June 3, 2017John, Vietnam Standard

After our almost scooter accident Sarah decided not to ride them anymore and I don’t blame her. With no public transportation the locals take scooters to get around Ho Chi Minh. Scooters are the fastest way to get around since they split lanes, drive on sidewalks, park anywhere that’s flat and carry a family of five. On my only ride since the accident my driver was weaving in and out of stopped traffic and going into oncoming traffic as is typical in this city. I felt pretty nervous compared to previous times but what the heck, I’ll keep doing it. We use an app called “Grab” to summon scooters, similar to Uber or Lyft in America. The driver shows up a minute later, hands you a helmet and you’re off.

I feel quite cut off from Vietnam in District 2. As I write this I’m staring out the window of our high rise apartment which overlooks empty pits, cleared fields, cranes and other signs of a changing neighborhood. I’m told the Vietnamese government has big plans for this district. The slums have been been paved over to provide more high rises with pools, gyms and Starbucks for expats like myself. The cost of progress, I guess.

Outside this window at any given moment there are hundreds of scooters going either direction along the highway. It’s like a group-think experiment watching them navigate. Without any safety distance between them every five seconds I see something we would classify a “close call” in the West. I’m reminded of ants working together to build something without a leader or a computer program we made for a college class called “Life”. Between the scooters and our window is the half-completed metro system that will connect Ho Chi Minh’s many districts. If it’s ever completed it will change the city and hopefully reduce scooter accidents – now that’s progress.


View from our window. Lots of scooters and construction. The metro construction is visible in the foreground.


Metro construction in our district, District 2. New high rises visible in background.


Scooter traffic around Turtle Lake in downtown Ho Chi Minh.


A scooter “parkade”. The fellow is collecting parking fees.


Typical scooter load.


Vehicles and pedestrians must cross this flooded road to get to our building complex.


Construction workers. The lower one is welding without fall protection, the other is smoking while watching, also not tied in.


Enjoying a drink near the lobby of our high rise during a tropical downpour.

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