Đi bộ khám phá và chụp ảnh những ngôi nhà thú vị ở Phan Thiết

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Click here for English

Thân gửi,

Bạn đang được mời đến tham dự cùng nhóm Facebook Interesting Buildings of Phan Thiet Facebook Group trong một chuyến hành trình đi bộ khám phá vòng quanh một vài con đường tập trung nhiều ngôi nhà cổ của thành phố. Vào thứ Bảy ngày 9 tháng 12 năm 2017, chúng ta có thể gặp nhau tại quán cà phê 135 Võ Thị Sáu Phan Thiết từ 15h15, sau đó chúng ta sẽ xuất phát hành trình đi bộ vào lúc 16h!

Tôi đã tạo một sự kiện trên Facebook, bạn có thể xem bằng cách click vào đây.

Đừng quên mang theo máy ảnh của bạn nhé! Vui lòng cho chúng tôi biết nếu bạn có hứng thú tham gia chuyến đi này hay có bất kì câu hỏi nào liên quan đến sự kiện, để lại qua trang Facebook Event. Bất kì sự thay đổi nào về thông tin của chuyến đi đều được chúng tôi cập nhật trên trang Interesting Buildings of Phan Thiet Facebook Group hoặc Facebook event.

Tôi rất mong đợi được gặp bạn vào ngày hôm đó.

-Grant Hall

 

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Explore the interesting buildings of Phan Thiet photography walk. December 9, 2017.

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Bấm vào đây để đọc câu chuyện bằng Tiếng Việt

Dear friends,

You are invited to join the Interesting buildings of Phan Thiet Facebook Group on an exploration of some of the streets around town that have a high concentration of interesting buildings. On Saturday 9 December 2017, we can meet for a coffee at Quan 135 at 135 Vo Thi Sau Street in Phan Thiet from 3:15pm, and then depart at 4pm to start our explorations by foot!

I have created a Facebook event which you can view by clicking here.

Be sure to bring your camera! Please let us know if you are coming or if you have any questions via the Facebook event page. Details in Vietnamese will be supplied soon. Any changes in event details will be published in the Interesting Buildings of Phan Thiet Facebook Group page or on the Facebook Event.

I look forward to seeing you there!

– Grant Hall

Ngôi nhà đi qua lịch sử

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Truong Nhat Phuong (Riley Truong) & Grant Hall

Click here to read in English.

Trong giai đoạn chiến tranh chống Pháp, khoảng năm 1930, ông cố của tôi là Trương Công Văn Tới cùng với các anh em chuyển vào Phan Thiết và mua một vài mảnh đất trên đường Ngư Ông. Ông cố xây tạm một ngôi nhà trên mảnh đất của ông và phần đất phía sau được dùng để sản xuất nước mắm. Công việc kinh doanh nước mắm lúc đó khá phát đạt, vào năm 1935 ông đã xây lên một ngôi nhà theo phong cách Pháp, và cũng là ngôi nhà tồn tại đến ngày hôm nay. Ông cố có 9 người con, 5 người con gái và 4 người con trai (bà Bảy và bà Chín mất khi còn nhỏ). Sau khi ông cố mất, con gái lớn của ông là bà Ba Cúc coi sóc công việc làm mắm và chăm lo nhà cửa.

 

Cả bốn người con trai (Ông Hai Thọ, ông Năm Nghĩa, ông Sáu Minh, ông Tám Lý) tham gia kháng chiến chống thực dân Pháp. Khoảng trước năm 1945, ông Sáu Minh bị Pháp bắt, các anh chị em phải chi một khoản tiền để bảo lãnh ông ra tù. Nhưng việc đó không làm ông và các anh chị em của ông ngưng tham gia vào cuộc kháng chiến. Riêng ông Năm Nghĩa, con trai lớn thứ hai mất khi tham gia kháng chiến chống Mỹ năm 1968.

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Cũng trong thời kì chiến tranh chống Pháp, người con trai lớn là ông Hai Thọ thay bà Ba Cúc quản lý ngôi nhà trong khi các thành viên khác trong gia đình tập kết ra Bắc để tham gia kháng chiến chống thực dân. Lúc này việc kinh doanh nước mắm cũng kết thúc. Ông Hai sử dụng phần đất phía sau để nuôi gà kiếm thêm thu nhập.

Năm 1954, Sau khi kí kết Hiệp định Geneva thiết lập lại hòa bình, các thành viên trong gia đình quay về Miền Nam, duy chỉ có con trai út (ông Tám Lý) và con gái út (bà Mười Tuyết) sống ở Phan Thiết, những người khác lập nghiệp ở Sài Gòn.

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Vài năm sau đó, con trai cả mất, để lại vợ mình và sáu người con sống yên bình và hạnh phúc nhiều năm về sau.

Năm 2000, các thành viên trong đại gia đình bàn cãi về quyền sở hữu ngôi nhà, và quyết định tất cả rời đi và rao bán ngôi nhà để chia đều cho các người con của ông cố. Ngôi nhà hiện vẫn còn rao bán cho đến thời điểm hiện tại.

