Midway between downtown Sài Gòn (Disrict 1) and Tân Sơn Nhất International Airport, the main street between them ( Đường Nam Kỳ Khỏi Nghĩa in Districts 1 and 3 and Đường Nguyễn Văn Trỗi in Tân Bình and Phú Nhuận Districts) crosses over a canal called Rạch Thị Nghè. It is called a canal because the channel of the original creek has been replaced with concrete and smoothed out.
Back in the American War years, the creek was called "Shit Creek" by Americans because it ran black with foul-smelling sewage. The creek was lined with squatter shacks draining all of their waste into the creek, as shown in this 1972 picture taken at the same position as the above photo.
The canal still runs smells foul at times as the city tries to clean up the canal. It appears that the city regularly flushes the canal by dropping the water level and then quickly releasing water down the canal. In between, the elevation drop down the canal is so shallow that the water is largely stagnant. The daily growth of water hyacinth in the canal requires constant gathering by city crews.
Depending on the direction of the wind, however, the walks and coffee shops adjacent to the canal on both sides can be very pleasant.
In the evening, residents gather at the canal for a sunset coffee or beer.
The People's Committee of Thành Phố Hồ Chí Minh realizes that the environment along the canal is very important, and there are several contractors working constantly on cleaning the canal.