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Vietnam: Scooter Madness


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My first view of the streets of Saigon were dark, blurry and in constant motion. I'd heard that nearly everyone in Vietnam gets around on scooters and motorcycles, but I didn't really 'get' it until we were surrounded by them.

Apparently, government taxes and restrictions make buying a car prohibitively expensive, so pretty much everyone gets around on two wheels.

I have to say, it fascinated me. As much disdain as I may have for cars, I don't think I could ride around the way they do out there. It definitely captured my attention though, I couldn't stop taking pictures of them. See more after the jump.


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The scooters inundated every intersection, ebbing and flowing like the tides. To say that traffic rules are flexible is to presume that there are any rules to speak of. Most streets we saw didn't really have traffic lights, instead just depending on a natural rhythm that works remarkably well.

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I was frustrated again and again trying to photograph the scooters from the sidewalk. It wasn't until we took a bus trip out of town or hopped in a cab that I was able to get a closer view.

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What amazed us both watching people ride around was how much would fit on any given scooter. Whole families, parents, kids and all would cram onto a single scooter.


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Even adult passengers would pile on. Notably, many of the women riding on the back of the scooters rode side saddle, which seemed particularly hazardous when in the middle of a traffic jam.

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The scooters are used to haul all sorts of unlikely cargo around town. It was really remarkable. And at all hours of the day and night, they buzzed around town.

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