I take back everything I said about crossing the road in China, because crossing the road in Vietnam is pure, unadulterated insanity.
The roads are constantly packed with scooters, and most crosswalks don’t have any pedestrian traffic lights. Even if they do, here’s something that’s fun: there’s no countdown clock or flashing light to tell you when a pedestrian signal is about to turn red. It just randomly switches over with no grace period, and if you’re in the middle of the road? Too bad, here comes some cars.
And if there are no lights at a crosswalk and the road is a non-stop stream of scooters (and a lot of roads here are non-stop streams of scooters), then you basically just have to walk out into the fray and let the scooters weave around you.
It’s tremendously off-putting at first, though clearly all of the drivers here know what’s what — as long as you’re paying attention as you cross, it never feels particularly dangerous. There’s something oddly satisfying about timing your crossing just right and watching as an army of scooters criss-crosses around you.
I wasn’t quite able to capture it, but I took a video of me crossing a fairly busy road. It’s extremely shaky and the framing is quite off — I had the camera to my side and wasn’t looking at the screen, because I didn’t particularly feel like getting walloped by a scooter — but it gives you a basic idea of what crossing the road is like here.