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Thursday, March 28, 2013

Yersin Market - not your average market!

Cho Dan Sinh, or Yersin Market (named after the street it sits on), is not your average market!  If you are an Aussie you will understand what I mean when I say it is kind of like Aussie Disposals on steroids.  Want to get all the good gear for a camping trip....head here.  Want to find "real" war is your market.  Want to mobilise an army in full gear...look no further!  I took a wander through the other morning.  I am nothing if not versatile, any market is a good market to me!

I ended up buying these cool blank dog tags from this lady.  I shall get them engraved by the guy on the corner of Pasteur and Le Loi and use them as suitcase tags.  She had an astounding array of torches, lasers, compasses etc.

Quite deceptive from the outside, the place is a huge bunker which appears to take up nearly a whole block.  Even then, it spills out into the surrounds of District 1.

Need some crime scene tape, they got you covered!

The old memorabilia I assume would be a bit hit and miss with regards to it's authenticity.  I have no doubt some of the stuff is real but I do remember reading a statistic once that stated there were more dog tags here than serving personal.  

Whilst the dog tags might be a bit iffy, I'm pretty sure some of the other little gems are the real deal.  I mean, why would you reproduce foot powder?

Vietnam LOVES a uniform!

Once you have stocked up on you metal detecting wand to satisfy your inner airport security guard and picked up that night vision gear and gas mask you have been meaning to buy, head to the other section.  There you will find just about every sort of tool and device that any bloke (or chick) could desire for their handyman needs.

It's very low key shopping.  The vendors pretty much leave you alone.  When it's time for a snack there is a small kitchen that was whipping up a feast as I went past.

There are a few shops like this one that I pottered around in for about an hour.  Old photos and postcards, lamps, coins, medals, military tools and the like.  Very eclectic mix.  It's fascinating stepping back in time.   One mans trash is another mans treasure so they say.

They also have a great range of electrical appliances.  A lot of it is industrial sized but I may even head back to get one of those industrial strength blenders for $90.  Just like the ones you see in all of the juice bars.  I think this place is definitely worth a look if you have time.  I love just wandering through and chatting to the vendors and seeing what is out there and what is left over from the past.  Yes, you can even buy the kitchen sink.

Yersin Market
104 Yersin
District 1

Monday, March 25, 2013

Photos of Old Saigon

I find looking at old photos of Saigon fascinating.  I would love to be able to step back, just for a day.  For many the word Vietnam conjures up images of conflict.  There is so much more to the history of this country.  Check these out!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Topshop/Topman and Warehouse.Co.UK in Ho Chi Minh city

Walking past Bitexco the other day I note that Topshop is now open.  It also contains a shop called Topman which I assume, is, well, Topshop for men.  I only had a minute or two so I had a very brief look.  I liked what I saw.  Prices were not as unreasonable as a lot of the shops in the major shopping centres and there were some nice pieces of jewellery and accessories like handbags etc.  Will have to head back and have a proper look soon.  The address is ICON 68 - Bitexco Financial Tower.  Unit 1, Ground floor and 1st floor.  Number 2 Hai Trieu St, District One.

Whilst there I noticed a sign for Warehouse CO.UK.  I did not have time to go up to the second floor but it appears to be another British mid-price clothing shop.  Again, I'll have to head back and check it out.  Happy shopping!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

My Take on the Wet Season

I was asked recently (Hi Mrs McApple!) why is it that I had not done any posts on the wet season in Saigon.  To be honest, I did not even realise that I hadn't!  I guess looking back it is a bit of a glaring omission on something that really is very much a part of our lives for a large part of the year.  First.  A confession.  I hate the wet season.  There, I said it.  I can't stand it.  It messes with my hair, always happens at school pickup time (2.30pm) and oft times makes me a little gloomy.  Having said that, I would have to say that a great many people LOVE the wet season.  Don't get me wrong, it does have some fabulous traits like the cracking storms that sweep across the city sky, but for me it's not my favourite season in Saigon.  Having thought about why I had not posted about it before I came to the conclusion that I am very much like the rest of the residents in Vietnam, you just kind of ignore it and get on with things.  

The kids first wet season nearly 3 years ago.

As the first drops sizzle on the road it can become very difficult to find a taxi

 One of the main reasons I don't like it is that it seems to go on forever.  In the build up which starts about May from memory, the heat becomes oppressive.  It is crazy hot.  It's almost a blessed relief when the heavens finally open and things cool a little immediately.  What they say it true, it only rains for a small part of the day, sometimes once in the afternoon and then again later in the evening.  The exception to this is if there is a typhoon off the coast somewhere.  Although it does not happen often, this is when the rain will set in for a few days.

 I do love to sit and watch the storm clouds gather.  Sometimes I will watch and wait and they just roll on by, not spilling a drop.  Rather anticlimactic of them!  Sometimes it will be bucketing down in the centre of town and Nick will call and say "how about that storm" and just a few blocks away where I am...dry as a bone.  Very bizarre.

Other times...look out!  When the heavens open it is a spectacular sight.  The first few drops see motorbikes pull over to the side of the road and ponchos pulled from under their seats.  Once donned, they are off again, barely missing a beat.  When you see the ponchos come out, it's a pretty good indication a big one is on the way.  The streets can go from bone dry to "I need a boat" in a few minutes.  Seriously.  It can be spectacular.  The noise is almost deafening, especially if you are inside somewhere like Ben Thanh market.

 The wet season should not stop you from travelling though.  This was Ho Tram a few years ago.  It's actually quite nice to have a little siesta in the afternoon and we love to be in the swimming pool in the rain to (as long as there is no lightening!)

They have a few wet seasons under their belt now.  It does not faze them at all.

I remember this day!  I got stuck in a shoe shop...whats a girl to do?  Why buy shoes of course!

We see mess....they see fun!  This is out at RMIT where Nick plays AFL Footy (go Swannies).  I have given up trying to keep them clean.  Best just bring a change of clothes and let them have fun.

So in summary, how bad is it?  I guess really not that bad at all.  Everyone has their own reasons for liking or disliking the wet.  I guess the main thing is, there is nothing to worry about.  Life goes on with minor adjustments.  Sometimes back up plans need to be put in place re outdoor venues or parties but other than that, it's just all part of life here. I suppose I should say that I don't really "hate" the wet season, I just prefer the blue skies and sunshine of the dry.  The buildup will begin soon and we will say goodbye to these fabulous clear days.   It seems to me that the dry is getting shorter and the wet longer each year.  Last year it rained until December!  I don't really have any "survival" tips other than if you are out, try to grab a cab just before the rain starts.  I also don't use Xe Om's in the rain.  Ridiculously uncomfortable being shoved under the back of a dirty raincoat and very dangerous.  Maybe I should look at things a little differently this wet, my last.  Take a leaf out of the kids book.  Embrace it rather than fight it.  What is it that they say?  "Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass, but learning to dance in the rain".