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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
Cholon is also a place to pick up fabric, with whole blocks filled entirely with fabric stores.
Everywhere you look, Cholon is a mix of Chinese and Vietnamese cultures.
Binh Tay market is one of the larger markets in Ho Chi Minh City, located right in the middle of Cholon.
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!
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!