Food Inspiration Trips & Travels Vietnam

Traveling back in time, to Saigon

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We made it to Saigon!

Beyond Hoi An, Taurin and I hadn’t planned our trip further down south. I’m quickly learning that last minute holidays are a breeze if you keep a flexible schedule. After a few more days in Danang and Hue, we flew down to Ho Chi Minh City, still widely called by its old name, Saigon.

I first came to Saigon alone a couple summers ago, when I was 19 years old. I had two months to travel, and I wanted to do it alone. I made it to Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam. At the time, Saigon seemed like a frenetic urban maze, with motorbikes whizzing past looming skyscrapers and packed noodle shops. I always carried a small notebook,  folded paper maps, and a point-and-shoot camera. That’s probably how this blog got started.

Saigon is just as exciting as ever. If anything’s changed, I think I’ve become a more relaxed wanderer. Taurin and I have been taking our time, following narrow alleyways leading to public parks, colorful homes, and hidden restaurants. We’re walking everywhere, especially to compensate for our eating habits. And the food here is arguably the best in Vietnam. Saigon definitely feels like a place I could call home.

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As promised, a photo of me wearing my custom-made dress from Hoi An!

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Retro carpeting at the Reunification Palace.

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Taurin standing in the 1960s communication room.

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Cuc Gach Quan is a quiet restaurant housed in a colonial villa on the outskirts of the city center. It feels more like an old house than a popular restaurant, cluttered with refurbished wooden furniture and vintage dishware.

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Our meal: zucchini flower sautéed with garlic, homemade tofu with lemongrass and chili, pork stewed in clay pot, squid in tangy tamarind sauce, and steamed rice.

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“It is strange how we hold on to the pieces of the past while we wait for our futures.” ― A quote from Matched by Ally Condie

15 Comments

  • Reply
    Ceri
    August 10, 2012 at 7:42 am

    As usual you look beautiful. 🙂 And I love your photography. You always capture things in such a wonderful way – You make it all look old-fashioned and romantic. 🙂

    • Reply
      Sewon
      August 13, 2012 at 7:39 am

      Thank you, Ceri. I think you’d really like HCMC. It strangely reminded me of Mexico City. 🙂

  • Reply
    Amelia
    August 10, 2012 at 11:59 am

    Your haircut and the peter pan collar give me such strong french arthouse film vibes.

    • Reply
      Sewon
      August 13, 2012 at 7:40 am

      Thanks, Amelia! I’ve actually been contemplating whether I should trim my hair or let it grow longer. I kind of like it short!

  • Reply
    Maverick Daniels
    August 11, 2012 at 11:50 pm

    Your photographs made Saigon to look even more interesting! Splendid!

    • Reply
      Sewon
      August 13, 2012 at 7:41 am

      Thank you, Maverick. You take beautiful photos.

  • Reply
    Rina
    August 12, 2012 at 3:40 am

    SeWon how have you been? It’s been too long!
    It’s hard for me to keep up with you! How fun, you’re traveling again!
    I’ll have to catch up with all the new post. Last time I saw that you were engaged, so I wanted to mail you a little something!
    But then I realized that you don’t live in Virginia anymore, and now you’re on the other side of the world!
    Oh well, that can wait.
    I love seeing all these fantastic photos of your trip! You’re always doing something fun. ( :
    Let me know when you get back so I can send the package!
    xoxo
    Rina

    • Reply
      Sewon
      August 13, 2012 at 7:43 am

      Great to hear from you, Rina! 🙂 It’s been crazy two months with all this traveling. I’ve just returned to Virginia, and I’d love to do a snail mail exchange! I’ll get in touch with you. 🙂

  • Reply
    winnie
    August 13, 2012 at 1:53 pm

    Ah this is so lovely. The food looks so delicious (I’ve got to have dinner in a minute so this has made me especially hungry and unfortunately, craving Viet food!!). It looks like you guys are having the best time. Times like these I am glad you have a blog so I can live vicariously through you!

  • Reply
    Camila Faria
    August 13, 2012 at 6:47 pm

    Oh, WOW, your pictures are amazing. Such a beautiful place, I hope I can visit someday.

  • Reply
    Cookie Cutter
    August 13, 2012 at 9:17 pm

    Beautiful images! I’m so intrigued by the 60s communications room! Totally into nostalgic stuff too!
    (Hope you enjoyed Singapore’s airport. hehe)

  • Reply
    Emmie Rae
    August 14, 2012 at 4:24 am

    Ooooh , I so want to go to Saigon! It’s at the top of the list for me currently. I think its so incredible you traveled alone for 2 months when you were 19. How inspiring!

  • Reply
    ねこちゃん
    August 17, 2012 at 2:12 pm

    Your yellow dress is adorable! You look so sweet~ (ღ˘⌣˘ღ) love the pictures of the tableware!

  • Reply
    Niamh
    August 19, 2012 at 3:02 am

    Your photos of Vietnam are amazing. I only got as far a Hanoi, but you are making me want to go back and visit the South too!

  • Reply
    potsandwalks
    August 21, 2012 at 8:54 pm

    Still amazed about how beautiful the food styling is (not sure “food styling” is even the right term b/c they are probably not that deliberate!).

    You look darling in that yellow dress.

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