It’s interesting to us how different countries are or are not safety conscious, in various ways. We have gasped countless times on this trip, watching babies and toddlers being driven on motorbikes with no helmets or seatbelts, for example. And we really hoped that the steps and ceilings of the temples were not going to choose the moment of our visit to crumble.
My own reaction to this makes me laugh. I tell myself that if it were really dangerous, they’d have guard rails or life jackets or seat belts…so it must not be that bad. (Whatever it takes to make me feel better as I watch my ducklings cross busy roads without looking both ways…).
We’ve actually witnessed a few mishaps and are grateful they have not involved us directly. For example, we drove past a collision between a dump truck and what’s called a “sleeper bus” likely en route from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City – the back corner of the truck was wedged firmly into the side of the bus. We were told that on such long trips, the bus drivers are often sleepy.
One of our guides was telling us about the perils of driving a motorbike on Cambodian roads. With that, the motorcycle in front of us, pulling a load of long metal pipes on a trailer, slid off the road! Thankfully, he stayed upright and landed in a ditch.
We saw another motorbike spin out. We asked our guide if the rider was ok. The answer: “He is injured [patting his own head]. He is OK.”
When on a cycling trip near Hoi An, we saw an older French woman recovering from having fallen into an irrigation canal. She appeared to be uninjured but in shock, and people were puzzling over how to retrieve her glasses from the murky water. We wondered if she’d lost control of her bike or taken one backwards step too many while taking a photo.
Yet at the same time, given the volume of traffic here, it’s amazing how few accidents we’ve witnessed. Hanoi alone has (literally) 5 million motorbikes! The picture shown here was taken on our drive to our hotel from the airport in Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC, formerly Saigon). Our drivers have had amazing spatial skill. Busy intersections with 4 to 6 lanes of traffic in each direction have no traffic lights or stop signs. People just slowly drive into the heavy traffic and assume others will go around them – which they do.
We’re thankful to have been thoroughly protected thus far!