26 Responses

  1. Emily Windsor


    I must admit the title and pictures completely grabbed my attention right away and I was not disappointed with what I read. I loved the pictures you chose because in the article you describe the vivid colors and all the out-of-the-ordinary things that would great us; the pictures depict this perfectly. I am really glad I read this article because I love different cultures; from the different architecture, colors, foods, and how you even said in your article the different grocery shopping. This article gave me a real reason to go to Orlando, Florida and experience this “hidden gem.”

    I like that you made this personal and included how you grew up and that you became homesick for Southeast Asia culture and how this had lead you to the Saigon Market. I found how you described the buildings exceptional; I could picture the bland outside brick building that when entered became a world of vivid color.

    I hope that I can visit this place and be greeted by the shouts of “Fresh Seafood” and multiple languages being spoken all around me. I personally find the Wal-Mart way of shopping boring, but this Saigon Market sounds lively and exciting.

    All the different things being sold in this market sound lovely and divine; I love crab and I can have always wanted to try eel. I can practically smell the incense wafting into my nose and attacking my senses.

    Thank you for taking me on a virtual tour of this market place and I really am going to try to go there soon.

    –Emily Windsor

    1. Amber Maiwald

      I have always wanted to visit a market like this. Whenever I saw them in movies or on tv shows, they made me want to travel to that country where the market culture of the market was. I think that having these markets in the United States is a great way for immigrants and other people who grew up outside of the United States to reemerge themselves in their familiar culture. The market described in the blog seemed very cultural and festive. I would like to go here just to look around and to be surrounded by the Asian culture because I never travelled to any Asian countries before. I would like to try some of their native food, but I have some food allergies to some of the main things that this culture uses in their diets. It would be nice to see the food displays though.
      I love to travel. I have only been to eight different countries though and I wasn’t able to spend a great amount of time in each of the countries. Due to the fact that travelling has gotten so expensive, many people don’t have the money to actually go out of the country. I think that these markets are a great way for people, like myself, who have been bitten by the travel bug to experience a new culture without actually having to use a passport or get on a plane. These markets are a great way for people to escape into a new culture and find a new, cheaper way to enjoy themselves.

  2. Jessica Derrick

    The ability for a community to come together to recreate such a strong experience that it can momentarily transport visitors to the region is an amazing feat. Allowing visitors the opportunity to: experience a taste of a different culture, a look at a life that varies from their own, a reminder of the differences between cultures, and an opportunity to have a cultural experience in their own backyard. Such areas are key educational spots, allowing for the sharing of culture through the sights, smells and sounds that are second best to actually visiting the specific region. Architecture plays a role by the single appearance of a building can set the scene for a specific region based on past experiences by knowing what buildings in that region look like; it can be a key to helping the recreation of a region because sight is such an important sense. It is extremely comforting to be able to be around something that is familiar; I believe this instinctive search for familiarity and comfort can be seen in the complex creation of communities that mimic specific regions/cultures. These communities can offer a haven of familiarity for those who are from the region. In a country originally made of immigrants; communities such as the Saigon Market are responsible for the diversity of the nation to continue. I believe that the more experience someone has with other cultures, the more understanding and accepting they will be which will overall lead to a stronger more diverse society where cultures can mix and form new and better things.

  3. Chelsea Pushman

    I want to first say that you are a great writer! The way you describe the details of the Saigon Market is incredible. I almost feel as if I am there. Having met you in class Monday night, I would have never thought you are from the Philippines. I think it is wonderful how you cherish your background so much. It is amazing how one small market can mean so much and stand for so much. It really can bring back so many memories. You are far away from home but fortunately you found your own little haven to live your childhood again.

    On the other hand, I grew up in Melbourne, Fl. Born and raised here. I have never traveled outside the U.S. but always wanted to go to Europe, New Zealand and Australia. I am envious of Intl students who live in the US now. I want to gain a new perspective on life by living in a completely different culture. Lately I have been contemplating going to live in another country for a year. I think it will be a great way to learn new things, meet new people and develop a whole new perspective on life. I never really have been away from home so I do not know what that feels like.

