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Tuesday, 06 February 2007

Moto, Madame? - Page 2

Written by Jennifer Anthony
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The taxi pulls away from the crowd of cars and pedestrians at Noi Bai International Airport, wiggles and worms its way through the congestion, and zips toward the road that leads to Ha Noi. I roll down the window and the humid July air, tempered by a light rain, shoves its way inside. On the main road, we are joined by a fleet of mopeds, or ‘motos,’ as they are called in Viet Nam. They appear suddenly on all sides of us, unrestricted, it seems, by the concept of lanes.

Pedestrian Prowess

Later that afternoon, I join newfound friends who are headed for the bustling center of Ha Noi, to the streets that surround Hoan Kiem Lake. When our group amasses at the corner, moto drivers call out: Moto? Moto, Madame? Shaking our heads, we pile into a taxi and speed away. Within minutes, we are hopping out onto the wide street, daunting and frenetic as a torrential river, which separates us from the lake. I stand frozen on the sidewalk.


One fellow traveler has been in Viet Nam a week. She smiles and motions for me to follow her. Walk in a straight line, she says. Slow and steady.


And she steps out into the street, directly in the path of a squadron of motos. It is us versus them, or so it first appears. She marches boldly, eyes ahead. I scurry to catch up, walking closely beside her as if her 100-pound frame has created a force field.


The motos swerve around us. It is not a battle, but a test of confidence. Confidence in myselfand confidence that the motorists don’t want to hit me as much as I don’t want to be hit. We arrive on the other side unscathed and I glance backward at the street, astonished I have made it.


After several hours in the country, I still stand firm against riding a moto. But I have become a little smug about my pedestrian prowess.

(Page 2 of 5)
Last modified on Sunday, 16 December 2012

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