Well, here we are in Vietnam. We have been here for about 6 days. In that time, we have visited Hanoi and Halong Bay. We posted seperate entries on our 3 days in Halong Bay and our 3 days in Hanoi that can be found below.
Via our blog, in addition to describing our travels, we will interlace the occasional post of some of our thoughts about the coutries we’ve visited. On this post, we would like to discuss transportation in Vietnam. This post will be a bit longer than the rest.
Before we get into the subject, we wanted to say that we REALLY love Vietnam. It is difficult to describe in words (and to show in pictures). Vietnam is quite different from Thailand in many ways but mainly in the sense that it isn’t as developed making it even more interesting to visit.
Now, onto the subject of transportation in Vietnam.
Seeing how people get around is so interesting. We figure that at least 85% of the people either travel by moped or bicycle. And it really is something to see. Imagine watching a light change at an intersection and you see 200 mopeds and only 6 cars go by.
Because the main modes of transportation are bicycles and mopeds, they transporte everything on them. And we really do see people loading EVERYTHING onto the mopeds and bikes. It is really impressive to see how much stuff they can pack onto them. The following is a very short list of some of the things we’ve seen on either a moped of bike:
- All kinds of furniture loaded to the front of a cyclo (which is a 3 wheeled bike)
- 3 dead pigs tied to the back of a moped
- Live geese in cages on the back of mopeds
- So much pottery tied to the moped that you can’t see the driver (making the moped at least 5 times wider)
- Many, many other things
And this is a very small list. Imagine back home if we didn’t have (or use) trucks to transport anything. And then imagine all the stuff that you would see loaded onto a moped! It is really impressive to see.
On the same moped, you often see 3 or 4 people. You see families (Mom, Dad and 2 children) riding on the same moped. And these mopeds are not any larger than those in North America. As well, most of the people also don’t wear helmets (probably only 5% of the people wear them).
The traffic laws in Vietnam are very, very relaxed. People don’t pay attention to red lights and there no stop signs in the cities. The best way to describe traffic at an intersection would be to imagine two schools of fish coming together – they don’t collide – they go around each other. And that is how it traffic is here! The mopeds and vehicles are all interlaced and go around each other.
When you do see vehicles, they honestly spend as much time on the oncoming traffic lane than in their own lane.
The amazing thing is that all this chaos works. On the highways, people drive at most 60 km/h and either move over or slow down when coming head on towards another vehicle. In the cities, the mopeds are all over the place. None of them ever stay in their own lane. They turn when they can and however they can. They are also constantly running red lights. Sitting at any city intersection in Vietnam can entertain you for hours!
And EVERYBODY honks ALL THE TIME! They use their horn to let other people know that they are there. However, we are not sure how effective it is because everyone honks. So, to us, it would seem that all their honking cancel each other’s out.
Well, that is enough on the driving. It is a longer post but really, it is quite something to see. We will try getting some good photos to show everyone how the driving is here in Vietnam. But as we said at the beginning of the post, it is hard to describe and properly get in a photo.