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How We Survived The Crocodiles Crossing The Street In Hanoi Vietnam

Hanoi's constant flow of traffic is an intimidating sight for newbies to the city.

Hanoi’s constant flow of traffic is an intimidating sight for newbies to the city.

FIRST DAY EXCITEMENT IN VIETNAM | Darrin Henry

We’ve all held our breath watching wildlife TV shows when a herd of wildebeest cross a crocodile infested river – well, crossing the street in Hanoi Vietnam is equivalent to that!

The players in this scenario are the wildebeest; that’s Sharon and me, and the other tourists. The crocodiles; those will be the Hanoi mopeds. The street is the river, the pavements are the banks of the river!

Here we go! It’s our first day, we’ve just dropped our bags in the hotel having come straight from the airport.

If there’s an experience to set the pulse racing in Hanoi, it’s crossing the street, something we’ve kind of taken for granted in our lives before now.

The serious look of concentration from tourists crossing the 'river.'  Crossing The Street In Hanoi Vietnam.

The serious look of concentration from ‘wildebeests’ crossing the ‘river.’ Crossing The Street In Hanoi Vietnam.

Forget everything you’ve learned before; the Green Cross Code won’t help you here, you’ll be looking left and looking right until it’s time for the flight home.

Forget the jump of joy at seeing the familiar stripes of the zebra crossing, this is just a communal stress point, the point where the wildebeest all congregate before crossing.

Forget what you’ve learned about traffic lights, these are just decoys in Hanoi, designed to lull us, the wildebeest, into thinking this part of the river is safe.

And don’t just look right as you step out, (or left depending on which country you’re from) traffic here can come from either direction at any time – seriously.

This wildebeest hesitated and then got stuck half way.  Crossing The Street In Hanoi Vietnam.

This wildebeest hesitated and then got stuck half way. Crossing The Street In Hanoi Vietnam.

Even at night the flow of 'crocodiles' is relentless.

Even at night the flow of ‘crocodiles’ is relentless.

So here we are, new tourists, first time in Vietnam, clutching our street map in one hand that is telling us we need to cross the road to reach the lake. We’ve done a recce up and down the river bank and this looks like the best point to cross, midway between the busier junctions and a spot with maximum view of the swarm of crocodile mopeds either side.

It’s Sweaty Business Crossing The Street In Hanoi Vietnam

My other hand is firmly gripping Sharon’s and I’m aware both our palms are sweaty, but no time to talk about that now, it will only make things harder.  It has to be done, we are crossing the street in Hanoi Vietnam.

Ready, steady... wait...

Ready, steady… wait…

Local street sellers show no fear and just stroll right through the traffic.  Crossing The Street In Hanoi Vietnam.

Local street sellers show no fear and just stroll right through the traffic. Crossing The Street In Hanoi Vietnam.

We can see a tiny gap approaching between the army of little mopeds and after a few missed opportunities we don’t want to give the shop keeper across the road any more amusement watching us. We’ll show him.

We step off together into the gap. The crocodile mopeds start beeping at us – we’ve been spotted. Keep going, stride confidently, be a man, protect your wife! Yikes, save yourself! All these thoughts are running through my head.

This lady just looks straight ahead and goes for it.  Crossing The Street In Hanoi Vietnam.

This lady just looks straight ahead and goes for it. Crossing The Street In Hanoi Vietnam.

These two have chosen their moment well.  Crossing The Street In Hanoi Vietnam.

These two have chosen their moment well. Crossing The Street In Hanoi Vietnam.

A few more steps and we’re in the middle of the river, the crocodile mopeds are now weaving all around us, beeping away. I might be crushing the bones in Sharon’s hand a bit but she’s not complaining.

Suddenly we’re stuck! A series of urgent moped beeps tells us not to move, the gap has disappeared and zip, zip, zip, the crocodiles have us encircled. It’s a tricky moment. Is this the end for us?

This moped driver passed so close to this couple the driver had to duck under the umbrella.  Crossing The Street In Hanoi Vietnam.

This moped driver passed so close to this couple the driver had to duck under the umbrella. Crossing The Street In Hanoi Vietnam.

A man with his daughter held high makes a dash for it.  Crossing The Street In Hanoi Vietnam.

A man with his daughter held high makes a dash for it. Crossing The Street In Hanoi Vietnam.

These boys on side-ways roller skates just make the whole process even more confusing!  Crossing The Street In Hanoi Vietnam.

These boys on side-ways roller skates just make the whole process even more confusing! Crossing The Street In Hanoi Vietnam.

Then, without warning, a little break opens up and we quickly step forward again; and again; and then suddenly we’re stepping up onto the pavement on the other side!  Yay, where’s our medal for successfully crossing the street in Hanoi Vietnam?

Like true first timers we laugh out loud with relief and look back at the treacherous route we’ve just crossed, congratulating ourselves for how brave we were. Hanoi-ings are watching us, but we don’t care, this is our moment. We survived the crocodile moped infested street and it feels fantastic.

There will be more to come, but for now, we will explore this side of the river bank and deal with the next crossing later.

The happy smile of another successful crossing completed.

The happy smile of another successful crossing completed.

COMMENTS

  • May 30, 2015

    Don’t be shocked if someone grabs your arm and marches you across the road; Vietnamese people sometimes ‘save’ travellers from the traffic rather forcefully. It comes from a place of caring.

    • May 31, 2015

      We watched a few of the locals who just marched right across without even looking left or right, supremely confident and clearly knowing what they were doing. At least we provided some amusement for them with our antics 🙂 Thanks for the comment.

  • Alison

    May 30, 2015

    That brings back find memories! Well done for surviving!

    • May 31, 2015

      Thanks Alison, we are still smiling when we think of it and especially crossing the road in any place now 🙂

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