Saigon

Written in my iPhone on June 16, 2015. 

 Ho Chi Minh City is the largest city in Vietnam. It is still referred to as Saigon by most people, the name before the unification of the north and south.  

Ho Chi Minh City is the largest city in Vietnam. It is still referred to as Saigon by most people, the name before the unification of the north and south.  

I had always wanted to go to Vietnam. Perhaps it was because my Vietnamese high school girlfriends (2) or the late night pho or vermicelli after so many after club munchies. I admit, just three days in Ho Chi Minh isn't enough to pass judgment on the country. I can't wait to come back and explore more. 

As the country's largest and most bustling of cities, Ho Chi Minh has a good mix of the frenetic buzzing of motorcycles and relaxing cafes and park space. Although smaller than I had expected, the city impressed me in its wide and leafy avenues, various parks and rivers, and the French colonial buildings. I stayed at the Hotel Continental Saigon, the oldest hotel frequented by journalists and politicians during both the Indochina and Vietnam wars. 

The Vietnamese were always gentle, cheerful and had the capacity to remain calm no matter the situation. I really admired this. Whether it was at the shop, taxi or hotel, the stressed out and tired faces always seemed to be the western tourists. But they are the ones who are open and curious enough to engage in conversation with the locals. The Japanese tourists, with their fanny packs and big hats to shield them from the sun, are just silent tourists, the internal suffering type, until a photo opportunity arrives. The other Asian tourists, on the other hand, they've got the money and the wits.

As I did my customary city wandering, solo by foot, it became my mission to find cafes and restaurants away from any foreigner. I found a great cafe, M2C Bistro and Cafe, where Vietnamese youth listened to soul, jazz and ambient music and sipped on coffee and smoothies while chatting or scrolling through their phones. The traffic is a light hum from this second floor, airy, modern, eclectic cafe in District 1, just steps away from all the tourist traps below. The name is M2C Bistro and Cafe. On the third floor is the dia projects contemporary art gallery. Now promise you won't tell anyone.

From Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam - 14/06/2015

 

 Sitting down to relax with coffee is part of the life in Vietnam.  

Sitting down to relax with coffee is part of the life in Vietnam.  

 Good stuff here.  

Good stuff here.  

 Hidden places are always the best.  

Hidden places are always the best.  

 Modern decor.  

Modern decor.  

 Character.  

Character.  

 A gallery amidst it all.  

A gallery amidst it all.  

 Entrance from the street.  

Entrance from the street.  

 Avocado shake.  

Avocado shake.  

 View from the street.  

View from the street.