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Xin vui lòng tham gia cùng nhóm chúng tôi trên Facebook

 

Colonial era house on Ngư Ông Street, Phan Thiet City, Vietnam

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Front landing

By Grant Hall with Truong Nhat Phuong (Riley Truong)

Bấm vào đây để đọc câu chuyện bằng Tiếng Việt

The “Phan Thiet Buildings Project”  aims to, among other things, connect people who share an interest in the valuable heritage architecture of Phan Thiet and find out more about the city’s heritage buildings. Within days of launching this blog and the associated Facebook group, Interesting Buildings of Phan Thiet, a number of people reached out to me about buildings to which they have a personal connection or some knowledge about. One such person was Riley Truong, who happens to be a former colleague of mine. Riley told me she grew up in a wonderful colonial era home on Ngư Ông Street, and I instantly knew the house that she was talking about.

I’d come across the house only a week or two before Riley had told me that it belongs to her family. Whilst I’d ridden past the house on my bicycle or motorbike dozens of times, I hadn’t noticed it until I walked past it one day, when, through heavy foliage and a chicken-wire fence, I managed to get a glimpse of this beautiful building.  With my camera at the ready, I began taking some exterior photos, and when some family members living nearby observed my enthusiasm, they invited me inside to take some more photographs. This is something that I’ve experienced with other buildings in Phan Thiet as well, such as the house on Phan Tru Trinh Street. As I’ve mentioned in other posts, Phan Thiet rewards aimless walking, because you’ll never know what you might discover or who you will meet.

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A glimpse from the street.

Over a coffee some days ago, I managed to sit down with Riley and learn about the house, and here it is, as it was told to me by Riley. Like most of the colonial era houses of Phan Thiet, this house was built upon fish sauce money!

During the war against the French, in around 1930, Truong Cong Van Toi (Riley’s great-grandfather) and his brothers moved to Phan Thiet and bought some land on Ngư Ông Street. He built a temporary house on the property and used the land towards the back of the property to process fish sauce. The fish sauce business went well and in 1935 he built, in the French style of the time, the house that stands there today. He had nine children, five daughters and four sons. After his death, his eldest daughter took care of the business and lived in the house

Images of the former fish sauce factory at the rear of the property (above)

All four sons aided the Viet Minh in their armed struggle against the French colonists, and sometime before 1945 the third eldest son was arrested by the French for his activities. After several years of imprisonment, the other brothers and sisters paid a large amount of money to help him get out. His imprisonment didn’t stop him nor his siblings from continuing to aid the Viet Minh in their struggles, and the second eldest son later died, in 1968, whilst fighting in the war against the American and South Vietnamese forces.

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View to the side of the building, leading to the former factory section at the rear.

During the ongoing war against the French, the eldest son was placed in charge of the house whilst the remaining family members went to the North of Vietnam to contribute to the war effort against the French colonists. While this meant the end of the fish sauce business, the eldest son used the land at the back of the property for storage and raising chickens which he would sell.

In 1954, after the signing of the Geneva Convention and the brief period of peace which it brought, the family members returned from the north to settle in the south, although only two children, the youngest son and the youngest daughter, returned to Phan Thiet, with all of the others relocating to Saigon.

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House frontage

A few years thereafter, the eldest son died, leaving behind his wife and six children who all lived happily in the house for many years.

In 2000, following some family discussions about the official ownership of the property, it was decided to vacate the property, place it on the market and divide the income between the remaining family groups once the house has been sold. The house remains both on the market and vacant since the early 2000’s.

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Internal floor

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Internal photo

Riley has been kind enough to provide the following photos from the time the house was being lived in by the family.

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Uncle number 8 with two of Riley’s cousins

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Wife of uncle number 2.

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Family members at the house.

If you enjoyed this post, please share it with your friends, check out the blogroll, subscribe to the blog (below), or join us in our Facebook Group!

 

Best areas to explore the interesting buildings of Phan Thiet.

PT MAP with locations

By Grant Hall

The above map of Phan Thiet indicates the areas and streets that have a high concentration of interesting buildings. I’ve numbered each area and will discuss a little about what can be found in each one below. The best way to explore these areas is by foot, and with the exception of Nguyễn Tất Thành  Street (area number 9 on the map above), the areas shown and the surrounding streets reward aimless wandering – so grab your water bottle, hat and sunscreen, and enjoy!

