The city had already been called Ho Chi Minh, but just like the locals, I still called it Saigon. The name was shorter and rolled off the mouth more easily. It helped that it was one syllable less and without that extra consonant no one knew how to pronounce. Surely, the musical Miss Saigon, with its stereotyped scantily-clad singing showgirls, further cemented its recall quality. But in another sense, Uncle Ho did embody this culturally eclectic city. I recently found out that Ho Chi Minh, the Vietnamese statesman this city was named after, had lived around the world. And many of the places he lived in had left their imprint on Ho Chi Minh, the city.
Every tourist should get out of the insulated confines of their tourist buses and walk the streets. I found that it was on street level that a foreigner could feel the hustle and bustle, the soul and pulse of a city, its attendant dangers notwithstanding. Capturing street scenes with my Leika lens was akin to taking portrait photos; it preserveed the look of a city at a certain age. Continue reading Saigon Street Scenes→
It was my first trip overseas in five years. I had always loved to travel, but financial constraints kept me off the road. This time, I decided not to let my poverty get in the way of my dreams. Beggars couldn’t be choosers, but who said they couldn’t be travelers? I convinced some colleagues to pool our meager resources and planned for a DIY trip. I was like a (travel) virgin all over again, overwhelmed by that giddy combination of anticipation, anxiety, and awkwardness. The trip was truly a milestone, a turning of a page in my life.