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Monday, June 27, 2011
Another Project Rising from the Mad Streets of Sài Gòn (The EverRich II)
IT HAS BEEN A LONG TIME SINCE I WALKED THE MAD STREETS OF SÀI GÒN, AND I MIGHT NOT BE BACK FOR A LITTLE WHILE... NOT UNTIL NEXT YEAR AT LEAST. I run the risk of not knowing what it looks like when I finally get back, for this city is changing fast. At least I have plenty of photos from my last trip (in November/December 2010) to go look at and go through, and post on this site. As in other big cities, dynamic living cities, it is amazing how a stroll in a random direction in Sài Gòn will turn up amazing sights and realisations, not all of them apparent until later research or reflection gives you that "Aha!" moment. In the middle of 2010 I went for a walk down the street from my hotel and found a little grave on the side of the road with a simple plaque which read: "Thích Quảng Đức". Nothing ostentatious, many tourists wouldn't even notice it, just more Vietnamese gibberish, but I took a photo of it and later Googled the name. I didn't know it at the time, but it turned out I had been standing on top of holy ground... this was the place where the Burning Monk set himself alight, back in the cauldron of the 1960s, in the lead up to the Vietnam War. It was an event I remembered from the Modern History lessons at high school. I thought to myself: They ought to put up a sign or something, to let people know what happened here. I suppose there was a sign in the form of a plaque on the grave, but it doesn't mean much to the average visitor. When I came back a few months later, however, there was a brand spanking new monument to Thích Quảng Đức open on the opposite side of the street. It must have gone up in the twinkling of an eye.
Things go up in the twinkling of an eye... that is the dynamic at work in Ho Chi Minh City. Last November/December, after visiting the new Thích Quảng Đức memorial, I carried on walking up the street, made a left where the road got lost in a chaotic roundabout in the works, passed a whole bunch of bridal outfits and florists, and places where the army and police go to buy their threads. I was looking for the Sài Gòn Racetrack; I never found it. Instead, right at the end of that street, which I believe is called 3 Thang 2 Street, I found a shopping mall and a billboard. I didn't know it at the time, but the billboard was advertising a new mega building project. It's called the EverRich II development, and it is down in District 7.
Naff names are dime a dozen when it comes to Asian urban developments (hell, I fled Japan partly to escape this kind of crap!); overlook the name, however, and EverRich II promises to be an exciting development. Even more exciting than the EverRich I! Architecturally, EverRich II is envisaged as a looped wave or Mobius strip (some might say it looks like rollercoaster.) Inside the loop, a green courtyard is supposed to evoke a tropical rainforest. When completed it will comprise 41 storeys and 4500 high-end condos. Inside, there will be everything from a school to a basketball court and a supermarket. See this SkyscraperPage forum for pictures and comments. Construction should be completed by 2014.