Hanoi, capital of Vietnam, a city of 6 million with around 4 million motorbikes. The mighty motorbikes overflow the streets, while a few cars, bicycles, cyclotaxis and brave pedestrians carrying all types of goods complete the picture. They all blend together at the city’s many crossings, like the one of Hàng Đường/Hàng Buồm. Watching the organised chaos at the crossing is an amazing experience.
[flickr height=”300″ width=”400″]http://www.flickr.com/photos/35413670@N07/4256079565/[/flickr]
There used to be a traffic light, but now there are no formal rules when it comes to crossing. However, after staring at it for a while, one thing becomes clear: it works! People go through the crossing without stopping, getting safely to the other side after having been at the verge of colliding with many others for a few millimeters, and so it goes, again and again.
I stay longer at the crossing, enchanted at the different people that pass by:
The cyclotaxis, with their tourists stuck in the front, horrified of their perceived lack of safety. And the motorbike taxis, one waiting in every corner of the crossing, asking relentlessly tourists and locals alike “maybe motorbike , maybe motorbike…”.
Then a policeman comes, pushing a confiscated bicycle full of oranges to the police station nearby, in spite of the bitter cry of the owner of the oranges, a middle age peasant.
And then the schoolboy, the posh ladies, the proud policeman of the pink Vespa, the sellers of fruits and sweet cakes…
I feel that I can learn more about Vietnam just standing for hours at the Hàng Đường/Hàng Buồm crossing, rather than spending the time hoping from one tourist attraction to the other.