17 December 2015

Hoi An - Vietnam's Calm and Shining Pearl

Hội An, Vietnam - Walking and Cycling Town
All photos by Liv Jorun Andenes

Pockets of life-sized goodness exist everywhere. Even in the transport chaos that defines Vietnam. Traffic crashes kill at least 9000 people a year. Indeed, it is estimated that official data about traffic deaths underestimates the number of traffic deaths by as much as 30%.

On a recent visit to Vietnam, our friend and colleague Liv Jorun Andenes from Oslo's Sykkelprosjektet visited a small city that bucks the fatal trend of letting motor vehicles - be it cars/trucks or motorbikes - dominate.

The city of Hoi An. The sign, above, gives you a pretty clear indication about what it's all about. The name Hoi An translates - appropriately - as "peaceful meeting place". Rumour has it that "Australia" is actually an old Dutch word for "stupid traffic engineers", but I digress.

Hội An, Vietnam - Walking and Cycling Town
Bicycles abound in Hoi An - as they did in Vietnam for many decades before the scourge of cars and scooters took over. Here, however, they remain dominant, thanks to a simple vision for a nicer, life-sized city from the municipality.
Hội An, Vietnam - Walking and Cycling Town
Classic rickshaws are a popular sight and the modus transportus for the lazier tourists
Hội An, Vietnam - Walking and Cycling Town
I don't need to bang on about the history of this once prominent port city when one click will lead you to a crowdsourced article on Wikipedia about Hoi An.
Hội An, Vietnam - Walking and Cycling Town
It's a city of canals, though, with intense bicycle traffic across the water on ferries.
Hội An, Vietnam - Walking and Cycling Town
The streets are traffic calmed and, with the absence of Captain Spandex types, the space is shared between pedestrians and slow moving cyclists.
Hội An, Vietnam - Walking and Cycling TownBasically, if you go to Vietnam, make sure to pop by Hoi An to see what calm is possible in a chaotic world.