A formula for crossing the road in Hanoi
The hotel I stayed at in Hanoi offered this advice with regard to crossing the road: Be relaxed and confident. Look both ways. Walk slowly. Never step backwards.
In Vietnam, cars drive on the right. Although it seems that this really only applies on dual carriageways where there is a barrier in the middle. Everywhere else they seem to drive wherever their vehicle will fit. Thus, when you are making your way intrepidly across the street but you realise the car bearing down on you is actually accelerating to try and beat you rather than slowing down to let you pass, one’s instinct is to take a step backwards.
Unfortunately, in Hanoi, the space you vacated just seconds before will now be filled with a motorbike. That is where being relaxed and confident comes in. Stand your ground and wait for the car to pass it will somehow not hit you. As it passes you must not hesitate to occupy the space it just vacated. As you do another motorbike, quite likely going in the opposite direction to the first one, will move into the space you just left. In this way, you make your way steadily across the road.
The city’s new Formula 1 circuit is due to be completed by the end of January in plenty of time for the race meeting itself which will be held between April 3-5. The course is 5.6 kilometres long featuring 23 corners and a 1.5 kilometre straight which will invite speeds of up to 335km/h.
The circuit was designed by F1’s resident architect Hermann Tilke. It boasts a 300 metre-long pit building based on Hanoi’s Imperial Citadel of Thang Long and will spill, in places, onto the open road.
My immediate vision of Lewis Hamilton barreling down the tree-ined streets of the Old Quarter in his Mercedes while Hanoians slurp their noodles and coffee at street side cafés was, of course, premature. However, if it did happen I can’t imagine it would trouble the locals unduly. They have plenty of experience.