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I'm an American living in Japan for three years while my wife is on assignment here. (Three years has come and gone so I should probably say three years and counting.)

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Random Thoughts

In June of last year, I was in Vietnam; Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon) to be precise. Saw some really interesting things and never got around to mentioning them in my blog. Well, I'm not going to mention them now except to make a brief comment about the city and especially on the motorcycle/scooter traffic. The city is very beautiful with old and new architecture existing side by side.

However, Vietnam is rapidly growing and signs of construction are everywhere. Streets and sidewalks are torn up and debris is everywhere.

The motorcycle/scooter traffic is totally unbelievable! I tried to describe it to some people, but it is truly indescribable. The complete street is filled with scooters from curb to curb for as far as you can see. The scooters are so close together that there's barely enough room for the rider to put his foot down. Sometimes three or four people are on one bike.
At first, crossing the street with that many motorcycles is completely frightening, but once you learn the system and swallow your fear, the process goes quite smoothly. The traffic constantly flows and except for major intersections, stoplights seem to be only for decoration. After observing a few experienced street crossers, I learned the trick. Once you step off from the curb do not try to avoid the bikes just keep a steady pace and keep walking. The bike riders see you and figure out whether to go in front of you or behind. No one slows down, they just weave around. The first time stepping off the curb and testing my theory was pretty exhilarating, but it worked! I was never able to get a good photograph of the motorcycle/scooters, but luckily Marcia was in Vietnam a few weeks ago and took this great picture. This is one of the few times that the bikes were actually stopped. Must have been a very major intersection.

That's all for now.

Ja mata,


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