Saigon or Ho Chi Minh City as it is now formally called is easily one of the most vivacious places I have seen in my travels.
Rising from the ashes of war and abject poverty, Vietnam as a nation is firing on all cylinders. The changes in culture, quality of life, and wealth are all over Saigon.
This is a country that has gained almost 40 million people since the end of the war in 1975. These are industrious, friendly, and perhaps the happiest people I have encountered anywhere on the planet.
I was immediately taken with the people of Vietnam for another reason: food! This is a country of citizens that know how to eat and eat often. If you are a food person there are the great cities, New York, Paris, Rome, Hong Kong, Istanbul, and I must emphatically stamp Saigon on to that list. I ate here like a Roman emperor and yet in the humblest most un-fussy settings.
Fresh ingredients are not even a choice here, they are simply what are available. This little photo essay I am presenting today is about the colors of life in Saigon. Bold colors, warm, rich, and vivid in every way, life here is nearly electric.
The French left behind some lovely architecture and their own lovely traditions of food which have remained and improved in many ways.
This amazing little man comes to this post office daily as he has for 40+ years to help locals and visitors translate letters and documents. He speaks close to 10 languages and is a fixture of local culture since before the war.
At this amazing restaurant in a former French plantation shit started getting serious
Nha Hang Ngon is a collection of talented street food vendors housed in a former French colonial palace. In essence there is a single menu from which one orders amazing local street foods and they are created by individual artisans and then brought to the table by universal servers. It is a genius concept and a place we could not resist.
There are food geeks who swear that there is better if you go ala carte along the streets, but on a 94 degree day the cool shade and the warm service give this place a charm and wondrous respite from the street chaos just outside. Keep in mind, I adore the chaos I sometimes prefer to eat my Bún Thịt Nướng without a side of exhaust. (the link is a helpful Wikipedia page with names and images of Vietnamese dishes)
THE CHINESE TEMPLE
The Chinese invaded Vietnam on several occasions and each time were ultimately driven out but bot before they left their colorful influence on Vietnamese culture.
STREET LIFE - PEOPLE - COFFEE
The smog is off the charts as there are reported to be 3+ million scooters in Saigon. Yet the people relax outside over very cold beers, chill out in coffee shops where the iced coffee - cà phê sữa đá is one of the great cold caffeine and sugar bombs of the world.
I have not had the privilege to ever visit a city quite like Saigon and I cannot wait to return where I surely will have more Blissful Adventures!