Hail to the bus driver

If all else fails I will apply to become a Ha Noi bus driver.

How difficult can it be?

Long Bien bus station, Hanoi, Vietnam

I just need to lay my hands on an English language version of the Vietnamese Highway Code and I should be good to go. Though I doubt that much contained within these pages actually translates into practice in real life. Still, you have to tick the boxes before you get behind the wheel of vehicle that carries 40 or more passengers at rush hour.

Having really poor Vietnamese, I reckon, shouldn’t be too much of a barrier. The ticket seller can take care of things with the locals while I can speak fluent English to the Tay passengers. Sounds like a dream team. And I don’t even need to worry about taking the fares.  Result.

That will leave me to focus on the driving, assuming I can get the seat far enough back. From what I have observed I won’t need to keep an eye on any of the gauges. Usually none of them work and the engine warning light and parking brake light are always illuminated.

To be fair, I have probably driven vehicles in poorer shape in the UK. And latterly, before I left the UK workforce, I spent two weeks driving around in a 5.5 m long wheel base Transit minibus. Once I drove around Scotland on holiday in a converted ambulance, so scaling up to a bus shouldn’t be too much of a challenge, I hope.

Finding my way about shouldn’t be too difficult either; I know left, right, stop and straight ahead in Vietnamese so navigation around the city and the location of places to take a sneaky whizz are sorted.

The only other thing to remember is looking out for the bus stops and flicking a couple of stalks to open and close the doors. Even when there are only imaginary passengers getting on or off.

Passengers on a bus in Hanoi, Vietnam

Not sure I could handle talking on my mobile phone while driving. That probably takes a lot of practice.

On the upside, I can’t say I have seen any drunks on a bus. But maybe I was too wasted to notice.

What I could not handle is the collateral damage the job inevitably entails. I could not live with the thought that bus driving in the city probably equates to killing one road user every five years. Or even wiping out an entire family.

On second thoughts, maybe I will just sit up the back and get free Vietnamese lessons from my fellow passengers.


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