Travel Musings in Vietnam (Sept 2007)

Hanoi & Ho Chi Minh City
Vietnam is chaotic and hectic – that’s saying something considering I’ve traveled to Bangkok, Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia! There are people EVERYWHERE. It’s even hard to stop on the sidewalk to look at maps, as you are always in someone’s way and  so you have to keep moving at a fast pace. The whole population seems to just sit on the side of the road – no one stays in their houses so you have to pass thousands of people. Most stare at you or they yell out things in Vietnamese.

Roads are ALWAYS packed – there are hordes and hordes of motorcycles on the streets – really fast. They don’t follow road rules so they just barge through, regardless of the different lanes, and sometimes onto oncoming traffic (above photo). The general rule here is if you want to overtake you just keep beeping your horn till the people in front move – no matter if they can’t. So you hear this constant “beep beep beep beep” all day long! There are hardly breaks between the constant stream of motorcycles so if you need to cross the road – you seriously have to walk onto the road onto the oncoming hordes of bikes. I’ve never been so nervous of traffic in my life but everyone has to do it or they will be waiting for hours. The locals say you just gotta walk slowly onto oncoming traffic (no sudden movements or running – or you’re going to be hit) and hope the bikes swerve around you… eek!

The funniest thing about Vietnam are their motor scooters and the craziest things they fit onto their motor scooters. I’ve seen 3 full pigs strapped to the back seat, as well as a family of 5 people fitting onto the seat!!

One of the highlights of traveling to Vietnam is realizing we have so much at home… But we get so caught up in trivial stuff, including me, when in real life these things don’t matter. Vietnamese people don’t have much (compared to us) but they are happy with what they have and all the communities are tight knit. Nobody eats by themselves inside their homes. Everyone eats on the open streets/roads/porch with a big groups of family & friends… awww.

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