Tuesday, April 28, 2009


Writing yesterday's update reminded me that traffic is a perfect subject for one of these "miss about Vietnam" entries. The odd thing is, I don’t know which kind of entry to include it in. I feel pretty ambivalent about it. So I'm going to do both: what I will and also won't miss about Vietnam (volume five and five): traffic. Before coming here, we were warned. Maybe warned isn't hysterical enough. Everyone had plenty to say, usually in a wide-eyed and high-pitched aside. We usually laugh this sort of thing off, but arriving here we discovered the situation really is terrifying. It took months to get comfortable navigating around town by foot. The sidewalks are as dangerous as the streets. Nearly everyone has a Saigon Birthmark: an oval of waxy second-degree scar about muffler-high on the calf. Everybody knows someone with ten stitches in their brain or gravel embedded in their face. But that's Vietnam: its spaces constantly, maddeningly, numbingly, chaotically cram-packed, jacked-full, overwhelmed with endless, odorous, hot, heavy traffic. Twenty-four. Seven. Nineteen months later we still talk about it all the time. Everybody does. But this subject, fact of life, force of nature eventually does become understandable. Scooters are just metal pedestrians to me now. I feel as safe walking with them as I do with any crowd. I never look for traffic lights to cross the street anymore. I hardly look for traffic. (It's easier to cross between intersections because the scooters cross at crosswalks.) Once we've left Vietnam, I'm going to miss the adrenaline rush of walking around town, the relative safety of slow-moving traffic which might leave my leg burned. But I'll also enjoy coming home to pedestrian right-of-way and regulated crosswalks. And scaring the hell out of people who are coming to Vietnam. [Cavin]

Then, a 3 sided conversation ensued...

To which Blogger Becky added:

really enjoyed this blog. and i will never forget sunshine literally grabbing me and shielding me as we crossed the street together the first time.

can't wait to have a few death-defying experiences together at your next post. :)

Tuesday, June 02, 2009 3:43:00 PM  
To which Blogger truth added:

And, to think, Bicicyles riding on the sidewalks drive me crazy.

Funny and personal insight into Vietnam traffic much appreciated.

Hope you're having a great summer.

Saturday, June 20, 2009 12:50:00 AM  
To which Blogger Mr. Cavin added:

Becky: Sure, we got that high-adrenaline combination of skiing and unexploded ordinance we can offer you at the next place!

Truth: Oh, yeah! I've been enjoying summer since 2007, basically. Looking forward to fall, frankly (but these rains sure have been nice this year).

Saturday, June 20, 2009 12:55:00 AM  

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