Vespa in Vietnam


The brand is revitalized and resuscitated here in Saigon.  If not for the helmets, I would think it is a replay of A Roman Holiday.

Back then, the burning monk was pouring gasoline on himself and asked a younger monk to lit the fire.

He earned a memorial in that intersection.

Another Buddhist temple a few blocks away took collection to renovate. The presiding monk took off with the proceeds, leaving behind an abandoned project. Good monk bad monk. It’s Mid-Autumn Festival. Children with lanterns and adults with sweet cake. Fairy tales that had to do with an uprooted tree now replanted on the Moon. VIet Nam in the Sputnik and Space age.

The city is now catering to whatever clients demand and could afford: Gloria Jeans Coffee and Ha Long Bay tours (without Catherine Deneuve).

And back to my French coffee, Italian Vespa and USA‘s Hard Rock Cafe. You would have thought I am someplace but Vietnam.  I can assure you it’s Vietnam, with multiple English schools and exam prep “store fronts”.

Young Vietnamese design games, play games online and love watching soccer. They have street racing here too. And while doing it, they might as well feel the wind by taking off their helmets.  Electric bikes couldn’t make an inroad here, especially after they changed the regulation which required electric bike riders to wear helmets.

So forget the love for sustainable environment or the disgusting gas price. Young people zoom by on Vespa, adopt I-phone and continue to play games online. There isn’t enough open space for them to play soccer ( I notice a strange absence of basketball, US urban youth favorite past time sports).. On this Mid-Autumn day, my old neighborhood gets one less choice of temples: the abandoned Temple is still sitting there, “torn”, but not completely torn down while Vespa after Vespa zooms on by. Thang Cuoi in a Space Age. I will never look at the Moon, or Vietnam, the same way again, even with some familiar handles into the past like Vespa and lanterns on the street.

 

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