The Localist

Mornings in Saigon

Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) usually rises much earlier than I do, but on the couple of days a week I do manage to get up for my morning run, the sights and smells that greet me are definitely worth the struggle.

There is so much activity in the early morning, as local traders getting ready for the day, groups of people do their morning exercise, and the street food stalls prepare for the morning rush. So many things happen street-side in Vietnam – there is always a buzz, wherever you go.

Right outside my door is a lady selling ‘banh mi’, a traditional Vietnamese baguette filled with meats and vegetables, a bargain at only 50 cents. She  greets me with a huge smile and ‘Xin Chao’ (Vietnamese for hello), and always puts a smile on my face, even in the early hours. Throughout the morning people on motorbikes and bicycles pull up to pick up their banh mi for breakfast. It comes served in a bag that’s usually hooked onto the bike for easy transportation to the office or wherever the buyer will eat their breakfast.

This kind of activity happens everywhere: at fruit and veg sellers, coffee stops and food stalls offering everything from BBQ pork and rice to noodle soups. People pull up on the side of the road, shout their order, hand over cash and drive off again with their purchases, a quick and easy process and one that has been practiced many times.

Once the morning rush is over, the vendors can relax and either pack up for the day ready for the next seller to take their place, or start preparing for the next wave of customers.

There are few places that make me want to get up before the sunrise, but Saigon is definitely one of them.

The author of this article, Alex Hepworth, has been living in Ho Chi Minh City for several years. She represents Travel Indochina, experts in small group tours and tailor-made holidays to Asia.

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