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Tabatinga, Brazil: the Ho Chi Minh City of South America

Here’s a great story from Alexi Barrionuevo in the NY Times. It’s about a town in the Brazilian Amazon, close to Peru and Colombia, where motorbikes are the primary means of transport — a rarity in South America. Check out the link to find out why wearing helmets in the area is discouraged. That Roar in the Jungle Is 15,000 Motorbikes

This sweltering Amazon outpost is a border town on the move — on two motorized wheels, that is.

During the afternoon rush hour, Tabatinga’s main avenue is a sea of scooters and motorcycles. Whole families pile onto a single scooter, even families of five: husband, wife and three children. Mothers breastfeed infants while fathers navigate a road nearly uncluttered by traffic signals.

With more than 15,000 motorbikes and only 47,000 people, Tabatinga resembles a small version of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, another chaotic place where cars take a distant back seat as the preferred mode of transportation.

“I have never seen a place with so many motorbikes,” said Sabrina D’Assumpção, a resident of Rio de Janeiro who was visiting her husband, a military officer, at the army base here recently. “It is practically a city run entirely by motorbikes.”

Tabatinga owes much of its moto-obsession to its location along Brazil’s extreme western frontier. Nestled alongside Colombia and just across a narrow river from Peru, the town has evolved in the last quarter-century from a military town into a hub of cross-border commerce.

(Emphasis mine.)

By Newley

Hi. I'm Newley Purnell. I cover technology and business for The Wall Street Journal. I use this site to share my stories and often blog about the books I'm reading, tech trends, sports, travel, and our dog Ginger. For updates, get my weekly email newsletter.

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