Sunday, May 08, 2011

Vietnam Photos

Here are the photographic highlights from our brief trip to Ho Chi Minh City. All these were taken with the Digital Harinezumi, the only camera I carried with me to Vietnam. Click on individual images to view at 800x600 pixels.

First, a word about motor scooters. Thanks to the sheer volume of scooter traffic filling virtually every road in the city at virtually all hours of the day, riding in a Ho Chi Minh City taxi feels like trying to shake the Germans in an Indiana Jones movie. One night our cab driver actually hit someone on a scooter and knocked them over. The two drivers involved in the accident yelled at each other for about 90 seconds and then went their respective ways. Nobody was killed. True story.

Next I'd like to discuss signage.

Ho Chi Minh City is full of signs. Whether they're telling you where not to park or what socio-economic system is best, signs are many, and they are all colorful. One of my favorites was the sign outside the office of a dentist whose name is apparently Dr. Dentist:

The award for Most Terrifying Sign at Night goes to that of the Crazy Buffalo, a bar I'm glad we didn't go to.

Not far from the Crazy Buffalo, you can see this:

One afternoon I was standing on a street corner trying to grab a taxi when this guy on a bicycle-taxi (or what ever you call a bicycle with a low seat attached to the front, kind of like a rikisha that is pedaled instead of pushed) pulled up next to me. He wouldn't take no for an answer, even after I showed him the address of my hotel and told him it was too far to go by bike-shaw. When I decided to keep walking and look for a different street corner to wait for my taxi, he followed me. And he kept following me at walking speed for more than two blocks. After talking him down to what I thought was a reasonable fare, I decided to give this guy a chance.

It was a long trip back to the hotel. More than an hour, and a hair-raising ride at that, thanks to the aforementioned motor bikes that constantly swerved on either side of my "taxicle."

Along the way, the driver tried indicating points of interest to me, but I couldn't understand most of what he said. He pointed at a brewery and said, "Beer." He pointed at a statue of Ho Chi Minh and said, "Ho Chi Minh." Then he pointed at a post office and said, "Ho Chi Minh." When he pointed at a motorcycle shop and said, "Vroom," I sort of stopped listening. Here's what my vantage point from the seat looked like:

On my last day in Vietnam, I went to see the Ho Chi Minh Notre Dame Cathedral and the War Remnants Museum. Here are some exterior shots of the cathedral:

Out in front of the War Remnants Museum were an array of American military land and air vehicles:

I also met this guy:

He was selling books and DVDs outside the museum entrance. He was missing an eye and both forearms. Disappointed with how I had handled myself upon meeting the disfigured man outside Bến Thành Market days earlier, I talked with this man for several minutes and shook his elbow in lieu of his hand.

The War Remnants Museum is a solemn (and/or grim) place, but I recommend it, particularly to other Americans who might not otherwise have occasion to hear another side of the story of the Vietnam War. All exhibits therein located include English descriptions.

No comments: