Now, this is the one famous identity of modern Vietnam: the traffic. I had recorded the traffic sound in many locations in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. In this recording, I recorded the traffic in a busy and hot afternoon near the Saigon River. It was one of the most crowded areas in Ho Chi Minh City or Saigon.
Sounds of surrounding vehicles, like various types of motorcycles, cars, bus, trucks, etc. could be heard. All of these vehicles make a really loud symphony of low frequency sounds, rumbling in a very hot afternoon combined with the loud honks and the sound signals from the buses. Vietnamese people, I felt, really loved to push their horns and we can hear the honking sound for every second in a busy intersection. It was really normal to push horns although sometimes there was no reason to do it (trust me). During my one month journey in Vietnam; my ear still had difficulties accepting this loud honking sound. Sometimes, I just felt that this honking culture also reflected in Vietnamese people loud and high voice while talking to each other. The famous sentence to call each other: “Anh/Chị ơi, cho emhỏi” usually was pronounced with a loud voice. In my first week in Vietnam, I asked my friend regarding this culture. He explained that the loud voice while talking was really normal in Vietnam, so don’t misunderstand it as anger.
In this traffic recording, we can hear how loud it is just to stand beside a busy traffic in Vietnam city. Saigon is a metropolis, and there are many big roads at Saigon. Based on a 2012 government data, there were approximately 340,000 cars and 3.5 million motorcycles in this city, which was almost double compared to Hanoi. Traffic jam is also considered as one of the decade’s problem of Ho Chi Minh City. The traffic becomes worst during rush hours. At early morning (4 or 5 am), this city quiet sound was a true privilege. There were only several vehicles, and we could hear clearly the sound of Banh My (Vietnam traditional bread) women vendor riding bicycle around the quiet street, and several beautiful bird sounds at Saigon. Three or four hours later, the same street became a very loud symphony as I had mentioned before.