Friday, May 20, 2016

Miss Saigon

Upon arrival in the sweet city of Saigon, we first checked into our hotel with the flurry of lanterns streaming up through the atrium. 

Well. There was also the matter of the taxi driver who tried to cheat us on our fare. But between my feisty third-born's instincts and my tutlage in dealing with Indian rickshaw drivers last year in Hyderabad, we soon got him sorted out. 

Then we were off to explore the city and here is what we found. 


We found a lot of parks. Often their design bespoke the city's French roots, with a mash-up of Communist colors and patriotic statues. Surprisingly pretty and serene. 

French architecture

No, I don't mean French-inspired Asian knockoffs, longingly interpreted by the Indochinese of the 19rh century. 

I mean that the Notre Dame Cathedral was designed by a Frenchman and crest from material imported from France. It stands strong and tall to this day, the pride of local Christians, a bastion of European artistry, and a jewel for all to enjoy. 

Energetic Street Life. 

Yes, as expected, the streets of Saigon are chaotic. More cars than I expected and endless streams of motorbikes create something other than bedlam. Woven together with groups of happy schoolchildren, mid-century architecture, and iconic emblems of her historic past, Saigon's streets are pure poetry in motion.  

A City On The Rise.

Quite literally, Saigin is growing upward and outward, and this fact is readily apparent from the SkyView deck of the Bitexco Financial Tower. I'm not one for squandering a dollar on trumped-up tourist activities but this bird's eye view of the city was well worth the investment. 


Standing outside a coffee shop and shooting photos of the street, I witnessed a most remarkable thing. In the midst of the motorcycles, bicyclists, pedestrians, vendors and other citizens of the streets, a single butterfly appeared. Flying past me, flitting straight up the street, its pale yellow wings seemed impossibly fragile, its path far too serendipitous for this tumultuous environment. 

Yet she flew safely on, as far as I could see her go, this bold butterfly. And if she needed a name, I would call her Miss Saigon. 


  1. At my age I can safely predict I will never see Saigon. Thank you so much for your photo-journalist vicarious trip to a city I have always wondered about - your photos speak so much more than words but your words about the butterfly were inspiring. Looking up, looking down, looking for the unexpected that's what makes a journey memorable. A delightful trip Diane.

    1. Thanks, Liz. Saigon has earned a special place in the heart of this American - a city and a people we chose to defend but did not succeed. Despite the political propaganda to the contrary, the people of Saigon are warm and welcoming to Americans and I loved my visit there.


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