After taking my life in my hands by strolling round Hanoi, I have come to the conclusion that Katie Melua was oh so wrong in (semi) famously singing the lyrics:
“There are nine million bicycles in Beijing…”
And if she had wanted to sing about bicycles, she should 100% have mentioned Hanoi’s motorbike madness.
Estimates suggest that there are about 4 million motorbikes in Hanoi (in 1996 there were 4 million motorbikes in the whole of Vietnam!).This means, crazily enough, that if you discount the very young and very old, nearly every Vietnamese owns one.
And to think I considered China’s roads crazy…
To be honest, as long as you walk calmly and without faltering, there’s nothing more harrowing than plentiful near misses.
I tried to capture some varied shots of the motorbikes, as they’re very much part of the manic capital’s charm and the Vietnamese lifestyle.
My favourite photos are from when I found myself wandering in Hanoi’s Old Quarter as school had just finished for the day. The craziness of rush hour and parents collecting their young children on the bikes was both a pleasure to watch and photograph.
(Yes, my obsession with cute children has of course spread from China to Vietnam and threatens to spread across the entire Asian continent!)