How to Walk Across the Street and Not Die in Hanoi

He makes walking look like a breeze. He makes walking look like a breeze.

For those of you familiar with LA, you know that nobody walks in LA (thanks, quintessentially 80s band Missing Persons!). People walk in Hanoi. But, it’s at your own peril.

As I walked up to my first taste of the foreboding death trap known as the “sidewalk curb,” I looked out at the street. At that moment, the street looked a mile wide if it was a foot. Motorbikes—hundreds of them—flew past us. Cars also speckled the motorcycle landscape, along with a few buses. I’ll have to make my way through the cars, like Frogger, I thought. None of them will stop for me.

“None of the cars will stop for pedestrians,” Frank said (how did he know I was thinking that!?). “You’re going to have to weave through them like Frogger.”

“But, isn’t there a pedestrian walk sign or something?” I pleaded.

“No, you just have to go slow and steady and watch the drivers. They will move for you as long as you weave carefully through them,” Frank said. “But, if you stop in the middle of the street, you will get hurt. They’re timing you.”

Frank was a pro at Froggering through hundreds of cars. Long ago, when he a wee kid, he used to live in Taiwan when sharing the roads was not common. These days, it’s not like that. As I remembered this tidbit, I asked him, shyly: “Can I just walk along side you and—”

But, Frank was already half-way through the intersection, pro-Froggering himself through the traffic.

“What the hell?” I yelled. Needless to say, I didn’t leave that sidewalk and Frank had to slowly weave back across the street to come get me.

The next day, I faced that death trap again. “Ok, I’m ready this time,” I said out loud. “I’m going to walk across the street and we’re going to get to the other side. Can you hold my ha—”

“Son of a bitch he did it again.” Frank was again half-way across the street.

I looked over to a little old lady standing next to me ready to walk across the street.

“Can I follow you?” I asked her.

She gave a knowing look and motioned for me to follow. She may have not understood me, but death trap is a universal language everyone can understand.

some organized chaos some organized chaos

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