Blogging Bayport Alameda

October 16, 2014

Good morning Saigon!

Filed under: Alameda, Alameda-ish, Warm Fuzzies — Lauren Do @ 6:06 am

I’m back people!  Miss me?  Know I was gone at all? Wondering why I didn’t throw up profiles for the school board?  All those questions and more will be answered in the next few posts.

So, yeah, I was gone since around the endish of September.  Long story short, my parents are celebrating 40 years of being a parent unit and wanted their family to celebrate with them in Vietnam.  So for the last two weeks and some odd days, the Blogging Bayport gang was melting in the heat and humidity (and occasionally downpour) in Vietnam.  Just an FYI, I wasn’t born in Vietnam so going to Vietnam is not necessarily “going back” for me.   It’s like going to any foreign country except for the huge leg up I have because I do understand the language, but speak it rather poorly.  The husband likes to make fun because when I speak Vietnamese I tend to speak it in a high voice which is a huge difference from my normal speaking voice, but I explain that it’s because my facility with Vietnamese tops out at like third grade or something so I probably sound like a third grade girl.  Anyway, it’s useful for overhearing people talking smack about you because people tend to be surprised when I speak Vietnamese to them.  Probably because the existence of my white husband and my mixed kids.   Or because most Vietnamese folks seemed to think I looked Taiwanese or Korean or Japanese.  (See, even other Asian people have difficulty identifying where some Asian people’s roots are from)

Before you wonder, I have only been to Vietnam once previously when I was in college — like 18+ years ago — and Vietnam is vastly different than I remember.  As a testament to my advanced years I moved from being an “em” (younger brother/sister) when I was in Vietnam those years ago to moving firmly into the “chi” (older sister).  Sometimes, when I was getting a little flustered with Vietnamese I would slip and call myself “co” (aunt) which all those young people would accept without even blinking.  Anyway, if you want to see a country that stands teetered between the modern and old world, look no further than Vietnam.   Ho Chi Minh City aka Saigon is an amazing juxtaposition of bright shiny gleaming high rises that stand shoulder to shoulder with old school multi-level Vietnamese houses that are positively dwarfed by the massiveness of the buildings.

Here are two photos of buildings that reflect the old and the new. I was not on camera duty for this trip and had to go through the selection the husband took.

First is the Saigon Opera House. We saw a neat cirque show there called the AO (“ahh ohh”) show which had some great uses of traditional Vietnamese tools like the basket boat and huge bamboo sticks. The Saigon Opera House is restored-ish, but I don’t know how much faithfulness to the original design was retained. The seats were neat and plush, but clearly not the original velvet.

2014-09-29 08.38.40


Here’s the Bixteco tower which was completed in 2005 or 2010, I’m too lazy to go back and check.   It was designed as an homage to the lotus blossom which is the national flower of Vietnam.  If anyone is wondering, the national flower of the USA is the rose.   This is a huge building with modern shops like the Adias store and Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf (yeah, I know) on the ground floor.   There is the Saigon Skydeck on the 49th floor that you can visit.  It’s fairly expensive by Vietnamese standards (200,000 VND which is approximately $10)  but cheaper than most US attractions.

2014-09-28 11.29.04


If you look right in front of the Bixteco tower you’ll see a smaller (by comparison) glass tower which is tucked into an historic Vietnamese building, the one with a red roof.   When I first saw it, I thought, man that’s sort of like how the Del Monte building will be, but with a much smaller modern attachment.


  1. Married in ’74 in Vietnam, then coming to the States. That has to be one helluva story.

    Comment by dave — October 16, 2014 @ 7:44 am

  2. Welcome back! When we first moved to Alameda, our neighbor, an older Vietnamese man, used to take me over to the Vietnamese coffee shops on E. 12th St, and tell me about Vietnam and have me try lots of different food. Since then, it’s been on my list of places for us to visit. Soon…

    Comment by BC — October 16, 2014 @ 9:58 am

  3. Lauren, please convey my congratulations and best wishes to your parents on their 40th anniversary. Welcome back.

    Comment by Jon Spangler — October 16, 2014 @ 9:59 am

  4. Certainty wasn’t a unique story in 1974 Vietnam.
    All those new towers were built in Vietnam post 2010. Saigon in 2006 was a bustling metropolis but more like the brick building without the glass monstrosity attached to it.

    Comment by Jack Richard — October 16, 2014 @ 10:07 am

  5. Congratulation {s} , absolutely nothing equal a Family ,
    Glad you were able to see everyone , I do not know in your case ,
    in mine it is always a very festive time in which I am always been told when are you coming back …..soon .

    Comment by Joel Rambaud — October 16, 2014 @ 10:39 am

  6. Jack they said on Good Morning America today in the next decade the US population will increase by nine million so the glass towers are looking better then taking the farmlands which feed us. I actually like the glass tower. They also said the cities should plan for infrastructure based on this number. I think the new towers they are building in SF right now Buyers ‘chomping at the bit’ for the Lumina will be like $1,700 to $2,300 per square foot plus HOA fees.

    Comment by Jake — October 16, 2014 @ 12:36 pm

  7. In SF some of the monthly Home Owners Association dues are as sky high as the glass buildings.

    Comment by A Neighbor — October 16, 2014 @ 2:25 pm

  8. Vietnam was fun … biked there a few years ago from Saigon to Hanoi. There was no need to check the weather forecast 🙂

    Comment by bayporter — October 16, 2014 @ 8:40 pm

  9. Congratulations to your parents and so cool to read about your experience of Viet Nam.

    Comment by Kevis Brownson — October 17, 2014 @ 9:13 am

  10. No big deal but the Bitexco Financial Tower in Saigon was designed by world renowned Ecuadorian architect Carlos Zapata, who drew inspiration for this skyscraper’s unique shape from Vietnam’s national flower (according to Wikipedia), the Lotus flower.

    Only in Vietnam could a building be designed after the Vietnam National Flower in 2005 that didn’t become the Vietnam National Flower until 2011. Probably blamed it on the five year planners

    Comment by Jack Richard — October 17, 2014 @ 2:44 pm

  11. Yeah, because the lotus never existed in the Vietnamese consciousness until selected as the national flower. Except for its depiction in classic art, music, and literature and its use in food and medicine well before 2011.

    Comment by Lauren Do — October 17, 2014 @ 3:18 pm

  12. Congratulations to your parents Lauren and welcome back!

    Comment by Karen Bey — October 17, 2014 @ 9:24 pm

  13. I think it’s appropriate that this blog welcome Nguyen Van Hai (aka; Dieu Cay) to this country after being released from prison in Vietnam for doing what Do does here.

    Comment by jack — October 24, 2014 @ 12:24 pm

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