It was 3 in the dead of the night, as I pulled down the window of my taxi the wind caressed my skin, the scent of the city was welcoming. As I arrived to Bui vien street everything was lit up, backpackers and locals were on the streets, clubs playing trashy techno, vendors trying to sell you weird stuff, young Vietnamese girls pulling men to the clubs. The scene was alive! I could feel the exuberance of the city. After hopping airports I was finally in Ho Chi Minh!
Bui vien street at night.
Ho Chi Minh or Saigon today is an energetic commercial, cultural hub of modern Vietnam, recently voted as the 50 most beautiful cities in the world. Majority of it's population is young, the city is bustling with energy and vibrancy.
Through this black and white series I try to evoke the emotions of nostalgia and romance. I was visualizing Woody Allen's films while writing this story.
Notre Dame Basilica blending in with modern Saigon (the dragon is approaching).
I am a sucker for old buildings especially the ones which have a story to tell and here, there were plenty. I was fascinated exploring the cities wide boulevards, grand colonial buildings, eclectic cafes, narrow lanes, beautifully knitting the past and the present.
Traces of the French.
Crossing the streets was a little challenging as thousands of bikes ran through the busy streets, I embraced the culture of the city. The fusion of the new and old world blends like Ca phe sua da.
Cheesecake with Ca phe sua da at Tram cafe.
Posters of Lenin, Ho Chi Minh and the propaganda of Marxism reminded Vietnam's struggle for freedom and it’s horrific past. However today things are different, the politics is much more liberal now, welcoming semi capitalism. Cultural and business tie ups with South Korea and Japan has deep influence on the cities new architecture, people and cuisine.
Saigon central post office, now a tourist attraction.
Young Vietnamese men flaunting their business attires.
Wedding at the basilica.
Women posing for the camera at a catholic wedding at Notre Dame basilica, while the Bentley waits for the newly weds.
Pre wedding shoots are trending in Vietnam.
People in Saigon were generally warm and friendly, although due to language barrier having a decent conversation with them was always a struggle.
I was amazed how beautiful the local women were, quintessential Asian values and western aspirations. In general they are more hardworking than the men.
Business as usual at Central post office.
The locals start their day early but sure they do know how to have a good time, grabbing lunch at the lunch ladies in the city, drinking beer on the streets with friends & family and Karaoke - they seem to have a strange obsession for it.
Most cafe and restaurants are run by women.
The charm of the city was sweetly addictive and in those 48 hours I had absolutely fallen in love.
Skyscrapers of District 1.
I wonder if someday Ho Chi Minh will become like other southeast Asian cities like Hong Kong and Singapore, and be consumed by capitalism.