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[Photos] The Oddly Comforting Mix of Old and New in Thu Thiem

Directly opposite downtown Saigon, a new city is growing that stretches far beyond what the eye can see.

The peninsula is home to the Thu Thiem New Urban Area, and lies at a precarious but important spot beside the Saigon River. From afar it may not seem like much is happening, but get a little closer and you’ll find there’s been plenty of change. 

This vast area has been earmarked for development for decades, but it’s only now that work is well and truly underway. Developers hope that it will eventually be the site of a second Central Business District, relieving pressure from congested District 1.  

Much of the dense greenery covering this land has already been cleared, while marshland and canals have been filled in. The speed of construction has fluctuated over the past few years, but the main arterial roads have been laid and the Sala Complex, just of Mai Chi Tho, is an example of how Thu Thiem’s future may look.

Where construction has yet to begin, nature has swiftly started to reclaim its lost land, and for several years this area has been my go-to for respite, contemplation and somewhere quiet to sit with friends. The occasional duck, playful dog or docile buffalo can still be found roaming the area. Brought in by migrant workers, mainly from the Mekong Delta, the presence of these creatures is a pleasant sight in the middle of a bustling city.

Many of these scenes below have now changed. What’s left is far from pristine nature, but when compared to the surrounding concrete jungle, it’s a refreshing sight!

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