Saigon, How I Love Thee

Saigon, How I Love Thee

Saigon is a city I love. It is distinctly Asian, yet is cosmopolitan and has a big, buzzy vibe. After 3 weeks living in Saigon last year, I was so excited to show the city to Frank and Alex and this year I was equally thrilled to show Dee the city.

We most definitely had a weekend of great food. We went back to many of the spots I love. Fabulous espresso, broken rice, noodles, Vietnamese pancakes and Vietnamese yogurt. The yogurt is divine. Likely as it is so high fat, but who’s counting? The city is divided into numbered districts.  Reminds me of The Hunger Games, but in reality was organized that way by the French many years ago. The downtown, tourist district is D1 and that is the area I know best. Saturday night we were invited out to dinner with a group of Canadian volunteers to a restaurant in D2. This was exciting for me as D2 was new turf! Had a superb meal and it was interesting to meet four other Canadian volunteers and learn about their projects. A few are here for one year stints. That is commitment!

Salad with tofu, salad with shrimp & stuffed pumpkin flowers
Vietnam is the second largest exporter of coffee in the world. Divine!

One thing we learned is that up until the 1970’s all establishments were numbered, not named. So the restaurant in Hanoi with the dog meat (see last post) was “Trade Shop 37”. What I didn’t post was that we read the menu and ran from it in fright!  Anyway, think of the leap from Trade Shop 37 to our restaurant last night – Propaganda!

It was great just walking the streets again. Saturday afternoon, we went on a “romantic” high speed boat river tour. They called it a sunset tour, although the sun didn’t set and I’m not sure that it qualified as romantic! We were joined on the trip by 9 members of the “Gay Israeli Club”. Actually, I was wrong, as they were Turkish! Suffice to say it was an interesting tour with interesting viewings! Best part was that we saw a monkey bridge, an infatuations of mine since I started researching Vietnam over a year ago.

View of the “new” from the boat – tallest building in Saigon
View of the “old” from the boat
No hands on the monkey bridge!

Sunday night we went to a performance at the Opera House. It was a Vietnamese version of Cirque de Soleil. Fabulous! The athleticism and artistry were wonderful. It was playful too, and they poked fun at themselves. It was such a treat to watch.

Opera House

Other adventures.. well Dee wanted to visit the main market – Benh Than and I said only first thing in the morning before it gets too hot and too stinky in there. So, we went first thing Sunday morning and made the unfortunate error of entering in the meat department. Dee saw something that looked like pig nipples and I definitely saw intestines. Then, as I turned I saw a live rat the size of my own fat cat run across the floor. We were so freaked out. Unfortunately, in the market the sellers like to grab you to get your attention. Our Darwinian “flight mode” was on overdrive and we jumped every time someone touched us. We bought some t-shirts that included a lengthy discussion of boob size, as the Vietnamese are just not particularly well endowed and quite like (apparently) to discuss boobs (or “boos” as they say!).

Super YUCK!

On the recommendation of my friend Nadine, we went for a spa treatment at a new women’s only spa. She even sent a map and street view photo so we could find it. How to resist? We chose body scrubs, although unbeknownst to us, that meant 4 to a room that was open to the adjacent hallway. We were clothed in… disposable underwear they provided. OMG had to go to that place in my mind where no one and nothing else exists…

I had to buy – check out the heel… it’s an egg!
Shopping for Christmas hats!


  1. Boy, everything looks so great. Food, coffee, monkey bridge but the market shot churns the stomach at 6 am! Yuck. Who knew Dee’s modelling career would be launched in Vietnam?

  2. Again your athleticism! Balance beam skills demonstrated on the monkey (note that I first typed this without the “k”) bridge.

    Love the new shoes. So cool!

    Enjoy and watch what you eat…


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