Hanoi, Vietnam

Vietnam: Day Four – Driving

Driving in Vietnam is just dangerous, absolutely very, very dangerous! Today I drove from Dalong Bay to the Hanoi airport (about 3 hours). Flew from Hanoi to Da Nang, and drove from Da Nang to Hoi An (about 30 minutes).

Before leaving the US, my doctor told me I would more likely be injured in a car accident or hit by a car than get malaria from a mosquito bite (though she insisted I take a medication to help prevent contracting the drug-resistant strains that thrive in this part of the world). She told me to always sit where the seat belt is in a car or taxi no matter what and never even use the water for brushing my teeth!

Aside: I was seeing my doctor for a bad shoulder. I can no longer even lift my luggage to place it in the overhead storage on the planes. I have an MRI scheduled when I return. She wanted to schedule the MRI that week, and I told her why I couldn’t—my trip. We then had a marvelous conversation about South Asia. (I may have to have surgery if the problem is what she thinks it may be—a torn something or the other.)

She loves this part of the world. She talked about the traffic, the lovely people, the customs. She was right! She also said I would be foolish not to have medical evacuation insurance in case of unexpected illness or injury. It was cheap. I really like her. Aside from being amazingly sharp and sociable, she’s on top of things!

I’ve been told that the number one cause of accidents in this country is driving under the influence of alcohol (about 60% of all accidents). The second greatest cause of accidents is driving on the wrong side of the road! They do! All over the place. They pull out directly in front of you without any hesitation. People on side streets never stop. They just go. Go, go, go!! Pedestrians literally just walk right out into 4 and 5 lanes of rush hour traffic. I have never!! Crazy. Insane! And the vietnamese honk their horns constantly—all the time! It’s their way of saying “I’m here.”

Today, on the way from Dalong Bay to Hoi An, making a left turn to pull in to the hotel, we almost killed two people on a scooter. Their driver was driving on the wrong side of an impassible highway divider going in the same direction we were traveling!! In other words, they were traveling against the traffic on a one way portion of the road with no chance of getting to the correct side of the road. Who ever would have thought they would even be there–traveling the wrong direction! Horns blew (more than usual). Brakes slammed. Drivers veered sharply. In a heartbeat, an accident was averted by inches at most!

A couple, from Australia, on the Halong Bay junk said they witnessed a terrible accident in Hanoi with multiple fatalities.

Never drive in South Asia.

Click here for a list of all of the posts from my trip to Vietnam.