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Paperback , First , pages. More Details Friend Reviews. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. Lists with This Book. This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Community Reviews. Showing Rating details. Sort order. Feb 04, Tammy Jereczek rated it it was amazing. Loved it from beginning to end! Totally could see myself in these stories and know I've done it or been there a time or two!

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I got to relate to a bunch of these stories, and also be glad that some of them never happend to me! About Jackie Schnupp. Jackie Schnupp. I am a fifth generation Idahoan on my mother's side; according to my grandmother, we are 'lace curtain' Irish, which is apparently far more desireable than being 'shanty' Irish. My book includes many stories about Grandma and Grandpa, as well as my children, husband, siblings and random strangers. Thank you for watching my own reality show! I love to read, write, cook, fish and visit Hawaii. I hate I am a fifth generation Idahoan on my mother's side; according to my grandmother, we are 'lace curtain' Irish, which is apparently far more desireable than being 'shanty' Irish.

They greeted me in unison, "Good morning and welcome, sir. Today it is English. There are few hotels or restaurants yet along the highway, but it's ideal for adventurous day trips between cities and away from the crowded coast. For a taste of the road in central Vietnam, travelers can start out from the old capital of Hue, where they can tour historic sites such as the imperial fortress and elaborate pagodas, or the coastal city of Da Nang, known for its white-sand beaches and luxury resorts. Language is an issue, so hiring a guide will help travelers who want to learn about local wildlife or meet ethnic minority people and barter with them for hand-woven baskets and other handicrafts.

Eventually, the government hopes the road will stimulate cultural and eco-tourism throughout the Central Highlands. Although I worked in Vietnam as a reporter for three years in the early s and married a Hanoi artist, I had never roamed this part of the country before. I was struck by its aboriginal isolation. The breakneck changes in the rest of Vietnam seem largely to have passed it by. The Ho Chi Minh Highway follows sections of the wartime trail for much of its length and weaves them together with many sections that are new.

It winds for about miles so far, from the town of Hoa Lac, near the capital Hanoi, to Kontum in the Central Highlands. The government touts the two-lane highway as vital for developing tourism and the backward economy of sparsely settled regions along the country's rugged western frontier. Planners also justify the new road as important for national security, although officials won't say what the threats might be. The villagers here belong to the Co-tu minority; they speak their own language and are wary of outsiders. One woman scurries into a bamboo thicket when I greet her.

Blieng Hong, a subsistence farmer and mother of five, is more chatty. She says she used to hike for seven hours to reach the nearest market, often carrying a rattan backpack filled with cassava roots. She'd barter the cassava for salt, clothing and other provisions and stuff them into her bag for the long trip home. Now, thanks to the highway, traders, most of them members of the ethnic Kinh majority, come directly to her. We are learning from them -- but I haven't learned anything yet," Ms. Hong says. Rounding a blind curve, I almost collide with a pair of water buffalo ambling toward me in the middle of our -- their -- lane.

Many of the dominant Kinh have long looked down on the minorities living in these remote highlands. Even today, Kinh people commonly refer to the highlanders as "moi," or "savages. Some critics worry that the highway could seal the fate of these unique mountain cultures, as ever more Kinh settle here and impose their rules, such as a ban on slash-and-burn agriculture.

Hung had advertised in the newspapers for "strong, single, young men" and warned them that the job would be tough. They would stay in the jungle for two years, except for a few days off over the annual Tet holiday.

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There were unexploded bombs to disarm and bodies of North Vietnamese soldiers—seven, it turned out—to be buried. The site was out of cellphone range, and there was no town within a week's walk. Stream water had to be tested before drinking to ensure it contained no chemicals dropped by American planes. Landslides posed a constant threat; one took the life of Hung's youngest brother. Now it is your turn to contribute.

Your fathers contributed blood. You must contribute sweat. They understood what I was saying. Her father, a professional singer and saxophone player, was killed in a bombing attack on the trail while entertaining soldiers in So I buried my hatred. That is the past now. We talked for an hour, just the two of us in her office. She told me how in she had gone—during a bombing pause—to the battlefield where her father died.

With the help of soldiers, she dug up his grave; his remains were wrapped in plastic. Among the bones was a tattered wallet containing an old picture of him with her—his only daughter. She brought him home to Quang Binh Province for a proper Buddhist burial. As I got up to leave, she said, "Wait.

I want to sing you a song I wrote. She locked her eyes with mine, placed a hand on my forearm and her soprano voice filled the room: "My dear, go with me to visit green Truong Son. We will go on a historical road that has been changed day by day. My dear, sing with me about Truong Son, the road of the future, The road that bears the name of our Uncle Ho.


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Forever sing about Truong Son, the road of love and pride. As of , Vietnam had , vehicles. At that time many of the trucks on the road were Chinese- and Russian-made relics that dated back to the Vietnam War era. Many of these vehicles are still on the road. In the early s cars made up just 6 percent of the vehicles on Vietnam's roads, which teem with motorbikes. But as the nation's economy has boomed in recent years, the number of automobiles has been growing quickly.


