Monday, April 20, 2009


During our stay in the Vietnamese megalopolis of Hồ Chí Minh City, I've done almost nothing of a tourist nature. Two days ago marked the nineteenth month of my stay here, and time is getting short. But I've only been to two zoos, a water park, one pagoda, and an art gallery. In all that time, I haven't quite managed to visit the much ballyhooed history museum (located at the zoo), the supposedly fine City Museum, the harrowing War Remnants museum a block behind or the Reunification Palace across the street from our apartment--or any other thing that Lonely Planet lists to do in this city. Am I lazy? Or is this analogous to finding it difficult to select a book once I've arrived in a library? With everything available at all times, it's easy to these things next week, you know. This week is always booked. About a kilometer southwest of my house, there is an area Downtown, around Phạm Ngũ Lão Street, which is commonly referred to as the "backpacker district." This is either because of the high population of bars and hotels and luggage stores there, or perhaps vice-versa. I don't pretend to any causality. But either way, it is this part of Saigon that many travelers see foremost, and the impression they get of town. This is funny since, whenever I go there, I am surprised how the whole area bears little resemblance to the rest of Hồ Chí Minh City. Usually I'm there visiting art shows in closet-sized art galleries. But this weekend We met some friends at a little pan-global eatery that happens to include some pretty good, if not altogether accurate Mexican food. While we were eating, roving vendors pestered us to buy gum, travel guides, luggage, marijuana. Tableside service! [Cavin]

Then, a 0 sided conversation ensued...

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