OK, now I have time to address another topic or topics suggested to me. Anonymous wrote “what spectator sports are people into (soccer? horse racing?) are smokers treated like lepers like they are in North America? what’s the state of the wildlife (eg are there parks, what species are endangered, etc)?” Pictures continued from my drive yesterday
Well…. There is two sports that are commonly watched on TV here . One is Cricket of all things. I do not know or understand the game, but many here do. The biggest is of course football (or soccer as we know it). I struggle to
understand that game also. It has been explained to me by a friend, but I still have trouble putting together what is going on. Not so for the Vietnamese. They know the game and have a national team. A while back, I was driving the streets and could not fathom why the city was so quiet. I headed home still wondering when
the city burst into a might whoop!! People filled the streets and the traffic that followed was something that made Saigon traffic quiet. Vietnam had just won some important game. I spent 15 or 20 minutes avoiding motorcycle
exhausts burning my legs, and worked my way home. I will know for next time, if the streets are bare like that, to be better
prepared for the chaos that can follow.
How about smokers? I understand exactly how smokers are treated in North America, and probably most of the western world. I myself smoked for 35 years before finally getting the will to give it up. Well smokers…. Let me give you some cheery news. Almost ever man smokes here and there are no smoking laws anywhere. It is common sense not to light up in a government office, or a fabric shop, but bars, restaurants, hotels, pool halls………
anywhere. It seems there is some kind of common courtesy not to light up in businesses such as grocery stores and the like, or maybe there are some laws regarding indoor smoking that I do not know about. And you never need to worry about running low or not having a lite. If you go to a restaurant and you have forgotten your smokes at home, just ask and a waitress will bring you three cigarettes on a small plate with a lighter. Then as soon as you leave the place, there will be a store or street vendor to make your purchase. And the cost of your habit?? A generic brand of American style cigarettes will cost 8000 dong for a package of 20, and a brand name such as Marlborough 14000. In Dollars that would be between .40 and .70 cents. I have noticed that the younger generation do not smoke as much, but there are still a lot of them. Also, a person will almost never see a woman smoking. The only women I have seen smoking could be classified as “bad girls” if you get my meaning.
Lastly, the state of the wildlife. I have some information but cannot go into too much detail, but from what I know.
Almost any aquatic life that grows more than 4 inched is threatened here. The Vietnamese live off the land and the sea. Gillnets cover the bay and anything of any decent size does not get a chance to grow. On land the Asian Elephant, Tiger, Rhinoceros, and some classes of monkeys have become endangered and are rare to find. Some of the smaller wild cats are also vulnerable. What has grown and probably has a lot to do with some of the difficulty of other animals are the Wild Boars. They are everywhere. A lot of them can probably trace their ancestry back to escaped pigs from local pens. Pigs are probably still escaping into the wild. As far as I have heard, there are no bird that are threatened. Most of the Vietnamese people live close to the ocean and inland the flat areas give way to rice fields, and agriculture. There is a lot of wildlife that can still cope and thrive because of the amount trees, bushes, and non tillable areas, The rest of the country is quite rugged and mountainous, It will take a lot of human expansion to start to encroach on these areas.
For me, even though endangered, I am keen to perhaps see an Elephant, Rhinoceros, or Tiger in the wild. Odds are I never will…. But it can happen. I remember a story Mai told me. As a little girl, she was attracted to the worst screaming she had ever heard. She followed the sound and came upon a hole dug in the ground with a tiger trapped in it. It was a tiger that had grown old and had become a man eater. The hole was dug in the location of where the mud baths are today.