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This is the area around Pham Ngu Lao, which is the budget travelers section of Saigon. Lots of nice little hotels for around $10 per night, and if you want to splurge a little it will run you about $20. These first 3 pix were all taken in the area around my hotel.

 
 
     
 
 
 

Typical street scenes in Saigon. Note all the bicycles and motorcycles. There are few cars, as the vast majority of the Vietnamese people cannot afford to buy one. Average yearly wage in Vietnam: $300. Without all those cars clogging the streets like they do in Bangkok, it really gives the whole city an open, uncrowded feel.

 
 
 

 

 

Of course that's not to say that the new Saigon is the same as the old Saigon of the 1960s and 1970s. The Asian Miracle has not bypassed Vietnam and the economy is booming. This is the skyline of Saigon-2002.

 

 

 

 

   

 

 

 

 

 

 This is the inside of my hotel room. Note the Japanese accents. This hotel was so new that they hadn't even finished sanding the spackle or putting on the second coat of paint. For that I got a $10 discount from the $30 price, and I was in the lap of luxury in downtown Saigon for $20 per night. Nice place.

 

 

One of the more famous pictures of the end of the war was the film of the tanks crashing thru the gates of the Presidential Palace, and of a NVA soldier with a flag running across the commons, up the stairs of the palace, and then placing the big red flag up on the roof. Well, these are the gates...

 

...and these are the tanks, now parked under the trees in the front yard of the Palace with their guns pointing *towards* the building...

 

...and this is the view that soldier with the flag had after he entered the building and started waving it around.

 

In the end, President Thieu wasn't able to take his car with him. 27 years after The Fall, his car is still parked right where he left it. The beautiful lady to the left was our guide. She is wearing the traditional Vietnamese dress, an ao dai.

   

 

 

Presidential Palace

 

The last seven pictures on this page were all taken at the old Presidential Palace, where there were some really famous pictures taken when the NVA moved into Saigon at the end of the war. It's an amazing place today. When the NVA took it over they basically just cleaned up all the papers strewn around and left everything as it was in 1975. It's like walking thru a time capsule.

 

 

 

 

In the confusion of the final hours of Saigon, South Vietnam's President Thieu had a plan to escape to safety by flying this helicopter out of the city. Things happened so quickly at the end that he elected to fly out with the US Marines. He left this brand new helicopter behind, and it sits today right where he left it, gassed up and ready to go. Our tax dollars at rest.

 

 

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