1. The south bank of the River Cà Ty and the surrounding streets.

Many of the best examples of Phan Thiet’s heritage architecture can be enjoyed by walking the south bank of the River Cà Ty, which incorporates two streets, Trưng Nhị Street and Trưng Trắc Street, which is essentially just one long street which follows the curvature of the river, with the street names changing at the intersection with Lê Hồng Phong Street, by the bridge. Along with the colonial era buildings, there are also a number of modernist and religious buildings, and you will also be able to enjoy views of the river, the fishing boats and the famous water tower which sits on the other side of the river, by the central bridge which is traversed by Lê Hồng Phong Street. Along this street you will also find the Duc Thanh school where Hồ Chí Minh is said to have worked for a brief period as a teacher, and its pleasantly preserved gardens and traditional style school buildings are worthy of a visit (free entry). Across the road from the Duc Thanh School is the Hồ Chí Minh Museum. Also be sure to take a small detour to check out the houses on Phan Bội Châu Street, which runs off from Trưng Nhị Street down the side of the Ca Ty Hotel – something which you can read more about by clicking here. A good place to enjoy a coffee or juice is upstairs at ‘Cafe-Karaoke’ (16 Trưng Trắc Street) which offers great views of the river, the water tower and the city.

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Colonial era ruins. 31 Trung Nhi Street, Phan Thiet.

2. Võ Thị Sáu Street

Võ Thị Sáu Street is the best street in Phan Thiet to see (mostly) well preserved colonial era villas. You can even stop in at some of them for a Vietnamese coffee or meal, and the property at number 135, pictured below, is one of them.

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135 Vo Thi Sau

3. The area around Nguyễn Văn Trỗi and Ngư Ông Streets

This area is notable for its number of colonial era villas, particularly the recently restored Villa PBT (1929) at 11 Phan Chu Trinh Street (which you can read about more here). It is also worth visiting the Whale Pagoda which is in this area, at 54 Ngư Ông Street. This area is particularly good for wandering around the streets and aimless exploration!

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Ngu Ong Street (not numbered)

4. The area around Nguyễn Văn Trỗi and Lý Thường Kiệt Streets

Much like the area around Nguyễn Văn Trỗi and Ngư Ông Streets (#3, see above), this area rewards wandering. There are a number of colonial, modernist and old industrial looking buildings. You can grab an Italian style coffee or soda at Cafe Tiamo (corner of Lý Thường Kiệt and Nguyễn Văn Trỗi Streets), which overlooks colonial era buildings on each side; I recommend their mint mojito which is super refreshing.

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4 Nguyen Van Troi Street

5. Trần Phú Street and the triangle formed by Yersin, Trần Phú and Bà Triệu Streets

This area is notable for its modernist homes and shophouses, and I wrote more about this area in a previous post, A modernist architecture walk through Phan Thiet, Vietnam. The walk along the length of Trần Phú Street is particularly worthwhile due to its mixed range of interesting buildings and the views of the river from the bridge, which is a popular spot to take photos at sunset.

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School on Tran Phu Street (which looks more like a prison).

6. Shophouses on Lê Hồng Phong Street

A small but interesting array of shophouses, from the colonial to the modern, can be found on Lê Hồng Phong Street, between the roundabout where Thủ Khoa Huân becomes Lê Hồng Phong Street, to the intersection with Hải Thượng Lãn Ông. This area was also discussed in A modernist architecture walk through Phan Thiet, Vietnam and in The destruction of the Phan Thiet post office.

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Shophouses on Le Hong Phong Street

7. Bà Triệu Street

Bà Triệu Street is notable for three things; large government buildings, the famous water tower and river views. The government buildings sit between Trần Phú and Trần Hưng Đạo Streets, mostly in walled-off compounds, making them difficult to see, and for the most part, taking photos of these buildings is prohibited. Within these buildings are two or more large and well preserved colonial era buildings, and it’s a shame they aren’t publicly accessible, although you can partially view them from the street. The water tower, which is the symbol of Phan Thiet sits at the corner of Bà Triệu and Lê Hồng Phong Streets, and the Bình Thuận Museum (free entry), which contains a range of historical artifacts sits near the Trần Phú Street Bridge – make sure you ask to see the shipwreck exhibition. Once again, you can read more about this area in A modernist architecture walk through Phan Thiet, Vietnam and in The destruction of the Phan Thiet post office.

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The Phan Thiet Water Tower, as viewed from Le Hong Phong Street.

8. Trần Hưng Đạo Street

There are a number of interesting colonial era and modernist buildings along Trần Hưng Đạo Street, particularly between the bridge and Chu Văn An Street. There is a nice cluster of colonial era buildings from street numbers 475 to 481, including the one below.

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Crumbling colonial era building at 475 Tran Hung Dao Street

9. Nguyễn Tất Thành Street

This street is notable for its array of government and office buildings, including a small number of interesting modernist and modernist inspired ones.

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Office building on Nguyen Tat Thanh Street.

I hope you enjoyed this virtual stroll through the streets of Phan Thiet. Let us know if you manage to visit any of these areas on foot!

 

A modernist architecture walk through Phan Thiet, Vietnam.

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Large modernist house on Le Thi Hong Gam Street in Phan Thiet.

