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The Greatest Adventure!

VIETNAM | Tuesday, 17 January 2006 | Views [1120]

How is it that a 4 foot Vietnamese boy of eight can cross the street and end up on the other side without a scratch when, somehow, nobody can see all 5 feet 10 inches of me coming?  I don't have an answer for that, but it's always an adventure crossing the streets here. I'm always filled with an overwhelming sense of pride and elation each time I successfully navigate my way through the impatient taxis, hassling cyclo drivers, young bucks zipping around on their flashy Futures or Jupiters (which look like small motorcycles), and the girls in their floppy hats, long silk gloves, face masks (to protect their skin from the sun) and stillettos (to look cool) on their Atticas (which look like overgrown mopeds).

Simple stoplights are an interesting experience as well.  In some cities, the stoplights even have timers.  5-4-3-2-1 and they're off!  A clamor of horns urges everyone to "get moving!" and the motorbikes revving up at the same time ricochets off the tall narrow buildings through the equally narrow streets until the roar sounds like the start of a stock car race, and in a sense, it is.  Everybody jostles for position and zips up and around one person, only to be stopped by the motorbikes and taxis trying to cross in the other direction.  It's really quite funny to watch, though quite scary to be in.  I don't know how many times I have been bumped into while riding on a motorbike (on the back of course! I would never dare try driving!).  It's never hard, and it never leaves a mark.  After all, the country really doesn't go much faster than 40 mph.  Everybody sure tries, but they never make it there for very long.  A woman I met here said that the goal of any taxi driver is to make it to fourth gear and stay there, and "they ain't shifing down for nobody."

Tags: (mis)adventures in local transit, planes trains & automobiles, vietnam

 

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