May 2018. It was a sunny morning in Ho Chi Minh as I loaded up an Apple Maps walking route from Lotus Boutique Hotel to the War Remnants Museum. My twenty-two minute course took me right alongside Tao Dan Park, downtown Saigon’s largest and most popular green space. So I dipped in to have a look, primarily to see if I could grab any additions to my sittin’ doin’ nothin’ collection.
May 2018. And of course there were! I think I may have been the only person there under age of sixty. I was certainly the only westerner. From what I’d read online local pensioners flood here in the mornings and evenings when temperatures are bearable.
May 2018. In fact, I’d actually arrived a little too late to catch the morning buzz! To see the park at its busiest you’ll need to get here for about 07:00 when people flock to play badminton, walk their caged birds and practice Tai Chi and Martial Arts. But with the crowds having long dispersed before my 10:30 am stroll, the only action I got was this newspaper-reading woman who had to be filed under sittin’ doin’ somethin’.
May 2018. I did meet a very interesting character though, a self-professed Vietnam War veteran and freelance tour guide who introduced himself as Tung. “I know this city like the hand” he told me earnestly, “if you wanna see real Saigon come with me”. When I asked him about his experiences during the war his eyes clouded over a little. “I saw…everything…” he muttered and there was something about the way he carried himself that made me believe him. Although I took his mobile number and email address I never did take up Tung’s offer of a city tour and I often wonder if I missed out on something special. If you’re in HCM and you want to get in touch with him, drop me a message!
May 2018. For a full exploration Tao Dan Park is well worth an hour of your time. There’s a little temple, a sculpture garden, a children’s playground and this mini replica of Nha Trang’s Cham Tower, popular with locals for photo ops. The park is open daily from 07:00-22:00 and is free to enter.
For more on my experiences in this Vietnamese city, have a wade through my many articles on Ho Chi Minh.
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