Cycling in Saigon

I'm in the "local" lane. To my left is the "express" motorcycle lane.
I’m in the “local” motorcycle/cycling lane. To my left is the “express” motorcycle lane.

Rush hour – every hour.
Motorcycle freeways.
Special lanes packed four motorcycles across and one hundred deep.
Pedestrians dodging motorcycles cutting corners on the sidewalks.

Drive-up food hawkers packed with motorcyclists ordering for coffee, rice pancakes, sliced fruit, scrambled eggs, noodle soup or baguette sandwiches as the rush hour traffic parts around them.

Drivers texting with one foot resting on the curb under a shade tree oblivious to other drivers racing past and swerving to miss.
Drivers texting while driving, easy to spot because they are swerving and driving slower than the flow, right hand on the handlebar, left hand on the phone. What text is so important that it can’t wait?

Women wearing flowered long motorcycle skirts (aprons?) with velcro fasteners to protect their mini skirts or their modesty?
Women avoiding sun and calluses by wearing elegant long gloves like my mom wore to formal Glenn Miller Band dances.

Drivers wearing face colorful masks – American flag prints, Hello Kitty prints, Spiderman, Union Jack, flowers, soccer balls..
All drivers wearing helmets – Is it a law?

Stilettos, flip flops, leather moccasins, dress shoes, sneakers, sandals.

Babies strapped to the driver, or held by mom or dad, or squeezed between both parents, or standing on the running boards, or tucked in baby seats.

Cargo – lumber, pipe, rebar, groceries, cases of beer, toilet paper, glass mirrors, car bumpers, bags of recycling, chickens, pigs, eggs, windows for an entire apartment – either tied, held by the driver or another passenger or, as I saw tonight, two cases of Heineken beer balanced on the seat.

Couples, students, families of five, friends, construction workers, bankers, or tourists who, by the way, are the least predictable and experienced in traffic.

Honking, beeping, swerving, stopping, starting, pushing, squeezing.

Red lights, green lights, left lanes, right lanes, crossing four lanes, flashing lights, traffic police, dignitaries, children on bicycles, buses, taxis, push carts, pedestrians, left turn weaves, traffic just flows….

Call me crazy but I LOVE cycling in Saigon!