Life in the alley.

by James Murtaugh, Oct 2, 2004 | Destinations: Vietnam / Ho Chi Minh City

May 2003.

Saigon (HCMC). I have been to this city twice before. I had stayed near the Rex Hotel in the center of town. It had just been a busy city to me and I was always glad to leave.

On this trip my wife and I are staying at a small, family run, hotel on De Tham Street. Here we found a different city. A place that we came to like very much.

The best time of day for us is the morning. Our hotel really fronts on an alley. It is just wide enough for a small car. Our hotel has no cafe and we are sent down the alley to another hotel for breakfast. It has a small, fenced in area with tables and chairs.

The man from the hotel desk takes our orders and phones a local cafe to send the food. He then hangs a caged bird on the fence. The bird has fresh water and food and he sings his morning song for us. He is very happy! The warm sun peaks over the buildings and we are bathed in light.

A teenager delivers our food. I like banana pancakes and vietnamese coffee. The alley starts coming to life now. Motorcycles of people coming to work. People walking down the alley calling out what they are selling. Eggs, bread, fruit, feather dusters, pictures and so many more items.

I am reminded of when I was a child and many people came by my house selling many things.

Each day, it is the same people selling the same items. We finish our meal and walk back down the alley to our hotel. Country women sit in the shade gossiping and arranging their fruit in baskets.

It is all part of the rhythm of a city that we have come to like very much.

Jim Murtaugh

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