Further exploration of Ho Chi Minh City

Ho Chi Minh City Travel Blog

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Binh Soup Shop (Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam)

We’re still a bit shaken up when we leave The War Remnants Museum, so it’s a good thing our next stop is a noodle-soup restaurant and sight in one. It’s Binh Soup Shop, the former secret headquarters of the Viet Cong during the war with the United States.

The place is tiny, with only about six tables, and there are two kinds of ‘pho’ (noodle soup): with or without meat. But before we get the pho, the waitress places a plate full of leaves on our table. I quickly peak at the local couple eating across form us and see that the pick leaves from the tiny branches. I decide to do the same and act as if I am fully aware of what I’m doing, even though I haven’t got a clue.

Binh Soup Shop (Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam)
My husband is quite impressed though. The soup arrives and, like the other couple I throw the leaves in the soup. It smells like herbs and I guess you get a plate full of it so you can decide if you want it, and how much you want it.

While we eat our soup (which is very nice) I imagine how US soldiers had the same kind of soup here, some forty years ago, completely ignorant to the fact that every single staff member at this place was a Viet Cong infiltrator. They were enjoying their soup, picking leaves and throwing it in their soup bowl just as they just saw local people do, while in the kitchen the Viet Cong planned its attack on the US embassy and other places in Saigon during the Tet Offensive of 1968.

We get into a taxi and within a few minutes we arrive at our next destination: the Jade Emperor Pagoda.

The Jade Emperor Pagoda (Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam)
According to several travel guides this is a gem among Chinese temples, one of the most spectacularly colourful pagodas in Ho Chi Minh City.

When we walk onto the premises, the temple itself does have some nice colouring. It’s just the surroundings that’s very faded. The large basin in front of the temple almost doesn’t have any water left, the large fish aren’t able to swim anymore, the can only lay on their side. Another basin, one that holds turtles (representatives of good luck) is also nearly empty.

The front of the temple is absolutely beautiful, with countless figurines and dragons. On the inside, the first altar holds a Buddha, and we quickly put some money in the donation box, hoping that the animals may see the benefits of it. The temple is filled with grotesque statues that represent divinities of some sort.

The Jade Emperor Pagoda (Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam)
According to my guide the statues are characters from both the Buddhist and Taoist tradition, but no matter how long I look at them, they don’t appeal to me.

In a small area at the side, we find nice woodcarvings, telling entire, complicated stories. The last room holds, I think, the Emperor of Jade. The supreme Taoist god. This statue, supported by numerous smaller statues has bright pink clothes draped on it.

It’s an interesting temple, there is no doubt about it. But definitely not among the best I’ve ever seen.  Maybe I’ve seen too many temples, have I been spoiled by countless wonders (The Emperial City in Hue being the most recent), to be able to appreciate this building.

As soon as we step outside, we see a man scrubbing the inside of the turtle basin. The basin that holds the fish is almost filled with clean water. As it turns out, some things deserve a second glance…

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Binh Soup Shop (Ho Chi Minh City,…
Binh Soup Shop (Ho Chi Minh City, …
Binh Soup Shop (Ho Chi Minh City,…
The Jade Emperor Pagoda (Ho Chi Mi…
The Jade Emperor Pagoda (Ho Chi M…
The Jade Emperor Pagoda (Ho Chi Mi…
The Jade Emperor Pagoda (Ho Chi M…
The Jade Emperor Pagoda (Ho Chi Mi…
The Jade Emperor Pagoda (Ho Chi M…
The Jade Emperor Pagoda (Ho Chi Mi…
The Jade Emperor Pagoda (Ho Chi M…
The Jade Emperor Pagoda (Ho Chi Mi…
The Jade Emperor Pagoda (Ho Chi M…
The Jade Emperor Pagoda (Ho Chi Mi…
The Jade Emperor Pagoda (Ho Chi M…
The Jade Emperor Pagoda (Ho Chi Mi…
The Jade Emperor Pagoda (Ho Chi M…
The Jade Emperor Pagoda (Ho Chi Mi…
The Jade Emperor Pagoda (Ho Chi M…
The Jade Emperor Pagoda (Ho Chi Mi…
The Jade Emperor Pagoda (Ho Chi M…
The Jade Emperor Pagoda (Ho Chi Mi…
The Jade Emperor Pagoda (Ho Chi M…
The Jade Emperor Pagoda (Ho Chi Mi…
The Jade Emperor Pagoda (Ho Chi M…
The Jade Emperor Pagoda (Ho Chi Mi…
The Jade Emperor Pagoda (Ho Chi M…
The Jade Emperor Pagoda (Ho Chi Mi…
The Jade Emperor Pagoda (Ho Chi M…
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3,004 km (1,867 miles) traveled
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