Riding around Saigon on my motorbike I see, smell and hear a multitude of things that are infinitely photographable and bloggable, that when I visited Vietnam in 2013 and when I first arrived I found magical, and notable, but it’s amazing how quickly you lose that sense of magic when you start working. It becomes normal, typical almost banal in its everydayness. But I know deep down these are the moments, the things I should be recording, writing about and sharing because they are the things that when I return to Europe will disappear into the haze of old memories as new everyday things take their place.
Chickens, chickens, chickens everywhere. Kept under semi-circular wire cages you see them all over town, in the most unlikely of places. Next to the stairs of the swimming pool? Check. Chilling on the street in front of the restaurant? Check. Down the alley next to the slightly up market office building? Check. Sit anywhere in this city, listen closely and somewhere on the breeze will be the sound of a rooster.
Motorbikes are the form of transport in this country. They are the everyman vehicle and the whole city is designed with it in mind. No squared off curbs here, most are sloped in order to mount the curb with your bike that bit easier. Not being able to walk down the street ‘cause the bikes are occupying all the space? Of course, the road is there to be walked on. Who needs an expensive car to carry the kids to school when two parents and three kids will easily squeeze onto a bike- Dad driving, smallest child in front holding onto the “dashboard”, another holding on his shoulders and behind them Mum holding baby tightly, with both arms.
Motorbikes are not only a form of transport but how a lot of things are moved around. Do you need a new mirror delivered? Well, here comes your motorbike courier, one guy driving the other holding onto the giant pane of glass. Tap water is not drinkable, so your water guy delivers your 21litre bottles, carrying a number of full and empty ones….where else but on a bike? It’s impressive to see how much can be loaded and balanced over a bike, even more so when you see them over taking you on a narrow street.
Girl in school uniform, back of Dad’s bike. Pigtails. Navy blue knee length skirt and white shirt. Backpack laden. In her hands, the notes for a test. As the bike weaves in and out, she crams and studies…bit different to the back of the bus.
Written by Alexandra Wilson, blogger, Value Added Life
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