Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Ho Chi Minh City...home of the haves and the have nots

We have noticed in our short time here that there is very little middle class here.  There is the wealthy and the very poor.  This is true in many countries but the proximity of their coexistence is startling here.  On our way to our first "home" in Vietnam we could see beautiful gated private villas right next to tin shanties.  Literally adjacent to one another.

Beautiful light in the living room

At our new place here in District 7 we are staying at a new condominium tower with modern decor, a gymnasium, pool, small convenience store, 24/7 security and some condo units that are two stories high.  Out our patio living room window we can see squalor that is just behind our building.  There are people living in a rusted old barge just feet from the condo.  We can also see several other thatched huts within view of our balcony.  The view out the back windows gives us a bird's eye view of the life of the people that live along waterways.  At the beginning and end of the day we see a few people standing in dug out canoes paddling their way to the shore presumably to go to work.  It is very sad to see such poverty right next to modern luxury. 

This picture as well as the next two were taken from out balcony.  Notice the "home" on the old barge

HCMC in the background
We have seen BMW dealerships here and motorbikes that look like they were used in the 60's.  We see street vendors trying to shine shoes to make a buck while at the same time there are many malls and stores that are really expensive.   It is hard to explain the way of life here in Saigon because it is not as uniform as we are used to in North America.  What is uniform though are the ever-present face masks.  From the rich in their Burberry shirts and Louis Vuitton bags, to the poor in their worn out attire, many people wear face masks while riding the city transit, walking the streets, and most especially, while riding a motorbike.   Motorbike fashion has its own fibe as well.  Nearly everyone wears helmets...some are really funky.  Some of the women wear long "skirt type" material pieces over their clothes to keep themselves clean.  We are also amazed how many people can fit on a bike.  We have seen a family of four on a bike.  Dad driving, small kid in the middle (sometimes sleeping) and mom in the back holding a young baby.  Some of these moms must have killer abdominal muscles...holding on to a baby while maintaining balance on the back of a bike looks like a difficult task.  On one occasion we witnessed a mom holding a young infant while driving the bike herself and weaving through the crazy HCMC traffic.
These women are wearing gloves and masks that are much bigger than most

Minion mask on this guy

Taking the dog for a ride


  1. Wishing you all good health! Travelling to far places has its ups and downs. Rykauna, this is one birthday you will certainly remember. Jadon is quite the gift for you. Sorry for the bug you also got. Hope you get rid of it quickly. Thoughts and prayers are with you all. Sorry to mention it but winter is upon us with snow and cold. Enjoy it there while you can. Jadon is in for quite the adventures as he arrives into his new world. Love, Granspapa.

  2. Hey...nice to see your living quarters. Seem very comfortable.
    So sad to see the difference though isn't it?
    Enjoy your stay there. Count down now. Still praying for good health for all.
    All my love. Grand-maman xoxoxo