One of the things I truly value about travel is how I am able to learn lessons and see beauty in unexpected things. I have learned to look at situations with an open mind and to try and see past the obvious. This lesson was learned very clearly when I was in Vietnam.
It’s one of those not so nice yet known facts that some people have a belief that Asians are bad drivers. Now, Asia is a HUGE continent and I am in no way writing on behalf of every Asian country. However, after spending time in Vietnam I saw driving that astounded me.
Bad driving? Hardly. I saw drivers that were the best I’ve ever seen. I have traveled to countries all over the world and I have NEVER seen such organized chaos as I saw in Vietnam. The people seem to be in tune with each other in ways I have never experienced in my life.
The traffic was horrific. Cars were everywhere. No one seemed to understand what a red light meant.
And the honking…EVERY driver seemed to utilize their horn every second they were in their cars or on their scooters. But you know what? The honking wasn’t a, “GET OUT OF MY WAY!” honk or a, “You’re an IDIOT!” honk. Nope. It seemed to be more of a, “Hey I’m here…I’m passing you…don’t get over…I’m on your left…I’m on your right…” the horns seemed to be more of a courtesy than a threat or expression of aggression.
As I walked around observing traffic at all hours of the day and night I never once saw an angry face. Drivers never seemed to have an expression of disgust or disbelief at the traffic. Even when I saw one accident the parties involved weren’t shouting at each other, they seemed to be very rational and calm. Everyone was very…zen. I’m no scholar on Vietnamese history but seeing the older people doing Tai Chi in the parks made things crystal clear.
The traffic was in its own version of Tai Chi. The flow of traffic and the ease at which people were moving in their cars without being agitated was the same way the older citizens moved in the park. The same flow, the same calm, and the same gracefulness. Yes, the traffic in Vietnam is graceful in all of its chaos.
Maybe since this zen-like way of driving is so normal for many Asians they bring that driving skill to the country in which they move. They may think that everyone should be zen and understand the rules they’ve learned in their home country. So maybe they aren’t the bad drivers and we are the ones who need to learn how to be in tune with others on the road instead of getting so angry when people cut us off or go slowly when we are trying to get to our destination. Seeing the way people drove in Vietnam was beautiful to watch and one of the things I really appreciated about Vietnam.