Today’s Writing 101 challenge is to write about a place I’d like to be transported to. I have chosen to write about Ho Chi Minh City, where I spent ten months of my life after graduating. Rather than a specific place in the city, I have decided to write about the roads, as they are particularly memorable.
Your senses hum with life that they have never known before. Between the five of them, they tingle and burn and excite. In the moments that you spend waiting for the lights to change, there is a sudden sense of mortality that is quickly overtaken by a surge of energy. You can go home and drive the streets there, but a part of you will always yearn for this.
Sight welcomes the crowds of other drivers around you; images of those driving past flash by one after the other. Hearing is overwhelmed by the sounds of engines and blaring horns; the woman on the next scooter over edges forward, her bike purring. Smell consumes the intoxicating mixture of fuel and street food; the vendors on the corner exchange cash with a man on a scooter at the kerb. Touch is constantly aware of the weight of a flimsy helmet; loose fitting clothes hang limply, as a reminder that armour is too hot to wear on these roads. Taste laps eagerly at the air; it hungers for the madness to start.
On an overcrowded road, the senses take in their surroundings like a disorientated animal.
The lights change. Red becomes green. An almighty roar resounds around you as the abomination begins.
The vehicles around you move, though not all of them go in the same direction. Some split off to the left, and not only those who were waiting on the left. Other turn right, cutting across the front of the other traffic without as much as a sideways glance. There is no thought of indication. The sound of horns becomes more insistent.
On the left
On the right
Concentrate. These streets are dangerous, but you would never know it from the way that the locals drive. They sit their children on their knees, drive in shorts and sandals, and carry anything they can fit on their scooters. The cars and taxis forge their way through the bikes at painfully slow speeds. A hurricane of traffic passes you by as you carefully make your way onwards, and in that moment,
you forge your scooter on through the traffic.
And you realise that nothing will ever compare.