When we first got off the ship in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam we got a taste of crossing the street right away, and although we were warned, we were in shock when we saw the road we had to cross. There were eight lanes, with motorbikes weaving in and out of the cars, trucks and busses, paying no attention to the lanes.
We looked for a crosswalk, but the so-called “crosswalks” were so densely covered in traffic, they were barely visible. We decided we would have to cross at one of them, because they were the only places without a barrier halfway across the road. As we were looking for a better place to cross, motorbikes started coming up on the sidewalk, and weaving around us. We finally found a place to cross, not quite as bad as the rest of the street, but crazy all the same. Remembering that we were told to just keep a steady, predictable pace, we stepped out into the chaotic road, bikes coming within a foot of us, yet somehow not hitting us. We learned quickly, that although motorbikes weave around to avoid you, cars expect you to avoid them. Step by step we walked, holding hands and our breath, while motorbikes whizzed past us. Our eyes scanning the traffic and trying to predict the best pace to proceed at, as cars, and bikes whizzed passed us. When we got to the other side, we were jumping up and down with excitement, our hearts racing, we could not believe we had made it. It became clear as we were walking, sidewalks were not safe ground from bikes, even the so called “pedestrian only streets” where filled with motor bikes. Much of the time the sidewalks were filled with small stands and parked motorbikes, and we had no choice but to walk on the side of the road. Although, at the beginning I was sure I would never get used to it, I soon found myself crossing the street with confidence