Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam: Street Delights

April 18, 2009
Hi Chi Minh's statue in downtown Ho Chi Minh City

Hi Chi Minh's statue in downtown Ho Chi Minh City

City of Two-Wheelers:

Walking around the streets of downtown Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, you can’t but notice the incredible number of two-wheelers zipping around the streets. This city has 1.2 crore residents who among themselves own a whopping twenty lakh two-wheelers here!

These little creatures swarm around like bees. Watching them at the red light seemed as if one was watching a phalanx of armymen, ready to fire (= zipping off the moment green light comes on).

Two wheelers stop impatiently at the traffick Light

Two wheelers stop impatiently at the traffic Light

And they whizz off the moment light is green...

And they whizz off the moment light is green...

The Masked Riders

The Masked Riders

Many of the 2-wheeler riders wear masks such that only there eyes are visible under their helmets. I was told that this was legacy of the dreaded SARS disease which had spread in this part of the world a few years ago. Plus of course the pollution caused by the two-wheelers themselves.

Cable Tangle:

The streets offer another unbelievable sight: miles and miles of overhead cables and wires snaking along the streets supported by the telegraph posts. It is not just one or two cables but dozens of them bunched together. I wonder how the repairman figures out which cable to fix! This maze of cables is transformed to some post-modern street art with complex twists of turns at street junctions when the cables have to take different routes, some turning left, the others right while the remaining going straight. And yet another set of cables joins this melee!

Here are some images from cable “art”:

Cables across the street

Cables across the street

Some more cable across the street

Some more cables across the street

Cable maze

Cable maze

Even more cable maze....

Even more cable maze....

The Lovely Street Vendors:

Street vendors are not new to me. I see tons of them in India. What was interesting in Ho Chi Minh City was that nearly all vendors were women. And all of them were smiling and cheerful. Some were happy to pose for photographs. Most were selling fruits: the small yellow banana, oranges, sweet potato and jackfruits.

Banana Seller

Banana Seller

Sweet potato seller

Sweet potato seller

Orange seller

Orange seller

Art galleries:

As you walk along the streets you see small art galleries which you can step right into. Artists work here and also display and sell their paintings. Many of them are copies of masterpieces.

Art gallery off the street

Art gallery off the street

I am not much into art but I could recognize a couple of Van Goghs, including the famous Sunflowers. There was also a recurrent motif of bare-thighed fat women. I wonder which artist drew the originals. I was told that Vietnam has a flourishing art market with some really good artists who do excellent originals. I suppose they must be doing these copies to support themselves financially.

Hand Embroidery:

Hand-embroidery is elevated to a work of art here. The craftsmen embroider landscapes in multiple colours. From a distance these look like exquisite paintings!

Embroideries or paintings?

Embroideries or paintings?

Typically they are landscapes, farming scenes, boatmen, artisans, labourers. And there are a large number of flower embroidery too. I have picked up a few pieces which I shall have framed.

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