In Saigon, the city’s chaotic streets are filled with mainly motorbikes. The noise is constantly loud throughout the day. HCMC might still lacks the sophistication of Asia’s hot spots, which is its appeal. An Asian city where generic globalization hasn’t quite caught up – although it’s changing by the minute.
Motorcycle is the main transportation for Vietnamese, People use them daily to work, carry everything they need. It a common sight to see people strapping a load bigger than it own body frame, very good skill indeed.
I took the motorcycle countless time during my visits. Fear not for first timer. You will experience the noise of the congested road, the polluted air, the mad rush of traffic and reckless driving skill in any junctions. Major junctions always prove to be a major challenge, not knowing who got the right of way at times. Sound of horn will be blasting constantly to alert they are coming behind and the side.
I have witnessed a motorbike accident on my first day. As usual the right of way was not practice. One dare devil motorcyclist riding out from the street without stopping for a seconds to check out road situation, was hit by another motorist on the main road. Both fell and few words were exchanged. Surprisingly motorbikes were quickly pick up and left the scene quickly, they must be really busy with their life! I stood there bewildered. As if nothing had happened.
Boys and girls all ride two wheels and roam the road, causing massive traffic jam. During peak hour when traffic can barely move, motorists would ride onto the pedestrian pave way. Risking getting a ticket fine, but the fastest way out of the maddness hot spot.
My kind vietnamese friend always told me to negotiate the price before taking motorbike. Depending on the distance travel too. Sometimes i always pay a bit more like 20,000 dong, that’s about S$1.20! My friend would come telling me: “no that is too much.” Oh well.. It not the best of comfort as compare sitting inside an air-condition vehicle. But it takes me really quickly to the destination i want. Language barrier is always a problem when going to certain location. In this case i would hail the taxi, which costs much higher!
Only the main road is swarming with motorcycles only, think again! Even various smaller streets have view of motorcycles, plentiful. My friend would ferried me in her beloved bike, snaking through the busy market. I seems to have embark into another olden, futuristic world. The movement along the busy street was much slower, people shouting to sell their goods, children running around the street. my friend would suddenly pick up the throttle once an empty space is available to ride through. Is really fun to hang out with the local, picking up the culture and lifestyle really quickly.
Oh how about this. Unlike Singapore, i barely see couples holding hands walking on the street. Those without wheels often pair off into couples to sip drink in the local coffee shop or eating ice-cream. A new experience for me seen in Southeast Asia. Probably only me and the tourists would roam the street to discover the inner beauty of the transforming city.