Friday, September 27, 2013

Friday Evening 9-27-2013

Hanoi is a much different city than Phnom Penh.  Traffic moves faster, though the side streets are still slow.  There were more motor bikes than cars in PP, but even more so here, and fewer rules.  Stop signs are completely ignored and traffic lights are only slightly obeyed.  Each traffic light has a visible digital timer showing how much time is left on either the green or red light, so once the red light gets to about 10 seconds left, everyone starts crossing even though vehicles are still crossing on the green. The direction of driving lanes is only a suggestion at both intersections and on straightaways as vehicles go against traffic until they find a place to cross over.  I would guess that less than 5% of our driving time are we ever more than two feet from a car or motor bike, and usually within inches.  Whole families ride on the same bike, driving just like everyone else.  Lots of cell phone use on the motor bikes, but apparently there's a helmet law because everyone wears one, though they look more decorative than functional.  Driving is mostly done on the right side of the road, but people mostly drive wherever they want to as it's not courteous to interfere with traffic going the wrong way. It's true!  And the far right side of the road seems to be reserved for traffic going the wrong way. This means that the middle of the road is available for traffic to go both directions, which they do, with the bigger vehicle seeming to have the right of way. Now, it's actually against the law to make a right turn at a red light, but apparently not against the law to go straight through the light or turn left, which we even do in a taxi.  Sidewalks are considered part of the road, but pedestrians can give a low downward wave and walk right across the street.  Life is great!!!

Spent the day with Hagar staff going over client programs and donor initiatives.  Also visited their support house where the girls stay while going through the various stages of counseling and working before going back into family situations.  This can take a couple of years, thus the reason for reviewing donor initiatives.  We met with some of the girls and heard their stories, which I'm not allowed to talk about.  So if you've been looking for me to share some details, I haven't and can't.  I can say that Hagar works in countries rated close to the worst when it comes to human trafficking and abuse.

Had dinner at an authentic Vietnamese restaurant, and drank a Hanoi beer while looking at a picture of Ho Chi Minh, Chairman of the communist party of Vietnam from 1951 - 1969.

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