Saigon Day 2 (Part 1): Ben Thanh Market, Tra Viet, Turtle Lake, Saigon Central Post Office

Another beautiful day awaits in Ho Chi Minh (see Day 1 here), as we get ready to visit our first stop: Ben Thanh Market! It is known to be touristy, one of the things you have to do when you're in the city, but not necessarily to buy anything. Before that, we have to get across the gruelling roundabout with 7 exits. No traffic lights, so you're just going to have to cut across the roads (safely), like a boss.


We past by the Ben Thanh Bus Station, where there is a whole lot of Communist posters and slogans. Interesting to note is that the humans in their posters are always drawn, we infer that is to emphasize on social equality.


There you are - so near yet so far! 


You would think I'm crazy, taking pictures while crossing the road, but I guess this is the only way to capture the mood of doing this! Many would find it quite an annoyance not to have traffic lights, but it's really thrilling and exciting for me. These pictures may be silent, but you can imagine the rowdiness of so much traffic on the road, honking, tires screeching... yeah.


We reached Ben Thanh Market safely, and found ourselves being pulled by the stall hawkers trying to get us to buy things. They will hold your forearm and drag you towards the stall. They are rather aggressive, but just keep, walking! Otherwise, we do hear a string of 'annyeonghaseyo, konichiwa, ni hao', waiting to elicit some kind of response from us.

Finally a quiet stretch for me to selfie.

The entire Ben Thanh Market is generally still quite organized as compared to the local market the next day, but prices are going to be 'tourist prices' so either buy from the fixed price area or bring out your haggling skills. Fixed price areas are governed by law such that they cannot try to cheat tourists. I bought my elephant pants (which I wore excessively: here) and Saigon sleeveless tee here. 


Next, we popped by Trà Việt for some tea and bought a few as souvenirs. It is quite a cool place to hang out at, where the ladies will let you try the different flavours before you make your purchase. They also kindly recommended some rooftop bars!


We gone past the Reunification Palace which we didn't enter because they were closed for lunch. We didn't manage to go for the rest of our time in Saigon... which only meant one thing: re-visit!


Finally reached the Turtle Lake which was right in the middle of Pham Ngoc Thach and Vo Van Tan roundabout. There are no turtles in there, just a little park nestled in between all the residential houses and shops. It's a cool sanctuary for the locals to hang out at, have their packed lunches in the shadow of the structures. For the origins of how Turtle Lake came about, check this site out!

Saigon Post Office is quite spectacular, with a huge portrait of Ho Chi Minh (1890-1969), Vietnamese Communist revolutionary leader who was prime minister and president of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, facing whoever who enters. It is still very much functioning, so you can do your postcard sending here.

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