I learned how to drive a car in New York City rush hour traffic. I learned how to ride a scooter on the dirt roads and busy streets of India. So, it only made sense that I teach myself (with lots of help from Carrie) how to ride a proper motorcycle in Vietnam: one of the most dangerous places to ride in the world. Never having driven a stick shift car (successfully), I had to learn how the concept of gears at the same time as trying to steer clear of the constant flow of traffic.
My first day driving, fortunately, was in the quite town of Mui Ne, which was pretty empty. Unfortunately, shortly into my first day of driving we were hit by monsoon rains. I got the bike home with no problem but got soaked in the process. Next, I took it into the hilly mountains of Da Lat and had a quick crash course on how to use gears on steep inclines. Finally, we took another motorcycle out to explore Na Trang: a busy beach town. This was my favorite, as we returned to the hotel in the middle of rush hour traffic and I got to put my new skills to the test.
Traffic madness in Ho Chi Min
Traffic in Vietnam is unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. Stop lights are few and far between and motorcycles outnumber everything else. Intersections are the craziest, with all modes of transportation converging together and having a giant game of “who goes first.” Somehow, with a lot of honking, everyone gets their chance to go. Moto drivers tend to let the bigger vehicles go first, but at any given time another bike, car, pedestrian, cow or whatever can jump right out in front. I swear, crossing the street should be an Olympic sport.
Really, the whole thing is quite beautiful: like a noisy dance with a chance of an accident. I never dared to drive in Hanoi or Ho Chi Min, as they take the traffic to a whole new level, but I think I could have done it.
Crossing the street is terrifying in Ho Chi Min