Adventures in East Asia

Streets of Ho Chi Minh on Two Wheels

The mass of fast moving bikes on Ho Chi Minh's roads hit us as soon as we arrived in Vietnam. As stated before, although the roads look chaotic and filled to capacity, there seems to be a system or at the very least, a sense of understanding or etiquette which keeps the flow going.

In wonder, I shot the footage above of the flow of traffic from our fourth floor balcony. Would you cross a road that busy? It's easier than it sounds, since you simply have to walk across slowly and carefully, since the bikes will simply flow around you.

Motorbikes in Ho Chi Minh's busy streets travel at different speeds and bear different amounts of cargo. Yet riding amongst them, they can cross over in front of you, over or undertake, stop in the middle of the road and also come at you on what you'd think was the wrong side of the road.

Linh and I got some experience of this traveling on the back of her step-sister and her father's bikes. Watch out about a minute into the video - Vietnam's city traffic lights have count downs. Wouldn't that be a great idea to get London's traffic moving?

Cars almost do the same moves, but just aren't as quick or as versatile because of their size, and are less mobile since they're surrounded by bikes whenever they're inching along a busy road. We also made our way around Ho Chi Minh at night. You would have thought drivers would be more careful, but the cooler climate seems to stimulate them into making riskier moves.

Both cars and bikes are constantly beeping and all I kept thinking was how a Londoner would handle this?! A couple of beeps would induce any London driver to road rage, yet I didn't witness any visible anger on Ho Chi Minh's roads. The system of traffic, if you can call it that, would stop a Londoner in their tracks, indignant that someone is driving up the wrong way towards them, or that some idiot is making a shaky but angled beeline towards them only to turn subtly away at the last moment down a side road. And that's after someone would have pulled out blind from that side road.

Traffic is freeform but fast and inevitably causes accidents when a slight lapse of misunderstanding happens. Rome is almost like Vietnam but with cars instead of bikes, but both Rome and London's traffic can't compare to the impact Vietnam's traffic had on us.

This entry posted in : Culture. Vietnam.

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