How crossing a road in Saigon can help you create your dream life

crossing the road in Saigon
credit: DavidJGB

One of my most significant travel experiences was learning to cross the road in Saigon. I think that was the moment when I truly said, “Holy Shit Toto, we ain’t in Kansas anymore.”

Since then I’ve heard countless travellers describe the experience and it has always been exactly the same as mine.

My best friend, Bec, and I had arrived from London, where we had been living for two and a half years. Before that we spent 3 months trekking through Indonesia; we thought we had Asia figured out.

We decided to start our first day with a walk around the city for a bite to eat and to get our bearings. We stepped outside our guest house, walked to the curb and waited. And waited. And waited. After about 10 minutes we looked at each other,

Umm, what are we going to do? We can’t get across the road.

There were no lights and the traffic continued to stream past: cyclos, motorbikes, bicycles, min-vans and cars.

We scratched our heads. Looked left and right. Scratched our heads some more and decided to walk left to find another option. We walked left, turned the corner, turned another corner, and yet another one before ending back at our starting point.

We were marooned on the island.

We stood for another five minutes hoping the traffic would be gracious enough to just stop. They kept on, oblivious to our Western state of apprehension and bewilderment. We were both hungry and wanted to just get off the damn block to explore.

We contemplated getting a cab, but didn’t see one, and we were on a budget so didn’t want to waste our money. We tried to wave at the traffic to stop. Ignored.

“Shit Bec, I think we just have to walk. There is no other way to get across.”

We stood for another couple of minutes deliberating how to do this, who would go first, and what would our parents think when they heard the news that we were creamed by a passing cyclo driver.

We gripped each other tight like we did when we tandem bungy jumped in Bali. “Ready. 1.2.3 walk.”

We squeezed our eyes leaving a narrow hole to peer through, and walked.

Miraculously the seas that we had been willing to part, parted.  The vehicles weaved around us.

“Keep walking Bec.”

Motorbikes, bicycles, cyclos and mini-vans were moving to the beat of our footsteps. The motion of the traffic ocean coasted on by. We reached the other side, hugged each other, and high-fived. We bloody made it. We crossed the road in Saigon and survived.

We had no idea at the time that this was a travel bucket list thing to do. We considered ourselves the Saigon-road-crossing experts and told everyone who crossed our path how to do it. We were pretty miffed when someone tried to tell us how to do it. God that was so like yesterday.

That was in 1999.

I don’t think I have heard a Vietnam story since that has not involved a Saigon road crossing recount.

For the past few weeks, we have been busy writing our first eBook. I have a section titled How to create your Ultimate dream life. I feel very confident writing this section since I’ve lived my life pretty much exactly how I’ve wanted to since I was 21. I also love writing about it to help others do the same.

It had me thinking about Saigon traffic and red seas and how the Universe is always bending to your will.

Achieving your dreams is a lot like crossing a road in Saigon.

You just have to trust and move forward.

It is one of the most difficult things you can ever do. How long you choose to wander around the block looking for an easier path is up to you. The wandering will lead to a cyclical path that leaves you with a head devoid of hair.

You can try to stop the traffic. You can try to control the movement of everything around you and bend it to your will, but you will just end up on the back foot ducking and weaving and destroying the movement of the energy flow around you.

You will create chaos.

Everybody who tries to cross a road in South East Asia knows that if you step out timidly, if you try to control the movement of the traffic around you, if you try to move to their motions, you’ll get crushed by a cyclo driver who has his ability to trust in the flow destroyed.

That’s the key to creating your own life.

You become the puppeteer. You have to stand tall, lock into your gut, and move with purpose and trust. The universe will begin to move everything around you to cater to your purpose and path.

Set your eyes on the destination on the other side of the road, step from the curb, hold your head high, ignore the chaos around you, forget trying to come up with a control plan, and walk with total trust and abandonment.

You’ll see the paths open and you’ll arrive at your destination in one piece with success.

At the other end you can high-five your friend at how goddamn powerful you are in parting the red seas. You might even grab a spring roll and a Saigon beer to help celebrate this life-changing experience.

