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Monday, September 24, 2012

Motorcycles @ Ho Chi Minh

Why did the chicken cross the road? To get to the other side of the road, of course. How did the chicken cross the road in Ho Chi Minh? Probably by pure luck.


One of the notable and obvious phenomenon in Ho Chi Minh City of Vietnam is the overwhelming number of motorcycles on the road! They are everywhere! According to the locals I have talked to, almost everyone in Ho Chi Minh have a motorbike. Motorcycling has GOT to be the favourite mode of transportation in town.

I also saw plenty of motorcycles during my short stay in New Delhi. In my opinion, while vehicles in both cities fought for their spots on the road, traffic in Ho Chi Minh seems to be more "organized". Drivers were following each other in an intimidating yet polite manner.

Cyclists are well dressed as well. The local banks (and probably other companies) give away helmets to their loyal customers as token of appreciation. What a brilliant way to pemper local customers, who also becomes a free mobile billboard when they ride on their own bikes. Most cyclists wear masks to block dust, polluted particles and wind. Cartoon masks or masks with fascinating patterns are not uncommon. The scene of masked riders is rather amusing.


The overwhelming number of motorcycles and vehicles in general made it difficult for pedestrians. While there are traffic lights and zebra crossing, all new in town visitor would found it difficult to cross to the other side of any road in Ho Chi Minh City. Especially if they do not understanding the tricks in road crossing.

Despite of the traffic volume in Ho Chi Minh, vehicles only comes from either left or right. (This might sound like "daah" to you. However, if you have experienced traffic in New Delhi, you would know that traffic might come from all possible directions.) The trick to cross any road in Ho Chi Minh is to cross it! Simply make a cross and the traffic will work around you. Waiting on the side of the road will not prompt or encourage drivers to stop for you. It's similar to what Morpheus said to Neo in The Matrix, "stop trying to cross it, and cross it."

I must admit, it was rather frightening in the first few attempts. It was kind of fun once I have captured the "rhythm". Allow me to end today's post with a disclaimer: Please only attempt this if you feel safe and comfortable. Have a safe journey in Saigon city!

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