Traffic in Hanoi
Where is all the traffic going? Especially in Hanoi, but in Ho Chi Minh City, too, the rush of vehicles almost has to be seen to be believed. Motorcycles and bicycles make up 90 percent, with cars, trucks and cyclos adding to the stew.
An average new 100c Honda motorbike costs the equivalent of $2,300, a large sum in a land where the average per capita income is about a dollar a day. A car costs at least 10 times as much.
So where is all the traffic going? It is just going, from about 6:30 in the morning until it finally tapers off about 10 p.m.
What is remarkable is not just the volume of traffic but the way it moves.
Vietnamese drive on the right side of the road -- that is to say, most of the time.
At other times, they cross over and drive on the opposite side of the road right into the face of oncoming traffic in order to pass people who are slower. It is not unusual for a passenger to look up and see a large truck bearing down on him.
Vietnamese drivers seem to possess a sixth sense that enables them to tuck back into the flow of vehicles at the last possible moment. They are helped in this by what might be called creative use of the horn.
It is impossible to drive in Vietnam without honking the horn. Drivers of cars and trucks do it constantly. They come up right behind the person they wish to pass and start honking away until the other driver moves over. In America, a driver who did this would be considered a jerk, and an argument would probably be the result. In this culture, it is just considered helpful and nobody seems to be annoyed. The bigger the horn, the more likely you are of being respected ;)
No doubt that these thousands of daily confrontations translate into some horrendous accidents, but in a week in Hanoi, only three relatively minor collisions were witnessed. Perhaps the Gods of Traffic figure that Vietnam has suffered enough and its people deserve some luck.
A person also has to feel lucky to cross a city street. For newly arrived visitors, it is a daunting experience. Hundreds of motorcycles and other vehicles stream past, and the hapless Westerner waits for a break in the traffic, as one would at home. The problem is that often there is no real break in the traffic.
The trick is to launch yourself into the flow of vehicles slowly and predictably and trust that the motorcyclists navigate around you. Either by luck or good management, they manage to go safely past -- off to wherever it is they are going.
pp:levels, curves, sharpen and that's it. late afternoon light was sh*t...
DAMN! why do colors always appear so damn faded on TE??? grrr!!!
Critiques | Translate
tomescuc (3291) 2009-01-16 10:48
Fun pic, lots of dynamism, the chaotic pulse of the city is perfectly captured, the lost guy provides an amusing counterpoint. I am sure that their driving skills are thousand times higher than the California drivers ;-)
P-S-I-G (25536) 2009-01-16 10:53
Comme c'est bien composé avec l'homme à moustache dans le coin. Très dynamique, plein de pêche, j'aime le résultat.
Floydian (30970) 2009-01-16 11:28
Seems you had good warm weather in Hanoi, my stay was cold and wet.
I was also impressed by all that traffic, but it was nothing compared to Saigon which was three times as worse and much as Hanoi. Seeing your picture shows the chaos and to drive there needs skills to survive.
I like the man in the corner, he sems not to worry about all that traffic and needs to find his way around...very clever that you put him inside the frame, makes the image much more interesting than without.
Have a nice weekend,
Leilani (1385) 2009-01-16 12:24
amusing title. I think this shot is really dynamic. The absolute orderly chaos is fantastic. Everyone going in a million different directions, but all seem pretty calm and unperturbed by it all. The dichotomy of the man in the corner looking at the map is what makes the shot even more interesting to me. Rgds, Leilani
delkoo (68) 2009-01-16 13:14
j'aime bien ce style de photo pris sur le vif avec une pointe d'humour, au vu du traffic cela ne doit pas être évident de circuler a Hanoi.
lc4giala (2190) 2009-01-16 13:28
Incredible daily moment of action and orientation
adores (45715) 2009-01-16 16:07
Very good daily scene! I guess you're showing the real Hanoi - all the traffic (especially motos)and the electric wires. I like the way you framed it, with this man watching the map in foreground.
cam (9043) 2009-01-16 18:28
Enfin de la vie, je commençais à m'inquiéter.
