Well, it is the Year of the Snake now. Today is Day 4 of the Tet New Year here in Vietnam. I rode my motorbike to Bien Hoa outside of Saigon to see a friend. I rode him back to Saigon during the early afternoon today. At the outskirts of Saigon, I was passing a motorbike in the left lane when the traffic police flagged me down. Yes. riding in the left lane even to pass is a traffic violation in Vietnam though you see many motorbikes doing this all the time. This will be my 3rd left lane violation during my nearly 9 years in Vietnam (all of my 3 traffic violations were left lane violations).
I did not see the traffic police until he flagged me. The traffic police had picked a very well hidden spot on the highway back to Saigon. This being Tet, the traffic police aimed on making as much money as they can on “legal” traffic violations. “Legal” here means, as you guessed it, none of the fines would actually go to the Vietnamese government. There were already motorbikes that were stopped by the time I was flagged with the riders “negotiating” (more…)