“Just go slow, be predictable.” As we waded into the stream of scooters and motor bikes that fill the streets of Ho Chi Minh City, I reminded the girls of this mantra. Magically, the oncoming river of bikes managed not to wipe any of us out, although they did come within inches of us on either side. A “break in traffic” does not exist, walking through it is the only path to the other side. We’d thought there were a lot of motorized bikes in Thailand, but it does not come close to the numbers in Saigon. Crossing the street is an adventure!
There are other things about the traffic that are curious to us here. At home, typically, the larger entity yields to the smaller one. Trucks watch for cars and move slowly through congested areas. Car watch for bikes, and everyone watches out for pedestrians. (At least in theory.) Here, the smaller most always yields to the larger. As a pedestrian, you can walk into the stream of motorbikes, so long as they can predict where you will be; no lunging or stopping. But, if a car or truck is coming, wait for it to pass, as it will not stop for you.
They will honk to let you know they are coming. Unlike honking back home, which is seen as aggressive, here it is intended for your safety and for the safety of those around you. I’ve come to appreciate a honk from the motorbike coming up the sidewalk behind me, because then I know it is there. Better than the one that I don’t hear and nearly get knocked over by as it runs over my feet.
So, as our family crosses, we try to make ourselves as small a target as possible by walking side by side, and just go. We never thought traffic could be a thrill.