A bit of background to catch up my newer readers: my wife is from Vietnam so I have recently had the pleasure of periodic travel to East Asia. While there I've spent most of my time in a lovely vibrant town once called Saigon and now officially designated Ho Chi Minh City. I've come to the conclusion that one of the more characteristic things about any given place is the way we get around. Ho Chi Minh is quite unlike most other places I've been. (And I've covered some distance in my short life, touching the soil of forty-seven states, nine countries, and three continents. Typically for at least 24 hours and in many cases quite a bit more than that.) The US is a car country defined by fancy highways of almost exorbitant length, with a few significant exceptions. (And even the exceptions have their share of pavement.) Europe, with less space for roadways and more people per square klick, is remarkably multi-modal.
Asia, particularly South and East Asia, make Europe seem only slightly more densely populated than the moon. I expect most people have seen pictures of Asian traffic; the solid walls of people on the streets of Mumbai, the miles long parking lots leading into Beijing, the trains breathing pressurized human life in and out of Tokyo. Ho Chi Minh isn't quite like any of these. There are no trains to speak of. There is but one highway (though a second is under construction) and it isn't as yet a parking lot. And no one seems to walk much of anywhere. (I'm a little surprised people walk from their bedroom to their front door, but the houses are small and vertical and motor vehicles don't do stairs well.) So what is Saigon traffic? Motorbikes: mopeds, scooters, crotch-rockets, even the occasional cruiser. It seems as though all the bikes at Sturgis have been hit with a shrink ray and gotten very jiggy populating the streets and lanes of a large, but surprisingly compact Southern Florida style paradise by the millions. It may be the largest collection of two-stroke love on earth. And of course everyone is honking or beeping at all times, traffic laws are fluid, and signals are scarce. In short, it . . . is . . . FUN!
Some minor temporal liberties have been taken, but I hope this gives you a flavor of where I'm going. It's a fun town, Saigon, a great place to relax, eat, visit friends and family. It's a busy, bustling place where a lot of people work and play hard. It makes for a truly memorable power-assisted walk in the park.