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Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Off the overwhelmed vacationer path in Vietnam reveals Saigon’s darkish previous


Saigon has earned an enviable repute for nice road meals, electrical nightlife and pleasant folks, however it hasn’t at all times been this manner.

Saigon has a repute for a number of the finest road meals in Vietnam, pleasant folks and fairly superior nightlife. 

It’s numerous enjoyable to be in and maybe explains why I’ve continued to stay right here since 2010.

However Saigon hasn’t at all times been a enjoyable place to be. 

It has a really darkish facet to its historical past, so on this characteristic, I’m going to share with you seven areas – quite a lot of them off-the-beaten-tourist-trail – that individuals into historical past and a little bit of darkish tourism ought to get a buzz out of.

Initially, this checklist contained 10 areas in a 24-minute video supposed for my YouTube channel, however after the edit and a rethink as a result of delicate nature of a number of the areas, I’ve determined to maintain it to seven. 

LISTEN to the podcast that includes these areas

Who is aware of, perhaps sooner or later I’ll reveal the opposite three areas after I’m sure that doing so received’t trigger anguish to others or an excessive amount of controversy.

Within the meantime, I hope you take pleasure in this checklist and use it as a information whether or not you’re an area, traveller or somebody dwelling right here with an curiosity in historical past and an urge for food for getting misplaced down Saigon’s historic rabbit gap. 

And when you like what you learn and see, please think about subscribing to my YouTube channel – it’s straightforward and doesn’t price a factor!

Okay, on with the checklist.

Tran Phu Memorial Museum

Maybe Saigon’s most genuine and darkest French colonial-era websites, the Tran Phu Memorial Museum is situated contained in the grounds of the town’s oldest hospital, the Hospital for Tropical Ailments in District 5.

The constructing began out within the 1800s as a therapy centre for infectious ailments after which specialised in psychological sickness.

However as opposition to French rule intensified after the flip of the century, it grew to become a jail the place political prisoners like Tran Phu – the Indochina Communist Celebration’s first Secretary Normal – have been incarcerated and died.

In the course of the warfare, a bit of the advanced continued for use to carry and interrogate political prisoners, then within the Eighties, it was recognised as a nationwide historic monument and have become open to the general public. 

The museum can solely be visited by appointment. Let me know within the feedback on YouTube when you’d like to go to.

The place: 766 Vo Van Kiet Avenue, District 5 (open by appointment)

Thich Quang Duc Monument

Within the early Nineteen Sixties, president of the then-Republic of Vietnam, Ngo Dinh Diem, discovered himself presiding over a deeply divided nation introduced on by what have been seen as unfair insurance policies that excluded the Buddhist neighborhood.

On June 11, 1963, Buddhists in Saigon joined a procession by means of the streets of the town to protest towards the Diem administration.

On today, a high-ranking monk by the identify of Quang Duc self-immolated in protest in the midst of the intersection in what’s current day District 3. 

To mark the occasion that despatched shockwaves world wide, an especially shifting monument stands on one of many corners overlooking the intersection and is a must-visit on a visit to Saigon.

The place: 185 Cach Mang Thang 8 Avenue, District 3 (open every day)

Normal Sciences Library of HCMC

Again in 1968, Saigon’s metropolis jail the Maison Centrale de Saigon was demolished, its prisoners moved to Chi Hoa Jail in District 10 and the Normal Sciences Library constructed on the location.

Whereas the constructing and its environment at this time are full of mild and are uplifting, the jail earlier than it stood in full distinction. 

1000’s of individuals have been incarcerated and died right here in overcrowded and insanitary circumstances.

As was frequent within the early 1900s, prisons just like the Maison Centrale have been full of anti-colonial activists, lots of them well-known and remembered at this time, like Ly Tu Trong, after whom the road exterior the library is known as.

The place: 69 Ly Tu Trong Avenue, District 1 (closed Fridays)

Outdated French Police Station

This advanced was established round 100 years in the past in what’s at this time District 9 roughly 15 km from the centre of Saigon.

It began out as a French radio communications station, nonetheless, it was transformed right into a police station that got here beneath the command of an evil French lieutenant and an equally psychopathic deputy who earned the nickname Evil Beard. 

Between 1946 and 1947, it’s believed 700 Vietnamese political prisoners have been tortured and killed right here.

On the higher flooring gadgets used for torturing prisoners are on show, whereas on the bottom flooring there are cellars which have been used in the course of the interrogation course of. 

Today, Bot Day Thep is used for training functions with college teams commonly visiting to achieve an understanding of the brutality of French colonial-era Vietnam.

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The place: RQVV+Q9G, Le Van Viet Avenue, District 9 (closed weekends)

The Xom Cai Mummy

Saigon isn’t precisely the sort of vacation spot that you just’d count on to return nose to nose with a mummy, however now we have one.

Again in 1994, building staff digging up a plot of land within the Xom Cai neighbourhood of District 5, an previous a part of Chinatown, unearthed a tomb 60 sqm in measurement.

Inside was the coffin of a Vietnamese girl. She was shrouded in fabric soaked in a purple embalming answer and surrounded by numerous artefacts that means she was from an aristocratic class. 

The place: The Museum of Historical past, 2 Nguyen Binh Khiem Avenue, District 1 (closed Mondays)

Thuan Kieu Plaza

Simply earlier than the flip of the century, the longer term appeared vibrant for the newly-constructed Thuan Kieu Plaza in District 5.

It was one of many first condo towers in Saigon on the time and housed Chinatown’s first buying centre. 

However as residents started to maneuver in, they realised how cramped and uncomfortable dwelling circumstances have been and shortly after, they reported feeling sick.

Not less than two fires broke out on the restaurant stage after which rumours started to swirl concerning the three towers being haunted. 

1 / 4 of a century after the plaza’s building, all three condo towers stay empty.

The place: 190 Hong Bang Avenue, District 5

Gangland Execution Website

You’d by no means know this unassuming handle would result in the downfall of Saigon underworld kingpin Nam Cam, however it did.

Nam Cam was often known as the Godfather of Saigon who reigned all through the ‘90s and into the early 2000s and his destiny was sealed when he ordered successful on feminine rival Dung Ha who’d just lately relocated to Saigon from Hai Phong seeking to broaden her “enterprise” empire.

After some double-crossing and mixed-messaging enraged Vietnam’s most infamous mob boss, Dung Ha was executed one night on the pavement out the entrance of a karaoke joint that was as soon as right here. 

Her killers sped off into the night time, however their freedom was short-lived after the path led to their and Nam Cam’s seize and eventual execution by firing squad.

The place: 17 Bui Thi Xuan Avenue, District 1



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