“This will save your life,’ Evelyn Hannon of Journeywoman replied to my Facebook post when I announced I would be traveling to Vietnam. She posted this link to an article about how to cross the street in Ho Chi Minh City. (Note: If you’re traveling to Ho Chi Minh City, read that article!)
Mastering the Saigon Shuffle
Boy, was she right. During my visit, tour guides told me Ho Chi Minh City has a population of about 10 million people and there are about 7 million motorbikes in the city.
Crossing the street in Saigon takes confidence and discipline because you’re walking into oncoming motorbike traffic. See, although there are laws for motorbikes, they only seem to be guidelines. Adult drivers and riders need to wear helmets but when carrying children, helmets are not required. Motorbikes can turn left and right on red and can drive on the sidewalks, too.
Crossing the street for the first time by myself was a rush and thought I was about to have a heart attack. I did as instructed, put one foot into traffic, looked at the oncoming motorbikes and walked slow and steady. The drivers zipped around me like a river going around a rock. On my second attempt, a kind woman jumped between me and traffic, as I had read some locals may do. I thanked her when I reached the other side.
- Look for crosswalks. They exist in many areas of District 1 and although traffic may not stop entirely, it won’t be as crazy.
- Cars, trucks and buses don’t move for pedestrians so get out of their way.
- Although tempting, don’t run and keep your pace slow and steady. If necessary, wave your hands to make sure they see you.
- Cross the street with a local.
And Then, I Got Hit by a Motorbike
Maybe I was a bit cocky in my confidence of mastering the Saigon Shuffle because on my last night in Ho Chi Minh City, I was hit by a motorbike! I was walking along the main road to the grocery store crossing a side street and watching traffic coming toward me.
Next thing I knew, I was in pain and some guy on a motorbike yelled and zipped by me. It took a second or so to register that the pain in my left shin was caused by a motorbike. I had been hit!
While I was paying attention to oncoming traffic, this driver was turning right into oncoming traffic so I didn’t see him and by the time he saw me, it was too late. Thankfully, I didn’t fall. I ambled on to the store and began giggling at my clumsy misfortune. The contact point stung and could have been a lot worse such as breaking the skin or breaking a bone.
In all seriousness, I should have been more alert and I should have taken the time to purchase travel insurance, something I typically do. I really lucked out in that it wasn’t more than a bruise at least the size of a softball.
Because I was afraid of deep vein thrombosis (I’m susceptible to blood clots) especially since I was flying back home the next day with about 23 hours of flights, I did the following at bed time:
- Rubbed lemon and Frankincense essential oils on the bruise – for circulation; not the best option but of the eight oils I had with me, these seemed to be the best for circulation.
- Wore my fancy compression socks from BrightLife Go
- Elevated my leg on a pillow.
- Iced it as much as possible.
- Doubled up on aspirin and took more aspirin before my flight to help thin my blood.
Really Wished I:
- Kept my head on a swivel not just for crime but for oncoming traffic.
- Purchased travel insurance!
This little mishap did not dampen my trip or leave me with a negative taste in my mouth about Ho Chi Minh City. Accidents happen and I’ve been pretty fortunate during other travels. Besides, it gave me another story to bring back!
Have you been hit by a motorbike while visiting Ho Chi Minh City? Share your story!
View more photos of my trip to Vietnam on Flickr.
Travel guides I used during the trip:
- Vietnam: 100 Unusual Travel Tips and a Guide to Living and Working There
- Lonely Planet Vietnam (Travel Guide)
- Survival Vietnamese: How to Communicate without Fuss or Fear – Instantly! (Vietnamese Phrasebook) (Survival Series)
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links to support my traveling habit. I received a pair of compression socks from BrightLife Go and all opinions are my own. If you’re interested in learning more about the essential oils I use when traveling and in my daily life, contact me.