Old Saigon springs back to life in miniature

By Quynh Tran    May 11, 2019 | 02:31 pm GMT+7

Traditional houses, a sandwich stall and a sidewalk hair salon in Saigon recreated in miniature were among those on display at an exhibition.

Old Saigon springs back to life in miniature

The exhibition, organized in early May at Bitexco building in HCMC's District 1, was named "Co mot Sai Gon" (There is one Saigon).

"It's meant to help people recall and cherish the memories of Saigon and forget the hurly-burly of modern life for a while," said Nguyen Gon, head of the group which designed and created the models.

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Over 40 miniatures were on display. Gon said it took nine months to generate ideas and turn them into models.

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Most of the items were the size of a notebook, some could even fit in a hand. All of them were meticulously created. Gon said: "This house was inspired by the memory of a member of the group. She used to live in a house with wooden staircase, brick floor, and a black and white TV inside."

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This is a model of a video rental store in Saigon in the 1990s. Thanh Thao, 30, said: "When I was young, I used to accompany my parents to a video store to rent action movies. The rent was VND2,000 (8.6 cents). Looking at this miniature reminds me of the old days."

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Temporary houses made of tin and wood were often found along canals in Saigon and were occupied by very poor people. The city is currently in the process of relocating these families.

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A pho noodle stall put together from pieces of wood and cloth. The signboard was very popular on Saigon’s streets before 1975.

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A sidewalk old-book shop and next to it is a petrol stand recognizable by the paper funnel stuck in a brick. These were once commonplace on Saigon’s streets.

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Many of the miniatures were no bigger than the size of a palm. Each took the group an average of two months to make.

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 A wooden stand with a black and white TV on top and a vintage video game console below is another familiar image that only remains in memory now.

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Duyen, a visitor, said: "Of all the models, my favorite is the pha lau beef offal stall. I would often eat this dish while in middle school at the gate of Nguyen Thuong Hien school. I haven't seen a stall like this for a long time. This reminds me of my childhood."

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According to the group leader, at the end of the exhibition, the models would be sold for VND500,000-1 million ($22-43) each to raise funds for the future projects.

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Near the display place, groups of young people are making old Saigon models from their own memories.

 
 
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