I’m not sure how it happened, but I’ve become one of them. I wear a jacket (which I’m boiling in), a mask, a poncho, ….I’m a Vietnamese motorbike driver. I’ve become used to being squeezed into small places and driving through them. I can drive really slow and coast while keeping my balance. I can drive through flooded streets with my feet up on my seat so that my feet won’t get wet while still balancing the bike. I can dodge slow pedestrians. I can maneuver the bike into the narrowest parking spaces in alleys. I have learned how to honk to simply let someone know I’m ‘here’. In fact, I use my mirrors less and less and my horn more and more. Seriously – how the hell did this happen? I so vividly remember my first time I took the bike out of the living room and accelerated into this crazy motorbike culture scared to death.
I’m absolutely convinced I will have to retrain my brain to look left before turning right again as I don’t even get the urge to look left any longer. I’ve learned that you don’t wait for opportunities (for a lull in traffic) when driving in Vietnam, you make opportunities.
Six months have gone by and now I’m able to do what I previously thought was impossible; I zone out. I actually look at stuff around me, notice new restaurants, can read street signs, and most of all I use the driving time to think. I’ve even been able to zone out the horns that are constantly honking at me. Nor am I shocked or horrified by what I see around me any longer – 4 people on a motorbike, a guy carrying a refrigerator on the back of his bike, a dog on the bike, or a boy standing on a bike seat behind the driver – yes, standing. However a boy sleeping between his parents on a motorbike in the pouring rain did catch my attention for a bit the other day. I think I was simply jealous of his ability to sleep in a impossible environment.
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