Hat trick

Hat trick

Viet Cong pith helmet from Ben Thanh Market at Saigon's District 1 in Vietnam

Amit Dixit
July 21 , 2014
01 Min Read

I’m a pacific sort of guy but even I can’t deny that war makes for great memorabilia. And there are few hunting grounds as happy as Vietnam for that sort of souvenir — or at least a very good replica. The charming Ben Thanh Market in Saigon’s District 1 is Souvenir Central. Come evening and the open-air night market around it starts to come alive. There’s the usual tourist tat: tea and T-shirts, bags and bottle openers. Beware of the rather persuasive sales tactics though. A young but clearly strong girl, who had seemed as harmless as a butterfly, grabbed me by the arm and yanked me into her shop. I was told I absolutely had to buy something. Talk about service with a smile.

I escaped her clutches only to find myself attracted to a clutch of quieter shops a little way from the main action. And that’s where I found this irresistible Viet Cong pith helmet.

All I can say in my defence is that the helmet graces not my head but of a whiney friend back home who’d insisted that I not return from the front without some war trophy for her. The shopkeeper and I battled over the price but made our peace at 70,000 Vietnamese dong (just Rs 170).

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