Thursday, July 17, 2008

Vietnam: I like my pants linen and my moto without a seatbelt

Crossing the street in Vietnam is like walking through a beehive and just trusting it will be ok if you go at the right pace. If you stop or get scared, ZING, you.are.dead my friend. Every time I do it I feel like a 13-year-old boy is directing all the motos from his Nintendo controller up above, just waiting to confuse one of the opponent motos into crashing into me.

I first discovered this while on my way to a meeting on the other side of town. A professor and I walked to his motorcycle and I put on my helmet in a way that wouldn’t mess up my hair, which is not possible. He couldn’t believe I’d never been on a mototaxi in Ha Noi, or that no one had told me how to cross the street Vietnamese style.

Time to look cool: “Well I’ve only been here 24 hours.” Even cooler: “also, I’ve been in Caracas, where riding these things is likened to a death wish.”

“Hah! Here too!” he shouted as we sped off around the corner, all of my precious papers nearly flying out of my lap and into the street. “The good thing is,” he continued, “I’ve only been in one accident. But it practically wasn’t my fault, you know?”

No. No I don't know.

I then determined why everyone in Ha Noi wears those face masks while riding motos: exhaust fumes. Mmm.

A few white-knuckled miles later, it was yet again time to enter Super Mario land o' oncoming motos. I stayed directly parallel to the professor and copied his movements exactly, in an attempt to use him as a buffer in case of emergency (likely).

Just because they stopped for two seconds is not going to keep them
from starting up while you're mid stream.

When we got to the meeting, rife with chivos (higher ups) in the international development community, I noticed many U.S. expats here like to wear linen, a look that says “I’m humble because I work in development—no 9-5 office clothes for me, no sir. I can take it without AC--just look how simple my office is--except when I get home to my U.S. tax-paid cushy palace that has three local maids and a cook. I also like to have peace of mind—an attitude embodied by these pants that easily adjust to locally practiced meditation poses, which I never do.”

1 comment:

Cory said...

AhHAhahHAh!!!! haha the end is perfect. i love the photo caption.