24 April 2003 - Ho Chi Minh
Saigon Street decor: Traffic lights and zebra crossings

There obviously is some god of road crossings up there and they obviously heard me whinging about the state of Bangkok traffic, because they have unleashed vengence upon me in the form of Saigon's never-ending stream of motorcycles and false traffic control.

I could be mistaken in saying that people don't pay heed to traffic lights here - it may only be the motorcycles who don't. But the sheer volume of them makes it next to impossible to navigate across roads without having some sort of system.

But before I go on, let me just say this: Just because you see a little green man, doesn't mean it's safe to cross. In fact, it's false comfort to assume so. As far as I can see, traffic is the same regardless of the colour of the light. Certainly, people seem to turn right without even giving a glance to see if they are allowed to.

The method I've taken to crossing the road here is to pretend that the traffic is a stream, and I am a rock rolling across the riverbed. Just as water flows around a rock, I hope that the motorcyclists will swerve around me, as long as I don't make any sudden moves. I do try to cross at zebra crossings but I sincerely do not believe that it makes a single jot of difference to my chances of survival.

So, if you saw a dark man trying to cross a road in Saigon by inching forward, while all the time muttering to himself "I am a rock, I am a rock" - that was me.


posted on Friday, May 02, 2003 - permalink
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