paperboy

extreme traffic sportsDay 12 in Vietnam. Those who’ve been following my aforementioned Twitter feed know that I’ve already started to take my first few steps into independent living, including borrowing a bicycle from one of the local Baha’is—which brings me into closer contact than ever before with that most omnipresent feature of Saigon/HCMC: traffic. Thanks perhaps to my maverick bike riding style (think Paperboy), I’ve managed to do pretty well for myself in the chaotic weave of motorbikes. The video game metaphor is actually quite apt, you know. If you’ve ever played one of those games where enemies are coming at you from all directions at the most ridiculous frequency and wondered who in their right minds would create such a difficult game, you might want to come ride a bike in Ho Chi Minh City, to realize that, in fact, there actually are such places in the real world. and to think that, until last year, there was no such thing as a helmet law in Vietnam…

Speaking of bikes, I biked down to the Baha’i Centre yesterday in order to make some calls—home internet got cut off for some reason, and my newfangled Vietnamese cell phone is on the blink (bad battery, I think). Once there, I cooled down for a few minutes and then made plans to meet Tahirih, my contact for the National Spiritual Assembly’s website, in about an hour to discuss things. Where? Well, why not District 1—downtown? Sure. Except that it appears that the trip from the Baha’i Centre to District 1 is about half an hour long on a motorbike (hence, even longer on a bicycle). Oops. After a little while’s worth of thinking, I ended up asking for a motorbike ride from Chi, one of the Baha’is at the centre, and managed to get there in time anyway. We met at a nice little French bistro—yup, French influence in Vietnam is still strong. Tahirih brought along her kids, who ordered pizza and ice cream and played with Chi while we talked web design and determined what had to be done in the next week or so, before I leave HCMC for Danang next week. After the meeting was done, we motorbiked back through considerably thicker traffic to reach the Baha’i Centre once again, and after taking a few more minutes to cool down, I biked back home on my little one-gear clinker, doing my paperboy schtick through a throng of motorbikes, cars, buses, carts, horses(!!), and just random confused people.

I think I love this place… but it’s a strange kind of love.

4 thoughts on “paperboy

  1. Hey, the motorbike videos are cool. In north america it would be considered considerably more dangerous to travel without adequate body protection but I guess it is the norm there. be safe brother! 🙂

    -Martin

  2. I really liked this post. Your description of traffic made your experience so much more accessible to the rest of us…who are here. Right here beside me.

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