Think you can avoid traffic accidents by simply not driving in another country? Think again — walking is treacherous too.
My latest article, How to walk in Asia, was published today in the March 2016 issue of the in-flight magazine for Singapore Airlines regional fleet, Silkwinds. (Taking a flight on Silk Air? I’d love it if you grabbed a copy of the magazine for me!)
One of the things that surprises me about travelling is that the walking habits are different in every country I visit. Some are obvious — in countries where they drive on the left, they walk on the left too (mostly).
Others are less obvious. Did you know, for example, that:
- People walk on the right in the medina of Marrakech (someone will advise you to move if you don’t), but in Fez‘s medina it’s more of a free for all? How can two Moroccan cities have such different rules?
- In Peru, even in the big city if Lima, people walk slowly and a group of two or more will spread out to take up the whole sidewalk, not caring if you’re trying to pass, or even if you’re coming toward them.
- In Buenos Aires, I encountered street battles with tough Porteños who refused to move to their right if walking in my path was in the shade of the hot sun or avoided two common BA street hazards — piles of sidewalk tiles and dog shit.
But Southeast Asia was the most challenging places I’ve ever found to walk.
Everyone hears stories about how it is so difficult to cross streets in Ha Noi, Viet Nam. That’s nothing! Cambodian streets and sidewalks are far harder to manage — next to the sidewalk is usually another lane of two-wheeled traffic going the opposite direction to the lane beside it. If you put one foot off a curb without triple checking both ways, you could easily get smacked by a motorcycle.
Like chaotic traffic stories? Read Pursued by police in Phnom Penh about my first visit to Cambodia, written for The Globe and Mail.
And if you’re travelling to Asia, you’ll want to read my tips on How to walk in Asia.