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Published: September 30th 2008
In June - before we left Vietnam for ever - we tried to visit some of the places we'd enjoyed in our time but also some of the places we'd never managed to go. Of course we also tried to meet up with the friends too. Saigon is a great city, full of energy and noise and hubbub. It may not be the most beautiful city in Asia or even in Vietnam but there is more life in a single back street there than in most European cities.
In our last days we took the mopeds out around unfashionable District 4 where we lived. We visited a really nice temple there on the banks of the river and the local worshipers made us very welcome. The Jade Emperor Pagoda near Dien Bien Phu is a different beast and is without doubt the jewel of the crown in Saigon. It's a beautiful temple that is nearly impossible to find but after a lot of driving around we found it near to our favourite tailors after seeing some tourists wandering around and asking them where they were coming from. The old wood and brick, incense and flowers, artwork and activity make the
place an unforgettable one.
As much noise as there is in Saigon it is not so difficult to find a peaceful place to drink a ca phe sua da (ice milk coffee) or a soda chanh (lemon soda). There are so many hidden cafes set in lovely gardens away from the traffic noise that dominates the city. There are also loads of eateries serving various Asian and European cuisines. I'm sure you could eat out in a different place every night for a year without even having to eat dog or drink duck blood soup. The Vietnamese BBQ and Hotpot restaurants are probably the most fun especially when you can get dessert in Fanny Ice-cream afterwards.
While I will remember the place on the map it is the people that will live longest in the memory. People we worked with. People we photographed. Our friends. People who visited us. Our neighbours. Market traders. Even the Xe Om drivers! So we say a huge goodbye to Kieran, Hiromi and Kai. Goodbe to Serene. Goodbye to my those I worked with at ABC School and SIS. See you again to the Saigon Kids family (The Skids) Kelly, Vicky, Emily, Curtis,
Danielle, Justin and Kieu Anh. Regrets, we have a few.
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