I am not exaggerating when I say, Ho Chi Minh City is the most intimidating city I’ve ever been to. As soon as I typed that, my mind flashed to my time in Naples, but I still stand by my statement–it’s equally as intimidating as Naples. It’s chaotic, noisy, colorful. Everywhere you look there are options of good things to eat, situations in which you could get ripped off, and more mopeds (packed with two or more people) than you could ever imagine, flying down the streets at breathtaking speeds. Electric wires hang in tangled messes from power line poles, and nearly every day, the sky seems to just open and a downpour of warm rain floods the city. It’s an assault on all of the senses, simultaneously.
I didn’t dislike this chaos entirely…but one thing I could not become accustomed to was the traffic. I swear I had heart palpitations every time we had to cross the street. Crossing the street in Vietnam is an art. First, you must watch for some break in traffic–since it never entirely stops, this usually just means to wait for a slower moving vehicle, or simply a gap between mopeds. Then you just walk. Into the chaos. And try your best not to wet yourself. The cars and mopeds will never stop for you, but if you walk confidently and quickly, they will slow down. There are “crosswalks” but they don’t seem to mean anything, and I saw very few traffic lights, and fewer that were actually obeyed.
Watching the traffic in Vietnam is like watching a living, breathing thing, or at the very least, it’s like watching a machine at work. All these little parts are moving at the same time, in opposite directions, at different speeds, and yet, it all just flows with nearly no drama. We didn’t see any accidents, we didn’t see any road rage. If a car or moped stopped suddenly, the others would simply continue to flow around it, never changing speed. Girls would be lazily draped over the back of a moped, side-saddle style, danging their heels over the streets and barely holding onto their drivers. Casual. Normal. Welcome to Ho Chi Minh City!
Until coming to Vietnam, I thought Italy had the most frightening traffic in the world. I stand corrected! Where’s the scariest traffic you’ve ever seen? Share with us in the comments!