Vietnam, 2008

Feature image for post about travel to Viet Nam

Vietnam: The Emerald Green Land in South East Asia

My trip to Vietnam began in the town of Chau Doc, near the Cambodian border. I arrived by boat from Phnom Pehn Cambodia.

It was incursions into and around Chau Doc by the Cambodian Khmer Rouge regime that led to Vietnam’s invasion of Cambodia in 1979. The Khmer Rouge crossed the border several times to chase down and kill people who had fled Cambodia to escape their genocidal madness. Many Vietnamese were also murdered in these raids.

While in Chau Doc I went to see a fish farm on the Hau Giang River. I hired a small boat captained by a kid about 13 years old and he ferried me out to some houses anchored to the river bottom. These houses were on wooden stilts just above the river’s surface. Inside each house was a trap door in the floor. One of the home owners opened a trap door and I could see the river’s surface below. After he tossed a scoop of fish pellets into the water dozens of fish came roiling to the surface with their mouths agape. Under each of the houses in the river were nets crammed with fish.

Saigon can be nerve shattering. I’ve never seen a city so abuzz with motorcycle traffic. They’re everywhere and their riders have little regard for traffic regulations. It’s actually quite dangerous in Saigon because when you are walking anywhere motorcycles can seem to come out of nowhere bearing down on you fast enough that you really have no time to react. I came very close to getting hit by one a few times. I wasn’t distracted during these occasions. In fact in each case I was trying to detect as much around me as possible to avoid a collision and almost got run over anyway. Crossing a street, any street, in Saigon takes audacity. Sidewalks aren’t safe either. When they’re not clogged with parked motorcycles, people on motorcycles are using them for speedways. The only time I felt safe from motorcycles when I was outside is when I was on the back of one being taxied somewhere. In Saigon there’s always someone around who’s willing to take you where you want to go on their motorbike in exchange for a dollar or two.

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