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[Video] In Remembrance of a Green Ton Duc Thang Past

October 2017 spelled the death of Ton Duc Thang Street in spirit after Saigon maintenance workers started slaying its trees to make way for bridge construction.

There was a time when commuters in Saigon looked forward to driving on Ton Duc Thang. The avenue connects Vo Van Kiet Avenue in the west side of the city with northern Saigon; while both its side pavements and inner dividers were lined with towering heritage trees that dated back decades. They provided ample shade, shielding motorists from the summer sun and monsoon rains.

This romantic vision became a memory in January last year after the city finished removing all those trees to accommodate the construction of Thu Thiem 2 Bridge, which will connect downtown Saigon with the peninsula of the same name in District 2. Construction on the bridge broke ground in 2015 with an estimated completion date of April this year, but delays in site clearance have slowed progress. Now, with the trees gone, Ton Duc Thang is a burning ordeal to get through every hot season, and gone are the crowds of pedestrians taking shelter under the shade.

In remembrance of a green Ton Duc Thang of the past, Saigon-based production group Saigon Laca has published a heartfelt video tribute to the street, set to the tune of a Pham Duy composition. Under the canopy of dipterocarp trees, a gang of children practice their biking skills and nuns take languid strolls while engaging in animated discussions.

According to An Du, a member of Saigon Laca who filmed the video, he collected footage of the street in two sessions: one took place three months before the trees were cut, and one during the time when they were being felled. Technical issues led to the loss of some of his footage, but he managed to put together a draft version and, with the help of the rest of the team, finally finished the video recently.

If you’re someone who has made Ton Duc Thang part of their daily commute for a while, this short and sweet video might evoke some happy memories:

[Video by Saigon Laca]

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