Day: June 24th, 2006

Good night, Saigon

Saturday, June 24th, 2006 | All Things, Travel

Final day in Vietnam. Loose ends…

Ben Thanh Market is one of Ho Chi Minh’s most popular shopping destinations, having been in existence since the French occupation, and in its current location since 1899.

Locals and tourist alike congregate at this market near the center of town, especially on the weekends. Larger and somewhat more sanitized than Chinatown’s Binh Tay Market, which I visited on my first day in Saigon.


The market also features a pretty extensive food court with individual stands outfitted with plastic stools for customers — like an indoor collection of street food.

Food stall

Sinh To is the ubiquitous Vietnamese fruit shake. The word is actually a Chinese language import, meaning “vitamin;” “vitamin” in Vietnamese is “vitamin”.

Sinh To

Taxicab ride to the History Museum for the afternoon water puppet show:

Water puppets Water puppets

Puppetmasters take a bow:

Puppet performers

After the show, visited the museum’s other big draw: the Angkor Wat relics… um, Elgin Marbles, anyone?

Angkor Wat statues
Angkor Wat bas relief. As I won’t be making it out to Cambodia this trip, this small sampling will have to suffice for now.

bas relief

At the Jade Emperor Pagoda, built by the city’s Cantonese around the turn of the century:

Jade Emperor Pagoda

Jade Emperor Pagoda

Continued my leisurely stroll around District 1. On the way, I passed the site of the American Embassy, now the U.S. Consulate. According to the guidebook, it is not the original gate or building through which the Viet Cong broke through during the Tet Offensive in 1968. Security around the complex is extremely tight, though, with armed guards posted every 20 feet or so. In fact it was the one place in all of Vietnam that I was expressly forbidden — twice — from snapping a photograph, and that includes museums and several houses of worship.

This was the closest I could manage — the guards were out of my line of vision, behind the tree:

American Embassy
Though around the corner, I found one guard who was somewhat more obliging.

More street carts:

Food stand
How could I leave Vietnam without sampling a bowl of pho?

Just a few more hours before I leave for NYC. Sleep or pack?


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