Hurtling down the wrong side of the road on the back of a scooter towards a massive bus wasn’t really something I thought I would be okay with, but there it is.
Saigon is bustling. It’s got some crazy traffic and some crazier drivers. The noise of horns is constant, but there isn’t any sense of road rage. The horns are what make the road safer, really.
Beep-beep-beeeeeeep. Hey friend! I’m about to overtake you!
Within half an hour of my first morning walking around Ho Chi Minh City, I’d been approached be a grandfatherly looking man. He offered to take me around the city to see different sights on the back of his scooter. He would cut down the time walking everywhere and he would even take photos for me! It seemed suss, to say the least. He then started talking about the family he had in Australia and pulled out some photos of them. Cool, I was thinking. I’m not interested. No freaking way am I getting on the back of some random dude’s scooter, no matter how grandfatherly he looks.
But then he pulled out a book of recommendations and pointed to some written in English. I saw the words, “this is legit” and then I remembered that I came to Vietnam to have new experiences and throw my normal what ifs to the wind. So I said okay and hopped on.
It was so much fun. Mr Tong was a great guide, super friendly and got so many photos of me in the most random of places – one of them being a five star hotel. Honestly, why? But I didn’t care. I was having fun feeling like a massive goose.
Aaaaaand then I went to the war memorial and a lot of my good feelings faded. The atrocities inflicted on the Vietnamese people are absolutely appalling. I left feeling ill, but knowing that I had a responsibility to bear witness to this. That the Vietnamese can be so friendly to Westerners after that is an amazing feat.
I’m pretty sure Mr Tong ended up ripping me off when I paid at the end, but after looking at the effects of Agent Orange – that are still occurring today – I didn’t really have it in me to haggle.
Plus, he gave me a pretty great view of the city and made me realise that scooters aren’t that scary.
Thanks, Mr Tong!