Việt Nam – The Low Down Adventure
Travel gives me a different perspective about big and little things. The different ways of life, the different ways people navigate their everyday. I love how something as base as buying groceries is totally different from country to country. I love waking up in a different bed, in a different country on a regular basis – something as simple as showering can take on a totally different form (um, hello Việt Nam!).
Việt Nam was a constant stream of gettin’ schooled how the locals do. The first time we had to cross the flooded stream of nonstop scooters to get to the other side of the road… INSANITY. Maybe you’ve heard about the scooters of Việt Nam – maybe you’ve experienced it yourself. But holy shit nothing prepared me for the constant barrage of scooters scootin’ up and down streets, sidewalks, literally anywhere they could squeeze in.
But to my surprise, by the second day I was navigating the swarm like a champ. I remember the exact moment, the exact crossing. It was the busiest intersection I can remember. I waited forever for a break, any sign of slowin’ down. It never happened. The constant stream would not give. A group of older men across the street were watching me… I could tell they knew I was a foreigner and wondering how this scene would pan out. I kept looking at my phone, memorizing the time, so I’d know the approximate time I’d get run over. Tragic? Totally.
When I looked up from my phone for the millionth time, I watched two high-school kids dart across the street. And then I went for it and… I swear, I parted the sea of scooters. I maneuvered the stream without rushing or running, totally calm. It was the closest zen-like moment I’ve had in ages. When I reached the other side, standing in front of the group of men, I looked at them and they all gave me a half-tilted nod. It was like I’d passed the test – I’d entered their super-exclusive club.
But my low-down adventures with scooters didn’t stop there. By the third day we were scootin’ all over Ho Chi Minh City on scooters! Earlier that day we met up with two locals, Trung and Justin, for a soon-to-announced RAD AND HUNGRY project. Our meeting over coffee led to an afternoon full of amazing, by way of scooter – and made possible by our new friends.
We scootered around Chinatown where we secured two custom notebook orders… Devoured the best Vietnamese pancakes… Drank under a tarp in a school parking lot, in the rain… Ate gỏi đu đủ bò khô on a curb under blazin’ neon signs. Surreal. Glorious. Lasting memories that will forever make Việt Nam one of my all-time fave countries.
Why I loved scootin’ around HCMC? It gives a totally different perspective. The view from the back seat of a scooter turned my view of HCMC all upside down and around (well, not literally). Navigating, maneuverin’ the streets, moving fast then slow and all I know? I’m stuck on you, Scooter City Saigon.
(PS – Why Việt Nam instead of Vietnam? How the locals do.)