(Note: Sorry for the blurry images, but I had the wrong lens on my camera … you get the idea.)
I think the image most associated with Saigon is that of a bajillion motorbikes navigating the streets at what appears to be a completely haphazard and random fashion.
This is true. It absolutely IS completely haphazard.
If there is an empty space to move—street, sidewalk, it doesn’t matter—seriously, if it’s empty than it’ll be taken by someone trying to move forward. It’s actually a wonderful metaphor for the population’s paradigm. You’ll see the same behavior in the mob around a baggage claim rotunda or at the market. Everyone will push forward with only their own interests in mind and somehow the entire blob of a mob will make room. Every once in awhile people help each other, but really they’ve got their own agenda. You can’t stand back and wait for someone to let you in or you’ll be left in the dust; you must take the initiative to get where you want to go, get what you need in any fashion necessary. Who cares if you jostle each other a little or have to climb over barriers, everyone’s doing the same and no one seems to mind. Self initiative is generally rewarded, so you might as well go for it. If you need to get from point A to point B, whether you’re a pedestrian or a vehicle, going with or going against traffic, even cutting across at some kind of bizarre angle, just GO, somehow everyone will make room for you.
People watching while traveling the roads is captivating. People are packing building materials, furniture, big ass 40-inch TVs, their kids, spouses, girlfriends … whatever you’d put in a car, you’d put on your motorbike, which is the Viet equivalent to the American auto. They also do all the same things that we do while in our cars: pick their noses, talk on the phone, text on the phone and eat.
One of the greatest things to see is all the kids being toted around—no car seats here folks—they just tuck them in front and take off. Babies can be seen sleeping slumped over perfectly oblivious to the chaos going on around them—the cacophony of beep, beeping horns and the constant rumble of engines.
Aaah, the lullabye of motorbikes.