A horse for everybody

Sep 06, 2013 in

One of the first impressions I had when entering Vietnam was the different traffic situation as in Thailand:

Here in Vietnam, people sound their horn all the time, making the roads quite a noisy affair. Honking does cover use cases like “hello, here I am (I am driving on the same street as you on the opposite lane)”, “I am overtaking you”, “careful you, don’t overlook me while you pull out into traffic” or also “I am turning into a street and I’m not looking”. Buses horn to make themselves known so people waiting at the road for a bus can get to the road (there are no fixed bus stops)

There are also some variations in the horns. Many buses do have this very recognizable loud horn that dies away sinusoidally. Irritatingly, I’ve also heard it on a personal car.

Street scenes in Hai Phong

Compared to Germany, in Thailand, many people drive a moto. Especially in the crowded super-city Bangkok with chronic 24/7 traffic jam, you get anywhere so much faster when squeezing between the cars and taking short-cuts through Sois (slim alleyways) where no car fits in but a moto still does. Moto drivers in Thailand use the full width of the road, frequently they move on to the wrong side or drive up oneway streets from the other side as they can (almost) always avoid other vehicles.

Old advertisement for the most popular moto that can be seen on the road nowadays. What is for the Thais the Honda Wave, in Vietnam, it is the Honda Super Cub. Reliable and cheap.

In Vietnam on the other hand, the major part of the traffic consists of motos. Comparatively only few cars or buses are driven on the street, surrounded by a swarm of motos. They really do move like a swarm of fish as they deftly move around obstacles like potholes or rubble.

And when crossing the street, you have to be that rubble (you can also be a pothole if you want) – move slowly and predictable straight over the street and the swarm will aptly avoid you. No “get off the road!” honking involved as one might expect it if you attempted the same thing in Germany.

Because zebra crossings are ignored and traffic lights are rare (and pedestrians ignored by cars turning left or right), this is also your only option as the stream of motos and cars will never end on the busy streets.

Naturally, most families just own a motorcycle and bicycles instead of a car. Just search google and you know that one motorcycle is enough for everything. Also, some of the normal roads here are actually closed for cars or only allowed as a oneway street.

Transporter for about a dozen chicken or so.

These Chinese-made elektro-bikes are quite popular in Hai Phong (not so much in Hanoi) as city-motos.

And there is no cheaper way. They don’t have this problem here with big cars with bust just one driver inside blocking the roads, parking lots (and costing fuel). No wonder why there is practically no (proper) public transportation within the cities when everybody has a personal horse at disposal or, if not, it will not be a problem to find someone who takes you.