Sunday in Saigon

I like Sunday because it’s an unscheduled day that unfolds in interesting ways if I just get out of the way and let it flow. This is particularly true in Saigon where Marilynn and I have learned to let the day find its own rhythm. We usually sleep in, which for us means 6:30 or 7, since we’re normally up at 5. During the week I make a beeline for the kitchen to grab a banana and some creamy yogurt and then it’s a step by step routine till we’re out the door to the gym. But, Sundays are different.

On Sunday I slow down enough to feel the cool tile floors under my bare feet and the warm soft air coming in off the street. The cool, smooth tile is very sensual. There is no wall to wall carpet in the tropics, and one takes off shoes to enter every house. For people from temperate climates Vietnam seems very exotic. Even the fruit on the dining room table is exotic. Oranges are not orange but dark, dark green. And they are full of seeds but juicy sweet. I squeeze my own orange juice every morning and probably throw 100 seeds in the trash when I’m through. And, the tiny finger-sized bananas in the fruit bowl are mixed with miniature tangerines, pomelo, star, and dragon fruit. We each have some fruit and a cup of yoghurt before we head out for the Cathedral of Notre Dame at the top of Dong Khoi Street.

There is an English mass at 9:30, but we love to spend the hour before the service nursing a tall latte on the terrace of the Coffee Bean and watching the people and the motorbikes spin through the square.

My favorite occupation, however, is to check out the brides in the square around the church. They come to be photographed. There are other places in Saigon that draw them too, like the Opera House and the Hotel de Ville, but the garden and promenade in front of Notre Dame is their favorite site. The groom is usually around, but he’s a minor player. It’s the bride’s moment. They are all beautiful and the dresses are luscious – acres of creamy peau de soie. And the photographers pose them in every conceivable way – leaning against the cathedral with the long train spread across the sidewalk, framed by a plot of colorful flowers, or my favorite, lounging langorously on the seat of the groom’s flame red motorbike with the train spilling into the street. It’s a real feast for the eyes as well as one’s sense of humor. I don’t know where the weddings themselves take place, but Notre Dame is the clear favorite for photo ops.

It’s very addictive; every bride is different and the viewing always includes the unexpected. I’d love to see the motorbike bride again, but there will be something new this Sunday and I’ll be there to see it.


  1. How relaxing, sun, great food, peace, just loving life, lingering around, being, with no purpose in mind It's snow, ice, wind and rain in Ireland.Do many people speak English in Saigon, Vietnam?

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