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Motor Madness

We had read a lot about the streets of Ho Chi Min, otherwise know as Saigon.

That they were busy with motorbikes, flying and flitting all over the place, swerving and sliding down windy and unkept roads.

I'd prepared myself but fell back on what I continue to fall back on when people tell me about the traffic in South East Asia - have you been to Korea?

I have written before about the traffice in Korea - how all you need to do is simply pretend you are only person on the road. And use your brake excessively.

For years, D has always poked fun at the way I'm terrified to cross the street. In addition to being a mermaid in my past life, I"m certain as well that I must have been hit by a car, perhaps when I was someone's golden retriever.

I was bad enough in Toronto and not much better in Korea.

I began to just get used to the cars come careening towards me. I would curse and srunch my face up, thinking that showing my frustration would somehow will the Koreans to be better drivers. Or at least feel bad that they almost killed me.

So, I was looking forward to Saigon, but I was also NOT looking forward to Saigon.

We had been told that the easiest way to get across the street was walk slowly, or in other words, very carefully. Don't run. Don't stop. Just walk.

The brilliance of it all? The bikes will SWERVE AROUND YOU.

It was time to see just how much my nerves could take.

We had just come from Bangkok, an amazing city that got so much hype for being ridiculously crazy and was just a breath of fresh air. We didn't stay in the covetted backpacker area but had such a SE Asian urban experience anyway, one that was not filled with people hasseling you or trying to rip you off.

I had my city shoes on, but I just wasn't sure if the motorbikes weren't going to beat me in my first Vietnam city.

Leaving the airport, we got a taxi into town.

From the moment he started driving, all you heard was horns, honking more out of a sense of 'i'm coming through' than an angry Chicago or NY type honking.

From the instant I checked to find a seatbelt discovering it was gone, I saw motorbikes.

Motorbikes out the windshield.

Motorbikes out the passenger window.

Motorbikes coming towards us.

Motorbikes coming from behind us.

Motorbikes narrowly missing us.

It was a 30 minute drive and it did....not....stop.

Getting out of the cab, it was time to cross the street.

I panicked and froze and D was suddenly gone, away across the street and into an alley...somewhere.

And there I was, on the other side of the street, near our hotel with no idea as to where I was going.

Then she appeared, out of no where, asking me if I needed help.

She took my elbow, which was strained from the 20K I had on my back, and lead me across the street, just like they said. We did not stop. We did not go quickly. We went slowly.

And we made it.

I was proud of myself then and over the course of the next 2 days when out of necessity, I had to get across the street BY MYSELF.

Can I say I added a new twist?

It's kinda like walking over a bridge. Sometimes it's better not to look down. Cause if you turn to see the sea of motor chaos stampeding towards you, you'll become that deer in headlights and most certainly will meet the fate of Bambi's mother.

So I just focussed on the spot across on the other side of the road, the little oasis that I kept telling the sky that I would never leave again if I could just get back to it safely, and then, it didn't seem all that bad.

That fear conquered, I decided it was time to attempt to decend into the Cu Chi tunnels to abolish my claustrophobia.

Can I just say it didn't go all that well? Next time...


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