We're home after a short, 10-day trip to Vietnam. We spent time in Saigon, Hoi An and Da Nang. The people are lovely but the system's a bit fucked. I've been to a lot of places in the world and there is always something good and bad about each place. Vietnam's 'good' included the food, the fresh bia (beer) for 4000 Dong (about 23 cents), the colours and the Vietnamese coffee with condensed milk and ice - cà phê sữa đá. The 'bad' I would have to say is that not once did I feel like I wasn't an outsider. It may have been the places we visited or just chance, but I felt that each cafe, restaurant and even the beach I was a visitor.
“Nobody gives way to anybody. Everyone just angles, points, dives directly toward his destination, pretending it is an all-or-nothing gamble. People glare at one another and fight for maneuvering space. All parties are equally determined to get the right-of-way--insist on it. They swerve away at the last possible moment, giving scant inches to spare. The victor goes forwards, no time for a victory grin, already engaging in another contest of will. Saigon traffic is Vietnamese life, a continuous charade of posturing, bluffing, fast moves, tenacity and surrenders.” Andrew X Pham.