    During Spring Break, or maybe even the summer, I am planning to travel to the Virgin Islands. I have some friends living there right now. They decided they wanted to do something crazy and packed up everything and moved there to live for 1 year. I am ready to graduate so I can make a trip like this soon!
    Thanks for sharing your personal connection on your site.

    -Chelsea Pushman

  4. Joseph Hemler

    After seeing all the natural foods in this market I was quite impressed. Our society has strayed very far from enjoying cultural foods. The foods we find in our regular super markets are just the cheapest, easiest, and most processed foods you can find in the world.

    It is great to see a local food market with natural foods based off of a culture. There is not much culture in America these days and it is good to see a place like this getting some local interest.

    Asian culture seems to be much more based off of sea foods and fowl than the american culture. The food is all fresh and out of boxes, just the way I like it. Being located in Florida it must be easier to get a hold of local sea food that can compare to the foods from Asia.

    I strongly believe one of the biggest issues we have in America is our poisoned food system. Americans need to take a page from other cultures and take pride in the things they put in their body, not just consume the easiest most calorie filled meal. I would take a dozen of those blue crabs over a Big Mac any day!

    There are no blue crabs that can compare to the ones that come out of the Chesapeake Bay in MD where I’m from though =).

    Very interesting post. Food is something that every culture has their own ideas about, since everyone in the world has to eat!

  5. David Scott


    I have such a strong connection to this article on a personal level and the way you described the environment of the Saigon Market. I spent most of my childhood in Kingston, Jamaica and the visuals you present are so similar to what I remember growing up. When I was younger, I also called the US “the states” and sometimes the word “foreign” also due to my unfamiliarity of the country. The arrangement of your words and the way in which they are expressed allow me to be placed at the market, wondering around in my imagination and reminding me of a culturally-filled area in Kingston called the Coronation Market. Whenever I miss that culturally vibrant environment, I just walk into the nearest Caribbean store or market.

    The Coronation Market and Saigon Market seem to have so many similarities that every descriptive statement reminds me of it. Upon entering Coronation Market, you are also hit with a sensory shock with people shouting sale prices of goods, a variety of colors from fruits and vegetables and the smell of fish. Walmart and their paid greeter is nothing compared to both of these culturally filled environments where goods and services are expressed in an appealing manner. There may be a few differences in the products being sold, but they are displayed in the same way and placed at random around each corner and down each aisle. The same grid –like organization of the aisles is utilized which makes the process of shopping in such a sensory chaotic environment fun, where you can look in all directions and find goods that grab your interest.

    The Coronation Market is one of Jamaica’s oldest cultural landmarks and many companies have done so much in preserving the heritage and history of it by doing many restorations and renovations to its structure to keep that feeling of actually belonging somewhere active. I am going to Orlando next weekend and I hope to visit the Saigon Market. It might not be Jamaican or Caribbean oriented, but it is culturally stimulating and interesting based on how you described it.

    Image of Coronation Market : http://www.davidkoneil.com/img/uploads/blog/Jam_Coronation_Mkt_-_Copy.jpg

    Image Courtesy of : David K. O’Neil @ http://www.davidkoneil.com

    Thanks for such a great article,

    David Scott

  6. Brandon Bourne


    I enjoyed reading this very much because it made me think about how certain things i have come across while living in Florida remind me of home. Even though i cant necessarily say that my friends and family are across the globe, i wouldnt say it just a walk around the block either. I long to be home in New Jersey where ive spent my whole life growing up with friends all the time. To me, i enjoy being other places but there is no place like home. One day i found myself in Tallahasse on a winding road between a bunch of tall trees and the wind was blowing hard enough to make the leaves fall to the ground as i was driving through and it gave me a sense of comfort as if i was home even though i was not. I know that does not really deal much with architecture like the way you are speaking of it but it does bring me the same feeling i believe. My family is also from NYC and one place I know that is a good example of being able to make you feel at home is china town. I have been there before and if i didnt know any better i would have believe i was thousands of miles away from the states! Even though you are not really home it puts those from that heritage in a place of comfort where they are able to feel a sense of happiness to get what they have missed so much. thanks for posting


