Nothing speaks louder of Ho Chi Minh’s colonial past than its French-style buildings which dot the cityscape. I reckon that if it weren’t for the decidedly humid climate and the “moto” madness, I would think I am right smack in the middle of downtown Paris. I would later find out that they call this part of town the Paris Commune Square (all together now – “Oooh, I see!”)
One of these buildings is the Saigon Central Post Office. Located right next to Notre Dame Cathedral, this magnificent structure can easily pass for a residence of a high ranking official or a very important government office.
A large portrait of Uncle Ho greets you once you step inside the cavernous hall. For a moment there, I was distracted by the small tiangge occupying its middle section which reminded me that once upon a time, Vietnam struggled between socialism and capitalism.
The well-preserved inner decor harkens to an earlier, more elegant and relaxed time. Can you see those classic phone booths made of hardwood? Perfect for a film set in the 1950s, don’t you think?
But what truly made my day was the beautiful juxtaposition between old and new, modern and outdated technology. I saw these wide-eyed, precocious toddlers seriously taking cue from their teachers on the finer details of snail-mailing.