By Grant Hall

A large number of online and printed articles in recent times have discussed the rising popularity of modernism and modernist design, and Vietnam, with it’s abundance of modernist buildings is no exception. The Facebook site Vietnamese Modernist Architecture is close to having one thousand members, and talks about Vietnamese modernist architecture that take place at The Old Compass Cafe and other venues in Ho Chi Minh City are very well attended. My own interest in modernist architecture started when I went on a tour of Frank Lloyd Wright buildings in Chicago as a young fella. I see that the Mad Men TV show is said to have contributed to the rising appreciation of modernism, and I confess that I only watched the show to check out the interior design (it’s set in 1960’s New York City). I’ve long been a fan of the modernist art and architecture of my home country of Australia, from which a fantastic TV show was recently screened called Architecture in Australia: From Modernism to McMansionism which was presented by the architect Tim Ross (available until recently to watch online, but if you can get your hands on it it’s a great show!). My home town of Adelaide has an incinerator designed by Walter Burley Griffith which could win an award for world’s hippest incinerator. My current neighbourhood in Phan Thiet is packed with modernist buildings, and this blog post presents a walk that will take you past many of them. So grab a hat, some water, sunscreen and your walking shoes – and let’s get started!

Route map

The map below shows a walk that enthusiasts of modernist buildings will enjoy.  I’ve marked the route of the walk on the map in red, green and blue lines, with the green lines representing the areas where there is a high density of interesting modernist buildings, the red lines showing where modernist buildings dot the streetscape and the blue lines being small interesting detours that you might like to take. The area contained within the black circle, is in my opinion, the most interesting section of the walk, here you’ll find a high concentration of modernist homes and shophouses, some of which are quite large and many of which are in a deteriorating state. If you were to take this walk in it’s entirety it might take about an hour without stopping. There are plenty of places to get refreshments along the way. You could start the walk at either the intersection of Thu Khoa Huan and Trung Hung Dau Streets or the intersection of Tran Phu and Trung Hung Dau Streets, and the former is where we will start in this write up, which provides photographs of just a few of the interesting buildings you will find along the way.

Modernist walk map marked

Thu Khoa Huan Street, from Trung Hung Dao Street to the roundabout where it becomes Le Hong Phong Street.

The corner of Thu Khoa Huan Street and Trung Hung Dao Street marks the start of this walk (or the end if you start the walk from the opposite direction). Look for the Lotteria fast food restaurant on the corner as a landmark.

This section of Thu Khoa Huan Street has a small number of modernist homes and shops. This doctors office at number 32 on your left is particularly interesting because it retains many design features in good condition, including internal features in the waiting room. Heavy foliage makes it difficult to photograph and it doesn’t appear too interesting if you are passing by in a car, but it’s worth taking a closer look!

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And at #43

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From the roundabout where Thu Khoa Huan becomes Le Hong Phong Street to the intersection with Hai Thuong Lan Ong.

Veer left at the roundabout where Thu Khoa Huan becomes Le Hong Phong Street and on your right is a section of the street which is notable for it’s row of shophouses, which includes excellent examples of both colonial era and modernist buildings and is probably the finest collection of shophouses in Phan Thiet. Interestingly, .

Modernist shophouses are said to represent the vernacular architecture of southern Vietnamand here is an example of one of the modernist shophouses on Le Hong Phong Street (number 11) [1] .

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Hai Thuong Lan Ong Street, between Le Hong Phong and Yersin Streets

Just past the shophouses, at the traffic lights that mark the  intersection of Le Hong Phong and Hai Thuong Lan Ong Streets, you can see the famous water tower of Phan Thiet, which is the symbol of the city. Until not very long ago, the same intersection had wonderful large colonial buildings straddling each side of Le Hong Phong Street, however they were sadly demolished recently to make way for the characterless office buildings you see today (this is something that I wrote about in The destruction of the Phan Thiet post office). Turn right at this intersection and head along Hai Thuong Lan Ong Street.

Below are a couple of gems at numbers 62 and 64 Hai Thuong Lan Ong Street.

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Yersin and Ba Trieu Streets

Shortly after passing the two buildings in the photograph above, which will be on your right, look for Yersin Street on your left and head on down that road, where you will find more modernist dwellings. You will shortly come to an intersection of three streets -Yersin, Ba Trieu (which is to your left) and Le Thi Hong Gam (to your right). At this intersection look to your right along Le Thi Hong Gam Street and you will see this massive multistory modernist house which, even in it’s crumbling state, still retains many of it’s original design features. It’s my favourite modernist house in the city.

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Once you’ve checked out the house in the image above turn around and head back along Ba Trieu Street where a colourful array of buildings present themselves.

Tran Phu and Nguyen Du Streets

You’ll know when you’ve arrived at Tran Phu Street because you will be by the bridge that crosses over the River Ca Ty. When you reach this intersection, you can either turn right to cross the bridge and continue along Tran Phu Street or you can make a brief detour to the left to check out a few more modernist shophouses, such as the ones in the photo below at 189 and 195 on Tran Phu Street. The building at 195, the smallest building in the photo, is undergoing construction work and looks likely to be destroyed soon.

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Head over the bridge to continue along Tran Phu Street. The bridge itself is one of the best places to take photographs in Phan Thiet, especially at sunset, where you can capture great images of the fishing boats and stilt houses along the river.

