Motorbikes of Hanoi

Riding a motorbike in Vietnam is like an extreme sport; it should be one of the contests in the X-games, it’s that extreme. The previous fellow here at SEDA before me was so deathly afraid of them that her entire time in Vietnam she never once rode on one. This is quite understandable, actually, with how hectic and crazy driving is as seen with the video that I shot above.

The reality, however, is that it is almost impossible not to take a motorbike at some point. The problem is, they are the most efficient vehicle to ride on the street. When traffic is jammed, they can go in and out of every tight spot with ease (well you and the other 100,000 motorbikes). There are way more motorbikes than cars on the road for many reasons including they are very cheap, easy to maintain, and simple to maneuver.

Narrow streets are another reason motorbikes are efficient

Narrow streets are another reason motorbikes are efficient

Apparently, within the past several years traffic has gotten better. I wish I could have seen it before, because I cannot imagine what is worse! My roommate Nicky told me that only a few years ago traffic lights were installed at most intersections. For the most part, people follow the traffic lights, but I’d say roughly 20% still disregard them and run the red lights. This can and does snarl up traffic, but the red light running is usually done within a few seconds of a light change. The main reason why the lights work is that every major intersection has several traffic police stationed at them. (You’ll see them as the men in tan waving batons in the video). It’s quite common to see someone pulled over, but usually for not having a helmet (the helmet law is new actually, enacted January 1st., 2009).

With that said, my housemates are going to teach me how to ride a motorbike. Hopefully I’ll rent my own bike for the last three or so months I am here at a grand cost of around $75 ($25/month). It’ll make getting around the city so much easier, and probably a lot more fun. I’ve been practicing on my xe oms figuring out when to turn left across oncoming traffic. I think to myself  ‘If I were the driver, I’d turn now’ and usually that’s when he turns. I’m finally getting the hang of it! It’s like threading a needle, but it is very possible and becomes very fluid with a lot of practice. Once I get my motorbike, I’ll post pictures and stories about my trips! Until next time everyone, Cheers!

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2 Responses to “Motorbikes of Hanoi”

  1. Timi Says:

    How many people die or get injured on these motorbikes… I mean, how many foreigners???

  2. Kathy OMalley Says:

    The video was great, I’m sure you’ll enjoy your travels on a motorbike, I know I enjoyed the week I used one on key west.

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