Saigon Panorama – The Outtakes Part 2 – Cholon

In preparing the photos for my book Saigon Panorama, one spot that absolutely had to be in there is Cholon – Saigon’s Chinatown. Actually Cholon really deserves to have an entire photobook of its own, as it’s an absolute treasure trove of interesting scenes and sites.

So I figured it’d be a great choice to share for the second installment of my Saigon Panorama outtakes series.

Saigon - Cholon

Probably the biggest drawcard in Cholon is its temples that have been built by and for the large ethnic Chinese population that populates the area.

Saigon - Cholon

Saigon - Cholon
The intricate decoration in the pagoda above reminded me a lot of an ancestral hall in Guangzhou called Chen Jia Ci (Chen family ancestral hall). Wandering around Cholon, it’s easy to forget you’re in Vietnam and not in China!

Saigon - Cholon
The family that prays together stays together?

Saigon - Cholon
I love the coiled incense that burns overhead in many of the pagodas!

Saigon - Cholon
The pink strips of paper list people who have made a donation to the pagoda and the amount they gave.

Saigon - Cholon

Saigon - Cholon
This small pagoda is popular with women hoping to have a child, as it houses a fertility goddess.

Saigon - Cholon

Saigon - Cholon
It’s not uncommon for temples and pagodas to raise orphans or children who are intellectually challenged that have been abandoned by their parents and give them work in the pagoda as they grow up. This man is one such person, and is responsible for keeping the oil levels in the candles high and keeping them lit, as well as general cleaning.

Saigon - Cholon

Saigon - Cholon

Saigon - Cholon

Saigon - Cholon
Loved the look of these bikes parked outside one of the pagodas!

Of course Cholon is not just about pagodas. The Chinese population have also brought with them their traditional herbal medicine, with stores selling it in bulk a common sight.

Saigon - Cholon
Here, prescriptions are measured out and packed into single doses which will be boiled by the patient to make herbal tea.

Saigon - Cholon
Patients wait to see a doctor at one of the traditional Chinese medicine clinics.

Saigon - Cholon

Saigon - Cholon

Cholon is also a place to pick up fabric, with whole blocks filled entirely with fabric stores.

Saigon - Cholon

Binh Tay Market

Everywhere you look, Cholon is a mix of Chinese and Vietnamese cultures.

Saigon - Cholon

Saigon - Cholon

Binh Tay market is one of the larger markets in Ho Chi Minh City, located right in the middle of Cholon.

Binh Tay Market

Binh Tay Market

Cholon isn’t all Chinese stuff, though. Among the temples and pagodas is also a mosque. Built in 1932, it shows just how diverse and rich the culture in Saigon is and has been for a long time!

Saigon - Cholon

Saigon - Cholon

So you can see just how interesting a spot Cholon is. It was a challenge to choose just a couple of photos from there to put in the book, but in the end, we just went with the best ones. Hope you enjoyed the rejects!

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