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Daytime view from the Tran Phu Bridge

Although not a part of this walk which features modernist buildings, there are a few interesting detours that you can take that lead off from Tran Phu Street. The first one is Trung Nhi Street, which is the first street on your right after you cross the bridge; it has a number of interesting buildings and cultural sites including the Ho Chi Minh Museum and the wonderfully peaceful Duc Thanh School, which has been preserved because Ho Chi Minh was a teacher at the school for a brief period in 1910 or thereabouts. A second possible detour is Phan Boi Chau Street which intersects with Tran Phu Street by the Lau Bo Ba Bung hot-pot restaurant which will be on your left side as you wander down Tran Phu Street (you can read about Phan Boi Chau Street here). The third detour is discussed a bit later.

As you progress along Tran Phu Street you will encounter a number of interesting buildings including colonial, religious and modernist structures. At the intersection of Tran Phu and Nguyen Tri Phuong Streets you won’t be able to miss this bright green building which offers traditional Asian health therapies and brutal massages (address; 42 Nguyen Tri Phuong Street).

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As you continue along Tran Phu Street you will come to a large intersection where six or seven roads meet at a roundabout. On your left as you approach the roundabout you will see Phan Thiet’s large market buildings which feature a large clock. The streets around the market are good for experiencing and photographing the vibrancy of a traditional Vietnamese market. You will notice the two large modernist buildings also to your left, standing on either side of Nguyen Du Street (see images below). This is the gateway to our third detour and you should walk between these two buildings and head down this street (Nguyen Du) if you want to check out the 19/4 Cinema (also see below) which will be on your right after walking for a minute or two.

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Heading further along Tran Phu Street you will continue to come across more interesting buildings in a range of styles and from a range of periods before you encounter this building which marks the end of the walk!

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Food recommendations along the route. 

There’s a few eateries that you will pass along the way that provide great food which I’m happy to recommend. At 19a Hai Thuong Lan Ong, just by the traffic lights, you can get great com tam (rice, marinated pork and egg dish) in the mornings and mi quang soup in the evenings. Quan 28 at 28 Yersin Street serves a decent western style steak with fries and a passable spaghetti bolognese, however, I think their bo luc lac (diced steak) is the best in town (evenings). The pho bo place on Yersin is acclaimed as the best pho bo (beef noodle soup) in Phan Thiet and it’s certainly the best I’ve ever had anywhere – just look for the evening crowds from around sunset. Lau Bo Ba Bung at the corner of Tran Phu and Phan Boi Chau streets is well known for it’s delicious lau bo (beef hot-pot) which is best enjoyed with a group, also in the evenings.

I hope your enjoyed the stroll – if you did please let us know in the comments section below!

Please also let us know if you know anything of the history of any of these sites or have any recommendations of other sites to explore in and around Phan Thiet.

Links:

Vietnamese Modernist Architecture Facebook Group
Interesting Buildings of Phan Thiet Facebook Group
The wonderful modernist buildings of Saigon and Vietnam’s old south (article)

Citations:

[1] Schenk, M, 205, Modernist Houses are Vernacular Houses in Southern Viet Nam, accessed online 30 April 2017 at http://layered.typepad.com/antidote_to_burnout/2015/05/modernist-houses-are-vernacular-houses-in-southern-viet-nam.html

Interesting buildings hidden away in Phan Thiet

By Grant Hall

For people with an interest in buildings, Phan Thiet is a city which rewards aimless wandering. My primary mode of transport is a bicycle and one of the things that I enjoy most about cycling is that the slower pace allows you to see things which you would otherwise miss if you were travelling by motorised transport. Slower still, walking can be even more rewarding in this regard, and today I’d like to present some Phan Thiet buildings which are rather hidden away, and which I came across by walking.

Buildings hidden by additions.

There are a number of ways that buildings can be hidden away. The two buildings shown below are hidden away by structures built onto the buildings many years after their original construction. In both cases, the properties are also used for business purposes, further obscuring the buildings.

This well preserved house at 8 Hai Thuong Lan Ong Street is a popular restaurant.

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Whilst shoes are sold from the front of this house at 128 Tran Phu Street.

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Hidden by trees and advertising hoardings.

There are some interesting colonial era and modernist shophouses on Le Hong Phong Street between the intersection with Hai Thuong Lan Ong Street and the roundabout that marks the start of Thu Khoa Huan Street, such as these at numbers 15, 17 and 19, but most are hidden away by trees or advertising hoardings. Whilst Phan Thiet needs to keep as many trees as it can, it’s sad to see so many beautiful buildings hidden away by advertising.

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Back alleys

You’d be unlikely to come across this gem unless you were purposely exploring the back alleys of Phan Thiet! It’s at the end of a small alley only accessible on foot or two wheeled transport. It’s address is shown as 40/10 P.D.Phung. There isn’t enough space around the building to allow a photographer to capture an adequate image of this charming house.

