How do you drive in Saigon? You just go.
Saigon has been struck by a trà chanh epidemic.
Anyone with a bare plot of sidewalk has set out a few wooden stools, a chalkboard and a black light advertising cups of green tea infused with lime juice and plenty of sugar.
These spots also tend to sell fried cheese stocks and pork pie nuggets. I’d avoid any such snacks.
The tea is indescribably refreshing—the perfect antidote to the heat.
The one place I’m happy to see the police is wherever I’m eating.
Cops don’t make much money, they always drive around and their meals are the best part of their day.
I’ll take a cop’s recommendation over a food critic’s any day of the week.
I’ll say it now and I’ll say it again. One day most men are going to look back on the way we dressed during this time and be goddamned ashamed of ourselves. It won’t be funny or cute and no one will be nostalgic for it.
We’re all just going to lie and say we dressed like this guy—the same way all the French claim they were part of the underground resistance.
Before trusting a man in Vietnam, you must always have a look at his socks. Undercover cops and intelligence spooks sport green ones. Honest folk usually wear none at all.
I’ll leave Saigon when they turn the city’s last rice paddy into a poorly constructed apartment tower that no one can afford to live in.
I give it another two or three years.
Helmets that effectively cover and protect your entire head are disparaged as “rice cookers.”
The more fashionable prefer jet-molded plastic baseball caps.
Recent murmurs in the National Assembly about introducing helmet standards met with the fiercest public outcry I’ve ever seen. Most people still believe that helmets hurt children; current laws exempt kids from wearing them.
Whenever you want to understand these sorts of things in Vietnam, you have to take your brain back to the days when America irrationally feared seat belts and everyone daydreamed about owning a muscle car with razor sharp dashboards and an ashtray in every door.
Sure, everyone died a lot more easily back them.
But wasn’t it a shit ton more fun to be alive?
I don’t generally tell people I’m from the US, I say I’m from California.
Everyone has good feelings about California, all over the world.
In Vietnam, it exists like a eugenic moon colony in a Sci-fi movie—a place where half the country went and returned as a kind of different species: richer, fatter, stronger.
The feelings about these people are certainly mixed, but few would turn down the opportunity to rocket out to planet “Ca-li” to upgrade, at least for a while.
Few understand that most of the state is this.