[...] Oh, Saigon, Pearl of the Orient! Or so it was called, presumably by the French, using a term of endearment that we ourselves had adapted, for there was nothing the people of a small country liked better than to be flattered, so rarely did it happen. But sometimes we were not just the Pearl of the Orient, and sometimes the Pearl of the Orient did not even refer to us. I had heard the Chinese of Hong Kong claim that their port was the Pearl of the Orient, and when I was in the Philippines, the Filipinos insisted that Manila was the Pearl of the Orient. Colonies were a pearl choker adorning the alabaster-white neck of the colonizer. And sometimes a Pearl of the Orient could be a Paris of the Orient as well. The Parisians and the French and just about everyone meant that as a compliment, but it was a backhanded compliment, the only kind a colonizer could give to the colonized. After all, as the Paris of the Orient, Saigon was just a cheap imitation of haute couture.