Visit Your Local PBS Station PBS Home PBS Home Programs A-Z TV Schedules Watch Video Donate Shop PBS Search PBS
Hitchhiking Vietnam
DESTINATIONS
Saigon

"Gulik perched above and behind me, his knees pumping and his rubber flip-flops askew on the cyclo pedals. "I", he said, inserting the cyclo deftly into the almost seamless flow of traffic, "am the Speeding Bullet. Nobody is faster than Gulik." We hurtled into an intersection, a lawless confluence of three streams of traffic, where life seemed measured in inches and stunning acts of courage went virtually unnoticed. My feet disappeared momentarily under the fender of an oncoming truck, then reappeared to clip the outermost egg of a moving vendor's cart. Gulik laughed gaily and surged towards the next giddy brush with death while I surreptitiously wiped the yolk off my Reeboks."

Excerpt from Hitchhiking Vietnam

map WEATHER:
It's just what you'd expect when you think of Vietnam. Hot.

THINGS TO LOOK FOR:
  1. Cholon means "Big market" and is Saigon's version of Chinatown.
  2. Traffic. At rush hour it's two-wheel bumper-to-bumper. Quite a sight to see.
  3. Most people think Saigon is big, ugly, dirty, polluted, noisy, and hot. They're right. That's why this section is so short.

FACTS:

Every nook and cranny, every inch of sidewalk along Dong Ho Avenue is occupied by budding businessmen and women, their wares spilling out into the street: fried dog, bike repair, chickens (live or dead), second-hand plastic pens, and single sheets of paper. Here and there a drunk retches into a gutter and a dog sniffs casually at a rotting rat.

Excerpt from Hitchhiking Vietnam
Okay, it's really called Ho Chi Minh City, but everybody still refers to it as Saigon.

The Vietnamese need a residence permit to live in Saigon. About one-third of the population is illegal. That means their children cannot get into schools, they cannot own property, and they can only take "black market" jobs (like cyclo driver and market loader). Many illegal residents are ex-South Vietnamese soldiers.


Central Highlands || Halong Bay || Hanoi || Highway 1 || Mai Chau

Mekong || Saigon || Sapa || Sapa Valley || Son La || Tafin || The Loop

KARIN'S STORY || LIFE IN VIETNAM || DESTINATIONS || TRAVEL VIETNAM
THE ANIMAL MARKET || PHOTO JOURNAL || JOIN OUR DISCUSSION
TAPES AND TRANSCRIPTS || PRESS REACTIONS || HOME