This is the second in a series of postings about Two-Wheeling in Việt Nam. To see all the stories, click on the category “Two Wheeling in Việt Nam” on the left side of the screen.
You’re a polite person, eh? I will assume the Gentle Reader is a nice person who never says anything angry towards another driver – and never blows his/her horn. For most American males, the last time they honked their automobile horn in a friendly way was when they sat outside their date’s house and honked the horn for her to come out.
Americans do not honk their horn unless they are angry.
You’d better get over that to survive riding a môto in Việt Nam. One of the biggest problems most North Americans have in learning to negotiate Vietnamese traffic is that they don’t use the horn enough.
The horn has a different purpose in Việt Nam. Think of the horn as a way for telling people where you are. As you approach an intersection, sound your horn so other can “hear” where you are. Nobody will mind. In fact, they will appreciate it.
As you approach that line of five girls riding abreast and talking to each other, you sound your horn to tell them you are coming around the left side. (Okay – maybe the right side, but that’s another story.) They will not move over because you sounded your horn – but now they’ll know you are there and will not pull in front of you. They are trusting that you will not hit them.
The horn also establishes who has the right of way. The big blast you hear behind tells you there is a truck coming. Being bigger than you, he has the right of way. Bear to the right. Hear the horn louder than yours behind you? That’s a taxi – and he is bigger than you, so bear to the right. The horn that sounds like you is just another môto, and he is merely telling you he is passing – he’s not telling you to get the hell out of the way.
If I have a fault, it is that I don’t blow the horn enough. When going to dinner, the Mystery Guest Blogger packs double with me, and constantly says “Beep beep” in my ear to remind me to honk more. It’s her job! Following a Vietnamese friend the other day, I noticed he used his horn a lot more. He’s no kid – he is 60 years old, is a good rider - - and he uses his horn.
Don’t be afraid to blow your own horn.