Last week, Việt Nam News asked its readers why more and more expats choose motorbikes to get around in spite of the chaotic traffic.
Here are some of the comments.
Kim So-eon, South Korean, Hà Nội
I always ride a motorbike when I have the chance to go out or to go to work. The reasons I prefer to ride a motorbike over other transportations are:
1. It costs less money than buying a car.
Thinking about the minimum wage of a normal Vietnamese or even the ceiling wage (in case of a State employee), you can notice that they can’t afford to buy a car or take a taxi every time they go out. Maybe it’s best to buy a motorbike with their savings. In addition, once you buy a motorbike, it only costs about VNĐ50,000 a week for petrol.
2. I can save time by riding a motorbike.
Of course, considering the cost, catching a bus is the best way. However you have to think about how you need to walk along the road to find out the bus stations, which are crowded with people every time you want to get around. And what if you’re in urgent situations like when you’re late for work or school?
How annoying it is to walk down the street, line up, wait until the bus arrives and find a seat on the bus. Do you have enough time to stand all of that?
If you have a motorbike you just need to take it out and go. Plus, among the confusing traffic jams, motorbikes are the fastest transportation.
3. It’s convenient and accessible.
With a car, it’s too much bother to park it because they’re too big. You can’t handle it easily. And it’s also very hard to find the space to park as I noticed Việt Nam hasn’t enough parking spaces yet for people who drive cars.
In contrast, with a tiny motorbike, you can park it in just a minute and don’t have to try to find a parking place for it.
I found out a lot of people who own a car also have a motorbike because of these reasons.
Anyway, if you want to know how to control the traffic jams, I think controlling the number of cars is the first measure to try out because a car takes too much space on the road and most of the time I could only see one person in the car.
Unfortunately, here in Việt Nam they don’t have subways. Maybe in HCM City they have a plan to build it, but I hope that monorail will be popular soon.
Hans Wormgoor, Dutch, Hà Nội
Starting my daily trips through Hà Nội, I just sit down on a small and comfortable chair with some handles in front of me. The chair starts moving and the speed of the driving wind cools my body in a pleasant way.
Around me I see other moving chairs with young and old people, with elegant clothes or working clothes, with families, pets or merchandise. There are always many of these moving chairs around me.
They move in an organic way, like a flight of birds, or like some busy and industrious ants. It feels great to be part of this living organism that defies the authority of cars, of traffic rules and policemen. And at my destination, there is always a friendly person who takes care of my moving chair for just a few thousand đồng, until the next trip.
This is why I love to drive the motorbike in Hà Nội emotionally. And yes, there are also practical reasons.
Besides being the fastest way to get from A to B, it is also one of the safest, in town where the speeds are mostly low. Anyway, a lot safer than walking, in this capital without sidewalks or traffic rules. And safer than riding a bicycle where you cannot put both feet on the ground when the flow gets really slow.
Unfortunately these motorbikes cause a lot of air pollution. I keep telling myself that I will buy an electric one as soon as the models become more attractive.
Andrew Burden, Canadian, Hà Nội
Motor biking Asia is like playing chicken. In movies two cars race straight at each other. The one who swerves is the ‘chicken.’ Hà Nội’s like that with young men zigzagging, over laden water jug delivery guys and TV cable company guys carrying ladders jostling for position.
And then there’s me. I discovered a long time ago that I am invisible to police. I therefore decided that I was immune to gravity and should regularly drive through red lights, go the wrong way and zip along sidewalks. One day there will be a Go-Pro video on Youtube about it.
I took the bus, but it’s too slow, too hot and too crowded. Taxis are everywhere and cheap, but there’s the language problem and arguing over fare versus meter use. I used a bicycle, but no one gives me a safe zone plus it’s too hot and dangerous.
So that leaves walking or motorbikes. I have motorbiked in the snow back home and ridden to California and back. It’s great fun, especially with a chick on the back, hanging onto me for dear life.
Nothing beats the sun and wind in your face. Beware of dogs, don’t eat bugs and as an added (Asian) bonus, ignore the cops and keep smiling. Helmets, license and insurance are optional.
Jessica Hart, Hà Nội
It is simple. It is cheaper and faster. I tried the bus and it took forever, I was constantly late and had random people touching me.
Taxis become expensive if you are travelling to multiple jobs around the city, as well as the occasional taxi driver that thinks because you are foreign they can drive a longer unnecessary route to charge you more.
Private car?! Do you honestly believe we have that much money we can afford a private car? We use motorbikes for the same reason locals use motorbikes. Just because we are foreigners in Việt Nam doesn’t make us lose sight of common sense - the cheaper and faster option will always win. — VNS