Saturday,  Jul 21, 2018,16:37 (GMT+7) 0 0
Living in HCMC’s District 2
Bradley Winterton
Thursday,  Apr 5, 2018,19:25 (GMT+7)

Living in HCMC’s District 2

Bradley Winterton

I recently moved to HCMC’s District 2, not the fashionable Thao Dien, but the area centered on Nguyen Duy Trinh road, which runs in a long straight line eastwards from the highway that emerges from the Saigon River Tunnel. Where I am it’s more or less one big construction site, with tower blocks being built on all sides. But it’s spacious, the air feels clean, and all in all I’m more than happy with the move.

In Europe, or at least in the UK, tower blocks are considered rather low-class, living conditions that only the poor would opt for out of necessity. But it’s completely different here in Vietnam. Blocks like the one I’m living in, where unfurnished apartments are on sale for around VND1.9 billion, are highly desirable places, and it’s easy to understand why.

The apartment I’ve taken is on the 16th floor, and what I noticed the moment I moved in was how clean the air was. Maybe it was the district or maybe the height, but there seemed to be no dust anywhere. How different this was from the border of Districts 5 and 1 where I lived before, near the Lam Son swimming pool. I liked it while I was there, and initially I didn’t want to move. But I had no choice – my landlady wanted to live there herself, and although I’d been there for eight years, go I had to. She very kindly let me off the last month’s rent, and in addition let me take the fridge, washing machine and my beloved mattress with me.

When I go back to that area now I’m immediately struck by how polluted the air seems. I go back frequently because there are no decent swimming pools near my new place, whereas the city generally has an astonishing number, seven or eight that I know personally, and many more besides.

At the moment I don’t have a motorbike, so I usually go to District 1 by bus. There is a very frequent service, with a bus every ten minutes, or even more often. The only problem is that the last bus in the evening leaves District 1 at 7 p.m. Then I rely on the ever-friendly, ever-cheap and ever-efficient Grab. I’ve never encountered a speeding or otherwise unwelcome motorbike driver yet, and the fare for a drive of around 35 minutes is only VND44,000.

What I like about my new area is how it combines the sophistication and convenience of my apartment building, which I would say was on the edge of being luxurious, with the friendliness of Nguyen Duy Trinh road, which is a string of mostly small businesses, few of them rising higher than two storeys. There’s a small Vincom convenience store in the building itself, and two more, rather larger, within walking distance.

My apartment faces east, and has an upstairs section, making four rooms downstairs and two rooms upstairs. In the early morning it’s full of light, so much so that a large flowering plant that I brought from my old home (which was blessed with a roof garden) is flourishing in its new indoors location, presenting me again with a host of white flowers after a brief flower-less period just after the move, at around Christmas. Or maybe it was its natural time for a rest.

I’m also impressed by how quiet it is here. There’s a certain amount of hammering from the construction sites, but I actually find that rather welcome. At this height you don’t hear the traffic (limited as it is to one road) at all, and without the hammering I think I would find the ambiance here rather too quiet.

All in all, District 2 pleases me no end, and has a lot to recommend it. Anyone looking for a new home should give it a try. My rent is VND9 million a month, and in District 1 I was looking at studios with a small bathroom for the same price. And the building I’m in still has many vacant apartments.
 

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