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Whilst the building shown below at 68 Le Hong Phong Street is on a main road, it’s hard to spot as it sits a way back from the road side and is hidden by a large gate and greenery. I had cycled and even walked past this house on many occasions before I even noticed it.

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Hidden government buildings

Along the northern banks of the River Ca Ty lies many government buildings within compounds on Ba Trieu and Hai Thuong Lan Ong Streets. This was the area from which the French occupiers governed locally during the colonial period, and as such, there are a number of well-preserved colonial era buildings within the compounds. Unfortunately, these buildings are difficult to view as they are off-limits to the public and are surrounded by high walls, a large amount of trees and armed guards. What’s more, signage advises that the taking of photographs of these buildings is prohibited. Nonetheless, in the  name of this blog, and only after I noticed the army sentries on guard duty don’t have any clips in their machine guns, I took this cheeky shot through a gap in the fence!

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This building sits on the northern side of the River Ca Ty on the corner of Ba Trieu and Le Hong Phong Streets, overlooking the central bridge and across the road from the famous water tower. This building appears in many old photos of Phan Thiet, such as the one below which I accessed from the Binh Thuan News Facebook page.

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Image accessed from Phan Thiet – Binh Thuan News Facebook Site (see end of page for link).

These are just some of the interesting buildings that I’ve come across whilst walking around Phan Thiet. What about you? Have you got any hidden gems that you’d like to tell us about? Let us know in the comments below, or on our Facebook page or get in touch!

Image source: Phan Thiet – Binh Thuan News Facebook Site 
(www.facebook.com/thongtinbinhthuan/)
Copywrite owner and photographer unknown.

Photos of Phan Thiet in days gone by

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Image #1. Phan Thiet in 1975. Whilst the war finished many years ago, the monument and the water tower in this photo remain today. Photo credits at the bottom of the page.

By Grant Hall

I’m a huge fan of the Saïgon Chợ Lớn Then & Now Facebook Group which shows photos of old Saigon sites either accompanied by or overlaid with a new photo of the same site. I thought that I would try my hand at making some ‘then and now’ images of interesting buildings and other sites around Phan Thiet, and whilst I haven’t yet got the knack of matching the images as well as the Saïgon Chợ Lớn Then & Now members have, I have come across some great resources containing wonderful old photos of Phan Thiet in days gone by.

Here are some of the online sites that I’ve found and some of my favourite photos from them. The names associated with the collections do not necessarily reflect the name of the photographer nor the legal owner of the image and images are often duplicated across the sites. Crediting the photos is difficult due to this and there are often multiple watermarks on a single image.

Nguyễn Văn Anh Collections

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Image 2. Flood in Phan Thiet. Photo credits at the bottom of the page.

Nguyễn Văn Anh has a number of collections spread across various online sites, often under the user name anhcauduong. 

Here are some sets of photographs containing old photos of Phan Thiet which he has on Fluidr:

And some sets that he has on Flickr, which appear to largely duplicate the photos in the Fluidr sets detailed above.

He also regularly posts old photos on his Facebook page.

Tommy Japan / Tommy Truong79 collections on Flickr

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Image 3. Entrance to LZ Betty Airfield (only the pillars of the sign remain today). Photo credits are at the bottom of the page.

Under the user name of Tommy Truong79 at Flickr you’ll find many photos from various cities. Some of his sets that include photographs of old Phan Thiet are listed below and appear to credit the photographers.

Other sites

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Image #4. This building still stands on Trung Hung Dau Street. Photo credits are at the bottom of the page.

Check out these sites for more great images of Phan Thiet in days gone by.

Some further tips

There are a number of good videos on youtube which I will detail in a subsequent post, but you can enjoy this one for now.

There appears to be a good number of photos, such as the header image at the top of this blog post, on the soon to be defunct Panaramio website under the user name of Thắng ARCH “OV-10 Bronco” Nguyễn Xuân. Unfortunately, Panaramio appears to offer less functionality than it once did rendering the searching of this resource more difficult, which is a pain in the neck since this user has thousands of photos from many locales on the site. A good place to start your search though would be by clicking here.

Another good way to start your search is to type “Phan Thiet” into Google images with a year, such as “1965” and take things from there. If you have some Vietnamese language skills that will help you too!

If wartime images are your thing, why not join the VietnamWarHistoryOrg Facebook Group as old photographs from Phan Thiet are regularly posted there by former US military personnel. There are other veterans groups scattered across Facebook.

If you know of some other great sources please let us know in the comments section below. Happy hunting!

Image #1 credit
Phan Thiet 19/04/1975
From Panoramio user Thắng ARCH “OV-10 Bronco
Photographer unnamed at the source
accessed from http://www.panoramio.com/photo/81745710
and used under the ‘Creative Commons’ terms as detailed at the source
at 17 January 2017.

