Adventure of gas station in Vietnam

October 23, 2012 | Boyi Cameron, PSY, North Thang Long Economic and Technical College (NTLC)

I was sitting on a motorbike as a passenger. Em T*** is the elder brother of my host family. He is younger than me so I call him “em” in Vietnamese. This time we went to a gas station because his motorbike has ran out of gasoline. There were no such things called queue, because people stormed upon the gasoline machines as bunch of thirty monsters for water.

The gas station was not westernized at all. I found that is hard to name the ladies who work at gas station. Perhaps they are very capable on many things, so I name them “super ladies”. The “SLs” are holding the pipe and transfuse the gas to the container, meaning the gasoline are not covered or stored underground as well as the gas station in Canada. People have waited for the empty spots randomly. It was like a bunch of bees are trying to tuck in to their beehive. There were not too many lights over there, which was not bright, where caused the place even more crowded. People stood there only for gasoline, and some of them were waiting for others like me.

I carelessly put my arms around my body, and kept moving my legs to avoid to be bitten. The atmosphere was thin and chocking by the emission of overloaded carbine dioxide. I did not wait for the elder brother for too long. I went to aside of the gas station and started to check around the area.

The gas station was located in a middle of highway, which was no speed limit. In other words, people can ride on the road freely and quickly. There are more than 10 cases of motorbike accidents happening in Ha Noi every day. Accordingly, people can travel around the city by motorbike but also get injuries or threats of life easily. Around the gas station there were no obstacles for decreasing the speed, but normally, Vietnamese would stop the engine and walk towards the station slowly.

In Vietnam, motorbikes are very common, and it is the fastest and smallest transportation for Vietnamese to travel the city. Ironically, people would rarely have seen any automobile demanding gasoline in this station, at least, that yet I have not seen any bigger size of vehicle than motorbike in that crowd.

I posed different stances at the sidewalk for more than half hour. I pulled out a very simple black-and-white phone that I bought in the first day in Vietnam, and searched a contact to chat with. I was carelessly searching on my “BNW” without noticing there were more than dozens of them staring at me as a zoo-monkey.

I pleasantly dialed number and chatted with my friend. After 5 minutes I went to meet the elder brother. He act seriously and told me that I should not use my phone around the area of the gas station. I doubted that and asked why, and then he translated some key words of “explosion” and “fire”.

I stuck my mind on the sense of Canadian Safety Board. People even smoked and talked loudly on phone right beside the gasoline machine. But, in Viet Nam everything is so different. Now I understood why that crowd watched at me as I seemed to owe their money or something. They were shocked when I talked on my mobile phone, and they seemed not to understand that is “allowed” in Canada.

“Cấm sử dụng điện thoại”, I wish I could understand the phrase that means, “mobile phone is prohibited”. Let me explore more and more about Vietnamese cultures and “magic” areas, such as this adventure that I found was stunning.

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