BATU, Indonesia. Photo by Jes Aznar

Monday, July 2, 2007

Hello, Saigon

HO CHI MINH, Vietnam - "Iri-," the immigration officer called out loudly among the passengers. I didn't realize it was me he was calling until I saw the green passport in his hand. One by one and very quickly, he checked the passports of each passenger. He was moving fast. We were at the border between Cambodia and Vietnam.

Vietnam is a place where life moves so fast. Unlike in Siem Reap, everything moves swiftly here, so fast that one risks losing a limb when crossing the streets of this Southeast Asian country.

There are pedestrian lanes but it's as if they don't exist for the never-ending stream of scooters. There are reportedly 5 million scooters in Ho Chi Minh, a city of 4.5 million people.

Really, there are bikes, cars and buses coming from all directions. They drive so fast and they weave in and around pedestrians as if we're driftwood on a raging torrent. Crossing the roads successfully is always an accomplishment.

It's also a very noisy city with horns beeping endlessly.

But when one listens closely, with his soul and his heart, one will hear not just the endless honking of cars, buses and motorcycles but the painful echoes of war...