Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Confessions on a motorbike: Part 4

I have been travelling on a motorbike for around 3 weeks now but I am still finding I see different things everyday. It is a hectic way to travel however there is something about it that makes me feel free. You have to be careful and concentrate intently about what is happening around you but otherwise I find it relaxing. I think the lack of rules has a major part to play. There are no speed signs and really little street signs directing the masses. For the signs that are there they pose little meaning as the traffic creates its own rules. There are some traffic lights counting down the seconds left on either the green or red light. To the best part they are followed but 3 seconds left on the red light means its time to go. On the adjacent street as it turns red the traffic is still pouring through. The result is a mess in the middle of the intersection, both lines of traffic trying to find a way through. In the end they do and you zoom off to the next intersection.

There are many one way streets however that will not stop motorbikes heading in the opposite direction, even in a peak hour traffic jam. I experienced my first traffic jam on Monday when Celine was heading off to class. It was gridlocked. Motorbikes as far as your eye could see. I was hot and sweaty from the heat of the engines and you could see the pollution in the air. We were moving very slowly and it was then I saw that in times of need the Vietnamese are very resourceful. If the road is at a stand still they will take to the sidewalk. Not just one or two bikes but a steady stream. I joined the flow and ducked back into traffic a block down when we could not go any further. This is normal and it didn’t seem to bother the traffic police standing on the corner. I have seen them pull people over however I don’t know what for. I am guessing to check their licence and if that is the case I hope I don’t get pulled over; I don’t have one.

There are a number of places to fill up with petrol around the city. It is a simple and efficient way. You pull up, take off the petrol cap, wait for the lady to fill you up and pay her. The whole process takes less than a few minutes even when it’s busy. The tank takes a few litres and usually lasts the week; all for about $2. Once you are done you shoot back into the traffic and are on your way. After filling up yesterday Celine and I went out to a big Supermarket; The Big C. Man was it big. I could barely see from one side to the other and was dreading what was in front of me. Celine on the other hand was in heaven. The Big C had pretty much everything from food to electronics to house goods and motorbikes. Everything we need to start our flat we can find at the Big C and they deliver as well. It is about 20 minutes on the motorbike but worth the trip. We made a start on things we need but Celine is planning a return trip sometime soon. I am pretty sure I am busy.

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