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The motorbike dilemma: To ride or not to ride? 

The motorbike dilemma: To ride or not to ride? 


If you’ve seen any movie with a scene that takes place in modern Vietnam, or even videos on internet of busy Vietnamese intersections where hundreds of motorbikes seem to come from everywhere, rushing toward each other in what seems to be chaos, don’t worry too much, what you saw is not the reality. The reality is about a hundred times worst.


             One of the most impressive spot to discover this motorbike frenzy is Ho Chi Minh City, also called Saigon. Saigon is the economic capital of the country, and around 9 million people are living there at the moment. That’s an impressive figure, but not as impressive as the next one: there are more that 8 millions motorbikes rushing in the crazy streets of this monster-city everyday. Traffic rules exist, and are probably written somewhere, in a book that hasn’t been touched for a few decades, which make them a bit unknown, or hard to understand. That might be one of the reasons why Vietnamese people decided to make and follow their own rules, and each and every one of seem to have different ones ! Red lights are mostly a decoration effort, one-way streets are usually used in a number of ways that is close from infinity, the number of people on one single bike kinda depends on its strength, the helmet is supposed to be mandatory but is only worn in specific parts of the country… Riding a motorbike in Vietnam, and especially in Saigon, is an adventure. It’s pretty scary at first, but you’ll realize fast enough that the risks are pretty low if you don’t act stupidly.
           The fact that 99% of the people very rarely go over 40 kilometers per hour is surely a reason in the relatively low number of accident you’ll see in the street, that, and the behaviors of the riders, who seem to have decided to (almost) never get angry on the street. I say almost because of course, you’ll find example of Vietnamese road rage, but compared to the number of motorbikes in the streets, and seeing they apparent non-existence of traffic rules, you’ll have to agree that Vietnamese motorbikes riders are pretty quiet, and take things without anger.


        My advice might make you think about a famous sportswear brand, but I think it’s the best advice I could give about riding in Vietnam and in Saigon : Just Do It. Stay focus, don’t drink and drive, and don’t drive like a prick. Motorbike is form very far the best way to discover the city and to get lost in it, and you’ll miss a huge part of the Vietnamese experience if you decide not to give it a try.

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