Vietnam | Traffic Notes

February 22, 2016
traffic in hanoi
crossing the street vietnam

Five years ago (I can’t believe it’s been so long!), I visited Vietnam while on a backpacking trip around Asia with my friend Brianna. This weekend I was reading through some of my notes from that trip. Wow. Partly embarrassing, partly insightful, partly funny, mostly cringeworthy. Reading through them now I realize how very little I knew about traveling or the world. I’m sure I’ll feel the same way about this blog in another six years. Anyway, I thought this entry from Vietnam was entertaining. Has anyone else had a similar experience crossing the hectic streets in Hanoi?

Random Notes on Vietnam, September 2011

Crossing the street here goes against all instinct. Look both ways, see throngs of vehicles coming at you, and walk into them. If you wait for a break in traffic you’ll wait all day, so you put aside everything that feels natural, cross your fingers and step off the curb. Motorbikes swerve around you and in front of you but don’t slow down. Buses honk, and in that case you stop in the middle of the road and wait while cars merge around you. Turning vehicles absolutely do not yield to pedestrians, and it’s up to you to pause mid-step for motorbikes, not the other way around. It still doesn’t make sense to me and I’m amazed more people don’t get hit, but I’m getting better at striding into traffic without hesitation. Six million motorbikes for a city of 10 million people means the streets are flooded with them.  Sidewalks exist, but are used for parking and makeshift restaurants, so we end up walking single file in the road, inching past fruit carts and balloon salesmen. It’s actually kind of magical how it all works out, but we would have been standing on the corner all day when we first arrived if that old man hadn’t come out of his shop to guide us across. Yet another example of a stranger coming to our aid on this trip.


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