Like any major city, there are plenty of cars, trucks, bikes and buses on the road in Ho Chi Minh City (equally referred to as Saigon). Now add to that a gazillion motor scooters with one, two, three and even FIVE passengers (some carrying parcels, refrigerators or babies) zipping in and out of the normal car, truck, bike and bus traffic. Rules seem to be random, stoplights seem to be random and whether you will get splattered on the pavement seems just as random as well. Unless you grow up in Vietnam you will never decipher that code.
So fortunately we met up with our friend, Chuong, who taught us how to cross the streets of Ho Chi Minh. The first thing he said was “when it feels right you step out into the traffic and you keep walking”. Frankly, it never does quite feel right, but there you go. We trust Chuong! Then he added, “try not to step out in front of a bus that can’t stop easily but don’t worry, the scooter drivers will try at all costs not to hit you”. Okay, good to know. And the most important thing to remember, said Chuong, is “once you get on to the road you can’t stop half way; you must keep moving because that’s what the drivers expect and they guide themselves accordingly”. Basically, at the end of the day, you put your lives in the hands of the gazillion motor scooters and yes, they respect the lives on the road.
So don’t stop, never ever stop. Keep going. Live long and prosper.