Motor vehicles are expensive in Vietnam, but scooters/motorbikes are more affordable, thus it should not come as any surprise that there are really a lot on the roads. Now don’t get me wrong, we have them in South Africa too, but not in such abundance!
Instead of a parking garage (as we are used to see in the West), most shopping centres have these, to cater for the masses – and to ensure a dry seat on return.
But on sunny days, you don’t want a burning hot seat either. Hello piece of cardboard.
When the rain is really heavy, out comes a poncho. Not just any old flavour. A special one. The front flap has a see-thru panel which you throw over your handles and your light can still shine through.
Some poncho’s even comes with a second hoodie, for your passenger. No extra hoodie, no problem – the view is not currently great anyhow.
For the amount of traffic, it is remarkably peaceful, but not quiet. There is a whole lot of hooting taking place. The organism that is traffic is rather accommodating. If a foreign object is introduced, it deals with this as every individual component of the greater whole merely swerve slightly left or right. This way, everyone is merrily on their way again, with the minimal of fuss.
Traffic lights seems like a serving suggestion only.
Practical tip for the anxious traveler: forget about your “western training” of looking left, then right, then left again, before attempting to cross the street. You will never be afforded a gap to cross. Instead, decide upon the route you want to follow to cross the street (the shorter the better), commit to it and start walking. Keep a steady walking pace. Don’t go faster or slower! The traffic will devour you and spit you out on the pavement all intact. For us, the trick was not to look left/right while walking. Focus on your destination and voila, street crossed “safely”.
This mode of transport is so entrenched in their daily lives, that delivering eggs or potplants is not a problem at all.
Need a quick nap? Just find a quiet spot.
We witnessed a few practical ladies. Why with all the puddles and dirt around, one does have the need to arrive with clean clothes, hence an apron of sorts, to keep things dry and tidy.
Yes, you can wear your favourite cha cha heels and still drive yourself to work.
You know you have arrived, when you cruise the streets with your colour-coded helmet.
The same sensibility cannot be extended to parenting choices. Somehow clean air for your children seems more important than a head injury.
Been driving all morning, your back is killing you and it would be nice to have your legs up for a bit? Be on the lookout for a coffee shop with hammocks. One can linger here for a while, as long as you buy something from the shop.
In Siem Reap, you and your scooter (with a small alteration) can turn entrepreneur and transport tourists around.
Speaking of transport: if your wheels are in the repair shop, or you do not own one yet? Why not book a ride via your phone …
We didn’t even try crossing this street! We know our limits.
Keep reading about our observations on Vietnam/Cambodia’s shops and retail, especially gift with purchase tactics, in an attempt to convince the discerning shopper.