KAPOORS ON THE ROAD
In the short time that the McColls had allotted in Saigon, we tried to squeeze in several visits to different markets throughout the city. Some places we visited just to see the variety of items for sale and others so that the family could stock up on some good clothing at great prices.
We visited the Ben Thanh market one evening but found the stalls inside the old French structure already packing up for the night. It is said that everything a Vietnamese eats, drinks, wears or otherwise consumes is available in this market. Too late, I read in the Lonely Planet that the Ben Thanh is at its bustling best early in the morning. The streets surrounding the market were full of clothing stalls that stay open much later and cater primarily to tourists. Over the course of several visits as we came and went from Saigon, we all purchased shirts, trousers and gifts for friends and family at home.
One afternoon we convinced Donna, Hunter and Aidan to climb aboard a cyclo for an unforgettable ride to the Dan Sinh Market that is best known for its wide range of what appears to be second-hand military gear. There are combat boots, rusty dog tags, zippo lighters, canteens and even flak jackets. We passed on making any purchases there but it was an interesting place to visit. It looks like Vietnam's current military personnel shop there for everything they need for jungle duty.
Another area we visited to see the huge market was Cholon, a mainly ethnic-Chinese district of Saigon. There are many pagodas in Cholon, but we focused on walking along the narrow lanes looking for one I had seen, and remembered fondly, on our first visit six years ago. We never did find it; every time I asked a local person where I could go to pray, they pointed out the Catholic Cathedral to me. I guess they could never imagine that I wanted to pray in a Buddhist or Taoist pagoda. It was a long, tiring walk and my sister and nephews were real troopers for sticking it out with me. We did end up seeing some very crowded markets stalls and streets, a side of Saigon that many visitors would never see firsthand.
Not to keep anyone in suspense any longer, Vicki's ankle was remarkably better after a day in bed and the full RICE (rest, ice, compression and elevation) treatment. What an appropriate acronym for this part of the world. It is still tender to the touch but she is able to get around with little difficulty. Phew! Dodged another bullet!