It’s easy to get lost in Saigon.
Streets curve. Alleys intersect. Am I heading north? Am I late for work? Which class am I teaching tonight? Are we out of bananas? Motorbikes. Horns. Street vendors. Chaos.
There’s always too much too look at, too much to admire, too much to fear ( like your life if you’re crossing the street). Often your focus is directed solely at getting from point A to point B and everything in between serves as a distraction or an obstacle. Many are quick to point out that despite colonial French influence, Saigon lacks the romantic beauty and charm that Paris holds. Well duh (there’s only one Paris). However, the beauty is here, you just weren’t looking for it.
At the obvious outset, Saigon has some of the most beautiful parks scattered throughout the city where reprieve and peach can be found at the peak of rush hour. Perfectly groomed plants, accessorized with marvelous fountains, intimate gardens and hidden pools. Then there are the tree-lined boulevards and streets, (thank you France for this inspiration) which, when decorated with twinkle lights, transform the city center into a romantic wonderland.
However, the real beauty lies in the details you see everyday . . .(or choose not to see).
Beautiful yellow flowers like these are scattered in the most unlikely places throughout this city. They are wired into the hoods of trucks and bikes, left on doorsteps, and wrapped to cement poles. Their meaning I have yet to discover, however, they look as though they are some form of offering. Those who lay them see no need to visit formal churches or pagodas or be in the presence of some extravagant grandeur. Everything can be sacred. These offerings show that one can be thankful anywhere for anything. The pole is not just cement, but rather something greater, something beautiful, something to be thankful for.
Redefine our constructs of beauty and we can reconstruct the peace in our days.