Saigon icons left forlorn amid strict lockdown

By Vi Yen   August 31, 2021 | 11:00 am GMT+7
Once-busy tourist hotspots and French colonial heritages in Covid epicenter HCMC have fallen eerily silent with strict lockdown measures in place.
Saigon icons left forlorn amid strict lockdown

A GrabBike driver passes the deserted Ho Chi Minh City Hall, or the HCMC People's Committee headquarters, on Le Thanh Ton Street in District 1.

Opposite Nguyen Hue pedestrian street, the building was designed by French architect Femand Gardes. Construction started in 1889 and finished in 1909.

Saigon icons left forlorn amid strict lockdown

Nguyen Hue pedestrian street, a popular rendezvous among Saigonese, has been closed for more than three months as HCMC grappled with its most challenging outbreak since late May.

Authorities have spun ropes around the area to prevent people from entering.

Saigon icons left forlorn amid strict lockdown

The French-built Saigon Central Post Office, one of the oldest icons of HCMC.

Saigon icons left forlorn amid strict lockdown

The small park with a majestic four-meter-tall statue of the Virgin Mary in front of Notre Dame Cathedral.

The cathedral, built by the French between 1863 and 1880, is now under restoration, which is scheduled for completion in 2023.

Saigon icons left forlorn amid strict lockdown

Nguyen Van Binh book street near the Central Post Office and the Notre Dame Cathedral has been shut down for more than two months. Opened in 2016, it is the only book street in HCMC where photo exhibitions, book fairs and coffee talks are usually held during weekend.

Saigon icons left forlorn amid strict lockdown

The Independence Palace on Nam Ky Khoi Nghia Street in District 1 has also closed its doors to tourists for more than three months after HCMCs instructions for tourist destinations and historical sites to be shut down to contain the spread of the pandemic.

Also known as the Reunification Palace, it was first built between 1868 and 1871 on the site of Norodom Palace, a colonial landmark in HCMC. The building was the home and workplace of the President of U.S.-backed South Vietnam during the Vietnam War.

Saigon icons left forlorn amid strict lockdown

The once-busy Dong Khoi Street, home to five-star hotels and luxury restaurants, along with shopping malls, is virtually empty as city authorities suspended indoor dining services and ordered hotels to not receive guests.

HCMC, epicenter of Vietnam's fourth coronavirus wave since April, has undergone a series of social distancing orders amid persistent coronavirus threats, and has banned people from going out starting Aug. 23.

Saigon icons left forlorn amid strict lockdown

The Saigon Opera House, just a few steps from the five-star Sheraton Saigon Hotel, has for long been a venue for major national and international art programs.

Built in 1898 by the French and put into use in 1900, the Saigon Opera House boasts a design trendy in the late 19th century. All of its decorative patterns, facade reliefs and interior designs were brought from France to Vietnam.

Saigon icons left forlorn amid strict lockdown

Tan Dinh Church on Hai Ba Trung Street in District 3 has also been closed for more than three months.

Construction commenced in 1870 and completed six years later. It is the second largest church in Saigon after the Notre Dame Cathedral and has several times been hailed by foreign travel magazines.

Saigon icons left forlorn amid strict lockdown

Spanning Ben Nghe Canal between Districts 1 and 4, Mong Bridge is the only surviving pedestrian bridge in Ho Chi Minh City built during the French colonial period and one of the oldest in the city.

Saigon icons left forlorn amid strict lockdown

Ben Thanh Market, an iconic tourism landmark, which used to be bustling with foreign visitors, had shut down as the city tightened its coronavirus curbs.

Since the country closed its borders in March 2020, shops within Ben Thanh Market has struggled to afford rent in the absence of foreign tourists, their main source of income.

Saigon icons left forlorn amid strict lockdown

Built in 1928 by a rice trader from China, 25,000-square-meter Binh Tay Market in the city’s Chinatown is appreciated for its bagua-shaped design. Bagua is a Chinese religious motif that incorporates eight trigrams including the sky, fire and wind arranged in a circle symbolizing yin and yang.

The market, famous for its clock tower and a central courtyard, used to receive more than 120,000 foreign visitors a year.

Photos by Maison de Bil

 
 
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