I like to watch the ciy waking up here in Hanoi. At about 6:30 this morning I left the hotel to go for a walk, have some breakfast and enjoy a coffee at a sidewalk cafe.
A couple blocks from the hotel, I saw 2 policemen had pulled a car over and were talking to the driver. It looked like a traffic stop. In a city where traffic rules seem at best to be “suggestions”, I wondered what the driver might have done to prompt a stop.
I’ve seen drivers zoom through red lights, drive the wrong way on one way streets, drive in the wrong lane, and merrily drive motorbikes on sidewalks. I’ve seen people drive their motorbikes while making phone calls, texting, smoking, carrying on conversations with other drivers. Often I’ve seen women sidesaddle on the backs of motorbikes. It’s not unusual to see mom and dad and 2 kids on a motorbike, and other drivers with impossible loads, stacks of boxes, and construction materials.
It’s amazing how quickly I’ve become used to crossing streets here with several motorbikes bearing down on me, something I wouldn’t ever consider doing in Toronto. I avoid cars, as they can’t easily drive around a pedestrian. The big thing seems to be: go in a straight line and don’t stop.