  7. Giovana Soares

    This is a great description of the Saigon Market. Although I have never been there, from the pictures and from your detailed description I can certainly picture it in my head. It is so nice that you had the opportunity to visit other cultures. I am from Brazil and I see how important to my personal growth it is to experience other cultures. It makes you value more what you have. For example, back in Brazil I used to eat simple food that my mom used to cook and never really paid attention to how delicious it was until I came here and my mom wasn’t here to prepare it for me, and the veggies weren’t the same, seasoning wasn’t the same either… Now every time I go back home I am so much more appreciative of the food and preparation.
    As I was reading your post all I could do was to relate to back home. Especially the scents that are only in there and I can’t really smell in the US. In the mornings, all bakeries bake what is called the French bread (amazing bread scent), and all kinds of pastries and petit fours. My favorites are called: Carolina de doce de leite, – which I never found to buy in the US – camafeu de nozes, and pão-de-mel.
    It’s incredible what food can do to us. It brings so many good memories back. It brings back not only tastes, but also memories of gatherings, family time, friends, and ultimately happy and unforgettable moments shared with important people in your life.

  8. ahmed almazrouei

    I am sure that it is not easy to move from the culture, which you grow up in even though if it is not your parent’s culture but it is yours culture now. I am from U.A.E and I grow up in another country, which almost have the same culture and people one it speak the same language. But I found a little difference when I came back to U. A. E. For example, I used to face some problems when I play with the kids because I didn’t know to much about the game’s rules. I feel bad when the two teams don’t want me with them and I used to ask my dad: ” Is this my fault? Is I am so bad?”
    After all of that, I could imagine what you faced when you moved to U.S.

    I liked the way that you used to describe the store and I think it is the best. If you didn’t take a picture for the store I would imagine the style of the store and the staff from your writing.

    Ahmed Almazrouei

  9. Loriann DeMello

    I can relate to this very much considering my twin room mates are also from the Phillipines. Their mother was a native, and met their father while he was on a business trip there. They lived there the majority of their early childhood, and embrace their heritage very much! They constantly make Filipino dishes and talk about how different life is over there for their grandparents and aunts and cousins. They were in a wedding there once, and told me how they had to use very pale foundation for their faces since that is what is considered “beautiful” there.

  10. Loriann DeMello

    I can relate to this very much considering my twin room mates are also from the Phillipines. Their mother was a native, and met their father while he was on a business trip there. They lived there the majority of their early childhood, and embrace their heritage very much! They constantly make Filipino dishes and talk about how different life is over there for their grandparents and aunts and cousins. They were in a wedding there once, and told me how they had to use very pale foundation for their faces since that is what is considered “beautiful” there.

    There is a market they call “the Asian market” here in Melbourne on 192. I’ve been there a few times with them before, and they show me all the different foods, especially fruits, that I am not accustomed to seeing every day. I’m a timid eater, though I’ll try everything once, so I have yet to try a lot of these things yet. I definitely thought these pictures were of that market at first though! Just like the market you have written about the one on 192 has dragon fruit and the blue crabs in a wooden box…and those weird spiky green things. I was told what they were at some point but now I don’t remember.

    If you haven’t checked out the market on 192 yet, I suggest you do! It’s near a tattoo shop and right across from Ace Hardware.

  11. Jessica Hook

    I think that it is so great that there is a place for you to go that reminds you of “home.” I think that everybody should have a place like this that makes them feel comfortable and overwhelmed with all of the wonderful things there.

    It is really awesome that there is a place in the United States that is a completely different culture. It is just like the culture in the other countries. It is nice that the vendors are able to do this to make money and to keep their culture alive. It is also nice that he American way of doing things does not come in and take over or ruin it. Florida also is the home of many different cultures. This is a place where people can live the American dream but also still be their selves and keep their culture alive.

    I personally do not have a place like you do that I can go when I feel homesick and being there brings back all of the wonderful memories. Although I do think that it is the best medicine for someone who is feeling down is to go somewhere where it fills them with happiness and drowns out all of the things that are bringing them down in life.

    It is so wonderful that there is a place like this is central Florida. Not only can the people keep their culture alive but they can also allow for Americans and other people to be able to experience their culture and learn more about it.

