Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Ho Chi Minh City

Welcome back to our blog! We've taken a bit of a break during the summer holidays. As always, if you've missed a previous post, you can use the links on the right to view older posts. Ramadan is the major holiday in Malaysia, and typically occurs during August or September. It's also three days off of work, so we took full advantage and went on a whirlwind trip to Vietnam! Jennifer worked really hard to plan an action-packed itinerary that included Ho Chi Minh City, Ha Long Bay, and Hanoi.

Here is Ho Chi Minh himself, or "Uncle Ho" according to the Vietnamese. Ho Chi Minh City, in southern Vietnam, was named after Uncle Ho, although he never set foot in the city himself. Prior to 1975, it was known as Saigon. The inner city districts are still called Saigon, but the larger metropolis is Ho Chi Minh. The city boasts a wonderful blend of Chinese and French styles with a few Soviet influences thrown in for good measure. We spent a few days there touring the city and the surrounding area.

Here we are in front of the Notre Dame Cathedral. No, we didn't make a run for Paris - we're still in Vietnam. One unique aspect of Vietnam is the French influence. The French had colonies in Vietnam from the late 1800's until just after World War II. They brought with them many things, including baguettes, cheese, colonial architecture, and Catholicism. This cathedral was built entirely of bricks and materials that were imported from France.

Here is another fine example of a French import - the Saigon Opera House. At times we weren't sure if we were still in Asia, or if we warped to Europe!

The tree lined streets and wide sidewalks are also a remnant of the French colonization...

...as are the waffles and pastries this street vendor is selling. The conical hat is decidedly Vietnamese, however. This vendor cooked the waffles using old fashioned waffle irons over charcoal that she transported in a tin bucket attached to a bamboo pole. This is a very mobile pastry shop!

During our tour of the city, we made a stop at the main post office. The post office looks like a European train station. Here's Craig sending a postcard home from Vietnam!

We also visited the Cho Binh Tay wholesale market located in Ho Chi Minh's Chinatown district.

This market is where all the shop owners come to buy their goods to sell in their stores. The market has everything - but you have to buy in large quantities. Jennifer loved some of these hats, but you have to buy them in lots of 100 or more.

Ho Chi Minh City is home to about 10 million people and about 7 million motorcycles. They are the main mode of transportation, even for delivering goods that were purchased at the wholesale market.

While we were in Chinatown, we also visited one of the Chinese temples. This one is a Taoist temple where they are celebrating the Hungry Ghost Festival. We celebrated this last year in Penang. You can read the blog post by clicking here. The cone shaped spirals above us are incense that are hung and burned in order to bring good fortune to the person's name that is written on the attached red slip of paper.

We really loved Ho Chi Minh city. We enjoyed seeing all of the buildings, people, and culture. We also enjoyed the food - which I'll post more about later.


  1. Looks like fun! So was Jennifer able to buy anything in that market?

  2. No - but don't worry, she bought stuff at other markets :)

  3. haha, I wasn't too worried :) That girl knows how to shop, so I'm sure she found some great deals. Miss you guys!