My thirteenth visit to Saigon wasn’t until thirty years later (thirty years and thirteen days, to be exact) when my older son Nick and I arrived on a flight from Singapore on Friday, July 21, 1995. We stayed in Saigon Star Hotel and spent the evening at a restaurant in De Tham Street.
The city was now officially called Ho Chi Minh City, but most people still seemed to say Saigon. It turned out we had come at a time when government controls over the country were starting to be somewhat relaxed. People were allowed to start small businesses, and Vietnamese living overseas were allowed to visit the country as tourists — or as investors.
We met a Vietnamese family that had been living in Canada for twenty years and were visiting their home country for the first time since they fled in the 1970s.
On Saturday, July 22, 1995, we stayed in Saigon and visited the Revolutionary Museum in the afternoon.
On Sunday, July 23, 1995, we went by pedi-cab to Saigon station and later to a bus stop where we caught an overland bus going to Biên Hòa. The bus was very much like the one in this photo, even though I took the photo thirty years earlier in 1965. The bus was crowded and there was no glass in the windows, so when it rained — which it did on the way to Biên Hòa! — we and everybody else got soaking wet.
But in the tropical heat our clothes dried very quickly, and I was really pleased that I could finally ride in one of those buses, which was something I could never do as a soldier in 1964/65 for security reasons.
My fourteenth visit to Saigon was in August 1995.
Nick and I took an overnight train from Hué (going through Xuan Loc, presumably, though we were asleep and didn’t notice). We arrived in Saigon at 11 o’clock in the morning of Tuesday, August 8, 1995 and immediately took a taxi to the Sinh Café to book a three-day Mekong Delta tour.
We stayed the night at a hotel called the Mini-Hotel Bi Saigon, which was right around the corner from the Sinh Café.
The next morning we left on our Mekong Delta tour, which I will describe in a future post.
[Note from fifteen years later: When Nick and I were in Vietnam in 1995 there was only one Sinh Café, but since then a number of fake Sinh Cafés have sprung up, using the same name but often charging higher prices. As far as I know the real (original) Sinh Café is now called TheSinhTourist and has its headquarters at 246 De Tham Street, district 1, Ho Chi Minh City, which is also where it was in 1995. Their telephone number is (848) 38389597.]
My fifteenth visit to Saigon was in also in August 1995.
On the evening of Friday, August 11, Nick and I returned from our three-day Mekong Delta Tour, which we were very satisfied with.
On Saturday we spent the day in Saigon and on Sunday we took a day trip, again organized by the Sinh Café, to the Cao Dai temple (their “Holy See”) at Tay Ninh and to the Cu Chi tunnels, which turned out to be not far from Tân Ba , but in a different province. (Again, I will describe this tour in a future post.)
We returned to Saigon the same evening. The next day, August 14, 1995, we flew from Saigon to Singapore and then home to Frankfurt am Main.
Thanks to my son Nick for the photos from 1995. I revised the text in 2017.