You can create your ultimate dream just by being bold and trusting the Universe has got you covered.

Have you crossed the road in Saigon?

Do you use a similar approach when creating the dream life you love?

Caz
Caz Makepeace is the co-founder of y Travel Blog and has been traveling the world since 1997, first solo, then with her husband, and now with her two daughters. Get her free email series on the 4 best ways to reduce travel costs. Follow her on Google+

26 Comments on “How crossing a road in Saigon can help you create your dream life”

  1. I.Just.Cant.Imagine!!! I have this fear of getting hit by a car but it makes sense to just go, definitely like life!
    Kiera @EasyTravelMom recently posted..On a personal note…The Week That Changed Our Lives
    Kiera @EasyTravelMom recently posted..On a personal note…The Week That Changed Our Lives

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    • It’s so scary, but trust me, the seas will part and you’ll be amazed at how you are not even slightly touched. IT becomes quite a fun experience

      Reply
  2. One foot in front of the other, slow and steady. Worked for me when I was crossing the road in Saigon back in 2011, and it is working now as I begin to launch my freelance writing career.

    One step forward reveals where the next step should, and so on. Trying to project out 50, 100, 1000 steps doesn’t ever work!
    James Shannon recently posted..Misson Aborted: Why I Fled Korea’s Private ESL Industry
    James Shannon recently posted..Misson Aborted: Why I Fled Korea’s Private ESL Industry

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    • I love that James!! I actually noticed that on my run the other night. When I focused on the end journey, I almost quit. When I just focused on the one foot in front of the other I went 3 x further than I thought was possible…. and enjoyed it!

      Reply
  3. Love your analogy! Totally spot on. I’ve been to Hanoi and we were amazed at the traffic conditions. Crossing the roads required a huge sense of trust in yourself and in others. Any hesitation inevitably causes mayhem to the originally smooth flow of traffic. I try to apply this approach in creating my dreams. Believing in myself and holding my head high with my decisions, without trying too hard to maneuvre the people around me to go with my flow. Hope the destination soon becomes clearer and reachable!
    YJ @ thefancyvoyager recently posted..6 Reasons to Travel
    YJ @ thefancyvoyager recently posted..6 Reasons to Travel

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    • It is the best way to do it and I think discovering that by crossing a road in Saigon has really helped me to see how you can apply the same principles to whatever it is you want to achieve.

      Reply
  4. I lived in Saigon for three years, so I had to master the art of crossing the roads pretty quickly. I managed to, and survived my time there without any accidents. However, three years later, I still have a terrible habit of just strolling across busy roads and expecting the traffic to part around me – I have had more near-misses with busy roads since being back in Europe than I did in Vietnam!

    Great analogy. I love this post!
    Runaway Brit recently posted..Burned Out in Dubrovnik
    Runaway Brit recently posted..Burned Out in Dubrovnik

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    • Oh I know that one. I do the same all the time. Craig has rescued me so many times from being hit. When we were in Thailand past January I held Kalyra’s hand and together we stepped out and walked. I told her to just trust in me, stay hold of my hand,ignore the cars, and head to the curb. She LOVED the experience and couldn’t wait to cross the next road.

      Reply
    • I LOVED crossing the road in Saigon, my travel buddy and I spent a whole afternoon around that massive roundabout there is. Just crossing over and watching people, motos, bicycles and any mayhem coming past. We learned quite quick that you just put your hand up to anything coming at you and cross on over!! And ENJOY IT!! If anyone thinks that is scary take an actual moto ride!
      I also came back to the UK with a rather relaxed approach and found myself wondering into the road just like that… Whoops! :-)

      Reply
  5. “Set your eyes on the destination on the other side of the road, step from the curb, hold your head high, ignore the chaos around you, forget trying to come up with a control plan, and walk with total trust and abandonment.”
    What a beautiful sentence. And a great way to live life! I often struggle with all of these things but I’m finally a few months away from setting out on my own adventure.
    Claire recently posted..Positivity: balancing the daydreamer and the planner
    Claire recently posted..Positivity: balancing the daydreamer and the planner

