Saigon in My Memories

Update: 07/11/2019
I still vividly remember the day I arrived at the majestic land of Saigon, the streets of which seemed busy but still airy. I took a deep breath, feeling the cool air of an afternoon rain lingering around.

Saigon in My Memories


Saigon in the years before 1975 was very beautiful, which was as beautiful as the ethereal soul of the Vietnamese people. The beauty of Saigon is perhaps the cheerful features that appear on the sweaty faces of cyclo drivers or the girls selling food along the streets. However, Saigon was also very trendy with young men wearing sunglasses, sitting on their Honda 67, or driving around the center of the city. The road had few vehicles, the wind was cool, blowing against their motionless hair in full strength. No matter what it was, the atmosphere of Saigon was still so fresh and serene.

I returned to Hoang Phap Pagoda in Hoc Mon in 1973, at that time everyone practiced very peacefully and happily because the environment was peaceful and clean. People breathed in smokeless breaths, took cool gulps of fresh water, and it was obvious that very few people even had to considered: "Will the environment 'die' over time?"

And then, the environment began dying...

When the country started to develop, people were very happy as their country eventually and gradually advanced to modern civilization. Since then, high-rise buildings have been densely constructed, the industrial parks have been squeezed together, and all kinds of vehicles began filling up the dusty roads. People fall into a vicious cycle: destroying nature - making money - using money to regain health.

Surrounding the pagoda are factories. The peace is now replaced by the suffering from the stench of factory wastes. For the people living here, each passing day is a fight, fighting with themselves to ignore the smell that is unable to inhale, to try to keep going on the unfinished journey of making a living. The stench also seriously affects the health and spirit of the people. It is so bad that, in only one breath, you might feel dizzy and nauseous, which could lead to many respiratory problems. The poor factory-workers who have to work hard from dawn to dusk only hope that their young children could have a pen and a notebook for school. Yet during the quietest moment at night, when they want to enjoy a little resting time, they have to bite their teeth to endure because of the unethicality of the factories. These factories, even when being prohibited, would sneakily carried on their polluting acts during the  time when everyone is fast asleep. If only the consequences of pollution came all at one time so that people would realize that action needs to be taken to stop the damage, but, instead of this, the environmental destruction is slowly draining the health of the people. In time’s passing by, no one knows when death will come.

One would think that if you just endure a bit, you will get used to it, but that indifference has claimed countless lives, leaving countlessness in regret when the situation could not be saved. The rich have some money to try to save themselves, but what about the poor people? What would they do to save themselves and their children? Therefore, there is a proverb - Drops of water are not much, but they will eventually fill up the tank.

There is a funny story: people muster their strength to carry the ax to the forest to cut precious timber for sale, earn quite a bit and then go home to buy air purifiers to breathe fresh air. Few would understand that the natural lungs that help us filter the air are like the lush green forests, stretching for tens of kilometers, that have been cut down. We always need what we lack. When the nature has the resources to nourish, loves and shelters us in the fresh atmosphere, Unfortunately, we have to carve out everything that ‘mother nature’ has built so hard, just because we want to more money to serve the needs of having nice food and entertainment. No doubt that there might be much money and the equipment is getting more and more advanced, but no one can buy back the original fresh and green nature.

Writing this filled my mind with pondering thought, I wonder if there will ever be a spark of light for the Vietnamese people? Where are the people responsible for this? Why let these invisible monsters kill our lives day by day? May those who have a loving, sharing, responsible, and respectful life live in such a way that we don't die gradually like this!

Smell of pork in the morning, smell of wort in the evening

Day’s and night’s being enjoyed, it is perishing our life fast.

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