Tet is a great time of year for the locals and can be equally interesting for expats. I stayed in town this year and enjoyed the relatively traffic-free roads and a drop in the astronomic pollution levels of recent months. Highway traffic throughout Vietnam is pretty awful generally so I chose to stay local.
As always at this time of year, thousands of locals hurriedly went about their preparations in order to see their families. Sadly many of them will not have made it. The accident rate goes through the roof at this time.
Even in the run up to Tet, Facebook was awash with graphic film clips showing motorbikes crashing in often ridiculous circumstances. The amount of alcohol consumed rose as usual, often the cause of the accidents.
I am still constantly amazed at the lack of awareness and safety on the roads here. Everyday I see incidents that are so dangerous and frequently see riders missing a catastrophe by inches. Normally it is only luck that prevents serious injury or worse.
I am amazed at some of the accidents; they seem almost unbelievable. When a bike rides in a straight line into a park vehicle at speed, you have to question whether or not the rider should be on a bike in the first place.
In this country wearing a helmet is an absolute necessity and of course the law. The fact that many don’t is nothing short of lunacy. I am staggered at the number of expats in District 2 that ride round without a helmet.
I think getting on a bike without a helmet is disgraceful and putting your children on one without a helmet is (or should be) criminal. Surely those not wearing helmets are setting the worst possible example to local people, especially the young.
The number of school children is District 2 is enormous. Yet every day, on their way to and from school, they see dozens of expats riding round with no helmet.
I would make it a sackable offence for anyone in my employ; some responsible companies here do. A big shout out here for Fox Football, a sackable offence for their staff and missing out on a football game for the children, if they are spotted anywhere without a helmet.
I couldn’t help but cast a look at a guy I saw recently on Xuan Thuy. He was riding directly in front of me with no helmet on. He pulled up at a hair salon and walked inside.
He obviously cares more about his hair than he does about his head. I know what it is like to lose a loved one to a traffic accident. I wouldn’t wish that hurt on my worst enemy.
Please people; think before you get on your bikes, life is precious and preciously easy to throw away.
Let’s make this the year that people think more carefully about their own safety and the feelings of their loved ones. I fear it will take a serious accident to an expat in District 2 before many wake up to the obvious danger.
If you don’t think your head is worth $100, then you’re possibly right.
Following a successful 25-year career as a singer/songwriter/musician, Keith pulled out of the rat race and moved to Southeast Asia in 2008. First living in Thailand, then Cambodia and Ho Chi Minh City since 2013.