October 12, 2014

Recently I finished writing a novel, PUSHING WATER. The story is based in Vietnam several years before WWII. It’s a murder mystery, but probably it’s more about what was happening during those years. The world was a mess. Japan had invaded China and Hitler was attempting to dominate Europe.

I visited Vietnam a few years ago and many things come to mind when I remember that trip. But let me tell you about travel and transportation. Vietnam has very few traffic lights, no stop signs and no traffic cops.

traffic At intersections and cross roads there is an understanding that everyone will get to where they are going, and the term we heard used many time was that the driver will ‘ease into traffic’. If you persist in moving forward you will get into the stream of motor scooters. There are cars on the streets, but very few and many of them are taxis. In a country with 54 ethnic groups, a population of 82.8 million there are over 4 million motor scooters. How to cross the street And I want to tell you, crossing the street on foot in Vietnam is not for the weak of heart. You must, as we were told, dance with the traffic. Step off the curb and move forward watching at all times from which direction a scooter will be coming. Let one or two scooters pass, step forward. Always keep moving, never stop, and never turn around and run back to the curb. Most scooters will not slow down for you, but they will beep-beep you, not in annoyance, but to let you know that they are there. We always made it across the street and we never saw anyone hit while maneuvering from one side of the street to the other. morning commute Rush hour is always a crush of scooters. traffic #2 And scooter jams are a common occurrence. transporting kids I have heard that outrageous numbers of people can travel together on a scooter, but it is not uncommon to see a mother with all her children traveling through Hanoi, taking the kids to school and then bringing them home again. balloon vender on a bike This is a photo of a balloon vender who travels about the city on her motor scooter, stopping at the various schools selling her goodies. toy venders Many scooters have been adapted to carry products. Here are a couple of scooter vendors parked outside of a school. ventors Pulling, pushing and shoving is often the only way to get goods from one location to another. nuns on bikes Here is a photo of nuns about to get into the late afternoon traffic. woman with bike and bundlesI frequently saw women, faces covered by a kerchief, hands in gloves, transporting large, heavy bundles on their bikes. pigs to market Even pigs are transported to the market by scooters. I don’t know if these pigs are alive or dead, but they are certainly piggy-tied and other than perhaps squealing, these guys are not going anywhere. traffic after darkAfter dark is when you get a good look at the unique system of traffic.


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14 Responses to TRAFFIC IN VIETNAM

  1. Nalo on October 12, 2014 at 1:01 pm

    Marvelous pictures !!

    • Pushing Time on October 12, 2014 at 1:18 pm

      Thanks you Nalo! Always a pleasure to hear from you.

  2. Trish Mayo on October 12, 2014 at 7:52 pm

    Fascinating series of images and loved your commentary. Crossing the street sounds like a dance of skill and timing.

    • Pushing Time on October 12, 2014 at 8:17 pm

      Yes, Trish, crossing the street was a activity of trust. It was easy to see people doing it, but to actually do the crossing over was a heart pounding experience. And we lived to tell the tale. Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment.

  3. thelma straw on October 12, 2014 at 7:54 pm

    You employ the word ” pushing ” in your works… what does this mean??? T. Straw in Manhattan

    • Pushing Time on October 12, 2014 at 8:14 pm

      Hi Thelma, the word “pushing” is something that I’ll be addressing in a future blog post. I’m glad you brought it up in your comment. Thanks!

  4. Robin Lettieri on October 13, 2014 at 9:25 am

    very interesting and great photos

    • Pushing Time on October 13, 2014 at 9:28 am

      Thanks Robin for stopping by and leaving a comment.

  5. Pamela Brennan on October 13, 2014 at 10:54 am

    Extraordinary as usual. Pictures are fascinating! You’re a natural.

    • Pushing Time on October 13, 2014 at 2:19 pm

      So nice to hear from you Pamela!! Thank you for your lovely comment. It was an extraordinary experience!

  6. juda on October 13, 2014 at 2:33 pm

    fantastic pictuers

    • Pushing Time on October 13, 2014 at 2:39 pm

      Thank you Juda for reading my blog and leaving a very lovely comment! I hope you are well!

  7. Eric Parker on October 20, 2014 at 12:09 pm

    Hi Marge
    What a great series of shots – so colourful
    You can almost hear the noise and feel the impending chaos – fabulous
    Love it all – I want to go

    • Pushing Time on October 20, 2014 at 4:26 pm

      Thanks Eric for stopping by and leaving a comment. You would love this place. It’s certainly got it’s touristy edge but there is enough of the real that would make a trip there totally worthwhile.