On the road in Vietnam
We are on the 8th hour of a 12-hour bus ride from Sapa to Hanoi. The ride down the mountain is a steep and curvy one; each turn reveals another gorgeous terraced field vista. My pure enjoyment of this trip is brought to you by Dramamine. The roads here are as sinuous as the curvature of the rice paddies and I realize the chance for me to work on my computer will be next to impossible so I let the Dramamine lull me to sleep. It’s been a trip of bad fitful nights’ rest. The night before I was on a straw bed that is only slightly more comfortable than ice, an experience I have actually had while shooting ice camping in Ely, Minnesota. Two nights before that I was on an overnight train and now the bus curled up in a semi fetal position with each turn being tossed back and forth, back and forth, like a small stone in an oncoming tide.
As incredibly monotonous as a long ride can be, this one is not without its staggeringly beautiful views. Life here seems to be lived either on the road or close by so where most car trips are void of people on featureless highways, here we have to swerve not to hit them. I am amazed how fearless people here are of automobiles. Here 3 and 4 year olds play feet away from whizzing scooters, cars, and barreling trucks. Our large bus speeds by a group of 5-year-olds who walk purposefully along the busy road far away from any home with no adult in sight as well as some 8-year-olds who were all learning how to ride a ten speed … together … at the same time. One boy stood on the pedals his body so small he fit in that triangle of a space created by bars with one hand on the bar above his head and the other slightly touching the handlebars. His two friends running alongside steadying the bike with their hands. They had large smiles across their faces, their youth and joy much enjoyed by the passing bus of worn-out television crew.