Three Lessons Learned While Riding a Motorcycle in Hanoi


Myscha Dang-Harris

  1. Go where you fit.

When traveling through the population-dense roads of Hanoi, there’s a choreographed dance and  everyone knows the steps. The roads are packed to the brim, yet you won’t get the expected dozens of collisions. Don’t force your way into the flow. Don’t mold your environment to fit your needs and wants. Just go where you fit.

2. Let everything go.

I vividly remember a Friday night riding on the back of my cousin’s motorcycle. Weekends are when the Old Quarter opens to locals and tourists alike. The roads were crowded with motorcycles, carriages, and bicycles all pushing through the crowds to experience all they could before the night came to a close. While trying to pass, another man perpendicular to us came to a stop a little too late, his motorcycle wheel t-boning my foot in the process. When I looked over, irritation on my face, he had already backed up, and my cousin paid no mind. Nothing broken, let it go.

3. Enjoy the ride.

Every route is a scenic route if you know how to look and see. Locals sitting on the plastic stools in front of shops. Cats in the nearby cat cafe staring out the storefront window. The vendor with a cheap plastic folding table selling her red paper pop-up cards. The thin patch of grass between two adjacent streets where a small group of cows choose to enjoy their meal. Do not romanticize the impurities you see. Embrace them; acknowledge them. They’re not going anywhere anytime soon.