Vietnam: Sidewalk Culture

December 30th, 2010

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I risk losing any credibility I might have by gushing over and over about how ‘fascinated’ I am by one aspect or another of Vietnamese culture, but I can’t help it. The scooters zipping around Saigon clearly got my attention. And how could I not be obsessed with the myriad banh mi carts serving up any number of variations of pork on pork deliciousness?
Similarly, how could I not be fascinated by the sidewalk culture we saw there. Day and night, people sat out on little plastic stools talking, eating and generally gathering with their communities.

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Often these were built around one or several food carts, but just as often they were just a few people lounging with their families watching the world go by.
On an early morning cab ride to the airport, we past a few set up and full of people before dawn.
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Without getting into saccharine ideas of authenticity, part of what struck me about these sidewalk stalls was how entirely unconstructed it was. It’s a display of real local life, food and culture that’s not part of a show for visitors, it’s just the way things are. I have no idea if that makes any sense, but it really drew me in both as a traveler and as a photographer.


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