• Bob Taylor

Musings - Day 27

Day 27 – 22nd January 2020

Ho Chi Minh / Saigon call it what you will – everyone here is obsessed with the American dollar and the fundamental desire to rip you off. Interesting city but boy you have to be careful with your Wonga! Thanks for the readership, hope that you are all getting along fine with the journey so far. The messages are great!

The entrance to my £15 a night hotel - I think the flowers are to do with New Year.

This place has to be the moped / scooter capitol of the world! They are everywhere. The anticipatory skills of the riders are phenomenal! Never saw one collision, near scrape, or to be honest any real danger on the roads. There does not seem to be any discernible rules. It is all done with the eyes, gestures and the obligatory horn. Forget the wheels, transmission, load capacity, or fuel economy, the first requirement of any vehicle purchase must be, "How loud is the horn?" Your average ‘Toot’ is of no consequence whatsoever. There are more two wheelers than I have seen anywhere, with most carrying three or four passengers. (You work it out.)

Yes those are my feet - read on you will see why.

The first person I met on the street this morning was a 59 year old rickshaw driver called Thi . You are absolutely right that I was tempted to blurt out that he was named after a leg muscle, but it paled into the forgotten shadows when I heard him speak. He had a bicycle rickshaw but he would not let me photograph him because he is a Buddhist. They believe that you are robbing them of a personal moment of their life by capturing their image on film. Fair enough! But he was okay with his bike though - don't think that I am going to expand on this one.

It was like listening to a chipmunk on ecstasy. Every sentence was finished with “Oow my gard, ha,ha,ha,” Examples of which are offered, “You like football?” – “Yes,” – “Oow my gard, ha,ha,ha.” “Happy New year, it two days soon, Oow my gard, ha,ha,ha.” How about the sentence, “I, 42 kilos, you much bigger, I uphill have to get out and pull, Oow my gard, ha,ha,ha.” My £3 per hour tour of Saigon on a rickshaw was quite an experience really, despite the dialogue. I first got the inclination that he intended to rip me off, like everyone else in this city, when he stopped the rickshaw outside the perimeter of the Hong Kong market. There was a roadside café here on the very edge of the market, that we sat at because he was, “Velly Velly tired, you big man, me 42 kilos, Oow my gard, ha,ha,ha.” He needed refreshments, and to be perfectly honest so did I. He ordered in Vietnamese and I paid the bill (naturally) of 85000 Dongs which is around $4 or £3.50p (for one beer, one green milky fruit drink) Now anywhere else in the world that seems a reasonable transaction, except that we are in Vietnam. For that kind of money, I had two courses and two drinks for dinner last night! So the writing was on the wall for a bit of a fall out between me and Mr leg muscle. Geographically, I had been making mental notes about where I was in relation to my hotel, so even though we had covered around three miles in the time, I had a pretty good idea how to get back. It was then that our dishonourable Mr.Thi had a call. Obviously from Mrs. Wifey, obviously saying baby sick, obviously saying he needed to stop tour to take baby to hospital. The usual kibosh without any modern takes on an old theme. The agreed fare at the start was 150’000 Dongs which equates to about £5. (No problem there – quite happy.) But I know what’s around the corner metaphorically.

“We say 1.500’000 Dong at start of trip, Oow my gard, ha,ha,ha.” (Around £50 or $65 U.S. for the hour.) So I am on a street around a mile or so from where I need to be arguing with a lying toe rag who has involved his family in the scam. ‘Bobby Talk’ and ‘Do one’ is about as much as I need to say here, but as a final gesture, I left him with my version of, Oow my gard, ha,ha,ha!

A two hundred year old tree, visited by Barak Obama.

A two hundred year old temple, visited by Barak Obama.

The same temple, visited by Barak Obama - Little bit of a theme forming here...

Apparently he didn't go to this one.

I walked in the city for around twenty five minutes sweating like a steam house cat, when I picked up my first reference point or landmark. It was a flower market that we had been to earlier. I remembered it being around three minutes from the hotel. From there using the giveaway map in reception I found my way by foot to the bus station.

All the sponsored shirts are at the laundry.

From a little office opposite I purchased my tomorrows bus ticket for the five hour journey, through the border into Cambodia and onwards to its capital Phnom Penh. I picked my overnight for £12 ,based on its distance from the Olympic Stadium, where the bus is due to drop me off tomorrow.

On my way back to the hotel, in fact right opposite the entrance, I stopped for a soda. I am drinking my coke as I am distracted by something over the road. It is two cages containing fighting cocks. The cages are on the pavement about two feet apart, as the birds are strutting their stuff to each other. With barely enough room to manoeuvre, the birds are itching to get at each other. Well as if that wasn’t cruel enough, the owner (presumably) comes out and lets them go! They fought, scrapped, gouged and clawed for a few seconds as the melee spilled onto the moped infested street. I couldn’t believe what I was watching. He owner, ever vigilant of concerned individuals or perhaps the authorities, then separated the cocks, placing them back into their cages. All this happened within probably thirty seconds, as though it was a sparring match just to get them worked up. Unnecessary because I don't think for one solitary minute either was on the others Christmas card list! The mere fact that they could see each other was enough to goad them both. When I finished my coke I went over the road to photograph the birds but the owner was nowhere to be seen. It seems that in Asia they have a completely diametrically opposed view of caring for animals that we have.

Position: 10°46'17” N 106°41'46”E – Miles completed: 10017

Location: Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam 18:42 - 22nd January 2020 - Journey 27 days 16 hours


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