HCMC Dining Guide

Sunday, September 22, 2013

The Seedy Underbelly

Bui Vien Street is a disturbing place in the middle of the night. The only people around are semi-feral street kids, prostitutes masquerading as bar girls, the occasional banh mi seller, and other Western degenerates like you. A few nights ago, after a few hours of intense dancing at Lush, I ended up on Bui Vien with a group of friends. It was somewhere in the vicinity of 3 am. I went into a Circle K to buy some water, and a roughly 10 year-old girl walked up and simply said, "Give me money." I said no, but I'll buy you food if you're hungry. She picked out a bag of chips, so I bought it for her. Then a tiny little girl toddled up with a box of cookies and held it up expectantly to me. Fine, you can have that. Then a boy (were they all siblings?) handed me some sort of snack, so I bought those as well and they were on their way. I felt a lot better about that than buying the packs of gum or cigarettes they usually sell. (Not that I smoke, anyway.)

A short while later we walked down to T&R, the worst bar in the city. Outside of dives with names like Crazy Girls, young women with dead eyes and skin-tight dresses sat at tables, staring into space. There weren't even many backpackers out by this point.

Another hour later and we were sitting in front of Lily's, a complete shithole where the ugliest elements of the city seem to come together. The staff hounded me to pay for a drink I had already paid for. Some guy was desperately trying to get one of us, any of us, to let him shine our shoes. Hawkers offered cigarettes, lighters and massages. Some guy came up bouncing a rubber ball with lights in it and placed it on the lip of every beer bottle at the table. Certainly won't be drinking out of those any more. Eventually I looked around, at the people passed out in chairs, at the street kids, at the street adults whose daily income depends on the whims of drunk tourists, at the shitty bars blasting shitty music, and decided it was time to go home. That's the problem with Bui Vien - when I'm drunk it's great, acting as a free-fire zone for behavior that would be looked down upon in the rest of the city. When I'm sober it's just depressing. I can't imagine what the Vietnamese who live there think of foreigners. 


  1. i only drink beer now cause u just cant trust the menthonal laced alcohol. becareful out there mike.

  2. Due to ignorance... I, myself booked and stayed at a hotel in the backpacker's area on my last trip and after two days, I couldn't stand it and decided to get the hell out and went to stay at another hotel on Le Thanh Ton street instead.

    It's such a shit area full of aholes.