Welcome to Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC), where bikes absolutely rule the place. Cars are a rarity here, where a sea of people flows at all hours to and fro. Getting around as a tourist is easy, if a bit daunting. There are legions of guys sitting astride their cyclos just waiting to take you as a passenger around town for 'very cheap price' (the average is 10,000 dong, or about $.75 US.) In this photo you can see a few people (mostly women) wearing face masks to protect their lungs. LOTS of particulates in the air. I've seen one helmet so far.
The View From A Little Further Back
The ocean of people moving in the city is quite incredible! My motorbike friends (Robb) would be in heaven here. Most of the machines are 100 to 150 cc's, and the Honda Dream is THE machine to have, especially for the fashionable young women. Everything, from 12-foot ladders and slabs of drywall, to huge bags of rice, fruit and even full-sized televisions, moves by 'cyclo'. There are no rules, and traffic flows like water--wherever it can. While driving is supposed to be done on the right, in reality it's done anywhere there's space.
This is an older shot gleaned from a postcard, but this is what it looks like for most of the day on any one of Saigon's streets. You can taste the air. There's a short respite from this motorized madness during an afternoon siesta period which lasts a couple of hours, and also during torrential downpours. Still, I must say it's a great way (and really the only way) to get around-- standard taxis remain hopelessly mired in traffic while you speed by them on your cyclo to your destination.