Something magical always happens in the alleys
In my travels to Saigon early this decade, I sometimes ate at a street noodle vendor in the downtown area. The lady always served me an extra portion at no additional charge. If the food was not recently made, she would ask me to wait and prepare a fresh serving for me. When it rained, she found a dry spot for me to sit on. Often her elderly mother and young daughter would join me and try to chat with me in a mix of gestures and singular Vietnamese and English words.
The noodle seller some years back
In 2016, after a gap of a few years, I again started spending more time in Vietnam. I tried to locate the vendo, but I could not. Locals told me that the neighborhood authorities had chased away the street vendors operating along the main street. Many took up other occupations or went back to the provinces. I give up on meeting my favourite noodle seller.
Recently, on one my random walks, I decided to step in an alley. I saw a hair cut shop and stepped in (I like getting my hair cut at random locations as hair cutters always have good intelligence on a neighbourhood) . As I stepped out after the hair cut, I felt a tap on my arm. I turned around, it was my favorite noodle seller. She pointed to a shop in the alley and explained that she had a fixed business spot now. She also looked more radiant, perhaps a sign of having done well in business.
The noodle seller in 2017
In Saigon, you should always walk into a random alley. Something magical often happens.