By Lisa on Oct 02, 2013 with Comments 2
Our first stop is Hanoi; one of the most crazy cities I’ve ever been in in Southeast Asia. We’ll be staying in Hanoi for a day or two before we head off to explore the rest of Vietnam.
So if we want to stay alive during our stay in Hanoi there is something we have to learn fast:
How to cross the road in Hanoi
Crossing the road in Hanoi is not the same as crossing the road anywhere else: here they have turned it into a very risky art form….
I have this mastered now. It took a while though.
It’s difficult to adjust to at first: you have to walk slowly – very slowly - and without appearing to look for traffic.
Basically when you are in Hanoi you have to unlearn all the road safety that was drummed into you as a child: things like look both ways, wait for the traffic to stop, etc. These are the things that are not going to get you anywhere in Hanoi. You’ll still be standing on the roadside waiting to cross the street next week if you follow the green cross code.
Of course the secret is that you are looking but only very slyly out of the corner of your eye! The idea is to let the motorists believe that you are oblivious to them and they will go around you. What you absolutely MUST NOT do is run or make any jerky movement. If you cause a motorbike to swerve rapidly you could be causing a big accident.
Each time a motorbike zooms by you, take a step forward, let the next motorbike zoom by and take another step forward. This is an art form and is beautifully executed by the locals. It looks almost like a dance called the Hanoi Highway Shuffle.
Sit at a roadside bar enjoying a Bia Hoi and watch the experts do it before you attempt this yourself. Just observe as beeping bikes weave in and out of cautious but assertive pedestrians.
The first time I realised I would have to actually cross the road this way in Hanoi I was horrified but after a while it becomes like a game, a challenge – I’m almost disappointed now when the road is clear when I have to cross!
I should also say that for those unfamiliar with the roads in Hanoi, I can’t possibly make you understand how many motorbikes there actually are. Maybe if I say that I have seen more motorbikes in two days in Hanoi than I have in a year elsewhere, I don’t think I’m exaggerating!
Have you watched the video above? Watch it again, but this time watch it carefully. Watch it in full screen if you can so that you can see it properly. That’s me crossing the road in Saigon. Find me first on the right hand side waiting to cross the road. When the bus moves you’ll see me in yellow. Now keep your eye on me during the whole video – see how long it takes me just to cross the two roads!
Let the dance begin…
About the Author: Lisa, born and grew up in England, live in Mallorca, Spain... Have visited more than 20 countries, have twice as many to yet visit, love sharing experiences....