Sound of Saigon

Young population. Lots of noise and headsets. Night clubs and bars open every single night of  the week.  And let’s not forget those Karaoke stores, coffee shops and sidewalk beer stalls. Certainly not Sound of Silence here.

My morning starts with greetings from those neighbor’s roosters. From there on, it will only get louder: bike’s traffic (very few electric bikes), horn-blowing at each turn, people belling on the phone and at people on the other end, CD vendors on wheels with au-par-leur “we-buy-scrap medals…”, bullhorns broadcast a circus act in town etc…..The day finally ends with the peddling sound of a in-call massage vendor.

The emergency responders here drive like a maniac, Buses would swing from the far left to cut through bikes to stop on the right side of the street. Street sweepers would sweep the dust to the side (like their Mexican counterparts in the US who uses grass blowers) just to have it blown right back out by bikes approached illegally on  a one-way street.

Sound of Saigon. Simon and Garfunkel  “in restless dream I walk alone”.

Yet one thing is clear: the barber shops are busy with people who need to clear out their ear wax.  In the US, with the aging boomer population, it is predicted that audiologists will be in high demand. Here, the same would hold true, even for a much younger post-war gen. The DJ’s for sure will need this medical service.

I on more than one occasion asked the waiter to turn down the volume.

He couldn’t hear or understand my request.

At least the sound I used to hear (choppers and gun shots) are long gone.

Peace-time Saigon, with Hotel Caravelle and Rex no longer filled with Western journalists covering the war.  Now, they’ re just local businessmen hang-outs.

District 1 still holds its charm, but many satellite districts have sprung up to accommodate urban migrants.  I was hoping for some peace and quiet in South Saigon. And it’s true that the Highland Coffee in South Saigon close at mid night, Unlike District 1 clubs which have just begun to take on some life (party) at that hour.

I heard about a sandwich stall which only opens at mid-night and closes at 2AM.

Why bother working hard during the hot day when you can take in just as much income with less efforts?

Wonder if she participated in Earth Hour last night? If not, at least, by the time she starts selling her first sandwich, she can say, it’s already another day in Saigon.  And people shout from their bikes: “I want 2 special orders”, all for $1.50.

Then when I hear the sound of the massage vendor, I know it’s time to call it a night. It’s hard not to eat out at night, because it’s a quite a scene full of   sight,  scent and sound of Saigon. In restless dream I join others, under the neon gods that they made.



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