© 2006 jim

Sleepless in Hanoi

It’s almost two o’clock local time on my 25th night in Hanoi and I’m awake with some gombu that I must have caught from moving back and forth from the air conditioned hotel to the sweltering humid streets and back into the air conditioned offices. Or perhaps it started on the weekend, when I wandered around the old quarter of Hanoi for hours and returned to the hotel with my shirt completely drenched and my thighs burning from rubbing together, reason 1,325 for losing some weight (that one feels like moving up in priority lately).

In any case, I can’t sleep, so I decided to get off my ass and install and setup this blog for my many fans to finally be able to see where I am and know what I’m thinking. Well, not everything I’m thinking. I would love to turn this into a blog about how the country is going to hell in a handbasket and the only solution is to put a couple hundred people in Washington up against a wall with a blindfold and a last cigarrette (sorry, Orrin, no last ciggy for you) and let the nature of these sorts of things take its course. However, I won’t do that, I won’t turn to politics, because in the world in which we live today the fascists have Google, and your every on-the-record utterance can and will be held against you in a court of law. Or in the court of employment, which is what happened to many people who have blogged about things totally unrelated to work, fired anyway for the crime of expressing an opinion that might somehow get the company in trouble.

It’s a depressing subject these days, so I won’t get into politics. Maybe after the Revolution….

So instead let’s talk about travel. Walking and cabbing around this incredible city frequently inspired me to want to write something about what I had seen, such as the huge numbers of scooters on the streets and the way they can carry whole families. This picture is especially interesting not for the three people (including the small child) riding, but rather for the helmeted adult, a rare species you may see once every few thousand scooter riders.

Vietnamese people are reckless when they ride their scooters, but they are gracious and friendly to a fault. Even though I always identify myself as an American, they treat me very well. No hard feelings, I guess, for us trying to bomb their country into the stone age. I guess it helps if you win the war.

A flash just came over me: the vietnamese love us (or at least don’t hate us at all and want to be more like us) even though they beat us in a war. Perhaps our Leaders in Washington should take a page from that playbook and try it in Iraq. We’ll land thousands of helicopters in the Green Zone, preferably on top of a tall building ala Saigon 1975, and evacuate all our people. The Iraqis that want to come with us would also be accommodated, something we never did do in Vietnam. Luckily, in this case the friends we have in Iraq won’t fill too many helicopters.

OK, so now we have all our helicopters full, so we fly them all to the nearest aircraft carrier and wash our hands. Cut and Run, Saigon Style. The result? In thirty years or so Iraq will be crawling with tourists, in the WTO, and they’ll treat Americans best of all. Bygones. Or its equivalent in Arabic.

It worked once, it could work again. Whaddya say, Mr. President?

Although I don’t think it will ever come to Arabs making shawarma with lemon grass and chili sauce….

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