Day off in Saigon -- May 12

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After several days of heavy physical and emotional travel, we took a day off and wandered around the area near our hotel.

Traffic in the morning and evening is absolutely crazy. These folks were lined up on a little side street a few blocks from our hotel, and were just taking off as the light changed. On the big boulevards, there would be a sea of heads as far back as you could see.


There were plenty of street vendors trying to sell us everything from bottled water to lottery tickets. Here Larry is trying to ignore a persistent salesman.


 

This is the Vietnamese version of a street sweeper. They were all over. There is a big campaign on to clean up things, mostly for the tourists, I think. 


We visited the City Museum. It had cultural displays, archaeological finds, and a pretty serious war section. Just outside the building we found this car, and Larry was trying to figure out how to get it home with us.


Here are a couple of displays in the cultural area. This one portrays a vendor selling kerosene during French colonial times.


Pottery making has been an important Vietnamese craft for thousands of years.


We found a display of vehicles used by the Viet Minh as they moved around Saigon and the surrounding area. This is about the only Lambretta we saw anywhere. The few we saw in the countryside were pretty well used. We saw hundreds of these 40 years ago.


As we left the museum, Larry's car was being used as a prop by a photographer taking pictures of a wedding party, so we were unable to get it past security and out the gate.


We left the museum and headed for the Ben Thanh market. On the way we passed this Indian temple. Saigon is a mixing pot of many cultures and religions.

 

The Ben Thanh market is just three blocks from our hotel in the center of Saigon, and home for hundreds of small shops. It was a crazy kaleidoscope of color and extremely noisy. The tourists mostly go here to gawk and take pictures, so we obliged.

The market sells everything you can imagine, from clothing to produce to live animals to take home for supper (not to visit, but to eat!).


After visiting the market, we wandered back past the hotel and on to the food court in a local mall. Larry is ordering from the dozens of items at this restaurant. We ate here several times and the food was great. It cost about $2.50 for a meal and soft drink.

I took the photo of the CIA evacuation building from another area of this food court. 


It's not too different from a food court in a US mall, but they have many young women in pink uniforms who deliver your food and clean up after you finish. I was impressed by the sanitation -- they sprayed the tables with a sanitizing solution and wiped them down between customers. The dishes and silverware were color coded so it all got back to the right place. Everyone else got chopsticks, but we got forks and spoons without asking. I'm sure our communications difficulties had us pegged as outsiders.