HCMC Dining Guide

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Watching the world go by

Last night I sat in a plastic chair on the sidewalk along De Tham Street, in the backpacker's area, along with one of my best friends from roughly 3-6am. We weren't drinking at all, just waxing philosophical on life, girls, family, Vietnam and anything else that came to mind. This wasn't the first time I've done this, but I had never been so lucid before. It was fascinating watching that small section of Saigon change through the night, as if the city was a living being.

When we first sat down the dregs of a usual night of debauchery in the Pham were leaking onto the street. Backpackers passed out in chairs; staff at Go2 and Crazy Buffalo trying to get a final few drinkers into their respective cesspools for an overpriced beer; prostitutes sauntering back to wherever they live; women peddling weed, cigarettes and chewing gum. An older woman with ruined teeth was sleeping restlessly in a hammock a few feet from us; she roused whenever someone appeared to buy pot from her.

By 4:30 we were the only people on our stretch of sidewalk; the workers at the bar we were in front of content to just let us sit there drinking water. The night was nearly dead. A few people were drinking at Lily bar across the street. We watched two Japanese guys have some sort of argument about which one of them was going to take a taxi somewhere. Garbage men pushed their dumpsters down the road, sweeping up the night's detritus.

As we continued talking the sky gradually began to turn purple. Food vendors pushed their carts by, getting ready to set up for morning rush hour. Even though it was Sunday, many people still had work to get to and places to be. Weekends here don't have the same meaning as they do back home. Motorbikes were now carrying people in business clothes instead of club dresses and bar attire. Sunrise revealed a muted grey overcast, and the city roared to life after a precious few hours of quiet. Traffic was thickening on nearby Trang Hung Dao, where buses honked and motos vied for space. It was a new day, and it was time for us to go to bed.

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