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    I’m chillin’ in Vietnam


    by Sunny
    14th March, 2010 at 9:56 am    

    Hi all,
    just a quick message from the wonderful city of Ho Chi Minh, aka Saigon, where I’ve temporarily stopped by an internet cafe. As you can see, I’m not making a habit of it. HCM City is, to my mind, amazing for its sheer craziness and vitality. I hired out a scooter and have been driving it around everywhere. The thing about the roads here is that there are no rules at all - people regularly ignore traffic lights, cross roads whereever they want, and een drive straight into incoming traffic while expecting others to give way (and people generally do). It’s reckless and crazy but very exhilirating. I’ve not driven into incoming traffic yet but may do so in Hanoi - where I’m headed tonight.

    From there it’s a bus to Laos, and then somehow into Burma. After that it’s back to Thailand. Today I spent so long driving in the hot baking sun that I may actually have a tan and look brown. I can’t wait to see Hanoi. Right, I’m off to eat my mango.


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    12 Comments below   |  

    Reactions: Twitter, blogs


    1. MiriamBinder — on 14th March, 2010 at 10:09 am  

      Happy to hear you are still going strong … I envy you the experience.

    2. damon — on 14th March, 2010 at 1:07 pm  

      He hired a scooter in Ho Chi Minh???

      Brave or a bit mad?
      I’m not sure. I found it scary enough just trying to cross the road on foot.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-JNWucQJGVI&feature=related

      Also, the center of Ho Chi Minh City is still oficially called Saigon.

      ”Not a lot of people know that”

    3. Mr Eugenides — on 14th March, 2010 at 3:13 pm  

      Hanoi is pretty insane - crossing the road is something of an art, you simply have to walk out in front of the oncoming scooters and back yourself to get across.

      [disclaims all responsibility for Sunny's horrible impending death]

    4. kELvi — on 14th March, 2010 at 11:35 pm  

      Sunny, here’s something interesting about Ho Chi Minh City. After the rout of the US-S.Vietnamese forces, the fall of Saigon, and its Liberation, the new unified administration renamed the city in honor of the late great Ho Chi Minh. The US administration, being a sore, petulant, and graceless loser, naturally continued stubbornly to refer to it as Saigon. And then in 1977 in India, in West Bengal, the communist led leftists won the elections to the state legislature, and presently Jyoti Basu - a dyed in the wool commie - was elected chief minister by his party in the state house. The first thing his administration did was to rename several streets in Calcutta excising the names of colonial flunkies and carpetbaggers with the names of patriots, world leaders, and luminaries of letters. Obscure names too underwent a change. So Parade Row became JL Nehru Road, Dalhousie Square was renamed Badal Benoy Dinesh Bagh, Lower Circular Road became Acharya Jagadish Chandra Bose Road (named after the 19th century inventor of wireless transmission) Another obscure street, Harrington Street, was renamed Ho Chi Minh Sarani (Sarani=Street). No one cared at first, then realization dawned. This is the street that houses the offices of the US Consulate! So overnight the US Dep of State had to order new stationery and update its address books. Anything, letterheads, guidebooks, internal documents even, etc., now had to carry the name of Ho Chi Minh Sarani. Reagan, incensed is believed to have asked if the consulate could be shifted to some other street in Calcutta, to be told that Jyoti Basu would rename whichever street they shifted the consulate to after some Marxist/Communist. So unless the State Dept decided to move out of Calcutta there is nothing they could do.

    5. douglas clark — on 15th March, 2010 at 12:17 am  

      kElvi,

      I don’t know if this is the equal of your tale, and frankly I love your tale.

      Once upon a time, there was a place in Glasgow called Royal Exchange Square. it was the home of the Scottish Stock Exchange. The disgusting lefties in the Town Council renamed it Nelson Mandela Square.

      I have no idea whether there is a Scottish Stock Exchange there anymore.

      And most of us have no real regrets about the renaming.

      If there is, I’d imagine it is in that godless City called Edinburgh…

    6. Sarah AB — on 15th March, 2010 at 8:28 am  

      Does anyone else hear Marcus Brigstocke’s voice when they read Sunny’s posts?

      Seriously, continue to have a nice (and safe!) time. And I’ll try not to feel too jealous as I contemplate the thought of a short Easter break in Norfolk.

    7. halima — on 15th March, 2010 at 9:20 am  

      Sounds like a great trip! Enjoy.

    8. Riz Din — on 15th March, 2010 at 11:12 pm  

      Hey, you’re out in Vietnam? Fantastic…have a great time. Man, I really loved that place. Be sure to try the Vietnamese coffee at the street stalls - stuff is seriously potent!

    9. Sunny — on 16th March, 2010 at 11:22 am  

      hello all!

      I’m still alive! I even made a video of crossing the road here - as everyone says it is a pretty hair-raising experience. But I loved it.

      Survived the scooter experience quite easily… even drove it 40km out of town to the Cu Chi tunnels. Its pretty mad out here (Hanoi is crazy too, but not as much as HCMC).

      will write more soon!

    10. Sunny — on 16th March, 2010 at 11:25 am  

      So unless the State Dept decided to move out of Calcutta there is nothing they could do.

      hilarious!

      Have to say - the really celebrate their war against the Americans here, despite the normalisation of relations. The Cu Chi tunnels, where they dug over 250m of tunnels toevade US bombing were very impressive. And that still remains a major US tourist attraction. And then there is the face of Ho Chi Minh everywhere.

    11. Jai — on 16th March, 2010 at 1:29 pm  

      Glad to hear you’re enjoying your holiday, Sunny. Have a safe trip.

    12. Dr Paul — on 16th March, 2010 at 6:54 pm  

      ‘The thing about the roads here is that there are no rules at all – people regularly ignore traffic lights, cross roads whereever they want, and een drive straight into incoming traffic while expecting others to give way (and people generally do).’

      That’s what large numbers of cyclists do in London all the time.

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