back in Sai Gon

being back in Sai Gon is all that I expected it would be. this time I decided to be take a very pragmatic approach to how I dealt with things here because last year when I came back I have to admit that my emotions got the better of me to the point where I had to protect myself by shutting most things out.

This time I am handling things better which is a bit surprising because I am back living in my old house on Nguyen Dinh Chieu St where I lived previously for nearly 3 years. This was a complete surprise for me as I had arranged to share Landon’s space in Allyson’s house in Binh Thanh district where I lived last year. However, on the day I was leaving Australia I received a phone call from Kim Long, Mimi’s mother, inviting me to move back in here and saying that she had got the house back as close as possible to how it was when we left it. Sure enough, all of the bits and pieces we left behind have been put back in place.

At first it was very weird being here and especially by myself, but its nearly 2 weeks now and I have grown used to being in this space again and the old familiar noises from adjoining houses and the street are no longer startling. Certainly it’s pleasant to be back amongst my old neighbours and friends and its great to be able to walk to some of my favourite places to eat. This city is changing so fast that it worries me sometimes that I will return here and nothing familiar will be left.

Being here by myself is good and bad. Its good for me work wise as its a very convenient and quiet place to conduct interviews and being alone allows me the space to work on my computer transcribing and writing. The bad part is going a stir crazy when I no longer want to work and having nobody to talk with. However, during the day I have been sitting with my neighbours at the corner of my hem drinking ca phe Kieu and practising my Vietnamese and there are plenty of friends to visit or meet up with, so, not so bad really.

This city is one huge construction site and from what I can gather real estate prices are skyrocketing and rents are going through the roof. If it is at all possible I would say that the traffic is denser than it was last year. There always used to be a hiatus in the traffic flow around midday when most people took a nap. that was the time of day that I first ventured out and learned to drive here. But now, the traffic seems wall to wall all day and even driving around late on Saturday night I was amazed at how much traffic there was after 11.30.

Locals tell me that more and more people are moving in to the city from the countryside and with more cars on the road than ever before there is less space physically available. This situation is bound to get worse because I understand that cars sales are also skyrocketing with long waiting lists for the more popular brands such as some of the Toyota models. It will be a sad day when Bangkok style traffic jams are the order of the day and by the look of things that is not too far off.