What do you call all these cars??
What do you call all these cars??

 

What do you call parking lot filled with cars in Vietnam??

Government workers.

We rode bicycles on the back roads of the former capital of Vietnam. It is about 70 miles south of Hanoi or about a 2.5 hours by car. The ancient city is more than a 1000 plus years old; and I only know that because Hanoi celebrated their 1000 year anniversary four years ago. I believe the roads we pedaled bikes on where just as old. Or least my butt this morning feels like it.

Pedal Power! Dan at the start of our ride.
Pedal Power! Dan at the start of our ride.

The cost of a new car is quite high with ridiculous import fees from 200% to 400%. A new Toyota Camry is $81,000 US dollars. The car is made in Vietnam but the engine. So once the engine is put into the car, it becomes an import and thus the high fees.

 

The police
The police

Vietnam is about ready to celebrate their 40th reunification of the country. The red flags with the yellow star line most streets and the houses are now starting to fly the flag. We are told if houses doesn’t fly the flag for the anniversary, the government will fine them.

P1010353In order to be a government official, you first have to be a Buddhist. If you are practicing another religion, you can join the party, but not rise through the government ranks.

Before you are a full fledged party official, you have to join the union where you basically work for free while you pledge your loyality. These types of jobs include tourist police; You know helping people like me cross the street.

Once you are deemed worthy, you can then become a party member and thus, someday a government worker but only if, here is the big if, your family (dad, mom, uncle) is a government worker.

You want to be a government official here. You can buy a new car with little or no import fees. You can have more than two kids, two wives because you know who to bribe.

And maybe you can get away without flying the national flag on reunification day.

As we pedaled through the small village; people seem to be the same. Little kids wanted to wave at this tourist. Maybe it was the red hair; maybe because I looked like I was suffering on that bike and I needed the encouragement. We saw a grandpa wearing a silly hat holding a wand while playing with his granddaughter. Yes, grandparents around the world look like fools for the sheer entertainment of their grandchild.

And I just looked like a fool riding a broken down bike past water buffalo, horses and pigs for a glance at life in outside the city.

Look mom, no hands!
Look mom, no hands!

 

Advertisements