by Nikki McKee (the I) and Nicola Lessing the playful one!
When you arrive in Vietnam, or any South East Asian country for that matter, the traffic can seem scary. But here is one simple fact: I feel safer crossing the road in Vietnam than I do in Australia.
In any Western country I would not attempt to cross a busy street without a traffic light or pedestrian crossing (unlike Nicola my fellow Director who will walk across any road). Yet in Vietnam, I have no (or very few) qualms about stepping out amidst swarming traffic.
Here is why: In Vietnam the traffic has a flow and it is all about that flow and rhythm. If you tap into it, you can literally do anything. Road rules are a guide but there appear to be no rules on how or when to turn and what is or isn’t acceptable, although we suspect there are because as long as you go with the flow - literally, the traffic will flow around and with you.
If you go too fast or make a sudden movement that is when things can go pear shaped. In Australia we make a right hand turn abruptly to squeeze into a gap. In Vietnam, that kind of behaviour is a recipe for disaster. The approach is to simply edge your way through and allow your fellow road users to move around you – which they can do provided you keep at the same speed and honk :)
So how do you cross the road in such seeming madness? It is really quite simple: step out, stay at the same pace more or less and keep moving. Everything will flow around you. If you stop suddenly or try to dash across – that is when things become unsafe. Tap into the rhythm of the traffic and you will find you are Moses - the traffic will part for you. However, just in case your flow is a no go, best to also take out travel insurance (although none of our lovely customers have reported any any problems to date).
Once you become aware of the rhythm of Vietnamese traffic, you might see it differently. To the unknowing eye it may be chaos, but when you take a deeper look, it is actually quite ordered and harmonious.
Disclaimer: please do not take this playful blog as a suggestion to wander around busy streets and get run over. Also remember that in Vietnam they drive on the other side of the road to Australia which adds to the fun!