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 Ho Chi Minh City part 2

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Tổng số bài gửi : 47
Join date : 08/11/2009

Bài gửiTiêu đề: Ho Chi Minh City part 2   Mon Nov 09, 2009 11:48 pm

11. Saigon, Ky Hoa Park
Saigon has two seasons. The wet season, that starts in May and ends in November; and the dry season, that starts in December and ends in April.
The best season to visit Saigon is during the dry season. Specially in May, September and October, when it rains less. During the rainy season, it does not rain all day long. Rains are mostly strong showers that last a few minutes (sometimes a few hours). Rains refresh and clean the air.
During the Dry season the city of Saigon is hotter, more humid and its air dirtier. Not recommended. But do not despair if you are coming to Vietnam from March to May, because somewhere else in this diverse country will be the perfect time to go.

12. Saigon, Xa Loi Pagoda
The Xa-loi Pagoda (or Temple of the Buddha's Relic) is a rather modern pagoda built following the classical Vietnamese pagodas lines in 1956.
Although most of the population is Buddhist, Vietnam is still a Communist country with no official support to Buddhism. It was even worse during the President Ngo Dinh Diem dictatorship (early 1960's), when thousands of Buddhist monks were sent to jail and pagodas were closed. The Xa Loi Pagoda was a centre of resistance against the Diem government.
It was the gong of this Xa Loi Pagoda that started the hunger strike of thousand of monks in Saigon. This hunger strikes and the burning of several monks, were the spark for the CIA led intervention of the country, that led to the killing of the radical Catholic leader of the South part of the then split nation.

13. Saigon, War History Museum
The War Remnants Museum, or War Crimes Museum, is a must see for anyone interested in late 20th century history. The tanks, helicopters, planes and arms on display are not what makes of this such an important visit. What draws most visitors here are the images on display. Visitors can see the effects of the weapons of mass destruction used by the Americans during The Vietnam War (or American War, as locals call it).
Be advised that some of the pictures on display are impossible to forget. Mostly the deformed bodies affected by the Agent Orange.
Here you can also see reproductions of the cells where Viet cong soldiers were kept.

14. Saigon, Reunification Palace
Not far from the War Museum sits the Reunification Palace. This building, currently a museum, used to be the official residence of the Presidents of the former South Vietnam government.
It was here that the American led war ended on April 30 1975, when the North Vietnam Army invaded the Palace forcing the president to resign.
Currently the Reunification Palace complex is open to the public. Visitors can see the basement tunnels, the conference rooms, the Presidential Receiving Room, the telecommunications center and the war room.

15. Saigon, Mariaman Hindu Temple
The Mariaman Hindu Temple is not far from the Reunification Palace, in District 1. this is a rather small temple, but it is a curious sight. Inside the temple you can see several hindu deities in the surrounding walls. A big statue of Mariamman is flanked by Maduriveeran and Pechiamman at the center of the temple.
There used to be more Hindu temples in Saigon, but currently it remains only this one. There are not more than a hundred Tamil Hindus in Ho Chi Minh, but it is not difficult to see Vietnamese followers of this religion burning incense sticks and prostrating themselves in front of their deities.

16. Saigon, Jade Emperor Pagoda
Some 4 miles (6 km) out of District 1, is one of the most beautiful pagodas in Ho Chi Minh, the Jade Emperor Pagoda.
At the right of the temple there is a pond with turtles. The building itself is not that impressing, but once you get inside, you realize why many guides say this is a place tourists should not miss. Wonderful wooden statues and richly decorated altars welcome visitors and prayers.

17. Saigon, street in Pham Ngu Lao
Restaurants in this area serve the local version of Western food: pizza, pasta and hamburgers. For the real local deal, go to a market or to a street stall.
Food is one of the main reasons to visit Vietnam. Thanks to the French presence in this country, local food is Asian but with a certain European touch. The offer of food is too extensive to be detailed in this guide, but I will give you some hints.
The most popular breakfast in Vietnam is Pho (pronounced Pha). It is a noodle soup usually with meat ('pho bo', beef soup; 'pho ga', chicken soup, and so on). Another local specialty are the Vietnamese spring rolls, Goi Cuon, with salad, vermicelli and pieces of pork, prawns, or beef wrapped around rice paper.

18. Saigon, Vinh Nghiem Pagoda
The Vinh Nghiem Temple is a rather recent temple. It was completed in 1971, with the contributions of the Buddhists of the Truc Lam zen sect who came from Bac Giang province. The name of the temple comes from an 11th century pagoda in this province.
The seven layered tower you can see in the picture keeps many pictures and statues of Buddha. Next to the tower hangs a bell donated by japanese Buddhists followers.

19. Saigon, Vietnamese Restaurant
When looking for a place to eat in Saigon, there are two options. One is the street stalls where locals eat. They may look somewhat dirty, but it is in these streets restaunrants where I found the best food in Vietnam. Most of the times you sit in a small plastic chair in the street. Each of this restaurants is specialized in one type of food (noodles, soups, beef). As in the rest of Vietnam, things go really fast in these restaurants. You wait for a free seat, order your meal, eat, pay and leave. The whole process may take less than 15 minutes. You will also find these food stalls in all local markets.
For the ones looking for a restaurant to eat more properly, you will find plenty of options in Saigon. In the picture you see one of my favorite restaurants. I do not remember its name. It was not far from the reunification Palace, in District 1. No matter what I ordered, it tasted really great.

20. Saigon, An Quang Pagoda
Although the An Quang Pagoda is not one of the main temples in Saigon, I wanted to add a picture of it to show that there is much more to see in this city than the average tourist sees. The longer you stay in Saigon, the more off-the-beaten-path monuments and historical sites you will have the chance to see.
It was in this pagoda that a religious leader was arrested for propagating anti-government ideas. Well, more than anti government ideas, he was trying to promote free speech and free religious expression.
You have to know that freedom of speech and democracy are still taboo in Vietnam. Many tourists do not realize how much control the government has over its citizens. Buddhism religion is tolerated, but no criticism or suggestions of reforms are accepted. "Temple arrests" and isolations are the government answers to these kind of requests.
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