Working in Vietnam 101, a crash course for foreigners, Part 5

Today, a quick post on the delicate philosophy of Vietnamese road rules.

The first step is to understand that the operative word here is rule, not law or regulation. I would define a rule as a commonly accepted – yet possibly highly informal – way of organizing chaos.

You see, I live and work in Hanoi. Hanoi is small provincial city of 4+ millionĀ  inhabitants. Each of those – including me – owns a motorbike. Each of those drives their motorbike all the time. All the time. Few of those have a driving license, and even less have an idea of the commonly accepted and lawful concept of road rules (here I imply the set of laws and regulations defining how one should or should not drive, the result of legislation and law enforcement). As a result, one arriving to Vietnam would observe on the roads a cheerful and spontaneous chaos. Yet, as usual, it is not really true.

You cannot have 1 million motorbikes on the streets at any time of the day without having some level of regulations or group intelligence. And getting it right might be one of those epiphanies that would make you feel you finally understand Vietnam. Sure enough, you might want to start reading on Vietnam history and taking a quick course on Buddhism through the age, yet, nothing would offer you a more efficient lesson than driving one hour on a Honda Wave in Hanoi (or HCMC) during rush hour (from 6.00 in the morning to 11 in the evening). By doing this, you would truly get the essence of this country, and certainly learn a few tricks on how to conduct your business in Vietnam.

 

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