By Alison Bate
I’m finally legal, after five months of zoom-zooming around Hanoi.
Yesterday, I went to pick up my Vietnamese motorbike license, after a long, tortuous but entertaining ride.
Like nearly everyone here in Hanoi, I’ve broken rules that I wouldn’t dream of flouting in Canada. I’ve ridden my Yamaha Nuovo daily without a license and without insurance; I’ve carried passengers without a helmet; and occasionally even ridden the wrong way down main roads. All because that’s what the Hanoians do, and it’s simply the best way to get around the city.
It’s a nerve-wracking experience at first, driving on the crazy, noisy no-rules streets. After a while, though, you get used the rhythm of the traffic and learn to never look back.
I’ve never been stopped by the police and if I had been, the advice was simple: pretend you don’t speak any Vietnamese. As most of the police don’t speak English, either, they are very reluctant to stop westerners or Tays, as we are called.
But now, after endless paperwork, getting a Vietnamese car license, a battery of photos, a medical and a figure-of-eight driving test, I’m finally legal.
Ten days ago, I joined four other colleagues at Language Link for the final big hurdle: the practical test.