Saigon: The Former “Pearl of the Orient”

 

From 1954-1975, Saigon was known as the "Pearl of the Orient."

 

During the Vietnam War, under the leadership of President Ngo Dinh Diem and then later President Nguyen Van Thieu, the city of Saigon was prosperous.  Known for its sophistication, flourishing economy, and rich culture, the city of Saigon earned the name “Pearl of the Orient.”  The bright city streets were filled with busy people and business was booming.  Sadly, this prosperity would only last for a short time.  In 1975 when the Communists took over, Saigon’s name changed to Ho Chi Minh City.  This is the time when things begin to fall apart.  As time goes by, the Communists slowly undo everything that the South had worked so hard to build.  In Ho Chi Minh City today, the appeal and sophistication are gone, economy activity is sub-par, and the culture is none existent.  Children as young as three must work the streets day and night in order to feed themselves.  Beggars and thieves roam freely in the streets and criminals lurk around every corner.  The Communists Police patrol the streets, sometimes for criminals, but most of the time for signs of dissent and discontent with the government.  The city is no longer viewed as “the Pearl of the Orient,” it’s just another place now.

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6 Responses to “Saigon: The Former “Pearl of the Orient””

  1. I’ve seen pictures of Saigon before the Fall, and it really looked like a European city (Parisian?) in an Asian country.

    When I visited Vietnam 10 years ago, it was a nice city, and had the hustle and bustle of a capital city, but…imagine what it could have been had it stayed intact and the South had not fallen? I imagine it would have rival Beijing, Tokyo, Seoul, and other major Asian metropolitans.

  2. These are my thoughts exactly, especially since Tokyo is only at the rebuilding stage after its destruction in WWII, and Beijing was still suffering from its own troubles because of the Chinese civil war, it may be possible to argue that Saigon had an advantage over these cities because it had the foundations already established.

    During that period, Vietnam’s economy was one of the best in Southeast Asia. Could you imagine what it would be today if the Communists hadn’t destroyed that foundation? It’s not a happy thought wondering what could have been.

    Also, thanks for your comments. I appreciate you taking the time to express your ideas.

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  4. Since you don’t have a by-line I’ll address you as Mr. Ignorant. When was the last time you visited Ho chi minh? 3 year olds begging for food? Criminals lurking around every corner. Communist Police patrolling the streets? Are fucking kidding me? I live in this wondrous city. I left New York City and somehow landed in, yes, this Pearl of the Orient. Your postulations about Vietnam and its People are inflammatory, preposterous and pathetic. Here’s a taste of what you’re oblivious to, Mr. Ignorant. I broke my fibula in a scooter accident and now wear an immobilization boot to get around on foot. Every single day I walk at least 5 Vietnamese pull over on their scooter and ask if I need a lift. I always say thanks, then decline. But now that I have your infinite wisdom to guide me I might take them up on a lift. This way I can narrowly escape the criminals lurking behind the starving 3 year old all under the watchful eye of venomous Communist Police storm trooping down every street. Do us all a favor, visit Tokyo

    • Nice try, “Michael,” but anyone who has real experience living in or simply visiting Saigon today knows that your comment is garbage.

      I have personal experience being in contemporary Saigon, and have met starving children trying to sell me books, souvenirs, and lottery tickets, not just to buy food, but to support their family. Their clothes are ragged, they walk on bare feet, they are basically skeletons because of how skinny they are, their facial expressions a mix of desperation and hopelessness, and there are a few of them sitting on every street corner.

      Don’t even get me started about the poverty and rampant crime.

      If Vietnam is really as good as you’re making it out to be, then tell me why anti-Formosa and pro-environmental protestors keep getting brutally terrorized and beaten by Communist police. Furthermore, tell me why there are constant reports of police storming into houses of bloggers and dissidents, and why many of these people die in police captivity without a reasonable explanation from government authorities.

      You’re either a leftist in denial about how wrong you’ve been all this time with your communist sympathies (sorry, snowflake, but nobody cares about your feelings), or you’re a communist dog who is getting paid by the Vietnamese government to troll the internet.

      Either way, I’ll let the readers decide.

      … And yes, anyone who knows what the situation is truly like in Vietnam today knows that you’re an idiot.

      P.S. Ho Chi Minh was, is, and always will be a mass-murdering, nation-selling, slavish little bastard.

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