Thursday, June 20, 2024

Off the crushed vacationer path in Vietnam reveals Saigon’s darkish previous


Saigon has earned an enviable repute for excellent road meals, electrical nightlife and pleasant individuals, but it surely hasn’t all the time been this fashion.

Saigon has a repute for a number of the greatest road meals in Vietnam, pleasant individuals and fairly superior nightlife. 

It’s a whole lot of enjoyable to be in and maybe explains why I’ve continued to dwell right here since 2010.

However Saigon hasn’t all the time been a enjoyable place to be. 

It has a really darkish facet to its historical past, so on this function, I’m going to share with you seven places – a variety of them off-the-beaten-tourist-trail – that folks into historical past and a little bit of darkish tourism ought to get a buzz out of.

Initially, this record contained 10 places in a 24-minute video meant for my YouTube channel, however after the edit and a rethink as a result of delicate nature of a number of the places, I’ve determined to maintain it to seven. 

LISTEN to the podcast that includes these places

Who is aware of, perhaps sooner or later I’ll reveal the opposite three places once I’m sure that doing so received’t trigger anguish to others or an excessive amount of controversy.

Within the meantime, I hope you get pleasure from this record and use it as a information whether or not you’re an area, traveller or somebody residing right here with an curiosity in historical past and an urge for food for getting misplaced down Saigon’s historic rabbit gap. 

And in case you like what you learn and see, please contemplate subscribing to my YouTube channel – it’s straightforward and doesn’t value a factor!

Okay, on with the record.

Tran Phu Memorial Museum

Maybe Saigon’s most genuine and darkest French colonial-era websites, the Tran Phu Memorial Museum is positioned contained in the grounds of the town’s oldest hospital, the Hospital for Tropical Illnesses in District 5.

The constructing began out within the 1800s as a therapy centre for infectious illnesses after which specialised in psychological sickness.

However as opposition to French rule intensified after the flip of the century, it grew to become a jail the place political prisoners like Tran Phu – the Indochina Communist Get together’s first Secretary Normal – have been incarcerated and died.

Throughout the conflict, a bit of the advanced continued for use to carry and interrogate political prisoners, then within the Eighties, it was recognised as a nationwide historic monument and have become open to the general public. 

The museum can solely be visited by appointment. Let me know within the feedback on YouTube in case you’d like to go to.

The place: 766 Vo Van Kiet Road, District 5 (open by appointment)

Thich Quang Duc Monument

Within the early Nineteen Sixties, president of the then-Republic of Vietnam, Ngo Dinh Diem, discovered himself presiding over a deeply divided nation introduced on by what have been seen as unfair insurance policies that excluded the Buddhist neighborhood.

On June 11, 1963, Buddhists in Saigon joined a procession by means of the streets of the town to protest towards the Diem administration.

On today, a high-ranking monk by the identify of Quang Duc self-immolated in protest in the course of the intersection in what’s current day District 3. 

To mark the occasion that despatched shockwaves world wide, a particularly transferring monument stands on one of many corners overlooking the intersection and is a must-visit on a visit to Saigon.

The place: 185 Cach Mang Thang 8 Road, District 3 (open day by day)

Normal Sciences Library of HCMC

Again in 1968, Saigon’s metropolis jail the Maison Centrale de Saigon was demolished, its prisoners moved to Chi Hoa Jail in District 10 and the Normal Sciences Library constructed on the location.

Whereas the constructing and its environment in the present day are stuffed with gentle and are uplifting, the jail earlier than it stood in full distinction. 

Hundreds of individuals have been incarcerated and died right here in overcrowded and insanitary situations.

As was frequent within the early 1900s, prisons just like the Maison Centrale have been stuffed with anti-colonial activists, lots of them well-known and remembered in the present day, like Ly Tu Trong, after whom the road outdoors the library is called.

The place: 69 Ly Tu Trong Road, District 1 (closed Fridays)

Outdated French Police Station

This advanced was established round 100 years in the past in what’s in the present day District 9 roughly 15 km from the centre of Saigon.

It began out as a French radio communications station, nonetheless, it was transformed right into a police station that got here beneath the command of an evil French lieutenant and an equally psychopathic deputy who earned the nickname Evil Beard. 

Between 1946 and 1947, it’s believed 700 Vietnamese political prisoners have been tortured and killed right here.

On the higher flooring gadgets used for torturing prisoners are on show, whereas on the bottom flooring there are cellars which have been used in the course of the interrogation course of. 

Today, Bot Day Thep is used for schooling functions with college teams repeatedly visiting to realize an understanding of the brutality of French colonial-era Vietnam.

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The place: RQVV+Q9G, Le Van Viet Road, District 9 (closed weekends)

The Xom Cai Mummy

Saigon isn’t precisely the sort of vacation spot that you simply’d anticipate to come back head to head with a mummy, however we’ve got one.

Again in 1994, building staff digging up a plot of land within the Xom Cai neighbourhood of District 5, an previous a part of Chinatown, unearthed a tomb 60 sqm in dimension.

Inside was the coffin of a Vietnamese lady. She was shrouded in fabric soaked in a crimson embalming answer and surrounded by varied artefacts that means she was from an aristocratic class. 

The place: The Museum of Historical past, 2 Nguyen Binh Khiem Road, District 1 (closed Mondays)

Thuan Kieu Plaza

Simply earlier than the flip of the century, the longer term seemed vivid for the newly-constructed Thuan Kieu Plaza in District 5.

It was one of many first house towers in Saigon on the time and housed Chinatown’s first procuring centre. 

However as residents started to maneuver in, they realised how cramped and uncomfortable residing situations have been and shortly after, they reported feeling sick.

No less than two fires broke out on the restaurant degree after which rumours started to swirl concerning the three towers being haunted. 

1 / 4 of a century after the plaza’s building, all three house towers stay empty.

The place: 190 Hong Bang Road, District 5

Gangland Execution Website

You’d by no means know this unassuming tackle would result in the downfall of Saigon underworld kingpin Nam Cam, but it surely did.

Nam Cam was referred to as the Godfather of Saigon who reigned all through the ‘90s and into the early 2000s and his destiny was sealed when he ordered a success on feminine rival Dung Ha who’d just lately relocated to Saigon from Hai Phong seeking to develop her “enterprise” empire.

After some double-crossing and mixed-messaging enraged Vietnam’s most infamous mob boss, Dung Ha was executed one night on the pavement out the entrance of a karaoke joint that was as soon as right here. 

Her killers sped off into the evening, however their freedom was short-lived after the path led to their and Nam Cam’s seize and eventual execution by firing squad.

The place: 17 Bui Thi Xuan Road, District 1



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