Saigoneer

How a French Adventurer Became King of the Central Highlands

Many will have heard of Englishman James Brooke, the so-called “White Rajah” who in the 1840s established the Kingdom of Sarawak, or indeed of French lawyer Orélie-Antoine de Tounens, who in 1860 founded the Mapuche Kingdom of Araucanía and Patagonia. Perhaps not so well known is the short-lived attempt in 1888-1890 by French adventurer Marie-Charles David de Mayréna to carve out an independent kingdom in the Central Highlands of Việt Nam.

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Street Cred: Ho Xuan Huong, a Woman Ahead of Her Time

Despite being one of Vietnam’s most prominent classical poets, Ho Xuan Huong’s existence remains an enigma to this day.

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Street Cred: Princess Huyen Tran's Historic Hanky Panky

Arguably Vietnam’s most famous princess, Huyen Tran was born in 1287 to King Tran Nhan Tong and Queen Thien Cam, rulers of the Dai Viet kingdom. Throughout her childhood, Huyen Tran was your standard, run-of-the-mill royalty, but at 18, her father decided to strengthen Dai Viet-Champa relations by promising her hand in marriage to Champa king Che Man.

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[Photos] The City That Never Sits Still: Traffic in 1994 Saigon

In Saigon on Wheels, American photojournalist Ed Kashi managed to capture the pulse of a simpler Saigon.

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Street Cred: The Badass Tale of Co Giang

If there’s one thing you need to know about Vietnamese women in history, it’s that they were badasses. From waging wars to avenge their husbands to throwing a grenade at enemy lines, countless Vietnamese women have proven themselves to be dauntless, sterling warriors on par with their male counterparts. This week’s famous figure, Co Giang, is no exception.

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[Photos] Inside a 1949 Saigon Opium Detox Clinic

In 1949, LIFE ran a photo essay depicting life in Saigon. The images featured candid, picturesque snapshots of life during the city's bygone cosmopolitan era. But among the lively slice-of-life photos, there was a surprisingly bleak shot of three opium smokers inside a Saigon detox clinic.

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[Video] Meet Saigon's 'Man of Love Letters'

In the latest installment of Sai Gon Vi Vu’s documentary series Saigon’s Gentlemen, we follow the life story of Duong Van Ngo, the last remaining public letter-writer at Saigon's Central Post Office.

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The Legend of Vietnam’s Red Baron

Since the dawn of military aviation, pilots who racked up victory after victory have gone on to become national heroes, or in some cases, national folklore. Such is the case of Colonel Nguyen Tomb who, at the height of American airpower, became the most successful pilot of the war – if he existed at all.

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Street Cred: Han Mac Tu

Vietnam’s literary scene is filled with colorful characters and mystifying urban legends, but no other poet has received as much fanfare – or as much scrutiny – as Han Mac Tu, one of the country's most revered literary figures.

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Take a Ride on the Langbian Cog Railway, Circa 1927

The Langbian Cog Railway was opened in stages between 1919 and 1932. The first 40 kilometers of the line from Tourcham (Tháp Chàm) to Krông Pha travelled through relatively flat terrain and required only conventional adhesion rail technology, but the remaining 44 kilometers from Krông Pha to Da Lat rose from 186 meters to 1,550 meters above sea level, demanding the use of state-of-the-art Swiss crémaillère (cog railway) technology. This short article, published in L'Éveil Économique de l'Indochine on February 20, 1927, describes the inauguration of the first and most challenging 10-kilometer section from Krông Pha to Bellevue (Eo Gió, km 50) on February 10, 1927.

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Street Cred: Ngo Quyen

Northern Vietnam's Bach Dang River may be overshadowed by the buzzing tourist attractions of Ha Long Bay, however this historic river has played an instrumental role in Vietnamese history for centuries.

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