Hanoi: Organized Chaos

  • Old quarter or “36 Old Streets”
  • Everything all around is always moving, on wheels, scooters, motor bikes, cars, bicycles, coming at you from every direction.
  • There are very few traffic signs and no visible speed limits.
  • No use of vehicle signals or hand signals by drivers or cyclists
  • Beep, “behind you.” Beep, “passing you.” Beep,”go ahead.” Beep, “thank you.” BEEP “out of my way.”
  • A city of constant activity, day and night.

Intersections are without traffic signs or traffic lights. Pedestrians, vehicles, maneuver crossings at ease creating a “ballet of chaos”. Local advice to a tourist waiting to cross at an intersection: “Go ahead and cross. Look straight ahead, keep a slow and steady pace, don’t hesitate, don’t stop. Trust the drivers, they will go around you, they do not want to hit you.” It all works seamlessly.

Before the new prosperity and quick development bicycles were the main means of transportation (goods piled high in innovative ways). One can still see snapshots of earlier days along with the present and future creating a blur of movement all around.

Look up and the organized chaos presents itself again in the form of a canopy of jumbled power cables and wiring.

In the Old Quarter there are charming examples of colonial historic architecture remaining. As these buildings reach a state of disrepair they are torn down and replaced with “cake houses” or piles of brick and glass.