Tuesday, September 09, 2008


We arrived in Hồ Chí Minh City late on a Thursday night. That Friday we walked around our block, getting used to the traffic. There was a lot to see. We were tired and jetlagged and after one block we headed home to order delivery pizza from expat haven Chez Guido. We went to sleep shortly after dusk. That Saturday we walked some more, searching for a restaurant we never found. But we saw many more things. Sunday, we walked across the street into District One, first time for me, and down to Bến Thành Market. Bến Thành is pretty close to Sunshine's office. It's the crossroads of District One: to the west is the cheap backpacker "district", east is the upscale expat shopping area, and northeast are many of the larger government buildings. The market serves everyone. There's plenty of lacquered gimcrackery, remaindered clothing, prepared food; stuff for tourists and locals alike. Too many things. It's a dizzying spectacle, the sort of place I usually love. But that third day I wasn't up for the bickering pressure from each stall: fingers plucked at my clothes, voices shouted at me, desperate vendors barred my way. I didn't stay long. This last Sunday, we explored Bình Tây Market, first time for me, located on the close corner of District Six in Cholon, HCMC's vast old Chinatown. Bình Tây is much larger, older, and more awe inspiring that Bến Thành. It has two stories. It's terracotta roof tiles end in hand sculpted, glazed ceramic caps. Bình Tây spills out in canopied stalls which have leaked into the crevices of the surrounding neighborhood. A maze of things to see, more dizzying and plucky than the other market; but I was ready. There were star anise fruits the size of monkey fists! [Cavin]

Then, a 0 sided conversation ensued...

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