So, before I’d arrived in Vietnam, I’d read lots about crossing the roads and how scary it can be to foreigners who are used to a more ‘regimental’ traffic flow (i.e. the traffic actually stops at some point to allow you to cross the road).
I’d also read that the best way to overcome any fear you may have of motorbikes and buses zooming at you from all directions was just to face it head on and...
... to step out into the traffic steadily and with purpose, that way the traffic has time to realise where you are heading to, and can navigate around you.
With this in mind, within my first hour of landing in Ho Chi Minh City (from hereon in referred to as Saigon as that is still what it is referred to as by the locals and indeed the airport code) I decided that I would take the brave step of crossing the traffic by myself to ensure that for the rest of the trip I would be comfortable with the traffic.
As my hotel was located close to Ben Thanh Market, I decided to head there for a look around and scope out any possible future purchases. Little did I realise that this was probably one of the busiest intersections of the city! But nevertheless, I set off undeterred and took my first step out into Saigon’s traffic.
Now I have to say, it really wasn’t as bad as I had expected. I actually found it easier to keep my eyes focussed on my destination (the market) and not look at the oncoming traffic at all because they really do just swerve around you and I tend to find that looking oncoming death in the eyes isn’t the best way of going about things.
I made it safely across two of the busiest roads I had ever encountered and was feeling great. I had done it!
I laughed in the face of near death and had survived the traffic!
Feeling a great high, I then continued to cross as many roads as I could within the next few hours. It really did get easier and I felt a great sense of achievement. It was also such a good way of getting to know the layout of the city and the area surrounding my hotel.
So I would urge anyone travelling to Vietnam to ignore all of the scary stories about the ‘crazy’ traffic – it really isn’t as bad as it may first appear.
And plus, it makes a great story when you get back home!
Written and contributed by Julia