  12. Noelle Garrison

    The pictures for this were beautiful! I think that is probably why I decided to read this one today. My attention was immediately grabbed when I saw all the bright colors and the different types of foods! I took a class in high school on the 1960’s, and we talked about the Vietnam War a lot, but we also went over the culture in Vietnam and it was so fascinating. I think going through that class has really helped me to appreciate how amazing the Asian cultures are. Ever since I took that class I wanted to go to an Asian market as well! They look like they would be so much fun. I love the way you wrote about this. I could feel how much you love these kind of places and I felt like I was right there in the market! I’m jealous that you got to live in a foreign country as well. I don’t know a lot about the Philippines, but you make it sound like a wonderful place! I would definitely love to travel to another country and spend an extended amount of time there. For now I guess I’ll just have to plan a trip to this market and be content with that!

  13. Shanna Lake

    I must admit, this article really grabbed my attention. After scimming through the first paragraph there were things i could relate too, so i had to read the whole thing. It is very true, no matter where you end up, you will always miss where you are from and want to be in that scenery again. I was born in Florida, but left at a very young age to a small town in Linton,Indiana. It had totally different architecture, and it amazes me now that it is a historic town and all the history that evolved near that town. I went from the beach to a very small farm country town and lived there for eight years, but i had always missed Florida. It is funny because I moved back to Florida three years ago and I always try to find country homes and being around farms. I try to surround myself in the country, even though i do love the beach. You get adapted to certain seneries and you stick with it. I miss being in small country towns, so I find myself cruising and driving down dirt back roads like I did growing up. In a way it does make you feel like you are home again. You really do always remember the sights and smells of a familiar part of your life.

  14. Elizabeth Kiser

    I stepped into the oriental store the other day that is by my work and remembered a memory that I had long forgotten. The store had customers they were waiting on, so in waiting for my turn, I looked around the store. While looking, the one thing that caught my eye was a red bag that was in the refrigerator, that of spring roll wrappers. The memory of making homemade spring rolls with my mom and aunt made me smile. The memories of looking out the window as we were on our way to the Asian market to buy they things that we needed to make pork rolls, beef rolls, and even the shrimp rolls. The store that was full of all types of Asian ingredients to make anything your heart desired. When we returned back to the house, my aunt would pull out the Wok and the cooking would begin. We would mix everything together, and I would think I was big help being able to put the bean sprouts in the Wok. We would start stuffing the rolls, and that to me was the best part! Taking the spring roll and putting a bit of the mix on the roll and wrapping it up just right and sealing it with a little egg yolk.
    I was only a little girl when we started making egg rolls. Somewhere along the course of time we stopped, but I think that it shall be time to start again. I cannot wait for me and my mom to teach my daughter.

  15. Michelle Musick

    The blog was very informative, they described the different ways the cultures are from the United States, Southeast Asia, and the Philippines. They talked about childhood memories of the Philippines and Southeast to a distant and strange land known as the United States. As an adult now they talked about their memories as if they were on a rolodex. The talked about memories of there parents had of the United States, from the dairy farms in Wisconsin do the tree lined streets in Arkansas. It has been many years ago that we returned to the United States, my family and I get a sense of disconnect from our cultures and our homeland, we can just take a ride or stroll to our nearest Asian market or community. There is a fairly decent size Asian market located at 1232 East Colonial Drive (Highway 50), Orlando, Florida. When you enter the Asian market it’s like stepping back in time with the architectural monotony of bright colors, brown bricks, and glass store front windows construing facades of this hidden paradise or home away from home. The bright lighting ranges from the open/close signs to the sign that reads (FRESH SEA FOOD – WE CLEAN FISH). When stepping into the Saigon Market you leave the American vibe at the door. Once you are in you are overtaken by the sights, smells, and the multiple languages. Unlike Walmart and others, you are greeted by a person, here you are greeted by crabs that are waving “Hello”. After the explosion of smells calms a bit you are able to look around and see all the different types of foods and household goods they have to offer. From the neatly stacked bags of rice, to the several types of oysters sauces, and to the many religious statues for sale. The statues ranges from Buddha, Confucius, and Mary and Jesus. From the aisles which are very organized that brings out the visual order to the mass of overload of a person’s sensory stimulants. While shopping or just browsing the smells and sights takes you to the place that is of the rolodex in the back of your mind that is a world away.

