Imagine if your every move was monitored. Imagine if you went out with a mixed group of friends and was out late partying. Imagine if you had to work the next day but you reallly did not get much sleep. Imagine ifyou were tired and driving a motorbike in a city with 4 million motorbikes.
Now imagine if one of your friends really wasn't a friend. And she asked "when do you work tomorrow? Where?"
Now imagine if on the way to work, people on motorbikes suddenly turned in front of you or made sudden and unnatural stops. Tired foreigner who was out all night gets into an accident. Foreigners have lots of money and will be forced to give it to you rather than deal with the police.
Now stop imagining and let me say that this happened to me on more than one occasion. Except rather than get in an accident I quickly squeezed the brakes on my motorbike and slid to the ground. Better to scratch myself up than to hurt someone else.
When that didn't work; arranged accidents, the stakes got higher. Not just a person on a motorbike, but a family with kids. Eventually I began driving so slowly that it was impossible to be in an incident.
I am skipping some details now, because I want to get to my leaving vietnam. But one incident you should know about. I was aware that this was happening because I am good at remembering faces, especially eyes, shoes, ankles, and body types. When on a motorbike in vietnam, this is all that is really distinguishable anyway.
I took a taxi to work about a week before I left VIetnam. On the ride back, the taxi driver - while driving - pulled out a map and turned around to ask me where to go. Yes, he was still moving, yes a motorbike pulled in front of him with a family on it. I yelled "turn the fuck around. Look where you are going."
My heart was racing. We came to a stop, I reached in my wallet and paid the fare on the meter and got out. i walked the last 2 km home.