Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Confessions on a motobike: Part 1

My first trip on a moto was one of apprehension and excitement. Not very well taught in the motorbike scene this was to be a challenging learning experience. The moto is a little Honda, by no means powerful but that wasn’t really my main concern. The traffic in Hanoi is a mass of motos. They are everywhere. There are thousands upon thousands darting through the streets or lining the sidewalks. Every intersection is filled with them moving at pace weaving frantically around the city. The moto is the vehicle of choice however you will find countless bikes, cars and buses sharing the roads as well.

I started the bike on the sidewalk and waited for a small break in the traffic. You won’t get much more than a small break so I took the chance I had. I was off and riding in Hanoi. I was hugging the right hand side of the road close to the pavement. This seemed like the safest bet to get myself accustomed however proves difficult when you meet a lady on a push bike selling flowers and have to scurry to the left to avoid her while not being pummelled. Before venturing out again Celine jumped on the back and we took on Hanoi together.

In Vietnam they drive on the opposite side of the road to Australia but even this concept does not seem to be a hard and fast rule. I am still to learn the rules of the road and understand what applies to where. On some intersections there are lights, others not. For the ones with lights I often see people ride straight through the red lights intertwining the oncoming traffic. For the intersections without lights it seems you find your place as you go, riding out finding a path to follow. You may need to brake, stop or accelerate. You may need move to the left or the right. It all depends. The one feature you will not forget in Hanoi and one essential to the traffic life is the horn. They are used religiously. BEEP. BEEP. BEEEEEEEEEEEPPPPPPPPPPPPP. If you don’t like horns I suggest not coming to Hanoi. You will hear them non-stop from dawn to dusk. On every corner in the city they are being used to their full potential. They are being used at such a continuous rate I find it hard to know if a horn is directed at me or not. I think half the time they are used because they can be, not for any real purpose. I think the people of Hanoi are a bit horn happy.

Once on the road it is not as daunting as it seems. You have the opportunity to ride slow if you wish but expect your fair share of attention if you are even close to slowing someone else down. As you reach a traffic light the motos that decide to obey the stop light will bulk up all around you. Ten, twenty, a hundred bikes all waiting for the light to change and when it does they dash off in all directions. We navigated the traffic with increased confidence and most importantly got home in one piece. It was a challenge but it was fun. I think I am going to enjoy riding in Hanoi. The next time it will be my turn to exploit the handy little horn and only then can I say I am riding in Hanoi.
Dan explique parle de son expérience quant a conduire une moto au Vietnam. Un peu angoissé au début, au milieu d’une circulation folle sans règles et de biiiiiiip biiiiiiips assourdissants, il s’est maintenant bien détendu. On ne va pas vite et on reste au bord du trottoir

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