Monday, October 3, 2011

the saigon zoo

I was invited to go to the zoo one morning with my friends at the CBD. I am going to put this out there, I had absolutely no high hopes for this place. I could not imagine a zoo with many animals in the midst of all the insanity of the streets.  I was expecting small cages and unhealthy animals--and I knew my heart was probably going to be aching.  Also, the reason we were going to the zoo was because the mammal's department wanted to get some good photos of animals for a book they are publishing. Apparently it is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to take photographs of (for example) gibbons in the wild because they reside so high in the treetops. Sooo yeah--not to reveal the magician's secret or anything, but all those amazing pictures you see in the nature magazines and what not--very likely some are just a nice photograph taken at your local zoo.

The zoo happened to be much different than I expected, as is everything in Vietnam. First off, the landscape was gorgeous. Apparently this park/zoo was created when the French arrived here and the French brought in trees from all over the world, including many from South America. 

Probably the best part of the zoo was extremely high number of incorrect spellings found in the English translations of the animals. See below. This also occurs frequently on menus. My favorite is the classic "crap" instead of "crab". 

oh, vietnam
Although the landscape was wonderful, many of the animals did seem very unhappy. 

Deer in a zoo--so strange to see. Being as they pretty much live in every state in the US, I have seen my fair share in my lifetime. Still to see them living like this with no foliage was a bit depressing.

 For my sister, babbersocean:
...although I think healthy flamingos are supposed to be pink.

hornbill batting her eyelashes at me. yes, birds can have eyelashes
I think the worst part of the zoo was that it was absolutely infested with rats. They were EVERYWHERE and it was broad daylight. Running in and out of trashcans, eating the animals' food, just running out in front of me in crazy. UPDATE: One of my friends did manage to get a picture!

this was a fun word to have my vietnamese friends learn
Another admirable feature of the zoo was the botanical gardens and green houses. They also had an enormous butterfly garden that I desperately wanted to go in, but it was only open on weekends :(

After the zoo, we stopped for .... PIZZA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I was so so so so happy. I was incredibly tired of noodle soup and rice alllll the darn time so I was more than happy to go here.  Surprisingly, it was delicious..much better than expected. (Please excuse the massive sunburn I brought back with me from the mangroves).

 This is Miss Tho (pronounced "tuh") and people here are used to addressing everyone with a title, even if they are your best friend. So everyone is Miss (insert first name). I am Miss Lau-RELLE.

And this is Long!

And, as a side note, I proudly admit that I am nerdy enough to have my very own business card. Business cards are used constantly here--so Fulbright insisted I make one for myself.

Ta da! (Sorry they are backwards--I took them with Photobooth).



  1. im sure they released the rats purposely to go along with the whole zoo theme. right????

  2. Hi Laurel,
    I laughed when you questioned the "deer behind bars". Remember, I always said I was concerned about you driving at night and hitting a deer, those "U.S deer" can cause a lot of pain and agony. Maybe we should consider them dangerous and put them all behind bars! If it weren't for the "U.S dangerous deer" I would not have seen your beautiful face in the morning, after a fun night out with your friends! I love you and miss you.

    Your favorite mom,