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And among the affluent, Mercedes or BMW have become status symbols. Grant McCool and Nguyen Nhat Lam of Reuters wrote: "Car sales keep growing, although Vietnam is one of the most expensive places in the world to buy a vehicle with import tariffs of up to 90 percent. The tariffs will be lowered gradually to a maximum of 70 percent now that Vietnam is in the WTO. Analysts are now talking about a new wave of low-cost car imports coming to Vietnam as these models prove suitable to the pocketbooks of many Hanoians, especially since the fixed import tax rate on small cylinder used cars was lowered by percent in February Nguyen Minh Thanh, Director of an automobile trading company, said that car traders would focus on importing small cars, especially ones that have the cylinder capacities of 1.

He said that small cars would flood the market in the time to come. A car salon owner on Dien Bien Phu street said that the tastes of Hanoians and Saigonese were quite different. For the same amount of money, Saigonese will buy an old car manufactured by Toyota, Honda or Nissan instead of a brand new low-cost car made in China. Car dealers said that imports of Chinese low-cost cars would repeat what happened in the past with low-cost Chinese motorbikes.

The motorbikes flooded the market in the first period and after that they were refused by customers. In the immediate time, experts say, the appearance of low-cost China-made cars will help reduce the average car price on the market. Traffic jams, a polluted environment, hard management over low-cost cars will be the biggest problems to arise if low-cost cars flood the market. Many other domestic automobile assemblers are also targeting the low-cost car market.

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The quality of China-made cars selling in the US and Europe is quite different from that of cars selling in Vietnam. Experts have called on State management authorities to set up technical barriers to control the quality of low-cost cars, thus limiting the number of cars rolling on the streets. And further down the income scale, members of an emerging middle class are scraping together the money for secondhand Toyotas.

Bicycles ruled the road, which then gave way to motorbikes, which now share the streets with a fleet of automobiles whose size seems to increase exponentially with each passing month. Motorbikes still account for nearly 95 percent of the vehicles on the road. But car sales rose by 58 percent last year, when dealers sold 42, vehicles -- six times as many as they moved just five years before, though they have slowed this year because of a hefty new luxury tax.

An air-conditioned sedan also allows them to enjoy a sense of social superiority over the masses still getting around on two or three wheels, roasting in the subtropical heat or getting drenched by the monsoon rains. Even people who can't afford a car are lining up to get their driver's licenses. For now, they content themselves with renting cars for day trips. A financial researcher for a securities firm, he is learning to drive so he can take the company car on business trips.

In a red baseball cap and wire-rim glasses, Dung clutched the wheel as a steady stream of motorbikes swerved past, leaving just a foot or so for clearance. They were undeterred by the "Driver Education'' sign posted on the Jeep, which had no seat belts. And now he uses it to make a living, hiring himself out as a driver to anyone who needs a lift. Further up the income scale, Doan Quoc Viet, president of a thriving private real estate development company, recently popped into a Hanoi Mercedes dealer. In addition to building new roads and improving old ones, it has begun installing more traffic signs and traffic lights.

In Hanoi, authorities have restricted the number of motorbikes permitted in certain districts. And thriving municipal bus systems have recently been established in both the capital and Ho Chi Minh City, providing sanctuary to people seeking refuge from the roads. Seated in the air-conditioned red-and-yellow buses that roar down the streets of Hanoi, they no longer have to worry about getting flattened by an oncoming vehicle.

Quyen had a more serious crash, mangling her arms and face on the pavement. But for those who have the money, a car seems like a better shield against the mass of humanity that darts about the roads on every imaginable conveyance, going wherever they please without looking. I said second! That's fourth! The waiting list for driver education courses is three months. Vietnam's more experienced drivers are terrified by all the novices now on the road.

They just let the car go wherever it goes. One cyclist died and three were badly injured. Experienced or not, drivers in Vietnam swerve across center lines, tailgate with abandon and stop for no one -- not even little old ladies with baskets of fruit perched precariously atop their shoulders. Cuong and his staff try their best to instill good driving habits, but it's harder than shifting gears in the balky old Russian trucks that spew black clouds of diesel exhaust along Vietnam's roadways. Watching on with fascination and fear, many a newcomer has been glued to the pavement marvelling at the honking avalanche of steel and plastic that is a snapshot of modern Vietnam.

With the organic flow of a school of fish, squadrons of motor scooters weave past each other as their riders look for gaps, some while sending texts on their mobile phones. Honda Dream mopeds carry families of four or improbably large cargos including furniture.

Women in conical hats pedal bicycles laden with flowers. And cyclo caravans steer camera-toting tourists through the chaos. Overwhelmed traffic police typically stand by blowing their whistles while trying not to get run over, only occasionally springing into action to pick a motorist from the crowd for an on-the-spot fine. The most brazen road warriors seem to regard traffic lights and one-way signs as suggestions and choked roads as cues for impromptu pavement detours.

Even by the standards of many developing cities, Vietnam's traffic can be a sight to behold.

