Ho Chi Minh City 2

13 10 2009

GOOD MORNING VIETNAM! Monday 12 October

The rat-a-tat-tat of jack hammers on a nearby building site, punctuated by bricks being thrown from a great height into a steel skip seemed to clammer for our attention through the fog of deep sleep at about 5.45am this morning.

building consruction outside our hotel and everywhere

building consruction outside our hotel and everywhere

Just the noise of the city getting the working week underway and adding to the unrelenting traffic noise. Then about 6.30 the school across the road found it necessary to use what sounded like war surplus tannoy speakers to marshal the students into gear for the day. All this encouraged a good early breakfast – sold as American with our accommodation, but seeming more English with the inevitable poached eggs, greasy sausages, tomatoes and toast etcetera. The redeeming feature was some lovely sun ripened tropical fruit.

You will be pleased to hear – as we were – that Maree’s foot seemed to respond well to some rest, and after a morning long indecisive, will-we, wont-we discussion regarding seeing a doctor, we decided to have lunch instead.

City Bus Station

City Bus Station

Not that we didn’t limp around and cover a fair bit of ground during that time. But it was, “Oh its not so bad at the moment.” And, “Oo, I need to take your arm for the stairs and its aching a bit.” And as some of you who know Maree well will know, “It’s aching a bit”, probably means that it is at an equivalent intensity to the pain of child delivery. Anyway a delightful lunch took our mind off it for a while,  lunch(Well mine anyway) and Maree rested up the foot again this afternoon while I covered a fair bit of ground wandering the streets and dodging traffic.

But let me go back to yesterday for a bit. Having already arranged to meet with some friends of Jeff and Ruth I left Maree to rest while I met them for coffee. To my astonishment Robert and Diana, who have lived in HCMC for a while, arrived on a motor bike. motor cyclesNon Asians riding motorbikes would be less than .01% I would estimate. I would have thought you would need to be born on a bike to have the necessary credentials to ride one, but Robert seemed to be quite competent. After coffee downtown and the most helpful answers to my picking their brains for local knowedge, Diana returned by taxi and I – just a few hours after arriving in Asia – was taken on a tour of HCMC on the back of one of these burbling beeping and thankfully underpowered motor bikes. I can tell you that bungy jumping off Auckland tower would be less adrenalin inducing! A friend of a friend described the traffic like this:

We have read there are anywhere between 9 and 18 million people in Saigon, and I think they are all on the road at once.

Note the street sweeper

Note the street sweeper

Fortunately, the main mode of transport is a motor cycle.  With cars, the city would be gridlocked in minutes.  There are minimal traffic lights and no stop signs and pedestrian crossings are completely ignored.  The cars, bikes, trucks and buses just keep moving around each other, with constant horn blowing, but no road rage.  For a pedestrian to cross the road, you take your courage in your hands, step out and just keep slowly walking and they stream around you.  Feels like Moses parting the waters!!!  The motor cycle is king – even being ridden inside an equivalent of McDonalds.  They park all over the footpaths, forcing pedestrians onto the street (to face yet more motorcycles) and they are slept on during midday siesta.  We have seen families of four sharing one bike.

Note the weasel coffee

Note the weasel coffee

Beware your Blend! Chon is considered to be the best Vietnamese coffee by some. It is made from beans fed to weasels and later collected from their excretment.

Maree's Dad was a linesman. Imagine a callout for this!

Maree's Dad was a linesman. Imagine a callout for this!

And that’s enough for another day!

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4 responses

14 10 2009
Joshua Hesketh

It sounds like you’re having a wonderful time.

We’re praying for Mum’s foot. Hopefully it doesn’t stop you from enjoying your holiday.

Did you try the Weasel coffee?

I actually had a conversation today with my hair dresser who had just returned from Asia who was also commenting on the power lines. I’d hate to have to fix anything on that!

14 10 2009
Roger and Maree

Hey Josh, no I passed on the weasel coffee even ‘though that was a very upmarket coffee shop. Mum’s foot is improving steadily thanks to all your prayers.

14 10 2009
betty

so glad you are able to get about anyway. enjoy. no doubt your chopstick technique will improve lots of love .mum

14 10 2009
Roger and Maree

Thanks Mum, it certainly makes for great entertainment for me watching Roger trying to eat! I ended up cooking for him and then giving him the spoon that we had for serving rice. I’m very grateful for my chopstick lessons from you and Grandpop Love M.

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