Life in the Block

One thing I’ve noted about squatter communities is that they always seem to be quite close-knit groups. I took a trip back to the abandoned apartment block in District 5 of Ho Chi Minh City last weekend and discovered that the block is a self-contained residential area, with people not only living and playing in the building, but also running small businesses that service the people who have settled in the complex.

Local boys utilise the naturally-lit hallways to play 4-way “piggy in the middle soccer”.

The same boys play near some rice drying in the hallway.


The boys didn’t let this kid play with them so he had to entertain himself further down the hallway.


The hallways are not just used as playing fields by residents. This is one of the small stores set up to provide daily necessities and snacks to the locals.

One of the older residents also enjoys the coolness of the hallway to relax on a lazy Sunday afternoon.


I also sat for a while with some folk who were playing some kind of card game that used tiny coloured cards that featured various Chinese characters on them. I’d never seen it before either here or in China, but unfortunately when I tried to take some pictures of the game they were quick to stop me from doing so. I guess because gambling like this is illegal and they worried their faces in the photos could get them into trouble. Once again I was cursing my lack of Vietnamese language skills, as I could have reassured them and gotten the images were I still in China. I’ve really gotta get a translator or go with my wife next time!