A Travellerspoint blog

Setting Foot into Vietnam

A lesson for the not so faint of heart

The first task that any foreigner must learn when arriving in Vietnam is how to cross the street. This seeming simple task can frighten you stiff at the sign of scooters, pedestrians, tuktuks, bikes, cars, taxis and buses with horns ablaze going in every possible direction as fast as they can. If you have ever played the video game called Frogger (the one where the lil frog must advance across a busy street avoiding trucks and cars), your ability to survive in Vietnam may be slightly increased (although in real life you don’t have the luxury of second chances). Imagine there is a stream of ants all tailgating each other, now plop a rock right in the middle of the ant stream and you’ll notice that the ants miraculously avoid the rock by going around both sides. Now all you have to do to safely cross the street is to become that rock!

To summarize:
Step 1: Forget EVERYTHING you have previously learned about traffic rules
Step 2: Take a deep breath and a leap of faith
Step 3: Step into the street and keep walking at a steady pace
Step 4: Look straight ahead and ignore traffic
Note: If you look at the oncoming traffic, you will be expected to act. If you don’t, you won’t lose face, and the drivers are expected to deal with what’s in front of them by swerving around you. It’s probably safer to just close your eyes and walk across at a steady pace than it is to negotiate a game of chicken.

Here is a video of one of our mad street crossing skills with two notable highlights to look for:
1. the two terrified peds across the street waiting and are probably still waiting for a clearing
2. the bus that comes within inches of us
3. the Sir Lancelot wannabe scoter caring a metal rod like a knight on a horse

Posted by Robin-and-Kevin 05:58 Archived in Vietnam

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