After our stay in Dalat we continued north along Vietnam’s Highway 1 passing through Mui Ne, Hoi An and Hue. We had a nice time at each – ate good Pho, met great people, drank bad drinks and saw beautiful things. But nothing overly spectacular…so it’s getting thrown into one post.
My apologies for the click-bait title, I’ll start there.
The roads of Vietnam are insane. Absolutely insane. Other than those very baseline survival rules that keep one’s car and body intact it’s basically anarchy out there.
Cars, motorbikes, buses and trucks swerve freely in and out at high speed in what at a glance one could mistake for some sort of nation-wide rally race. Being that there is rarely a lull is any traffic pattern you come across, most drivers have adopted a ‘go and they’ll stop’ sort of strategy.
For example, if you’re making a left turn and need to cross a lane of oncoming traffic you don’t wait for the signal – you just go and hope the oncoming traffic has the following thought process, “Oh! This is Vietnam, I automatically assume everyone is going to make the most idiotic move possible so this egregious violation of basic traffic flow is actually normal! Lol!”
Here’s a video of Jenna and I employing this strategy while crossing the street in Hanoi…
But despite this understanding you, the traffic violator, will still be on the receiving end of a cascade of honks for the halted traffic. You will then also be honked at as you merge into your lane. And then again at the traffic light if you wait more than 3 milliseconds to start moving. And then again because you make a turn too slowly. And then again because your car is red. And then again because no one is honking and said honker was uncomfortable with the silence.
Hopefully I portrayed this effectively but if not, here you go; people in Vietnam honk at everything. E-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g. And if you let it get to you, it will. In many parts of the country – namely the cities – it literally doesn’t stop. Night and day. All day, every day.
So as you can imagine, being a passenger on a 50ft bus swerving in and out going 60mph while laying on the horn every other second (and being responded to with five times as many horns) is not exactly a relaxing experience. Yet somehow you kind of get used to it.
Until your bus gets hit by a dump truck – which is exactly what happened on our way from Mui Ne to Hoi An. The time-tested thought process of “I’m assuming this person will stop to avoid my idiot move” backfired as our bus was t-boned by a reversing dump truck as we cruised through a construction area.
Luckily no one was hurt and the damage was not enough to disable the bus – but it did put us on the side of the road for a couple hours as the parties involved determined liability (they ended up getting tired of waiting for the police and we just took off…).
The time did allow us to sneak off and get a couple great rice paddy shots which I had been desperate for.
So that was that – the road insanity continued all the way up the coast but with no more accidents (although we did witness a couple). I also should be crystal clear – this way of driving does not work. The number of deaths on Vietnam’s roads is horrifying, they need to figure it out before more of the country gets vehicles and things get worse.
Let’s now backtrack a little bit – to Mui Ne. We headed there after Dalat for a single reason; sand dunes. Strange that one of the main attractions of a Vietnamese city is sand dunes, but that’s exactly the case with Mui Ne. The town doesn’t have too much to offer but the white dunes were worth the stop.
Hoi An and Hue were the next stops up the coast – both of which were nice. Hoi An retained much of the influence from the French occupation and Hue more of a big city feel.
We met some great people here, had some drinks and rode some bikes – not much else to report. So that was it for central Vietnam – the next destination lay due north, in the Viet Cong capital of Hanoi where we were to share some knowledge with the locals.