Knowledge gaps compromise safety

But luckily for the petrified pedestrian, advice is at hand. If you stay on the pavement, you will never cross the road. Vietnam is considered one of the most dangerous places to drive. According to to the World Health Organization: Approximately 14 people lose their lives each year in Viet Nam as a result of road traffic crashes. Motorcyclists account for a high proportion approximately 59 percent of the road traffic collisions in the country.

SAFE STEPS Road Safety: Seatbelts

The majority of death and injuries on the roads are among those aged between 15 and 49 years — the group that makes up 56 percent of total population, and most economically active group. WHO estimates that road traffic injuries are the leading cause of death for those aged years in Viet Nam. According to the recently published WHO Global status report on road safety, many of Viet Nam's existing road safety laws are either not comprehensive in their scope, or are poorly enforced.

Viet Nam is one of ten countries included in the WHO Road Safety in 10 countries project which will be conducted over 5-years by a consortium of six international partners. The World Health Organization has called for Vietnam to minimise the country's huge human loss in traffic accidents. There is widespread disregard for regulations and speed limits throughout the communist country.

Troedsson said, considering it one of the most significant measures to reduce human loss and head injuries. About 40 percent of the country's total severe road traffic crashes have been caused by youths aged between 15 and 24, who account for 20 percent of the population, he added.

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Instead this truly unforeseen phenomenon of people buying motorcycles cropped up. It was a ticking time bomb. The toll on society here is just unbelievable. It's not an exaggeration to say it's a national calamity. In , 20, serious traffic accidents were reported, killing more than 6, people. In the early s, there were 13, to 14, deaths a years, which works out to about 35 to 40 deaths every day on the roads of Vietnam, most of them driving motorbikes without a helmet. The highway fatality rate here is nearly 10 times higher than in the United States.

The high rate of accidents is blamed on ignorance of driving laws; the poor conditions of roads; the high numbers of vehicles, pedestrians, bicycle, motorbikes, and animals on the road,; and an increase in the number of vehicles. According the Vietnamese government, 80 percent of all fatalities in the early s were caused by careless driving, 55 percent to excessive speed and eight to drinking and driving.

And then they got nabbed -- in Vietnam's first drag-racing bust. Seven joy riders, all in their teens and 20s, had roared through the hot tropical night in a Camry, a Lexus, a Mercedes and three BMWs. The sensational case offered a vivid glimpse into the lives of Vietnam's nouveau riche, whose sometimes decadent habits are as unfamiliar to ordinary Vietnamese as the leather upholstery of the bright yellow Mercedes one of the young men was driving. And when he and his friends were pulled over for drag racing, year-old Nguyen Quoc Cuong proved true to his nickname.

It didn't. Cuong and his pals were convicted of disturbing the public order Sept. He received a 3-year suspended sentence, and five other young men received month suspended sentences. The seventh -- a high school student accused of organizing the race -- was sent to jail for three years. The Mercedes and BMWs, which belonged to the boys' dismayed parents, were confiscated.

The Camry and the Lexus, which two of the boys "borrowed'' from their parents' car repair shops, were returned to their owners. But this was the first time the police had broken up a car race. The hot-rodding episode underlined how out of sync Vietnam's crusty communist image has become with the freewheeling frontier capitalism that is taking root here. The seven boys are the children of successful private entrepreneurs, including a Central Highlands lumber tycoon and a Saigon textile magnate. Cac watched Khoa's family transform their small household sewing operation into Thuan Phuong Co.

Ordinary Vietnamese such as Le Binh Thuan were awed by newspaper accounts of the racers' wealth. According to Vietnamese press accounts, Cuong earned his nickname when he was just 11 years old by paying exclusively with U. A few doors down is the furniture business Cuong's mother helped him set up. Stocked with puffy sofas and easy chairs, it is a couch potato's paradise. Media accounts portrayed two of the young men as loafers who spent their time spending their parents' money.

The youngest, 18 years old, is still in high school. The mother of Trinh Sam Mau, the alleged race organizer, called her son's sentence "completely unfair. Why did the other kids only get suspended sentences? Truong Van Thuyet led the 16 officers who chased down the young men in front of a large crowd that had gathered to watch the race along Dien Bien Phu street, an eight-lane divided boulevard.

Two cars eluded officers; four others were nabbed. The young men raced along a one-mile straightaway at speeds of up to 70 mph, whipped around a traffic circle and then headed back toward downtown. They were caught just as they crossed a bridge over the Saigon River. The roar of engines and blaring stereos awoke Nguyen Van Quang, who sleeps inside the tiny bar where he works. Earlier this year, he said, rich kids would show up every weekend to race their high-priced motorbikes along the same road.

Young men did the driving, he said, and sometimes their elegant girlfriends would sit on the back, hugging them tightly as they tore up the road. Earlier this month, three youths died and two were badly injured racing their motorbikes in another part of the city. Capitalist role models Not so long ago, extravagant displays of wealth were frowned upon in Vietnam, where the Communist government used to demonize businessmen as exploiters of the working class.