Image #2 credit
Phan Thiết Aerial – Bình Thuận 1969
Photo accredited to Ken Thompson
Accessed from
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Phan_Thi%E1%BA%BFt_Aerial_-_B%C3%ACnh_Thu%E1%BA%ADn_1969_-_Photo_by_Ken_Thompson_(9941754174).jpg
and used under the terms as detailed at the source
at 17 January 2017

Image #3 credit
Phi trường Phan Thiết 1967 – Leaving LZ Betty for trip into Phan Thiet
Photo accredited to Bob Kelly
Accessed from https://www.flickr.com/photos/97930879@N02/15753403636/in/album-72157648859347608/
and used under the  ‘Creative Commons’ terms as detailed at the source
at 17 January 2017

Image #4 credit
Image title unspecified at the source
Photographer unspecified at the source
Accessed from Người Bình Thuận Facebook Page
at https://www.facebook.com/PCTPBT/photos/a.535843543245945.1073741839.100493063447664/535843666579266/?type=3&theater
on 17 January 2017

Creepy abandoned amusement park in Phan Thiet, Vietnam

 

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By Grant Hall

One of the joys of having my own business is the ability to take a day off whenever I like. One of the downsides of living in Phan Thiet in Vietnam is that a day off is occasionally dictated to you by power blackouts which can sometimes last for most of the day. Recently, we had such a power failure and to make good use of my time I did what I often do and called my friend Hendrik and invited him to go off and have a wicked adventure.

Hendrik and I often do things that our wives think are totally weird; we’ve gone war relic fossicking on old American army bases, explored abandoned French-era villas, found boiling hot water springs, haunted quicksand-filled canyons where locals fear to tread, massive shark hides dumped on the side of the road, spent afternoons feeding crocodiles, and drinking beer in hidden waterfalls and done all sorts of other things people think are odd. The local Vietnamese people often stare at us and shake their heads in uncomprehending bemusement at whatever it is we’re up to.

I’m a huge fan of abandoned places. There’s some good abandoned places in and around Phan Thiet, such as bankrupt resorts, colonial era villas and military installations, including an old colonial era airport which became an American base during the war called LZ Betty, and I recently spent a day visiting many abandoned French Colonial villas in the Vietnamese highlands around Dalat. I follow the talented Seph Lawless on Facebook and enjoy his photography and I search out websites devoted to the documenting of abandoned places such as shopping malls, mental asylums and amusement parks. Looking through these websites and online groups I always wished that I could come across something similar myself; and on my day out with Hendrik, my wish came true when we visited the weirdest place ever, this creepy as hell abandoned amusement park on the outskirts of Phan Thiet City.

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I kinda knew about this place already. When I visited recently with Hendrik I remembered that I’d attended a wedding in one of the buildings in 2009 whilst some sections of the complex were in use, although until this visit I’d never been to the amusement park area of the site. Others had told me that it was an interesting site to explore and I had read a fun piece at The Wandering Cubicle blog about when the author and a friend, lost while motorbiking through Vietnam, stumbled upon the place. The complex was called Suối Cát.

Locals have told me that the site was opened for a brief period before the project encountered some financial challenges, at which time large parts of the complex, including a large hotel, were still under construction.

The buildings

Below are the two large buildings that front onto the main road.

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Here are some of the views which greeted us as we entered from near the hotel building:

And here are a couple of views looking back towards the rear of the hotel:

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There are also a number of other buildings on the site, which with the exception of some residential lodgings, appear to be abandoned. There was some indication that squatters had set up residence in some of the buildings. We didn’t explore all of the buildings, but the ones we did go into were pretty freaky!

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The building above was where I attended a wedding back in 2009. It was glitzy when it was a working wedding venue, but now it looks like this inside:

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There are gaping holes in the ceiling and the remnants of the last wedding that was celebrated there, including half finished bottles of booze and spent fireworks cartridges.

As a reminder of its days of past glory, here are a few photos which I took at the wedding that I attended there in 2009.

Here are some interior and rear exterior photos of the domed rood buildings:

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The House of Horrors and the House of Mirrors

After exploring the buildings near the entrance, we started exploring the amusement park area. As we headed deeper into the park, which was overgrown and had cows lazily grazing away, in a scene reminiscent of the opening scenes of Raiders of the Lost Arc, when Indiana Jones finds a lost Peruvian temple, a scary building became visible through the overgrown vines and trees. It was the long abandoned house of horrors, and I could almost hear the echoed warning from Jones’ accomplice “Señor – no one has ever come out alive!”

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The entrance to the House of Horrors was through the mouth of the figure in the picture above, but before we gathered enough courage to enter, we explored some of the items in the vicinity, such as this scary swamp monster and his macabre collection of skulls:

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Courage gathered, we tentatively made our way through the mouth of the devil and into the House of Horrors.  Indiana Jones and his pal navigated their way by the light of a torch flame while we used the light from a mobile phone, they encountered all sorts of creepy-crawlies and weird stuff, well, so did we. The paintings on the walls were something else.

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Opposite the gruesome paintings were mannequin displays detailing various methods of torture and other horrendous acts!

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As if it wasn’t scary enough, as we walked through something flew at our heads! That’s right, there were bats flying at us – real ones – making vicious  noises. No kidding! Hendrik screamed like a little girl.

