Today, my memory was jogged as I was driving in rush hour
traffic thinking about what a bunch of #@^**^&’s some drivers are here. I
have written of it in the past but let me recap a bit.
Many tourists and even expats look at traffic in Vietnam as pure
Chaos. At first look there seems to me no rhyme or reason for anything that
they do. People pull into traffic from side roads without looking, drive down
the wrong side of the street, text on cells, weave in and out blindly drunk,
and do not obey traffic controls. Some but not all of the unsafe driving can be
explained by how traffic works here. Roads are just too busy to turn across
lanes onto a road you may wish to travel, therefore, a person has to turn into
opposing traffic against the close curb and wait for an opportunity to merge
against oncoming traffic into your lane. Aha!! One mystery solved. Another is
that vehicles are always required to remain in the inside lane and the
motorcycles the outside, even if turning in either direction. That one boggles
my mind. It means that there are always vehicles pulling onto your path as you
are trying to drive straight through an intersection.
OK….. That is enough to confuse and scare most visitors into
not driving. I never had the benefit of anybody teaching me the rules and it
was coming here and experiencing it for many years on and off before I had the
confidence of giving it a go. I guess if had jumped right into it, I would have
learned fast enough. I now drive in all cities including the horror traffic of
Saigon and Hanoi.
Even though I have almost 40 years of motorcycle experience, I am always wary
and cautious of what is behind me and coming from the sides. I know there are
some that read this blog that think a person has to be absolutely nuts to drive
here, and I agree. I would not if I did not find it necessary to do so.
Anyway…… Here I was driving down a busy road congested with
bicycles, motorcycles, and the occasional car when through the constant blaring
of sounding horns, when behind came the thunder of desperate honking. Rushing
at dangerous speeds forcing drivers to flee for cover was a taxi driving like a
madman. Behind him were two large trucks screeching their 150db horns swerving
in and out trying to force the taxi and other vehicles in front to make way.
This is quite normal here. Right of way is usually given to the larger and more
aggressive vehicles, even when approaching from behind. They will race up and
ride your rear honking furiously until you pull to the right and let them pass.
If you do not or cannot pull over far enough, they will simply pull into
oncoming traffic and force all of the smaller vehicles against the curb or even
into the ditches and sidewalks. Why did this jog my memory?
Drifter and I were having a conversation and I was discussing
the way they aggressively forced traffic t pull over from behind when he piped
up “You know it’s the Americans fault right?” Huh?? What are you talking about
I asked? Drifter replied that during the war there were not a lot of
motorcycles and fewer cars. Most rode bicycles and the roads were as congested
back then. The Americans however, had fleets of jeeps and trucks. When the
American military moved about, they always drove in a rushed aggressive manner
forcing traffic aside as there was always the fear at being shot at, and the
faster a person moves through populated areas, the less likely to be fired
upon. He continued to say that the driving habits today is simply a
continuation of what the driving was like back then. Has anyone really tried to
show them any different?
Hmmmmmmmmmm……… a very interesting theory. Perhaps it is
true….. What do you think?