Driving drunk in Saigon… regularly

“Yeah I would just drive at a hundred K’s an hour down Nguyen Thi Minh Khai without my helmet on. Loved it”
“What the fuck? How could you go that fast on Nguyen Thi Minh Khai?”
“It was late at night, no one on the streets, I’d be coming back from Bui Vien drunk off my tits”
“On your motorbike?”
“Yeah man”
“What the fuck is wrong with you? If you crashed you’d definitely have died”
“I just didn’t care back then”

This was the conversation I had with one of the standup comedians in Ho Chi Minh City in 2016.

It’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard someone describe, but I too would drive drunk on my scooter from time to time.

What was my excuse?

I wasn’t suicidal like that guy clearly had been.

And in Australia I would never even dream of driving drunk.

I recall being at a party in Australia where one guy who had been drinking declared that he was going to drive the ten blocks to the university campus where he heard some chicks were at and asked if anyone wanted a lift. There was a fucking uproar of protestations. One girl demanded that he didn’t drive. Another guy tried to take the guy’s keys from him. A third person suggested that he just walk and a fourth guy even offered to pay for his taxi so he didn’t drive. When he declared that he didn’t give a shit and definitely wanted to drive I said to him “Well, if you’re gonna drive anyway, I wouldn’t mind a lift” and with the rest of the party yelling at us, he got in the car, pulled out and got one block before a police car pulled us over and arrested him.

During university I was at another party and I took a hit off of a joint that was being passed around. I wasn’t drinking, just enjoying the conversation. Then a couple of hours passed and I decided it was time to drive home. Everyone assumed I’d been drinking along with them and so at least three people asked me: “You sure dude? You can just crash here.” and I waved them away, got in my car, drove ten metres, realised that I must still be high because driving was proving very difficult, then just turned the car around and came back to sleep on a very shit couch.

After most standup comedy shows in Ho Chi Minh, the comedians will gather at a bar to drink, occasionally until four in the morning, and wouldn’t even murmur a protest when each and every member of that drinking marathon would get on a scooter to drive home.

Why is the culture regarding drink driving so different in Vietnam to Australia

Perhaps this is because when you’re driving a scooter you’re unlikely to kill anyone but yourself.

Perhaps this is because a lot of expats in Vietnam just don’t give a fuck.

After this conversation with the comedian I decided I should probably stop driving home on a scooter after 2-6 beers.

When I explained my plan to my friends, they didn’t seem to understand the concern.

Next time I went out, I got tipsy and drove home anyway.

The time after, I promised myself I wouldn’t drink, then I got tipsy and drove home, again

Next time I told my friend not to let me drink, and that I was trying not to drive after drinking. Nope.

I created plans for how I would confidently order a coke as soon as I got in and deny all requests to drink. Didn’t work either, I’d just cave to peer pressure every time.

After several more fails I eventually I concluded that the fear of merely dying from a very preventable motorbike accident wasn’t sufficient motivation to get me to drink in moderation, and so when I thought i might be tempted to even drink at all after going out, I’d just take an uber instead.

And huzzah, my problem was solved permanently with the addition of about $6 a night for my Uber fares.

Eventually, the guy who was the main instigator of my binge drinking, a hilarious guy, but a hilarious guy who absolutely insisted you drink as much as he drank, left the country for four months.

I barely drank at all for four months, having one beer and then just drinking water.

It was fine, and after he came back I was tired of his shit and extracted myself from that circle.

When the herd are drunk driving motorbikes off a cliff, consider doing something else instead.

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