Saigoneer

BackArts & Culture » Culture » Heritage » Saigon » Street Cred: Phạm Ngũ Lão

Street Cred: Phạm Ngũ Lão

Hey folks! Saigoneer is resurrecting its short-lived series on the street signs of Saigon with a weekly column called Street Cred. Saigon is filled with history and we see signs of it everywhere. Street Cred is the rear-view mirror by which we’ll explore the meaning behind the signs. Look for it every Friday. Enjoy!

Ask anyone in Saigon about the Backpacker Area and they’ll tell you that it’s a place teeming with cheap beers, cheap travel offices and tourists who are passing through on the cheap. Most likely, they’ll tell you that it’s in Pham Ngu Lao, the name of the main street that has become synonymous with the entire Backpacker Area. How this relatively small, 5-block section of District 1 became a Khao San Road-esque hub for travelers is for another article, but surely, it’s ironic that Pham Ngu Lao should be the figurehead of a place filled with so many foreigners.

Born in 1255 in Hung Yen province about an hour outside of Hanoi, Pham Ngu Lao was a revered army general during the Dai Viet Era of Vietnam. He’s most famous for fending off those pesky Mongols and their quest for world domination not once, but twice in 1284 and 1288, respectively. Needless to say, putting up a fight against Kublai Khan & Co was no easy feat (just ask China and Persia) and Pham Ngu Lao reaped rewards fitting of his accomplishments. He would go on to become Supreme Commander of the Dai Viet army, get hitched to the King’s sister, and upon his death in 1320, Pham Ngu Lao had a cult of followers who worshipped him as a deity.

Pham Ngu Lao, the famous general who twice-stopped the Mongol invasion of Vietnam, is now helpless in stemming back the tide of foreigners onto the street that bears his name.  Now that’s definitely more ironic than a fly in your chardonnay. 

Print
icon

About the writer:

California is where he’s from, Saigon is where he’s at and this column is where he could be found. If you’re looking for a freelance writer specializing in Vietnam, please contact Vinh at vinh@berkeley.edu.

 

[Photo via tuhai]

Related Articles

in Saigon

10 Old Photos Of Carriages In Saigon

Before motorized transportation was the norm in Saigon, horse-drawn carts were used to move both goods and people.

in Saigon

10 Old Pictures (and History) of the Saigon Opera House

The Saigon Opera House (aka the Municipal Theatre) is one of Saigon’s oldest buildings and one of the city’s best examples of classical French architecture. Constructed at the turn of the 20th century...

in Saigon

10 Old Pictures of Advertisements in Saigon

Before 1975, large advertisements were commonplace in Saigon. But after the American War and the fall of capitalism in the South, ads were considered a vestige of the old order and were heavily regula...

in Saigon

10 Old Pictures of Art Deco Buildings in Saigon

Art deco is by far our favorite architectural style, one which luckily, Saigon has in spades. However, with each passing day, these buildings are being torn down to make way for modern structures whic...

in Saigon

10 Old Pictures of Cars in Saigon

Though cars have been present in the country since the turn of the 20th century, decades of war (1941 – 1975) and an economic stagnation (1975 – 1986) drastically reduced the number of automobiles in ...

in Saigon

10 Old Pictures of People in Saigon

We often look to old buildings in order reconnect with the past since they are clear and static reference points. Though useful, another important window into the past is the day-to-day lives of peopl...

Partner Content