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VIETNAM | Tuesday, 23 December 2008 | Views [274]

Saigon is famous for its’ millions of motorbikes - literally, there are estimated to be at least three million bikes in city. The traffic in Saigon has become a marketing venture with postcards available depicting the busy streets. As a result of the dense congestion, traffic moves at a mere crawl with the motorbikes doing a petrol-fuelled dance weaving in and out of the larger (and less mobile) buses and cars. It seems that anything goes to get from A to B, this includes mounting the pavement or driving on the wrong side of the road. When talking about motorised-transportation I am no expert (in fact, it took me five attempts to get my driving license in the UK, so I don’t really have a leg to stand on) therefore to try and portray what driving is like here I shall refer you to Mr. Clarkson himself informative, if somewhat dated video. This reference to Jeremy Clarkson is all the more relevant as Top Gear have recently filmed their Christmas special here which going to be aired on the 28th December on BBC2. After the initial shock and bemusement at the traffic, I have begun to see that there is a logic two it. It seems that all drivers follow three basic rules: Watch the person ahead and never look back (or indeed the mirrors). Use the horn regularly (at least once every 20 seconds) to impose your right of way upon other drivers. Carry as much as you can on the back of your bike as a trip should never be wasted (an entire family on one bike is not an uncommon site around Saigon). At the moment I don’t have my own bike and have been using Xe Om’s (motorbike taxis) to get around. The drivers of these spend 90% of their day asleep sprawled asleep on top of their bikes and the remaining 10% muttering “motorbike?” hopefully at anyone who walks past. I regularly get a Xe Om to school as it’s cheaper and quicker then a taxi. Bellow is a video of my view from the back of a Xe Om on my way to school one quiet Saturday morning. I should stress that the video doesn’t really reflect the madness of the traffic in Saigon but worth a look if your interested in seeing more of the city.

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