If you’re thinking about travelling to South East Asia, I want to pass on a small but valuable piece of advice:
Just go for it when you cross the road.
I know it doesn’t sound like much but I genuinely found this to be one of the most helpful things I read before heading out to SE Asia. Especially when I was in Hanoi, Vietnam’s capital.
You know when you’re in a club and you’re worried your feet will get trodden on by a girl in high heels? Walking on the roads there is like that but on a deathly scale. Swap a stiletto for a moped or a car tyre.
You’ve got to ignore every childhood instict of road safety crossing. Essentially, just walk straight out in the middle of traffic and don’t stop until you’ve got where you need to be.
You’ve got to be confident and keep walking. Make sure you don’t run and don’t slow down; remain at a steady pace. The traffic will move around you.
To be a pedestrian but also part of the traffic is a strange feeling and can be oddly thrilling at times. Until you find yourself caught in the middle of the school run rush hour. Then the thrilling feels leaves and you’re left with terror and the urge to swear a lot.
We’re on a narrow road, with the usual mopeds zipping past, but now with a herd of school children weaving their way through the traffic, thankfully made more noticeable by their fluorescent backpacks. Parents casually stroll along, both on foot and by moped to pick up their kids. Meanwhile one clever cookie is trying to get through the middle of all of this with crates precariously stacked at the back of their moped. I try to tuck in to the side to avoid this but there’s vehicles either side of me and I have nowhere to tuck myself in to.
“What happened?” I ask.
“That old guy’s foot just his foot run over. I hope he’s ok,” my friend coos.
The elderly man hobbles past us with walking stick in hand, looking grumpy but no worse for wear. I get the feeling it’s a fairly occurrence for him.
Here’s a little video my friend took as we made our way through the traffic: