Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Saigon or Paris?

Soooo... did you know that Vietnam was under French Colonial rule back in the olden days? Yup... and the French left their distinctive stamp behind...

Here I am in front of the Opera House. Mama has seen the Opera House in Paris (magnifique!!) and this one isn't quite the same but still pretty impressive.

It wasn't open to the public (or little bears) and apparently there was no way we were paying $50 to go and see the current show that was playing. It's actually not an opera house anymore but more of a theatre where they stage live shows.

Oh well... it did turn out that we were there for the 123rd birthday of Ho Chi Minh! He's not actually still alive though... cause that would be beary old if he were!

 Next stop... Notre Dame Cathedral!! See what I mean about being confused... are we in Saigon or Paris?? Mind you, this doesn't look much like Notre Dame in Paris... or so I've been told.  But it is beautiful!

I wanted to go in... but it was Saturday and there were weddings taking place...

Heh-heh... a gate that stops humans does not stop a little bear though! I was ready to scamper off and have a look-see but Mama hauled me back my belt... drat!

Oh well... Right across from Notre Dame is the Post Office... and what a building!!! This one we could actually go into...

To buy stamps of course... for post cards... Let me see... Beanie, Hammie, Sullivan, Buttons, Jerry & Ben... how many stamps do I need... And that costs 11,500 D for one postcard stamp to Europe!!!! Ayiehhhh!!!!! What the heck??? Mama hasn't yet explained the currency conversion to me but she says that it is not as outrageous as it looks... good to know!

There we go... I have stamps!

The post office also had these old style phone booths with clocks showing the time in various international cities. Some of the booths didn't have phones anymore but ATM machines...

This one did have a phone but... it's a 12 hour time difference (more or less) to back home - which means 9 am is 9 pm the previous day back home... Which means we live in the future! Or something. Anyhow... it's tough to phone home... and expensive too...

Pretty impressive building...

And then... it was off to the Reunification Palace. This was built in the 1960s and has a classic 1960s feel (or so I am told). It was where the South Vietnam president lived and worked during the 60s and early 70s.

It's a beary beautiful building...

Very light and airy inside with lots of outside light.

I took an official tour and got to see a lot of the backrooms. The palace hasn't been used since April 30, 1975 when the North Vietnamese took over - so everything has been left as it was back then... it's like a time-warp. Does anyone recognize these???

This was the phone in the President's Office. I wonder if it served the same purpose as the red phone in the White House in DC????

Very pretty view...

This is the room where the president would greet international leaders. You can't quite see it but his chair, behind the desk, sits on a platform so that he always sat higher than the other guys.

This place even has a heli-pad!! Back in early April 1975, a South Vietnamese fighter pilot who was actually a secret communist, peeled off from his squadron and dropped two bombs on the helipad. They made quite a big mess but didn't apparently hurt anybody. Although everyone scampered down secret staircases to the underground bomb shelter.

Where they still have old radio equipment...

And the president's old Mercedes... Am I not a cute bumper ornament?

I wandered around some more and just so you don't get the wrong impression... Saigon does have a lot of modern buildings too!

And interesting garbage cans... This one is a penguin. In Can Tho they were little bear garbage cans. In Ha Tien they were elephants!

We also stopped at the Ho Chi Minh City Museum. The inside was "meh" according to Mama, which I think means mediocre... uninteresting... no great shakes. There was a scary underground bunker which had Mama's partner running for the stairs... I wanted a picture down there but... no luck! Anyhow... Outside was more interesting... I am sitting in a cyclo.... it is sort of like a rickshaw but not quite.

This is a different angle on it... It is basically a backwards tricycle with a seat over the front two tires where passengers sit. The driver sits on a very tall bicycle seat (where I am sitting below). There are still some running around Saigon but they are going to be phased out.

Oh hey!! A rickshaw! They don't have these anymore...

Hmmm... Mama put me here and told me to wait... Hmmm... it's a long way down... Hmmm... I don't like this!

Oh goodness!! I am not a circus bear!!! I do not fly out of cannons!!

But I would like to take a ride in this car....

It's definitely old and in nice shape! But Mama says it was just for display... phooie!


  1. We did know all about the French history in Vietnam, formerly called Indochine; Ben read about it in one of his books about France. Your photos are beary good Sandy, it sure would be fun to have a ride in a rickshaw!

  2. Another excellent tour Sandy! Mom say some of the pictures bring back memories of news reports from the war,

    BTW, you do make a cute bumper ornament, I do however, think you should stay out of canons

  3. @Jerry & Ben - Thanks guys! There are still a few French leftovers here... baguettes!! Everyone eats them as the bread of choice.

    @Buttons - Thanks Buttons! I agree about the cannons comment... Mama gets some strange ideas as to what would be a "cute" picture!

  4. Baguettes! Yummy, esp. with jam or honey. Ben is looking over your photos again, he loves everything French. Papa says there are supposedly more French speakers now in Vietnam then when it was a French colony (popular foreign language, immersion schools, etc.) Maybe Sandy can learn a few phrases in French and he and Ben can chat.

  5. Oh, almost forgot, we had a beautiful sunset postcard waiting for us when we returned to Minneapolis a few days ago; we'll make a post about it. Thanks for the postcard Sandy!

  6. @Jerry & Ben - French phrases? Ummm... Mon nom est Sandy. Je suis un petit ours. J'aime miel!!!

    Was that the post card from Phu Quoc Island?? That was a beautiful place!

  7. It's the postcard from Angkor Wat, with the beautiful orange and red sunset! You mentioned that your nickname for your trip will be Indiana if you can just fine a bear-sized Indy hat and leather whip! It would be a grand adventure for the snakes and spiders!!!

    "Sandy Jones and the Secret Honey Beehive!"

  8. Oh good - I was wondering if the Cambodia post cards would make it! Snakes and spiders are no fun... not when you are a little bear! A bear-sized Indy hat would be perfect... no luck so far though! My latest nom-de-guerre is Alexander the Great!! You`ll see why in a few postings... I am so far behind... sigh.