Monday, 28 July 2008
On the roads of Vietnam. 1965-1975
One met all types of vehicles travelling along the roads of Vietnam. I can’t remember where this photo was taken.
Travelling by road was always an experience; usually nerve racking. Once I had been visiting my doctor in Saigon. He was a Frenchman called Docteur Crozafon. An old Indo-China hand he was the first doctor with whom I felt at ease. The presence of numerous pretty young laboratory and nursing assistants helped.
On this occasion he decided my nerves were bad. The drive up from Van Kiep next to Baria was sometimes dodgy what with bridges being blown up; the risk of being stopped at a Viet Cong road block was always present. However the main problem was that I always got lost in Saigon. On top of that the traffic was the worst I had ever come across. The result was that my pulse rate shot up.
On this occasion he gave me some Valium. I’d never heard of it. Years later when my nervous system was completely shattered due to staying too long in the country without a break, being run down and various other problems I would stop by my chemists of an evening and buy a pill to enable me to relax. No prescriptions were needed of course.
Anyway I took a pill and drove back to Baria. I should have realized that something was wrong when I floated down the Bien Hoa highway as though on a cloud. That stretch of road with roughly three lanes of traffic flowing in two opposing (the emphasis should be on opposing as in the sense of two hostile forces charging to meet each other) directions for about twenty miles was a death trap. All types of vehicles imaginable, overtaking on your left or right, speeding, chugging slowly along, over laden or not. I never went down that road without seeing an accident. Sometimes they were horrible.
Anyway I drove down it in cloud cuckoo land. On through the rubber plantations without a care in the world. I made it back to our base without an accident.