Saigon is probably more famous for its motorbike traffic than for any monument or building. Apparently there are six million bikes in the city, which at peak hour might feel like an underestimate. There is a metro being built here which will be a welcome relief. Until then Ho Chi Minh City swims in a sea of motorbikes, and a roundup on Saigon can’t not include a reference to moto culture.
You see traffic, I see gaps in the road.
When I first came here I remember struggling to cross the street. I would sometimes find a grandma to cross the street with as I figured they have made it this far in life so they must know how to cross the road. Over time I have become proficient at crossing the street by myself.
There is an art to crossing the road, and the trick is to walk slowly and steadily, and to look through the rider and not into the riders eyes. This works well when the traffic is all bikes, but it is harder when there are cars and buses mixed in.
THE BACK OF THE BIKE ECONOMY
With a motorbike being the fastest way to get around anything that can be delivered by bike usually is. Bikes are used as mobile shops, with anything from fruit to knife sharpeners making their way around the city. A common site on the streets of Saigon are the ice delivery guys. I’ve seen the sacks of ice up to seven layers high, and often not secured. I don’t know how they do it, but I’ve never seen one go down.