Saigon road hazards, and learning how to live

I've got a little extra time this week, look so I'm going to try to blog a little more than usual.
I've covered off many of the things I needed to do to settle in here, patient and my work schedule is getting a little more regular.  I still have to get a bike licence, but there's not too much more on my must do list.

I had to ride home in rain and heavy cross-winds for the first time today – an activity that is understandably quite dangerous even without a road covered with people like ants at a picnic. Interestingly enough I felt safer than I normally do as all the other riders were trying to be careful for a change. It's amazing how many accidents you see each week, all caused by people not thinking about what they're doing, what laws they're breaking, and that it usually hurts when you get into an accident.
This is the view of the street below my apartment after I arrived home. Yeah, it looks just like a normal, wet Melbourne night, but you try riding a scooter on it!  They don't have hazard signs on bridges here like they do on the Westgate when the wind gets up.

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I've had two minor prangs, but neither resulted in damage to anyone, and both were because the other person was running a red light or riding on the wrong side of the road – neither of which is enough to cause an accident, because many people do that, but both appeared from behind stationary cars. I lost a rear mirror, but that was easy enough to put back on.

I'm getting better at riding as each day goes by, and I've already had a comment from one of the Vietnamese teachers who got a lift with me to dinner one night that I am a better rider than most locals.  That might not be a good thing, though…what do they say? When in Rome, do as the Romans do?

Bought a hot water heater today so I can finally start having hot showers tomorrow. I get to remove it and take it with me when I leave, so it's not a total waste of money.  I don't think cold showers can get you clean, so it will be so nice to be clean again after nearly 3 weeks of less than effective showers (no, I don't smell!).

Had my first hair cut today as well, and about time! Your hair, fingernails and beard all grow about three times as fast here as they do back home. Don't ask me why, I haven't researched that yet. The "Uon Toc" (literal translation is "perm") I entered is a place recommended by a local, and I am glad I took the recommendation – excellent cut by a really nice guy with a young son who sat with me and chatted in English all the while (translating back to his Dad regularly). It was completed with a long (30 minutes) shampoo and head and neck massage which felt great. All of that for VND60,000 (less than $5).

Last night I ate street food after midnight (After school we usually wind down with a drink, a meal, and chat until quite late, as most of us don't work until the next evening), and it cost me VND30000 for 3 main meals (2 for me, the other I shouted my friend) and a coke. Oh oh oh! Before I forget! I was drinking with three travelers last week – 1 Aussie, 1 American & 1 Czech – and they mentioned that Coke means the white powder stuff over here.  I didn't believe them, but right on time a guy came up to me at my sidewalk table and offered me sunglasses, cigarettes, marijuana and coke! In Vietnam!!!  Not wanting to be either dispatched by firing squad, or have my mind altered any more than it already is, I gracefully declined.  But there's a first!!!

So, back to my meal last night.  That's just over $2 for filling meals for both myself and another, and it was delicious. Of course, much of the food I eat costs a lot more than that, as I have been eating at more established places and usually drink a couple of beers each time (safer than water). But the beer is around 80 cents. Most of my meals have been extravagant to date, costing me around $6-$10 for the lot. I will start to get more fussy about paying less for food as I get more comfortable with the city.

Anyway, I'm about to be late for a catch-up with an Aussie mate who just bought a bar in Cambodia. Got to press Send on this thing.

See ya

PS – Lots of photos on Flickr if you haven't already figured that out. Go look at the Travel, Asia collection and view the ASIA III – Saigon set.  I don't post many here at the moment because it's too much effort – easier just to upload to Flickr. Just keep watching Channel Steve and/or Facebook for notifications of Flickr updates. At the moment the Channel Steve digests don't seem to be working, but I hope to get that fixed soon.  And I have about three weeks of photos yet to be uploaded, including some from my Philippines adventures.

PPS – Not trying to scare anyone, but a bus cleaned up a guy and his kid outside my apartment yesterday morning. Kid survived, as the dad threw him to the side before the impact. Dad didn't.  Don't worry, I pay VND300,000 to cops in lieu of being hit by buses (read one of my previous posts). I also don't ride like an idiot.

Posted via email from RockPortrait in Vietnam

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