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[Photos] A Walk Down Memory Lane: 1990 Saigon Caught on Camera

Once among the 1990s’ most recognizable icons, xích lô is now a rare species on Saigon streets that’s reserved only for tourists.

The 90s was truly the golden age of the Cub, Honda’s utilitarian and cost-effective bike model that has entered the vernacular culture of Saigon and become part of the collective memory of generations of Vietnamese. In these film shots by French traveler Jean-Michel Gallet, clusters of bicycles and Cubs fill narrow streets in between bulky buses and makeshift carts.

According to the website Virtual Saigon, Gallet was born in 1947 and was working as an assistant director for trade union action and then international cooperation for the French organization FNSEA (Fédération nationale des syndicats d'exploitants agricoles, or National Federation of Agricultural Holders' Unions in English). His job gave him many opportunities to be in Vietnam and other Southeast Asian countries.

With a knack for street photography, Gallet hit the street whenever he could to befriend locals and capture interesting urban scenes. His works form an interesting tapestry of Saigon life amid growing pains in the years right after đổi mới. Across the shots taken right in downtown Saigon, no one seems particularly well-off, but there are signs of celebration and successful businesses.

Relive memories from 1990 through these rare shots by Jean-Michel Gallet below:

[Photos via Redsvn]

A vegetable stall inside Ben Thanh Market.

Merchants selling live poultry inside Ben Thanh.

Ben Thanh's seafood section.

Three members of a chicken curry stall in Ben Thanh.

Stopping at a red light on Tran Hung Dao Street.

Tran Hung Dao Street.

The Tran Hung Dao-Nguyen Thai Hoc intersection.

Xích lô was a popular means of transport.

A lady and her load of goods on the way to the market.

In front of the entrance into Bui Vien Street.

Two kids walk their dogs near Chu Y Bridge.

Squat down for a quick snack of beancurd and ginger syrup.

Humble Christmas decorations spotted around town.

The central bus station in front of Ben Thanh Market.

A city coach ferrying passengers between District 1 and Hoc Mon.

A makeshift market on Nguyen Thai Hoc Street.

A garbageman and his cart.

"Is he taking a photo of us or the car? Well, let's smile just in case."

A gaggle of young friends having fun.

Colorful life on the street.

On Xo Viet-Nghe Tinh Street.

Students of a university in their dorm.

A cigarette cart and its sleepy employee.

Watermelons from the Mekong Delta.

A family just arrived in town from the delta and slept on the pavement.