of that legacy. And baguettes.And pate ...

Notre Dame Cathedral is an example of the very obvious French influence throughout downtown Saigon. Wide boulevards and plenty of tree plantings are also part of that legacy. And baguettes.And pate ...

A reconstruction of an iconic image, with ubiquitous uniformed gentlemen in the background.

A reconstruction of an iconic image, with ubiquitous uniformed gentlemen in the background.

You can't go far in Saigon without reminders of the truly awful events of the 20th century. No doubt they will reverberate for a long time yet, but I understand the younger generation is a little bit `over it'. Certainly these days there's a very positive and energetic vibe to the place.

You can't go far in Saigon without reminders of the truly awful events of the 20th century. No doubt they will reverberate for a long time yet, but I understand the younger generation is a little bit `over it'. Certainly these days there's a very positive and energetic vibe to the place.

Independence (or Reunification) Palace is extraordinary on many levels and a must-see. First,its 1960s exterior and interior design with a distinctly Asian overlay is really something to behold.

Independence (or Reunification) Palace is extraordinary on many levels and a must-see. First,its 1960s exterior and interior design with a distinctly Asian overlay is really something to behold.

It also played a pivotal role in the war and its conclusion.

It also played a pivotal role in the war and its conclusion.

Interiors remain virtually untouched from when the tanks rolled in.

Interiors remain virtually untouched from when the tanks rolled in.

I just have to have one of those light fittings.

I just have to have one of those light fittings.

Even more fascinating is the labyrinthine basement area from which the war was prosecuted by the south, now frozen in time.

Even more fascinating is the labyrinthine basement area from which the war was prosecuted by the south, now frozen in time.

Even with its own target practice area. Judging by the marks on the wall they badly needed the practice.

Even with its own target practice area. Judging by the marks on the wall they badly needed the practice.

Another point on a typical itinerary is the extraordinary War Remnants Museum. It is more overtly oriented to propaganda but houses a fascinating war history collection. You do come away shaking your head at what the country went through for decades.

Another point on a typical itinerary is the extraordinary War Remnants Museum. It is more overtly oriented to propaganda but houses a fascinating war history collection. You do come away shaking your head at what the country went through for decades.

Captured American aircraft, tanks and weapons are features of the museum and in fact are dotted all over Saigon. So interesting and formidable are the museums and their relics that it's challenging not to spend all your visit to Saigon only reflecting on the bad times.

Captured American aircraft, tanks and weapons are features of the museum and in fact are dotted all over Saigon. So interesting and formidable are the museums and their relics that it's challenging not to spend all your visit to Saigon only reflecting on the bad times.

But there's a whole other side to the place. Or lots of other sides.Saigon is a really interesting and vibrant city.

But there's a whole other side to the place. Or lots of other sides.Saigon is a really interesting and vibrant city.

Need to get a photo of the post office in there somewhere.

Need to get a photo of the post office in there somewhere.

Setting up for a wedding, Rex Hotel.

Setting up for a wedding, Rex Hotel.

It seems an essential part of the human condition - if there's a fountain, kids will jump into it and get soaking wet.

It seems an essential part of the human condition - if there's a fountain, kids will jump into it and get soaking wet.

8.6 million people in Saigon - a certain proportion lives here.

8.6 million people in Saigon - a certain proportion lives here.

That's it for our quick Saigon visit. No sooner had we left than I wanted to go back!

That's it for our quick Saigon visit. No sooner had we left than I wanted to go back!

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