Saturday, August 30, 2008


This weekend we have the time to explore without the energy to travel somewhere else. Hồ Chí Minh City kicks ass, but it's easy to put off for other adventures because it's always right outside. Today was one of the rare times we'd set aside for getting out into our city. We explored around the backpacker district some. It's tongue-in-cheek to call this exploration, really. We live at the intersection of Districts One and Three. We spend the vast majority of our time around town roaming these areas. These main downtown districts look pretty distinct: leafy trees, wide open parks, relatively clear sidewalks. The majority of town looks the opposite. Most of Saigon's French Colonial remains are in Districts One and Three. What's funny about using the word "explore" is that we never left our base Districts. First we saw a little art show somewhere near the bridge to District Four. This was post-utopian sci-fi sculpture, in aid of post-cinema photo constructions--all very white plastic. Local art shows I've seen have something in common: a stifling little gallery with under ten pieces. It feels strange to make plans to go to a gallery--get ready, leave the house, hail a cab--only to look at art for seven minutes. Both women behind today's tiny reception desk had leather-covered motorcycle helmets I found very compelling. After the show we wandered around the mazelike alleys of the backpacker district. It's only a tongue-in-cheek "district": travel agents, luggage vendors, bubble tea shops, tourist expectations accumulated around the cheap hostels. But warrens of tangled alleys wend between the main roads, accessing three-chair eastern hemisphere restaurants, barbers, and other, darkly mutable exotic spaces. It may be totally alien compared to where I live, but it's less than a mile from our apartment. [Cavin]

Then, a 0 sided conversation ensued...

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