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    • You are doing it for sure then Claire. It is bloody scary, just like it was when I stood on that curb, but once you step out and claim what you want, you’ll be surprised at how easy, and fun, it really is. Not long to go and you’ll be living it and loving it

      Reply
  6. This is a great analogy, Caz! We worry and worry and worry about the little things when really we just need to relax and go with the flow and everything will sink in like it’s supposed to. :) Thanks for this reminder.
    Mary Beth recently posted..ExerCity
    Mary Beth recently posted..ExerCity

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    • Pleasure Mary Beth.. It is so hard to sit back and enjoy the ride. I guess we feel we are being unproductive when really it is the most efficient way to do things

      Reply
  7. I haven’t but now I want to! I can’t wait to read your e-book!!

    Reply
    • It’s an experience Andi! We can’t wait to have our ebook finished!! It’s been a process

      Reply
  8. Love this! I remember being astonished at how quickly I “got it” when I first pointed a rented motorbike into a choke of Thai traffic. It was so easy, but I didn’t understand why … this post explains perfectly. It’s all about being in, and trusting, the flow.
    Earth Itinerant recently posted..Tom’s Thumb – McDowell Mountains; Scottsdale, Arizona
    Earth Itinerant recently posted..Tom’s Thumb – McDowell Mountains; Scottsdale, Arizona

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    • It’s such an amazing feeling when you just join it and realize it works and its safe!! It’s becomes just plain fun

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  9. I’ve always loved analogies and this one fits so well! I’ve never been to Vietnam but i can find a similar situation in Rome when you decide to rent a car and drive. You need to have faith, a lot of faith to do that :) Besides that, dreams are always difficult to achieve, that’s why they are “dreams”. We spend part of our lives thinking we could never realize them, such a shame it takes so long for many people to realize that anything is possible (including crossing a road in Saigon or drive a car in Rome :) )
    kle recently posted..Why Long Term Travel is NOT a Holiday!
    kle recently posted..Why Long Term Travel is NOT a Holiday!

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    • Totally agree Kle. You just gotta step out toward your dream, it will never happen if you don’t at least do that. I believe we dream things because we are meant to live them.
      I understand about traffic in Rome and Italy-crazy drivers!

      Reply
  10. I’m not looking forward to crossing streets through traffic when I head back to Asia. That’s the one thing that terrifies me about Vietnam. I put up with some awful traffic and drivers in China, but I really wish I could avoid such experiences for the rest of my life.
    ChinaMatt recently posted..End of Summer on the High Line
    ChinaMatt recently posted..End of Summer on the High Line

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    • You’ll be fine. Head up and keep walking forward, it will amaze you at how safe it is. Driving in a car is a different story-that is scary stuff

      Reply
  11. I agree with fully Caz. Its like dream come true to cross a road in Southeast Asia especially in Saigon.

    Reply
  12. This is oh so true! Plucking up the courage to walk directly in the path of an oncoming sea of vehicles is incredibly nerve racking. Especially coming from a country where the rules of road crossing involve: Stop. Look. Listen. Look again. But, it really is such a thrill to do so, and then there is the sense of achievement that follows. I will never forget doing this in Saigon. I’ve just developed goosebumps reminiscing. The fear, followed by elation. It’s one thing I love about Asia. No matter what’s happening, things seem to flow and carry on around you. Great post, and love the analogy, thanks!

    Reply
    • No worries Anna! I met a man the other day who had just come back from Vietnam. The first thing he talked to me about was crossing the road!! We had a great laugh about it. He used to be a racing car driver and he said he was pretty scared in Vietnam-it’s quite the achievement to live to tell the story.

      Reply
  13. This is a fantastic analogy! In Saigon I just got my head to a place where I thought of the traffic as water and me as a moving island, it would naturally flow around me.

    You just have to stride out purposefully and believe in yourself because if you doubt yourself and hesitate you are done for. Just like in life :)
    Noor – Desert to Jungle recently posted..Boogie Wonderland on the Bangkok to Chiang Mai Night Train
    Noor – Desert to Jungle recently posted..Boogie Wonderland on the Bangkok to Chiang Mai Night Train

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