The streets of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam have been likened to a 3D video game where people constantly have to dodge motorbikes, bicycles, and cars coming from every direction. In a city where the right of way concept is virtually non-existent, the simple task of crossing the street becomes extremely difficult. This became obvious within hours of arriving in Ho Chi Minh CIty and seemed impossible to overcome until instructed by a friendly English speaking local. The secret to being a successful pedestrian just seemed almost too simple, too dangerous, and too counterintuitive to normal pedestrian laws. “You just have to go,” he said as we stepped off the curb into oncoming traffic that looked as if it had no intention of stopping for us. It was like crossing the street with your eyes closed and reopening them to find that you’ve safely made it to the other side. Somehow it just works.
This image was taken just outside the vibrant Ben Thanh market at dusk during a trip to Vietnam in 2010. I had just completed my first teaching contract in South Korea and took a month afterwards to travel to Thailand and Vietnam before returning to America. With a new found appreciation for the pedestrian experience in Ho Chi Minh CIty I was extremely impressed to see this lady crossing the street with handfuls of stuff without hesitation. It was particularly interesting to me because she had chosen the most difficult spot to cross. I thought she was a genuine badass for crossing where others weren’t even making attempts. It ended up being a cool Matrix-esque photo and a reminder of a very valuable lesson: just go.
- This postcard is from MatadorU student Natalie Crossland. She was born and raised in Texas and has been teaching in Asia since 2009.