Day 1, SE Asia trip, Feb 2011
Saigon, Vietnam: day 1, part III
Saigon, Vietnam: day 1, part III
We cruised on the scooter/motorbike toward the old Saigon central where historical French colonial buildings still stand. I forgot to mention that Saigon and Vietnam in general is growing at lightening speed. In case I forgot to mention, scooting around on the scooter or motorbike is the preferred choice of transportation in Vietnam, and Asia in general.The entire city is built like a cement block where every corner is turned into dusty construction site. I was surprised to find existing historical landmark remained unchanged: the Saigon Notre Dame, the main post office, central park, etc….It was a nice surprise for me to see things are somewhat the same, like how I remembered it from my childhood memory. Except for the Notre Dame, everything else looks much smaller than how I recall it from my childhood memory.
I enjoyed the cool, fresh night air in the back seat of the motorbike and people watch at the same time. My cousin, on the other hand, was wearing a cardigan and whine a little that it’s too cold for her. I should have set up the camera setting to “Sport” so that it can capture fast action as we cruise around town. Since I didn’t, everything looks fuzzy but I’m sure I’ll have a chance to do that again when I’m back from Da Nang.
We circled the area twice and finally decided to stop by on the curb which is the backside of University of Child Development (đại học sư phạm), kitty corner across from the Notre Dame so I can check-out some of the post carte racks. This spot used to be the best spot to buy greeting cards and stationary back in the day.The Main post office of Saigon. I remembered back in the day, the entire South of Vietnam, this main post office is the only place that allow international call. You had to come down here to purchase your ticket, book an appointment, go inside a UK like phone booth to make your international call.
Man…..one thing I still haven’t get used to in VN besides the lack of customer service is the shove in your face PR. If you stop and looks interesting in their wares, the vendor will ask you to buy the stuff and shove all their wares into your face. The eagerness made it felt forceful to me. I’m a very efficient shopper and the type of consumer that know exactly what I wanted or need and will only ask for your help if I truly need it. I don’t like to be pressure and like to shop on my own terms.
I browsed the first stall, then moved on to the 2nd stall where the sell lady is very forceful and kept saying it’s the same. She said they all purchase from the same whole seller so the price is the same. That might be true but I didn’t like her push-over attitude. I bought only 2-3 items so we can move on to the next stall. I felt obliged to make a purchase since I didn’t want to have the vendor pick a fight with me or etc…
I went back to the first stall and the sales lady is somewhat more calmer or less pushy than the prior one. She was more accommodating and helpful in my quest to find a specific design. She also quoted us at half price for a duplicate item. Man….aren’t I mad? I asked the owner if she cares to let me take a pix of her & the greeting cards stall for my trip and she quickly obliges by striking a pose
I ended up purchasing a bunch of stuff from her and left happy as I found some cute souvenir for family and friends. Hahahaha….I just had to find ways to spend my money and left feeling pretty productive for having found some cute gifts on my first day in SG already.
In fact, she gave me such a good pricing that I ended returning to her stall again, after spending 1 month in Da Nang (central province).