Standing under a bright blue sky and an unrelenting noonday Saigon sun, Beej and I are drip drip dripping sweat like broken faucets. We’re in the middle of a bustling bus depot at the busiest roundabout in all of Ho Chi Minh City. The hot wind, whipped up by the hundreds of motorbikes zipping around us, does nothing to cool us down.
I look up at Beej to say something about heading over to a coffee shop I’ve spied nearby. Having arrived by plane in Ho Chi Minh City not too long ago, it seems an hour an a half of languishing in 90 degree heat is not enough time to acclimatize to the weather when you’ve only just recently gotten used to the lovely 60s and 70s of Hong Kong. I want water. Stat.
But looking at Beej, I see a metaphorical cloud has descended over his face. He’s looking way too serious for having just arrived in Vietnam. These first moments in a new world are normally what he thrives on.
Then I see that his eyes are following the local bus we had just gotten off of as it heads to a nearby intersection.
“There goes my camera,” he says in a monotone. “I left it on the bus.” Two beats later, he brightens. “I think I can catch him.”
“Well,” I say. “You better run because he’s about to turn that corner.”
With that, Beej takes off across the intersection, dodging streams of motorbikes, toward the bus, which quickly leaves him in the dust.
So he turns toward a group of men with motorbikes, the same guys that promised us cheap rides when we stepped off the bus.
I want to tell him that I can take his big black backpack off his back, and maybe make his search a bit easier, but it’s too late. He’s already hopped onto the back of a motorbike and they’re off, weaving in and out of motorbikes, cars, mini-trucks, and other buses that make up Saigon traffic. With one hand pointing, I imagine Beej shouting, “follow that bus” above the roaring engines.
There’s nothing more I can do, so I head to that nearby coffee shop.