CHARLOTTE TRUONG WRITES – Since the end of December 2019, in the center of Wuhan city (China), the COVID-19 pandemic has caused great damage on a global scale in virtually all areas: economics, politics, society and tourism.
Although Vietnam is China’s neighbor, and had early cases of infection, the country is proud to be recognized for having controlled this pandemic fairly well. And so, at the beginning of May and after a week of no new COVID-19 cases, the Vietnamese government eased its quarantine specifications and allowed some businesses to reopen.
Vietnam is back! One day before the grand opening, familiar signs of life resurfaced: the loud honk of motorbikes; the sound of cars careening around every corner of Saigon, loud enough to wake people up; and the sight of shops and restaurants redecorating from their interiors to the sidewalks just outside. In addition, due to the folk belief that is part of our traditional culture, most owners, from small to big businesses, burn the joss paper with hopes of good fortune for their businesses. Joss paper, also known as spirit or ghost money, is burned in worship ceremonies as payment for spiritual debts due to luck, wealth and success.
Now, everyone turns on their televisions for morning news on the current situation in Vietnam and in the world. Familiar smells- bowls of pho, grilled pork chop in rice dishes- have come back, as has the aroma of freshly ground coffee coming from street food stalls, which always lightens people’s hearts and awakens hungry stomachs.
Saigon is known as ‘the city that never sleeps’ because a new rhythm of life begins when the sun sets. Saigon’s nightlife scene varies from one district to another: the street lights start up, bars open, pubs on Bui Vien Street start playing music. Many Saigonese like to drink and hang out with friends, sipping cocktails on rooftop bars and enjoying the night.
As a Vietnamese living in Saigon, it hurt to see people in my home country sad and depressed, especially in contrast to normally vibrant days. After lockdown, I believe that everyone, including myself, is more appreciative of our lives, our cities and our country. We are proud of the strong cooperation and bonding between all Vietnamese that helped to overcome the disease.