Aussi de la vie sur cette photo.J'ai remarqué le même phénomène au Pérou, sauf que les gens sont plus pauvres et que la densité de véhicule est moindre, heureusement, car les rues sont tellement étroite qu'aucune circulation ne serait possible.De plus, aucun stop au coin des rues.
Un endroit vivant et bruyant.
En France, on aurait droit à des prises de becs des plus spirituelles.
Curieux, l'homme regarde la carte routière, il semble vouloir aller quelque part.
Les couleurs me semblent adéquates.
BennyV (17650) 2009-01-17 4:00
Although it merely describes what we are looking at, I absolutely LOVE this title. It's so real, it's almost surreal. Brilliant!
(And of course, I like the picture too. Good composition & colours are OK here!)
I was in Hanoi when lots of people there had just bought their first motorbike. Back then in HCMC it was perfectly OK to cross the street as you describe, but not yet in Hanoi. Meanwhile I suspect there's not much difference.
ben4321 (9875) 2009-01-18 2:46
Marc, this is excellent - the chaotic scene in the background makes a great contrast with the calm concentration of the guy with the map.
If I have one criticism it's that I think the shot would have worked better if you'd got a bit lower down, and a bit closer to the map guy so as to cut down on the empty space on the right.
Great shot though.
robiuk (10807) 2009-01-18 14:51
I like the contrast created by your camera (and note)
being focused entirely on the traffic itself, whilst "the
man with a moustache" appears to be clearly ignoring it
by turning its back to it.
Love the 'impossible situation' here as a product of that
jorgi (3810) 2009-01-19 23:29
your photo remembered me of Top Gear...last special series when they travelled thru Vietnam with...yes, you guessed, motorcycles. :) It was excellent episode and I get from your photo the same dynamic vibe, chaotic traffic experience for newbies and nothing special for life time residents.
Love the man with the map :) I hope it was helpful since the signs are, as I hear, rarity.
My dearest would love it since he is a horn fan.
Excellent daily life photo with fantastic vibe.
parbo (11092) 2009-01-20 11:45
Very good one Marc, I felt I'm in the scene because also keeping a printed map with me every time. Busy motorcycles are creating anxiety while their direction already mixed but it already gave a good opportunity to capture your wonderful frame. Especially the lights reflected from map on motorcycle driver is noticeable with his full natural pose. Congratulations.
chinvinsen (21) 2009-01-31 2:48
Looks staged... but whether staged or candid, it's very well done and conveys an experience well beyond the chaos.
Interesting to note that the guy looking at the map is the only one in the picture not heading to or through the crossroad, and provides for an excellent main subject. The chaotic close-proximity traffic at the crossroad then becomes a very tastefully cluttered backdrop and setting.
Polonaise (5802) 2009-03-10 12:09
This is a one heck of a good fotka, man !!!
trhis is...Well... I may say it loud: Yes ! This is photography.
trhere is a process of thinking about the compo BEFORE pressing the button.
rare thing in the age of diggies...
Congratulations, buddy pal.
Right side ( the fragment of a cart, and a solid portion of the upper section - should go..(?)
dcawker (5717) 2009-04-07 6:23
Wow, this really captures the jumble of the busy city! Excellent perspective with the fellow facing you as well.. Nice work! Regards, Doug
globalvillager (112) 2009-04-14 8:21
Great picture of people's activities. The person looking at the map at the foreground makes this picture, as if he is agreeing with us that this city is indeed very confusing to the mind.
- Copyright: Marc Cl (Manamo) (3710)
- Genre: People
- Medium: Color
- Date Taken: 2008-10-18
- Categories: Daily Life, Transportation, Decisive Moment
- Camera: Nikon D300, 18-70mm F3.5-4.5G ED AF-S DX Zoom Nikkor
- Exposure: f/4, 1/60 seconds
- More Photo Info: view
- Photo Version: Original Version
- Date Submitted: 2009-01-16 10:28
- Favorites: 1 [view]