Madam Saigon Story (Day 2) - Ho Chi Minh City

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October 23rd 2010
Published: November 9th 2010
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Saturday, 23rd October 2010

"You see it all. The nice-looking shopping malls for the rich and sophiscated. Affordability is another issue!"

After my early trip to the Cu Chi Tunnels in the morning, I decided to make my way slowly to the Dong Khoi District in the later half of day 2. Armed with my google map (mate) which I had downloaded recently, it probably took me a good 25 minutes walk from where I stayed in District 1 to the entrance of Rex Hotel. At least this was how I would demarcate the start of Dong Khoi District proper.

With its tree-lined boulevards coupled with the likes of Louis Vuitton and the Lafayette Restaurant at the Continental Saigon Hotel, I would have easily imagined myself being transported to Paris. This area was in stark contrast to the backpackers' district of Pham Ngu Lao or the chaotic Ben Thanh Market roundabout.

On the same district lies the impressive People's Committee Building and the Saigon Opera House. However, both buildings were clearly out of bounds for curious visitors like us. Of course, no visit to Dong Khoi would be completed without a glance at the Vincom Centre - Saigon's newest shopping icon which I accidently chanced upon following my visit from Parksons Plaza. I had my first taste of rice after days of Pho and french loaves. As night falls, I decided to call it a day and hail a Mai Linh Taxi back to my hotel. Mai Linh Taxi had proven itself to be reputable and reliable. All it took was USD 1 to bring me right to the doorstep of my hotel at Pham Ngu Lao.

Certainly, the upmarket shopping area left a deep impression in me. Even though I couldn't resonate how many Vietnamese these glimmering places could actually reach out. This was afterall a rich man's game where probably the cost of a shirt is equivalent to an average worker's weekly salary.

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