Despite a song that claimed it was a fact that there were 9 million bicycles in Beijing, there really aren’t. They’ve moved to cars and are probably already regretting it.
Greetings from Ho Chi Minh City, which had a different name the last time I visited. It’s been a while. They don’t have 9 million bicycles here, either. But it seems as though they have at least that many motorcycles. Moving seemingly at random. To cross the street just look down at your feet and trust their keen eyes and reflexes. It works just fine–most of the time.
It’s warm outside as I write this in an air conditioned room in a holdover French hotel. At 10:00 this morning it was 93 degrees Fahrenheit, or 34C, if you prefer. That’s 4C lower than the average temperature for April, so I suppose I should feel relieved.
There are 6.65 million people living here. As temperatures have warmed over the past 30 years, how has it affected the Vietnamese here in the city formerly known as Saigon?
Their life expectancy has increased from 42 to 79 years of age. Average income has climbed from $100 per person per year to $1,130 between 1986 and 2010. Poverty has decreased from 58% in 1993 to 29% in 2002.
Aside from the statistics, what anyone can see in a taxi ride from the airport to the hotel is people living a very normal, if very different life. Whatever problems they face, and they face a myriad, climate and climate change is not very high on the list. They look animated, healthy, vibrant and completely engaged in life.
Perhaps if temperatures once again start climbing after a 16-year break, our great-grandchildren might end up living like the Vietnamese. At the risk of once again uttering heretical statements, on a Saturday afternoon it looks to this observer as if it might end up an improvement.