Letting Saigons Be Saigons

March 7th, 2012 by magicant Leave a reply »

There’s not a tremendous amount of tourist-friendly stuff to do in Saigon, but I absolutely loved living there. Sadly, it was only for 6 months.

Saigon is a unique place – different from other cities in Southeast Asia and even different from anywhere else in Vietnam. As has been documented by almost every visitor to the city, the proliferation of motorbikes is unreal, far beyond anywhere in Thailand or China because automobiles are generally limited to use as taxis or shuttles.

Here are some more of my favorite quirky things in Saigon:

Electrical work: the photos below are similar to what you see in parts of Cambodia or Thailand, but again the sheer VOLUME you can find in Saigon is unlike anything in other places.

Typically, the repair work on these lines is done by an electrician who climbs the post then sits on the bundles of wire while he works on one of them.

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“Don’t throw anything away.” As much as that may apply to food and a predilection for salvaging trash, the best example I have is this apartment building, built on top of an old A-frame brick house. They didn’t even plaster over it to LOOK like the rest of the building.

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European architecture. While much of the city is filled with typically compact, narrow buildings you find elsewhere in Vietnam, there are some buildings that still show the French influences. Churches, the Reunification Palace and several of the historic hotels showcase European style.

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This:

 

Oktoberfest: The last quirk to share (for this edition) is the revelation that one of the biggest parties of the year (other than Tet, the celebration of the new year) is Oktoberfest. Massive celebrations in some of the city’s hotels and German restaurants occur every year.

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That’s enough for now. Do you have any favorite quirks or aspects you love about Saigon? Share them in the comments below.


15 comments

  1. Christine says:

    Ha! I absolutely LOVED Saigon–loved this look at some of the quirks! Totally could have lived there.
    Christine´s last blog post ..Where to stay in Phuket: Bodega

  2. Matt says:

    I have not been to Saigon yet (planning on a visit next year) but some of these scenes look very similar to some places in China. I have certainly seen that many electrical cables bunched together at numerous intersections. Great look at the unusual and quirky!
    Matt´s last blog post ..New Year’s Eve and Pachinko

  3. It’s interesting to see the different kinds of buildings all in one place!
    Brock – Backpack With Brock´s last blog post ..Success! 31 Days of Posting and Finding Happiness First

  4. jun says:

    There are more than 4 MILLION motorbikes in Saigon alone. Traffic’s crazy and air pollution is really bad that many people wear face masks. It’s a communist country but you don’t feel it until after midnight when everything shuts down. Not a soul in sight. No music. It’s just quiet. Very quiet….
    jun´s last blog post ..The Race

  5. The phone lines!!! Yes, I remember them well in Thailand. It wasn’t surprising that the electricity kept going out in Patong considering the visual of the phone lines.

    The motorbikes were crazy in Saigon. We felt as if we were playing Vietnam frogger!
    Chrissy Travels´s last blog post ..Health Secrets From Thailand- Dragon Fruit For Weight Loss

  6. Chris says:

    Thought it was called “Ho Chi Minh City”. Have they changed it?

    • Joel says:

      Chris, its official name is Ho Chi Minh City. The residents have never stopped calling it Saigon, however. The people in the north refer to it as HCMC and that’s also its name in any official documents, but it’s Saigon when you’re there.

  7. Augustine says:

    I like how the electrical wires have been used to decorate the electric poles. It shows transparency in government, lol. The people knows everything in the country including what wire goes to the government office and which ones goes to taxi driver’s home. I love it, and I hope the people are also lovely too.
    Augustine´s last blog post ..VIP for Four

  8. Anna-Lucy says:

    Loved this post, I think it was the title…then the spider like Electrical work. I wonder how many people are damaged by this mess each year? Crazy.
    Anna-Lucy´s last blog post ..Video: The Future of Travel

  9. Joshua says:

    That’s some crazy wiring. I’ve never seen anything like it. Funny to think of an electrician sitting on top of the electrical nest. In a show of nonchalance they probably don’t even wear rubber pants.

    Thanks for sharing the photos. I liked them all especially the wires and “Don’t throw anything away.”
    Joshua´s last blog post ..QR Codes, The Loneliest Of Creatures

  10. Danny Delnison says:

    Saigon need more a long time to develop but there’s the good city to travel in Asia.

  11. Marta says:

    Haha! Loved this post…making me want to visit Saigon, despite those phone lines!!!!

  12. TrekBooking says:

    The wires on the poles reminded me of Kathmandu. Loved this post! :D

  13. Ross says:

    Those wiring photos are crazy. I was there a few years ago but unfortunately never saw them. I did take my life in my hands and try a moped (scooter) which was definitley an experience
    Ross´s last blog post ..Visit Morocco – Things to Do

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