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One day in Saigon the Pearl of the Far East

Thu, 31 Jul 2014. Last updated Fri, 19 Oct 2018 15:53

Saigon or Ho Chi Minh City is considered as the Pearl of the Far East. Being known as the largest urban in Vietnam, Saigon owns itself not only the sumptuous beauty of a metropolitan but also the simple but surprising things waiting to be explored.

Some of my friends ask me why I often call this city as Saigon instead of Ho Chi Minh City. The reason is just because my friends in Vietnam and local people I met in the city also using Saigon when referring to this city. They told me that the name Saigon has been used for a long time ago. This is a favorite name of many people and I myself also prefer to call this beloved city by the name Saigon.

Before having a trip to Saigon, I spent some times finding information about Vietnamese cuisines on the internet. Then, I found some information that Vietnam food is under the influence of China. However, from my experience, I think this idea is absolutely not true. In fact, there is a clear distinction between cuisines of these two countries from stages of preparing ingredients to cooking periods.

Coffee in Saigon streets

Setting foot in the city, the most interesting I found about Saigon cuisine is that although many restaurants and cafes in Saigon nestled in small alleys,  they still attract a great deal of customers. Surrounding the hotel I booked, there are many restaurants and coffee shops like this. I often walked around for a while, then stopped at one restaurant and called for myself a plate of rice served with various choices of food such as roast pork, braised fish, vegetables, etc. These dishes only cost from $1 - $2. In addition, Saigon has many street vendors and restaurants as well for those love drinking beers. In these places, a variety of grubs will be served with beer such as snails, oysters, clams, grilled squid, etc. These foods will be cooked on the spot in some minutes and you will have a hot and delicious dish with some cups of cold beer. It promises to be an very interesting experience of Saigon tourism. In the time I lived here, I discovered gourmet delights in thousands of alleys. I actually had delicious meals with the reasonable price and various choices without having to enter into luxurious restaurants.

Eating area in Ben Thanh Market

With regard to some small but interesting things in Saigon, it was amazing when I could see all kinds of power poles with crisscrossed wires, which are called as "cobweb" by local people. Walking around streets, I also saw a lot of cocks fed on these streets. In my experience, I have been seen chickens roaming in some open markets in Southeast Asia countries, however, this was the first time I have seen chickens wandering on the streets. It was my very exciting moment in Saigon.

View from Reunification Palace

In addition, Saigon people are very friendly. In my hometown Thailand, no one waved to me from their motorcycles, especially in a big city like Saigon. In Chiang Mai or Bangkok, people often do not care about you when you wander through them although they are very friendly and willing to help you when you need. In contrast, walking in Saigon streets was a surprising thing to me because everyone can look at and talk to me like they are my close friends. Motorbike taxi drivers in Saigon do not wear a coat like in Bangkok, but when I sat on motorbike, they always asked me wearing a helmet to ensure my safety.

Ho Chi Minh City

Saigon do not have many green park, but all parks in the city are always at full capacity. From dawn to dusk, I can see many people do exercise, read newspaper and do some activities with their friends. Visiting Saigon, the most surprising to me is the traffic. Although I have heard about the traffic in Vietnam, but I still feel amazed when first-hand witnessing. In spite of the chaotic traffic, Saigon people still move forward without colliding to other ones. Having the real experiences and eyewitness about Saigon, I feel so happy and lucky. Vietnam in general and Saigon in particular likes an interesting gift for me. And I know that I was completely right when deciding to travel Saigon. 

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