There's been a theme of change in my posts since returning to Saigon, and there's good reason for that. In the 10 months I was gone a lot happened here, and within the last few months the pace of change has really (really!) picked up, with serious subway construction going on and the closure of Nguyen Hue to create a pedestrian-only boulevard. Soon dozens of trees will be cut down to clear space for another bridge over the river at the foot of Ton Duc Thang, further hastening the ongoing transformation of downtown Saigon.
One more highly visible change will be the removal of the iconic statue of General Tran Nguyen Han in front of Ben Thanh market, one of the city's most-visited spots. General Han helped Emperor Le Loi (whose eponymous street begins at the statue) repel three Mongol invasions and establish the Le Dynasty, which ruled from 1428 to 1788. The mounted general has presided over the huge roundabout in front of the market for decades, and can be seen in this photo I took over four years ago.
However, a huge subway station linking several lines is going to be built underneath this roundabout, radically altering the area, and the statue is in the process of being relocated to a park in District 6. Right now blue scaffolding surrounds the general, and it will be strange to see this empty space once the landmark is completely removed.