Gridlock on Highway 1A
Wednesday, August 26, 2009 at 10:58AM
[chuck] in Other, Vietnam, traffic

Heading north on Highway 1A, we got trapped in a huge traffic jam.  About 40 km outside of Hanoi, the traffic slowed down to a crawl - and then stopped completely. Several drivers noticed that the three lanes on the other side of the highway, i.e. the southbound lanes, were open and started crossing over the divider to get around the congestion. Our driver did the same.  A stampede ensued. This strategy, of course, only works until you encounter the traffic coming from the other direction. Which happened quite quickly (see above).  Six lanes of traffic heading south encounter six lanes of traffic heading north.  With no way to back up.  Things started to pile up pretty fast.

Our driver saw this happening and drove through a field to get off the highway.  We took the back roads through a bunch of small villages (the scenic route) to get to Hanoi.  We heard on the radio as we were arriving that the traffic on Highway 1A was still backed up 20 kilometers in each direction. [NOTE: Before bailing out of this mess, I noticed that one of the gridlocked cars was decorated with flowers and streamers and that there was a young woman in a wedding dress sitting in the back seat. Sigh].  

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