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TP. Hồ Chí Minh: MEGA City - People in the Mega City

Saigoneer is proud to be the media sponsor of the TP. Hồ Chí Minh: MEGA City photo book which was formally released on February 19. It is split into 8 chapters, each covering a major theme related to HCMC's rapid urban development. Over the course of the next few weeks, we’ll be giving you an overview of the book's fantastic photos. Today we’ll take a closer look at the sixth chapter: People in the Mega City.

The book, edited by Michael Waibel and Henning Hilbert, was produced with the support of the Goethe Institut, and funding from Audi. The book is available at HCMC Artbook book shops. To order a copy directly, please contact [email protected].

This article is part of a series. One can find the previous articles here.

In this chapter, various Ho Chi Minh City residents have been asked to comment on their impressions and relationships to the city they call home. We wanted to take a closer look behind the facade and explore how people use their personal space. The outcome is a collection of fascinating insights into homes and workplaces spanning rich and poor, younger and older generations, migrants and those who have lived there all their lives and helped shape the city.

Bitexco Tower, District 1. Photo Astrid Schulz.

Construction worker, Binh Thanh District. Photo by Astrid Schulz.

Many people describe the city as full of opportunities. The younger generation especially embraces the modern lifestyle, the newly created shopping malls, the Western-style coffee shops and various other options for entertainment – provided they can afford them.

Despite the fact that Saigon is far from being beautiful in a classical sense, most people have a strong sense of pride and welcome recent development. Vietnam wishes to catch its economy up with those of Western countries and most people are quite aware that their living conditions still fall behind the Western standard they see on TV. There exist, however, clear divisions between the various districts and neighborhoods. In some areas, life still goes on in very traditional ways and the older generation hardly ever participates in modern city life.

Two construction workers, Binh Thanh District. Photo by Astrid Schulz.

When one leaves the endless bustle of the busy main roads and turns into the organically developed neighborhoods, one feels as though they have stepped back in time. Migrant workers still crowd into town in the hope of improving their lives. Their dreams are simple and their lifestyle is based on the one they had in the countryside. For those who manage to save enough money, all they desire is to own a business or to buy a house. After that, when they make even more money, they just want to rebuild, enlarge and modernize. After achieving their goal, their dreams change and it may become possible to travel abroad. But until then, much dedication is needed and the entire family must act as a unit. There is neither time nor money to enjoy the amenities of District 1 or to visit the parks.

Photo by Astrid Schulz.

Photo by Astrid Schulz.

For those who have managed to accomplish their goals, life entails more variety. While the older generation still prefers to spend time at home with their families, the younger is getting ready to break with traditions. There is a new direction, a new sense of freedom. Their world seems to have opened up. For them it is exciting to be able to participate in the mega city’s new lifestyle.

The book is available at HCMC Artbook book shops. To order a copy directly, please contact [email protected].

 

[Top image (2013) taken by Astrid Schulz]

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