In my cosseted Western naïvety, I’ve never been anywhere as poor as this part of Ho Chi Minh City. We took a taxi to what seemed like a fairly unremarkable spot next to a thing called Vietopia, a slightly crap life-size toytown for kids which wouldn’t look totally out of place on an industrial park near Swindon. From there, it was a few minutes’ walk to the riverside. The character of the streets changed rapidly, and entirely.
It felt slightly strange and exploitative to come here effectively as a tourist with a camera (there was at least plenty of reciprocal gawping as the locals wondered why this white guy was strolling through their neighbourhood). Whilst there are clearly many more deprived places on the planet and, cliché though it is, it nonetheless rammed home how privileged we are in the developed world, thanks to an accident of birth.