Park and shite – Saigon/HCMC

One of the most noticeable changes since I was here before is that there is now a lovely park in Phan Ngu Lao.

A couple of years ago, there were two big areas surrounded by hoardings. Now one set of hoardings has gone, to reveal a beautiful park. It’s not massive, but it’s big enough, and it’s lovely, all flower beds and fancy brick paths – and two big toilets blocks!

One of the things I remembered most from two years ago was the amount of poo on the pavements, in this area especially. Well, not right on the pavements, but at the edges of the pavements. At the risk of sounding too gross, from the size and smell I was as sure as I could be that it was human. Seeing as the bogs in the new park are the first public toilets I’ve seen outside places like train stations, museums etc, that’s not unlikely, especially with so many people sleeping on the streets (and the nearby bus station).  Here’s to things getting a bit sweeter, now the new bogs are open. I think there’s a small charge, but hopefully it’s not high enough to price people out of using them.

Anyway, the park as a whole wouldn’t look out of place in any big, cosmopolitan city, somewhere like London, say, or Singapore. However, as I walked past yesterday what did I see cosily nesting in one of the borders round the base of a tree? A chicken.

January 2002

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