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Meanwhile, here in Ho Chi Minh City the man in the street continues not to give a Phu Quoc and continues to ride around on his automatic motor bike, past countless neon lights and air conditioned buildings, buses and cars. The number and ubiquity of these bikes causes every visitor to marvel and I am no exception. There are far more of them,surely, than the roads can support, and yet as they weave slowly past each other I have yet to see an accident. Every driver looks fixedly ahead but not to right or left, and while no one hits the bike in front, no one hits anything. (Fingers crossed, God willing). The small motor bike is used for every purpose. Occasionally for a solo rider to go somewhere, but just as often as a people carrier - I have seen 5 up several times, and while it is compulsory for adults to wear a helmet (pathetic flimsy things) the baby balanced on the handle bars and the primary school age children squeezed between the parents do not! Sometimes a high chair is mounted on the footrests to keep the baby upright. I have seen a ladder, an ironing board, a kitchen table on the back of a moped, and the garden centre routinely uses a bike to deliver 6 foot or taller plants in huge pots. These pot grown trees are everywhere and of very high quality. Puppies look pretty cute with their front paws up on the handle bars. The one way street is a recognised concept here, but not absolutely enforced - old ladies on push bikes in particular seem happy to turn the wrong way out of side streets, but it must work, or they wouldn't be old? Crossing the road is a knack you have to learn, if you walk slowly enough then the chances are the traffic will open up enough to pass either side of you, but I have been warned not to try it with buses. So I've got the traffic off my chest.
And Vietnam has signed up to some carbon reduction efforts - apparently growing rice produces the greenhouse gases methane and nitrous oxide, so they are working on that, and they are taking money from the carbon fund.
While the traffic is astonishing and the hundreds of adults sitting on Bui Vien in tiny plastic chairs are amusing the country does have a very recent and hideous war to remember. The War Remnants museum sets out in detail just how little idea the Americans had to wage a war against an enemy like the Viet Cong, and the depths thay sank to try and prevail. The museum is run by the Communist state, and makes no effort whatsoever to be even handed in its treatment of the history, but why should they? And however many museums like this there are, there are still wars. Its one of the things that people do.
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