Tuesday, February 16, 2010


I touched upon honking recently but think it really deserves its own post.

Let me start with an anecdote: One day when I was in Koryama, Japan, I was riding my bicycle around the city, enjoying a beautiful autumn day. As I passed through some small alleys I came upon a traffic jam. This traffic jam involved two cars going in opposite directions. You see, some alleys in Koryama are really small and only wide enough for one car to pass. The car opposite of me backed up and pulled into someone's driveway allowing the car going in the same direction as me to pass. As the car passed the other one I heard a loud noise -- a honk.

The honk startled me because it was the first one I heard in months. Literally months. No exaggeration. This honk was a friendly honk to say thank you, but it still gave me PTS-esque flashbacks to Vietnam.

People in Vietnam are honk crazy. Everyone honks all the freaking time making the streets a headache-inducing cacophony of honks and beeps. One time I tried to explain to a class that honking was considered "noise pollution" in some places around the world. This was a hard concept for my students to wrap their head around. Vietnamese are always talking about how they are a developing country and want to be more like the West. One thing they can start with is trying to minimize honking. As I once wrote on here, "people drive with their ears as much as their eyes." Well, what happens when someone goes deaf because a bus honks in their ear to let them know that they are being passed? Huh, what then bus driver?!