Monday, October 8, 2007

I Think You've Never Seen Anything Like That Before

On the bus from the airport to our hotel (Hotel Legend Saigon) in Ho Chi Minh City, our tour guide told us about all the motorcycles we'd see, and said "I think you've never seen anything like that before." And those of us who hadn't been to Viet Nam before were thinking: yeah, right, buddy, we've just come from Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok, we've seen motorcycles. But he was right. I, for one, have never seen anything like Ho Chi Minh City before. Just about the only non-motorbikes you see are trucks, buses, and taxis, EVERYONE else is on a motorbike.

Hardly anyone wears a helmet. Lots of people, however, wear face masks, apparently as a precaution against bird flu.

It's a very beautiful city, a mix of older, colonial buildings and more modern ones. It seemed pretty crowded on Sunday, but our tour guide said there wasn't much traffic that day, it would be really crowded the next day when everyone had to go to work (he was right again). He also told us that if you go walking and you need to cross the street, you should just step out slowly and keep moving, everyone will go around you and not hit you, but if you wait for a break in traffic you will never get anywhere. He said that if you wanted not to be scared when you do this you should close your eyes.

There are many things here that would not be considered safe in America.

This is the view of the Saigon River from my hotel room.

More from Viet Nam soon!


chris said...

The motor bikes remind me of Barcelona. Vespas were like wasps, everywhere, winding in and out of traffic, on sidewalks, etc. It was wild,

But we were never advised to close our eyes to cross the street. I love it. Don't look both ways and wait for traffic, just step off the curb slowly and proceed carefully and at a normal pace across the street. They will go around you.

Please do not try this at home!

BrianY said...

And so I guess that's exactly what the pedestrian in your first picture is doing... it took me a while to figure that out. The angle you shot it from makes it look like some sort of weird tableau, rather than the frenetic kinesis it must actually have been.