Nov 21, 2012

Traffic Vietnamese Style

One of Ho Chi Minh City’s or Saigon’s most dazzling sites is the street traffic. There is something exhilarating about watching the city whiz by and soaking in its frenetic energy. Think people watching on fast forward with a turbo boost.

It’s not unusual to see a family of four with a toddler sleeping next to Mom or Dad on a motorbike in the midst of the chaos, a novelty for those of us who come from the land of SUVs and mandated car seats for children.

The motorized beasts of burden carry all types of cumbersome cargo balanced expertly by drivers.

Motorbikes are the transportation of choice in Vietnam for good reason. The taxes and fees the government imposes on owning/importing a car average more than double the amount of the purchase price making them beyond reach for the majority. The average per capital annual income is a little more than a $1,000 countrywide and about $3,000 in Ho Chi Minh City. The average cost of a motorbike is about $800.

The sea of motorbikes never stops surging in Vietnamese cities and certainly not for pedestrians. Crossing the street can be daunting for the uninitiated. The trick is to walk slow and steady into the street, have a little faith and let traffic go around you.

To give you a sense of the perpetual motion, below is a short unedited video taken with my iphone on Le Loi Street, one of the main thoroughfares of District 1 in Saigon, just before rush hour kicked in.

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