How to drive in Saigon

This is not my article. I am using it without permission. It was written by Calvin Godfrey for Thanh Nien News, Saigon.

I laughed so hard that I could not fail to steal it. The original is here.

If you are reading this, chances are you’ve survived your first few weeks in Saigon.

You’ve spent a few days standing on a sidewalk, waiting for a nonexistent crossing signal to change.
You’ve fallen in love with a xe om and had your heart broken.
Now you’ve purchased an old iron horse and you’re eager to saddle up.

Ideally, your horse won’t have an engine larger than 50cc. If you do buy a large engine horse, make sure it has enough mechanical defects to prevent you from achieving a top speed of more than 30kph.
Make sure your bike has no working horn. A horn will only distract you from the people you are about to crash into. Mirrors, too, will only draw your vision away from impending doom.

Make sure that you have no license and your registration belongs to someone you have never met. A valid license will only indicate that you understand the various crimes you are about to commit.

Before driving, you must condition yourself for the road.
Begin by bending at the waist and touching your toes. Repeat this action three times.

Next, walk into the center of a busy street, preferably at rush hour, covered in thick cotton material, a full-sized helmet, elbow-length gloves, flesh colored knee socks, sunglasses and a mask.

Gaze into the oncoming traffic until you no longer care whether you live or die as sweat and pollution soak into your mask.
Taste the pollution.
Now you’re ready for the road!

Slowly accelerate into traffic and do what everyone else is doing.
Should you encounter a traffic circle, do not panic. At least, not overtly. Pretend you are invincible and follow the oldest person you can find to the first turnoff.

Then stop and ask the nearest person for directions that involve no traffic circles.
In the event of heavy rain, you may want to pretend that you are the eccentric captain of a tiny submarine. Or a jet ski. Or a jet-ski submarine.

In general, pretending you are doing something other than driving in Vietnam is very helpful when driving in Vietnam.
Do not, under any circumstances, get angry.
Should you feel the need to curse, do so in a language other than Vietnamese or English. Smile and wave while you do so.

To drive in Saigon, one requires a slow-moving vehicle and an endless ability to apologize. And a face mask.
Also, say you’re sorry. For everything. Be sorry for cutting people off by following traffic lights and signs. Be sorry for driving in your lane. Be sorry for driving, in general.

Illegally importing road rage to Vietnam would be a violation of standing WTO charters and treaties and would potentially expose you to prosecution by the international criminal court. The World Bank could, technically, take away all your money and friends and redistribute them to lonely people in Belgium.

Be smart. Stay smiling.

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