The Roads: Anarchy in ‘Nam

The Vietnamese are horny bastards.

Sorry, nothing to do with sex, just that noise pollution is the first thing you’ll notice on the roads here.

Horns blare like Morse code. In New Zealand a horn blast often equals a middle finger. Here , it’s just a way of announcing your presence.

Until I realised this , I was as jumpy and aggro on the roads as a moose in the Roar.

Then, I stopped taking it personally.

Rather than slowing down and looking both ways, many Vietnamese motorists will just blast their horns at an intersection, most of which have no lights.

Ive listened to car drivers travel hundreds of metres down a straight thoroughfare, blasting their horns every 20 or so metres.

Car drivers are a privileged breed here – import tax is very steep – so they’re outnumbered by at least 10 to 1 by motorcycles.

Still, there’s an arrogance about them. I guess it’s built-in – there’s a certain nonchalance required to clog up the narrow road arteries with a sausage-like SUV.

Doing the Rounds

The many roundabouts are especially… exhilarating. Nevermind the fact that they must be negotiated anti-clockwise, as opposed to Home’s clockwise route.

On the big ones there can be, what, a hundred-plus bikes riding one at busy times.

The trick, I’ve discovered, is to choose a line, and stick to it. Hesitate, or do something unexpected, and you’re roadkill. Or , stranded in the firing line like a sitting duck.

All that said,the Vietnamese are mostly very skilled motorcyclists. They’re so blase about it, every third guy is smoking and riding, every second girl is checking her cellphone, every 5th bike is loaded with a cargo-full, and every 8th bike is loaded with three people or more.

On the other hand, unlike Thailand, you’ll rarely see helmet-less riders.

On the third hand, I’ve only ever seen cops directing traffic, as opposed to collecting taxes and Christmas fund donations.

The ride to work is 15-20 minutes, but I enjoy it. Nothing like a bracing ride in the warmth, followed by a stiff coffee with butter, to get the juices flowing of a morning.

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