Back in the….60’s?…70’s?….sometime way back then…..there was a safe driving ad campaign on American television called “Watch Out for the Other Guy”. Basically it was just a good driving tip saying, in effect “Be aware of what’s going on around you while you’re driving – Watch out for the other guy.” Common sense, right?
Here in Hanoi, they have the same philosophy…..but in reverse….or…sideways….or something. The idea here is that the Other Guy is watching out for you – in effect, “I’m going to pull out onto this incredibly busy street without even looking for oncoming traffic and rely on the other guy not to hit me.” It’s incredible…..but, for the most part, it actually works. They just weave their way around each other and they do drive a bit slower, which has got to help a lot. There’s this sense of communal cooperation that, well, that you won’t see on American roads, anyway.
What got me thinking about this today was something I saw while sitting at a cafe having my ‘usual’. Okay, you know those long, corrugated aluminum sheets people use for roofing? They’re used mostly for sheds and the like and they’re about 4 foot wide by 12 foot long. Well, this morning I saw someone on a motorbike going down the street with sheets of them strapped to both sides of their motorbike. No, I’m not kidding. This person had no – none – zero – peripheral vision whilst toodling along down this insanely busy street….I assume making turns around corners and everything. I wish I could have got a picture of it, but he…she?….went by too fast. The thing is, he was relying on other people to not hit him….and they didn’t. He had to be relying on that because he could have no idea what was going on around him – he literally had tunnel vision. Just amazing.
Look at this video. It’s called “The Worst Intersection in Vietnam”….but I don’t believe that. Not by a long shot. Honestly, I’d call it a little tame. Check out the people crossing the street on foot. It actually is do-able!