The House of Horrors eventually wound its way up some stairs to some much welcome daylight, but the landscape still maintained its freakiness.

Next to the House of Horrors was an equally frightening House of Mirrors, which looked something like this by phone light:

The Great Wall

At the rear of the complex upon the roofs of the House of Horrors and the House of Mirrors is a medieval style castle wall, somewhat reminiscent of the Great Wall of China. Guards maintain their watch from their positions on high.

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Standing on top of the Great Wall provides an elevated 360 degree view and marks the dividing line between the complex and the suburb that resides behind it.

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The Rides

A number of rides dot the site, most notably a carousel chair-swing ride and a roller-coaster.

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Cement figures

One of the freakiest aspects of visiting this abandoned amusement park is the cement animals and other figures that lay scattered around the ruins. I might be imagining things, but I think I heard them whispering my name and talking about me behind my back! I reckon these figures would’ve been weird even if the park was functioning!

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As I took the photo below, one of the animal figures moved. It scared the shit out of me! I hadn’t realised that there was a real life cow grazing between the cement animals.

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Even in the trees you can see freaky cement animals.

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Have you been here or do you know anything more about the history of the site, if so, let us know in the comments section below!

Be sure to sign up for email updates below and join our Facebook Group to keep up-to-date with future posts, including visits to abandoned Vietnam War airfields and colonial era villas!

Bye for now,

Grant

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The destruction of the Phan Thiet post office

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By Grant Hall

There used to be a small corner of Phan Thiet that I really loved and for those who know Phan Thiet it lay at the intersection just behind the famous water tower if you are looking at it from the river. The intersection is where Le Hong Phong and Hải Thượng Streets crossover and you can click here to view the location on Google Maps.

With the water tower on one corner, colonial era buildings were in active use and in fine condition on two of the other three corners of that intersection. The fourth corner had a large fence that concealed more colonial era buildings and was painted in that colonial yellow, and was nicely adorned with greenery. The photos below (circa 1960’s) shows the intersection and the buildings that I’m discussing. Whenever I walked through this part of town, I always felt as though I had stepped back in time. At some future time, I guessed, they’d be turned into high-end fashion stores, cafes, bars or restaurants or used for tourism purposes.

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Image #1. The post office is the large building that appears just to the right of the uppermost section of the water tower. Image credits are at the end of the page.

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Image #2. The post office is the large building on the bottom left-hand side of the photo. Image credits are at the end of the page.

Sadly, my thoughts as to their future usage won’t ever come true. I was saddened when I returned to Phan Thiet in late 2014 after three years away to find that one of the colonial buildings had been bulldozed and replaced by some boring office block, thus removing the ‘stepping back in time’ experience. Then, one day in 2015 I walked past the area and saw the other remaining building, the old Post Office, meeting it’s fate; the building which had withstood wars, floods and a thousand vicious storms was no match for the swing of a wrecking ball. I took some photos with my phone, but by the time I returned a day later with my good camera the building was gone. The Post Office, which was built in about 1895[1], was arguably the best preserved example of publicly visible colonial architecture in Phan Thiet, and now in it’s place is this ugly thing!

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The destruction of this unique, historic and beautiful building which added so much character to the town, appeared not to bother anyone but myself. When I search the internet for information about or photos of the building before it was destroyed, Google delivers no results bar the above aerial photographs. The low-quality photos of the building which I took on my phone in it’s final days appear to be the only recent photos that exist of it online.

Until recently, I’ve enjoyed the interesting buildings of Phan Thiet on my daily walk or cycle around town and have never really felt compelled to photograph them, let alone share photos of them online or write about them. But what I have noticed over the last couple of years is that many of the towns most interesting buildings are being demolished and erased from history. The destruction of the old post office inspired me to start taking more photos of the interesting buildings of Phan Thiet and start this blog so that some of the history and character of the city is at least documented online.

Do you know anything about the history of this building? Let us know in the comments section below!

Ken Thomas image credit

Image #1 credit
Phan Thiet Warter (sic) Tower Aerial Photo 1966-72
accessed from www.flickr.com/photos/97930879@N02/9941875213/in/album-72157634547806284/#
and used under the terms as detailed at the source
at 12 December 2016.

Image #2 credit
Phan Thiết Aerial – Bình Thuận 1969
Photo by Ken Thompson
Accessed from
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Phan_Thi%E1%BA%BFt_Aerial_-_B%C3%ACnh_Thu%E1%BA%ADn_1969_-_Photo_by_Ken_Thompson_(9941754174).jpg
and used under the terms as detailed at the source
at 12 December 2016.

Notes.

  1. Quế Hà, (2015), Đập bỏ trụ sở bưu điện 120 năm tuổi ở Phan Thiết, in Than Nien, 15 March 2015, accessed online at http://thanhnien.vn/thoi-su/dap-bo-tru-so-buu-dien-120-nam-tuoi-o-phan-thiet-541561.html on December 10, 2016.

All images are owned by Grant Hall unless credited otherwise.