ds0nt's blog

Okay, you've got a motorbike / scooter in Saigon. Congratulations.

Basics

The thing on your right is the throttle.

If you have pedals, then you are not driving an automatic. The one on the right is for your rear brakes, the one on the left is for your gears.

Got a left mirror? this is good.

Horn working? Lights working? Wheels have any treads? okay.

Level 2: How not to die

I'm going to give you a quick rundown of things you don't want to do.

  1. driving in first gear.
    • your bike will accelerate very suddenly, and you could crash into shit or fall off
    • only do this for going up steep hills
  2. using the front brake on slippery shit
    • front-wheel slides suck
  3. driving too quickly on slippery shit
    • sand
    • wet roads
    • cow shit
    • bumps
  4. accidentally twisting the throttle
    • over bumps and up curbs, hold the throttle so that when you pull it doesn't twist, and stay balanced
    • when parking, be careful of your throttle and any wiring around it. If it catches on a mirror or handle of a bike beside yours and pulls, your bike will powerfully launch (given your probably in a lower gear now anyway), and it will be ugly. It happenned to me but luckily i was parking right in front of a wall and my rear tire just spun in place.
    • turn the key to off in case of emerency
  5. leaving your kickstand down

  6. having your lights off at night

  7. going up steep hills in the wrong gear and failing to change gears when u start going backwards

Level 3: Traffic

Vietnam traffic laws are like minor suggestions. The real law is survival. And what the police will pull you over for

So forget everything you knew about driving. They don't apply to these roads. And don't expect anybody to be polite or sensible

Driving in Vietnam is not about right of way. It's more like geometry wars. With this in mind. I'm going to teach you some basic things.

  1. PAY ATTENTION to anything that moves: Anything can happen on the road, people drive backwards, shoot out of sideroads at stupid speeds, people walk across roads barely looking, people push 2 meter garbage trolleys across roads. people back out of restaurants without looking, cars, busses and other bikes will cut you off. people stop and slam-breaks a lot... out of neccesity... people drive on sidewalks and will come off them in front of you. bikes can swerve in front of you. OTHER PEOPLE WILL FUCK YOU UP. Car doors... parked cars becoming unparked suddenly. people run red lights. drivers can be stupidly drunk and swerving out of control...

  2. Pay attention to the roads surface. Always assume there's huge fucking potholes everywhere. (or random shit like a waterbottle or helmet fallen on the road).

  3. Test how quickly your bike stops, and when it skids, don't be surprised by it and skid into the car that stopped quickly in front of you.

  4. So your on the road, the divider in the middle is a general suggestion. People will come barrelling down the other side to pass traffic.

  5. Traffic can be really tight. Try not to bump into anybody or run over peoples feet.

Turning

Okay, so basic turning a right corner:

communication:

  1. turn your blinker on if your going to turn
  2. turn your head a bit towards the way you are going to turn if you are planning to cut in front of people.

Turn your blinker on so people stop passing you on that side. Turn you head in case they think you left your blinker on, and to communicate that your going to fucking turn now.

geometry:

  1. Okay so you want to navigate your way to the side of the road you are turning towards. Get to that side of traffic before you get to the turn. Find a path to that side through the traffic. Generally you want to match the speed of bikes around you, and speed up or slow down around them while turning right.. while crossing a road with your bike, you take up more space if you are sideways, stay inline to reduce your road blockitude.

  2. passing through motorbikes

geometry: it's all about handlebars

consider your on a bike, and your front wheel is up the the guys handlebar. He isn't seeing you, and isn't afraid of you, but he can probably hear you. You can't pass him because if you do, you handlebars hit his handlebars. First you need to get your handlebars around his handlebars. so to pass him you need space.

if this guy starts to veer in front of you, you have to press your brakes, because that space you were just in is closing. This is the rules of the handlebars.

It works in reverse. If your handlebars are in front of somebody elses, you have the geometrical advantage.

Beware of people driving backwards around the same corner.. im not kidding. leave space if you cannot see around a corner in case some idiot is going backwards on your side. the reason they would do this is because it's annoying to cross the road twice, which actually makes sense. Or because this side is less bumpy.. who knows.