Don’t go outside.
Seriously though, I couldn’t capture a photo and can’t find the words that would really give an apt description of the madness that is Hanoi traffic (and I know it will get worse in Ho Chi Minh City). This photo, though blurry, does give a bit of an idea of what it’s like:
- The only rule in driving here seems to be that there are no rules. It’s a free-for-all.
- Cars and bikes WILL go in any direction, regardless of traffic pattern.
- Bikes go on the sidewalks. However, most of the time sidewalks are blocked by people selling goods or bikes propped up so you have to scurry along the road anyway.
- No one looks when they merge. I think that’s what the constant horns are for – rather than an “Oy! You’re in the way!” it’s more of an “Oy! I’m coming in!”
- Just when you think it can’t get any crazier, someone will try to cross the road carrying something enormous, i.e. a cart full of bananas or in this case, balloons. BALLOONS IN TRAFFIC.
At any rate, after a day of screaming each time I ran across, I think we figured out a bit of a system in that you just have to keep moving when you cross, and ignore the horns, incoming vehicles, and chaos. A couple of close calls, but we all survived in one piece!
Madness aside, Hanoi was an interesting place to spend a few days. The pollution is quite strong – my throat hurt almost instantly, and I did find that when I coughed/sneezed…it came out black. Sorry lungs (and sorry readers for the oversharing)! Apart from dodging traffic and coughing incessantly, I also visited:
- The Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum
- Hoi An, aka the “Hanoi Hilton”
- Several fine restaurants, where I discovered just how delicious condensed milk is in coffee and ate cake (sidenote, perhaps I should have named this blog “Eating ‘Round the World”)
- A traditional water puppet show
And just wandered about, discovering side streets and seeing a bit more of the character of the place. As I am still in Vietnam and it’s quite strict, I’ll keep mum on any thoughts I have about what I saw and just say a big thank you to Hanoi motorists for not plowing me down!