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The 10 Unholy Driving Commandments Of Vietnam

On his website, On A Bike Vietnam, Alex Sinclair Lack presents his list of the 10 driving commandments for Vietnam. While a tad less scandalous than Biggies 10 crack commandments, keeping Lack’s list in mind while piloting your motorbike may also one day save your life.

Here’s an overview of the principles one should heed while driving on Vietnam’s streets where traffic laws often exist more in theory than in practice:

1) Thou shalt be wary of the lanes – “Despite the fact that the Vietnamese drive on the right-hand side, this is also where the fastest traffic can be found because it is here that all of the motorbikes gather.”

2) Thou shalt always keep thine eyes on the prize – “The most important maxim behind Vietnamese driving states that: ‘If everyone is constantly looking straight ahead of themselves, then no one will ever crash into anything’. Unfortunately this doesn’t account for hitting someone from the side, a slight loss of concentration …or blinking.”

3) Thy horn is thy best friend – “The horn works as a kind of primitive sonar system that lets other drivers know how close to them you are and which direction you’re headed in.”

4) Thou shalt not expect people to obey all of the rules that thou art used to them obeying – “Red lights seem to be more of a timid suggestion to some drivers.”

5) Thou shalt not take rush hour in vain – “During rush hour, motorbike drivers seem to lose their sense of fraternity and turn into a mindless mechanical octopus squeezing itself into every tiny little space available in order to get an inch closer to their destination, which regularly brings traffic to a complete deadlock.”

6) Thou shalt not expect everyone to indicate – “Perhaps half of Vietnamese drivers do not use their indicators. Nor do you have any guarantee that they will notice or respond to your indicators.”

7) Thou shalt be wary when giving priority - “If the vehicles’ speeds are equal, the loudest vehicles tend to have right of way. If everything else is equal, the driver with the biggest cojones has right of way.”

8) If it fitteth on a bike then so it shalt be – “It is common to hear stories of poorly fastened gas canisters bouncing off the backs of bikes in the middle of the highway or people having to duck under ladders and panes of glass held by drivers like some sort of deadly vehicular Laurel and Hardy show.’

9) Thou shalt be ever cautious of women attired in floral coats – “Pale skin is fashionable for many Vietnamese women so when the sun is out they cover up every inch of flesh in facemasks, large sunglasses and the dreaded floral jacket. All fashions come at a price, the price of this one being peripheral vision.”

10) Thou shalt drive slowly and predictably – “Due to rules 1-9 reflexes are very important, you need to give yourself as much time as possible to react to the unpredictable.”

[Photo via Rob Whitworth]

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