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VICTOR WISHNA » Blog Archive » Lesson #6: How to cross the street in Hanoi

Lesson #6: How to cross the street in Hanoi

In Hanoi, the metropolitan-area ratio of one motorbike for every two people calculates to a total of three million motorbikes, every last one of which seems to be barreling past as you attempt to step off the curb. There are crosswalks here, but no stop signs that I have been able to see; and if they do exist, no one else here seems to be able to see them either. The process of crossing the street is as follows:

1)    Cross the street.

2)    Do not change your pace; do not run; do not stop or jump back.

3)    Get to the other side (presumably, this is why you cross the road).

So long as you adhere strictly to Step #2, the motorbikes (and for that matter, the occasional car and tractor-trailer cab) will continue to barrel toward you, but will not hit you, weaving around you innocuously, except for a chorus of high-pitched honks. The first time you step up on the far curb unscathed, it seems almost like a miracle. (The Egyptians then follow you in and get completely run over.)

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