Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Saigon by another name ...

There are any number of ways I've heard Vietnam described. In most instances, the word 'contrasts' makes an appearance. Today marks my first visit to Ho Chi Minh City, and I'm only here for this one day. It's been 90 minutes since I arrived from Singapore and I can say with a confidence far outweighing any pussy terminator that "I'll be back".

The ride from the airport to the hotel was straight out of every travel & leisure (and DIY and chef on the loose) program on television. Cars, trucks and buses mingled with an amazing number of mopeds, motorcycles and variations thereof. What I found particularly intriguing was not the ubiquitous nature of two wheeled transport, but instead what the two wheels were transporting! Furniture including entire mattresses sandwiched between two passengers. Seriously, you've got to have an enormous amount of faith in your driver when you strap yourself behind a queen size posturepedic. Additionally, the entire Vietnamese (plus the odd tourist) demographic is represented on these machines - pregnant women, business men / women (replete with high heels and mobile phones), families - one couple had a child under 6 between them and a 4 year old up front riding shotgun - the parents had helmets, the kids were riding commando. The word 'insanity' comes next to mind, preceded by 'zen-inducing' -- it is literally so far outside my knowledge of normal or comfortable that I had no choice but to sit back and let the sea of humanity wash over me. I arrived calm. No road rage here - you'd die in the first moment.

Can't wait for the trip back to the airport.


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