Towards the end of our Cu Chi (pronounced goo jee) Tunnel tour, as we headed back to the bus, I stopped to sign the visitor's book. Bich had pointed it out and asked me if I wanted to write something. I said yes- would a writer ever say no to an invitation to write something? As I kept writing, Bich asked me to hurry up because our fellow tourists were probably waiting for us. When I explained to her the danger of offering a pen and a blank page to a writer, she smiled and nodded.
That little event neatly highlights two things about my recent trip to Vietnam. Firstly, the continued blossoming of our new marriage relationship, and secondly, the difficulty of nutshellizing my holiday. It was so great - undoubtedly the best holiday I've ever had -that it's hard to know where to begin recounting all the wonderful experiences I had. Therefore, I am not going to do that. Instead, I will offer just a few snapshots.
Fifteen million people live in Ho Chi Minh City which most locals still refer to as Saigon. It's a crazy, crazy town with so much to see and do. It struck me one morning late in my second week, as we were en route to meet my mum and sister at the Ducati dealership, that I had never experienced a traffic jam in Saigon. Despite the huge volume of vehicles, mostly motorcycles, and their chaotic movement, it flows. Regardless of the near misses, swerving, and the use of handheld devices by many drivers and riders, I never saw an accident.
I know they happen - Bich had two minor accidents in one week prior to my arrival - but I was on the road for many hours, and I never saw any collisions. Even when observing from the footpaths, which are not at all people friendly (motorbikes use them, as do ubiquitous street vendors), or from the safety of one of Saigon's countless cafes and restaurants, I never saw anything go wrong on the roads.
It looks for all the world like a road system destined to perpetual choking, frequent accidents and road rage. But it works. With cars and motorbikes moving in all directions, not driving in lanes (because there usually aren't any) and right of way always taken, not given, Saigon's traffic should be a basket case...but it isn't.
This is only one amazing aspect of Vietnam: a country to which I am now perpetually bound courtesy of God giving me an angel from Saigon as my wife.