Ho Chi Minh: My Parent’s Hometown

By Alan

Ho Chi Minh City, formerly known as and still referred to as Saigon is the biggest city in Vietnam. I’ve been sitting here at the screen for a good 10 minutes before deciding what to write about this place. And really it’s not the city itself and more about the experiences I’ve had within myself here.

Both my mom and dad were born in Saigon so this city has a close place to my heart. My family and relatives all survived the Vietnam War and escaped on a boat before getting sponsored to Canada. The stories I hear from my dad of his family leaving everything behind to start a new beginning in Canada is better than any heroic movie bullshit. This was their real life and he came to Canada working 3 jobs to finally be able to open up his own restaurant. I’ll always be grateful for their sacrifices for me and my sisters to be able to have the opportunities we’ve had. I wouldn’t be on this trip and traveling for 4 months if it wasn’t for them. Thank you Mom and Dad.

I wanted to learn what they went through more and that meant going to history museums and war sites. Let me tell you they were not easy places for me to visit. Going through the War Museum I couldn’t even bring out my camera to take pictures of all the horrible things that have happened in this land. Do a quick google search of “agent orange” and that will show you some of the horrors America brought to the villages around Vietnam.

Food

I was lucky to meet a local during my travels who took me out to places I never would have found on my own. Saigon has many dishes that are exclusive to the South. Or they’re prepared differently than other cities. For example, banh xeo in the South is one big pancake wrapped with lettuce while in the north they tend to break it into smaller pancakes and wrap it in rice paper.

Hopefully I got all the names right for the food. I had to ask my local friend for the ones I forgot.

The City and Street Photography

There’s so much happening in this city from every direction. The first few times crossing the street is one scary experience. The trick is to KEEP WALKING and bikes/cars will go around you. I’m not saying blindly keep walking but if you see a bike about to drive into your next step just keep walking, they will go around.

Other than the insane traffic there are people selling, hanging out, and working all around the streets. It was the perfect opportunity to bring out my camera and just wander for a bit.

I went alongside the Thu Thiem Bridge to get some of these night shots. This whole area is full of young teens and couples on dates enjoying the view. Walk a few streets down and there’s food carts lined from one end to the other making it the perfect place for groups to gather.

I felt HCM didn’t offer much to tourists. There’s a few main attractions that are a must see like the War Museum but the attractions around the city are lackluster. It’s a great place to just wander to see how the locals live their everyday lives. Every street offers something new and was perfect for street photography. I think having a local bring me around and giving me advice on where to go helped me enjoy the city more.

Time to head up north to Hoi An.