  16. Sarah Blackburn

    Preserving heritage is very important and I understand that completely. Much like the author, I understand sometimes wishing after an environment that doesn’t seem to match me completely. My family is an Air Force family, which means that home is wherever the country needs my father. I grew up in quite a few places; New Mexico, Korea, Wyoming, Virginia, and Florida. Each place is much defined in my memory and has different aspects that I miss. In particular, I usually miss New Mexico. We were stationed in Albuquerque, but my parents became close friends with some of the Pueblo Indians in the surrounding area. I loved the pueblos. They always were some of the most fun places to spend our weekends. My dad would help me climb all through the old ruins and we would discover so many interesting bit and pieces about the culture of the people along the way. Besides the structures, I loved the people. The head of their tribe-family was Michael, he always had little things for me and his wife made the best food. While this may not be international heritage like in the article, I think that any culture has a place to be held in reverence, they all have something important to contribute. Maybe it won’t be something that will advance us as a people, but maybe it will be something small, like a favorite meal or toy that will help someone achieve great things in their life to help everyone in the long run.

  17. Danielle Elkins

    I have never been to a market like this- seems like a very neat experience. I have only left “the states” once to visit Costa Rica, and I absolutely adored seeing another way of life. Little places like this market that you describe seem like a great opportunity to experience a bit of “somewhere else” right here at home. I think as Americans we become so accustomed to the way that we do everyday things like grocery shopping that we don’t realize that there are other ways of doing things. The pictures look so very colorful, and I bet that someone who isn’t familiar with the merchandise could spend a good part of their day in there looking at everything and discovering new items. I wish that we all could have the opportunity to live in other cultures at some point in our lives, but unfortunately we all aren’t so lucky; little gems like this place are a nice way to see another culture. I lived in south Florida for a year or so and being so close to Miami and all the various ethnic backgrounds and cultures was very exciting- we should all try to find ways in our everyday life to see and do things perhaps a bit differently that we are used to.

  18. Veronica Tarducci

    I have lived in Florida for a majority of my life, and I love to visit Orlando, yet I have never heard of the Saigon Market on Colonial. Looking at the pictures provided, the market reminds me a lot of places that I have visited, like Little Tokyo in Los Angeles, Chinatown in San Francisco, and Little Italy in Philadelphia. In my opinion, these heritage rooted communities all have a similar ambiance, but the different cultures are what obviously sets them apart from each other. Walking into these marketplaces is like walking through a portal into the countries or cities in which they represent. There is so much to be learned, discovered, and experienced in these communities, which is also beneficial for their local economies, as these communities attract tourism. Being of Italian decent myself, it is especially exciting to visit places that reflect my own heritage, like Little Italy in my birth town, Philadelphia. It is always a top priority to spend at least a day in Little Italy on every family visit to Philly. This typically entails hours of consuming large quantities of Italian food and wine in the local restaurants, and walking around the shops looking for souvenirs and commodities to bring home. And no trip there is ever complete without shopping for more food from their historic market to last us throughout our trip: Italian sausage and fresh cold cut sliced meats, breads and pastries, and, my personal favorite, the marinated mozzarella braids. However, as good as all the food is, it’s the overall experience of the culture as a whole that really makes each visit so special to me.

  19. Brock Heruth

    Growing up in another country must be a very exciting/different experience than growing up in “the states.” I can’t imagine how different things like markets and typical storefronts would be. It always seems like such a mystical world outside of the one you grow up in. You only know what you hear from other people and their own experiences. There are so many things to be taken in when visiting/living in a place. Hearing from someone else is nothing compared to what you actually experience yourself. You might have a completely different impression than your best friend or spouse and you may pick up on things they did not. Hearing the description of the market in Orlando sounds interesting and vibrant. It gives the impression of this happy little town market. I could go there and might think that it is dirty and unsanitary. The impressions of different people can make a world of difference. I’m not saying the market it dirty, I’m just stating that everyone sees things differently. One thing I’m sure of is how exiting it would be to see all of those colors. The colors in the food, on the buildings, on the clothing. Color really can set the mood and its great to see how different cultures take on color in their fashion, food, and style. I personally have been to Italy and my favorite place was Cinque Terra. It is a small town on the mountains in Italy. The color of the buildings are breathtaking next to the crystal clear blue water. It’s something that I will never forget.

