04 September, 2006

You down with OPB?

There is a sorta-famous blog about living in Vietnam called Noodlepie. I heard about it somehow, somewhere, before I moved to Saigon and today I was spending part of an excitingly stormy afternoon leafing (clicking, rather) through it, when I found a link to my new yoga teacher's blog.

It is so weird that I was born in this era, with such a fascination with reading other people's thoughts, added to the public online posting of our ramblings and adventures. I discovered great things about Saigon while reading her blog, like where the street is that has all the Vespa dealers, just in case I really want to buy my own motorbike once Kenny gets here. But I also ran across this horror story about a friend who got into a motorbike accident, which totally shook me, since it's the first one I've really heard about in detail (I haven't really been ready to start thinking about the whole concept that these fun, zippy little rides could rip my body apart).

She hit a guy on a bike who was driving the wrong way down the highway. Standard stuff here in Vietnam. As she was lying on the road, broken, bleeding, unable to move, a crowd of gawkers gathered and one of them reached into her bag and stole her MP3 player from in front of her. The police put her in a taxi (with the man who had crashed into her) and they drove her away from the hospital, down a few side alleys, and proceeded to try and get her out of the taxi in the middle of nowhere. One can only speculate on their intentions. I don't want to go there.

This is not the first time I have heard first hand stories of people being robbed as they lie broken and bleeding on the highway. There is a man in FV hospital right now with a 20 % chance of living because as he lay on the highway he passed his phone to someone to call for help and they ran off with it. He was then left lying on the floor of the police station for 6 hours while his brain swelled. I don't know what will happen to him, but it doesn't sound good.

Come on Vietnam. Your reputation is being spoiled by a small minority of ASSHOLES. No-one can escape their own karma. Your actions always catch up with you eventually. You may be poor, but that is no reason to steal off people lying dying and hurting on the roads. I hope I don't here any more stories like this ever again. It is destroying my faith in human nature.

Ugh, ugh, I need a helmet, ugh. I am a helpless human being. I don't have an ID card in Vietnamese, so no one could possibly know my name if I got into an accident. My travel insurance info is written on a scrap piece of paper (in English) in a zipper pocket of my bag. My cell phone has no emergency numbers in it, because I've been too distracted to find out if there is such a thing. Well, there's only one thing for it: I need to get these things done. I need to learn where the hospitals are. I need to go by the American Embassy and "just let them know I'm here" (or so says Mom and Kenny).

Oh god, is it possible to go from such exaltation to such fear about a place in such short time?

Also: today I went for a long walk for exercise, which in my mind couldn't have been more obvious: running shoes, headphones in my ear, scuzzy workout clothes, no purse at all. So WHY did so many people think I wanted a motorbike ride?? It didn't bother me to give 'em the brush off at first, but because I was out for more than an hour I got really freaking tired of men waving for my attention and pointing at their seats (of their bikes, not their behinds). Grrr. How do you say, "idiot, can you not see I'm walking for fun? I know people do this here!" in Vietnamese?

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