The Traffic Madness of Saigon

Trip Start Mar 14, 2004
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Trip End Ongoing


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Sunday, February 17, 2008

Vietnam.  It's strange to be here.
Everything I ever learned about this place came from movies like Rambo, Apocolypse Now, Full Metal Jacket, and even Forrest Gump!  It almost feels forbidden to be here for an American...until you see just how many tourists have flooded into this country.  It's almost ridiculous.  And compared to the days of The American War, things are quite peaceful and calm, except for the traffic.  Ho Chi Minh City...or Saigon ...is absolute traffic madness!   There are literally millions of motor scooters in the streets and traffic flow is relentless.  You won't ask yourself "Why did the chicken cross the road?"...you'll wonder "How could the chicken possibly ever cross the the road?" 
Just learning to get across the street here is an art form in itself.  The secret is to wait for a small break in the action...it won't last long, so step into the coming traffic and start walking slowly across the street while making eye contact with all the motorbike drivers coming directly at you.  Theory says  they will drive around you and you should make it to the other side unscathed.  My technique: I prefer to wait for an old Vietnamese woman to go and then duck behind her and use her as a shield. 

The nearby tunnels of Cu Chi are one of the main tourist attractions out of the city.  These are the tunnels made famous by the Viet Cong while fighting American troops.  The network of tunnels covers over 120 miles (200 km) and the village of Cu Chi is just a small sample of how they did it.  The landascape here has also been blasted to oblivion.  There are still huge craters left in the earth from B-52 bombers.  Being a former war zone, it's now like Disneyland these days.  Dozens of  buses off load hundreds of tourists for a guided tour of the tunnels and their way of life underground.  Everything is quite biased toward the Vietnamese here including the War Remnants Museum in town.  Let's just say their view of the The War is interesting. 
 
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