    Words: 265

  20. Chelsea Patrick


    First of all, your writing is fabulous. Your attention to detail is riveting. I was right there with you the entire time and could almost smell the air! I could not imagine a life growing up in a place besides the United States, because well, I didn’t, and that wasn’t my life. Funny, I grew up a few miles away from this exact location, and haven’t experienced this the way that you have so fabulously portrayed. The closest thing I got to a food market was the Winter Park Farmer’s Market, and all I remember were the bagels (which were homemade, and awesome), and the flowers. However, the place you speak of I’ve passed in downtown traffic. The architecture is descriptive, and telling of the area. The colors are vibrant and fun, and the patrons are lively. This is a place I have obviously overlooked for many years. I must make it a point to visit this place again, as a stranger (which I basically am), and try the food.

  21. jennifer garcia

    I can see how visiting the Saigon Market can bring back so many childhood memories. I myself also spent most of my childhood elsewhere than the U.S I spent most of my childhood in Colombia, where I was born and any time I visit a Spanish Market with authentic Colombian cuisine it brings back so many memories, I can almost visualize myself there. Sometimes it can be hard to find specific places with the food and trademark brands you grew up with, I can easily find Mexican and Central American brands and foods in many grocery stores and Spanish markets but it’s hard to find the Colombian ones. I can honestly say that I would love to visit this market next time I’m in Orlando. Recently I have been eating more Asian cuisine and I love it, I would love to buy from a fresh market, one that does not farm raise their seafood. Lately, that is very hard to find, almost all seafood in grocery stores are farm raised and unless you know local fisher mans you will not find any fresh seafood anywhere. I look forward to being able to visit and not only buy fresh fish but also enjoy the Asian culture and try new things. I can just imagine the colors of the market and how vibrant and happy it must be with all the people walking about and socializing, unlike today’s grocery stores where everyone stays to themselves and minds their own business. This is a great community for those far away from home.

  22. Sandra Fox

    I loved this article, as a former military spouse I cherish the memories of different countries and their open markets. I would like to visit the Saigon market in Orlando, even though I was never stationed in the Philippines I have many friends that are from that country. Having lived on the Greek island of Crete I can tell you that their local markets are very similar. It might be sensory shock to some Americans and you definitely have to leave the mainstream Wal-Mart thinking and health inspector protocol locked in your car when you arrive. However, the wooden stalls with the declined showcases that allow you a close up view of unpackaged fresh meats and fish along with the trough that runs the length of the market, to catch the fresh juices as they drip from the showcases add to the charm of the sights and smells of the market. The markets are so vibrant it is almost like stepping into a florescent colored world. The smells, sights and noise of each vendor yelling over each other trying to convenience you that their product is the freshest, juiciest and least expensive still resonate in my head. I will never hear the phrase, “For you my friend a special deal” without thinking of the street markets of Crete. I will have to take time one afternoon to visit the market in Orlando and step back into a vibrant, simpler way of life.

  23. Kara Vonada

    I really enjoyed this article, I love going to markets such as the Saigon Market you mentioned. Although I’ve never traveled out of the country, I have always had a huge interest in the various cultures around the world. The first connection I always make is with food! I love how you mentioned that the crabs waved you in to the shop. My cousin married a woman from Thailand and she loves to take my mother and I to shops similar to this. You are right, as soon as you step in the door, your senses are taken over by the exotic and fresh smells. I can only imagine what it’s like in actual markets in other countries. My favorite part about this post was the fact that you gave us a personal outlook on something we may just overlook. I never realized you had such a connection with Southeast Asia. I’ve always wondered what it would be like to live in another country. I can only imagine you have great memories from that time in your life. I believe it is extremely important in America, to cater to various cultures. We are a big melting pot, and it is only fair that we share our traditions, music, food, and cultural aspects with one another. Especially for those who are unable to travel out of the country, i’m sure they would appreciate a little reminder of the old times. I really need to take a trip down to the Saigon Market and check out their selection of wonderful Asian cuisine. I bet it’s divine!

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