Life in Vietnam

Thursday, 25/05/2023 07:57

Two wheels good, four wheels bad?


A woman rides a scotter through Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội. VNS Photo Seán Nolan

Seán Nolan 

HÀ NỘI - My love affair with motorbikes began at the tender age of 10 and has only grown since then. As you can imagine, moving to Việt Nam has done little to change that.  

So, I'm fully aware that this opinion is a biased one, but I firmly believe that Việt Nam's culture of two-wheeled travel must be preserved.

Around the world, car ownership has proliferated, and Việt Nam is no exception.

Economic development has led to a surge in four-wheeled vehicles traversing the country's roads. Undoubtedly, the allure of comfort, air conditioning, and perceived safety plays a part in this shift. 

However, when weighing the pros and cons of each type of vehicle, the scales tilt unfavourably for automobiles.

Firstly, the increasing number of cars exacerbates already existing congestion woes. On the narrow streets of Hà Nội, a single car has the power to bring traffic to a standstill and, regrettably, this is an all-too-common sight.

Moreover, environmental concerns loom large when it comes to cars. The amplified air pollution they generate is a burden Việt Nam can ill afford. As the country grapples with existing pollution challenges, exacerbating this issue with more automobiles seems counterintuitive.

Of course, the vehicle market is changing across the board, with electric vehicles overtaking their petrol and diesel-powered counterparts. This is a positive for both industries thanks to innovations from companies such as VinFast and Dat Bike.

Finally, I'm fully aware that it might be contentious for those who hold cars dear, but the experience of travelling by car simply fails to ignite the same sense of adventure that motorbikes effortlessly provide.

To embark on a journey astride a motorbike is to be exposed to the elements; if it's scorching hot outside, you feel the heat coursing through your veins and when there's a chill in the air, you have no choice but to brave the frigid winds. There are no sanitised encounters and no artificial climate control to shelter you from the world.

Motorbikes embody the spirit of exploration, individuality and, in Việt Nam, practicality.

Motorcycle adventure geeks wax lyrical about the best luggage systems, the best tyres and the best suspension set-up to go to the shops and back, but all of that seems even more pointless when you see a little scooter in Việt Nam piled precariously high with goods. 

Now, I am not suggesting that cars should be shunned entirely. They certainly have their merits. However, it is crucial to recognise the intrinsic value that motorbikes bring to Việt Nam's cultural fabric and lifestyle.

While car ownership rises and its appeal grows, almost certainly irreversibly, we must not overlook the importance of preserving Việt Nam's unique motorbike legacy. VNS

Comments (0)

Related content