As a young boy I was told to look out for traffic before crossing the street. Some obvious rules where learned (e.g. look left & right). It worked pretty well for me (I was never run over :-)). Now, so many years later, when visiting Vietnam, this all changes! The first piece of advice we got upon arriving was : “Do you know how to cross the street?”
What? Do you think I am stupid? Where do you think I am coming from? I’ve been crossing streets all my life! But that was not what the question intended. If you look at the streets here in Hanoi for example. And let me show you just a couple of seconds of how crossing a street works here with this little clip (can you find the pedestrians?):
Did you notice the cop crossing too?
Now, here are 5 simple rules to cross the streets in Hanoi (or in some other big Asian cities):
1. Always Look Left & Right: preferably multiple times. You must be alert and aware of the traffic around you. They not always follow the same rules as in our western world. Although it looks pretty obvious, it is a must, for your own safety. Even if it’s a one-way street!
2. Go Slow: this way the traffic around you can guestimate what your next moves are and how to avoid you.
3. Don’t Run: if you run, you become unpredictable and you increase the chances of getting hit.
4. Don’ Stop: if you stop, you become an obstacle. As long as you keep on moving the traffic flows around you.
5. Don’t Go Back: it’s very bad to go back. If you panic, keep on going slowly. Going back is NOT done.
I would like to add my own tip:
6. Follow a local who’s crossing the street. Walk his walk. Copy what they are doing and you should be safe. Of course, choose wisely! 😉