When I think about traffic, I think there is no way the traffic can be as bad anywhere else as in Asia like in Kathmandu, Bangkok, India, Vietnam , Hong Kong, etc. but in the past few months I have been surprised that in Europe, the traffic is worse than in Nepal.
I know Kathmandu has more cars on the road than the road can handle. To cross the bridge from Kupondole to Thapathali, it can take you an hour but believe me that is not as bad as what I saw while touring around the world.
While I was in India, I asked the driver why his car’s side mirrors were closed. He said, it will get scratched (by other cars) if it is opened so he left it closed. Imagine my horror to be in that car for weeks knowing he doesn’t even have side mirrors in use. I was definitely scared about my and my parents’ safety. But after a few hours on the road, I realised that not only the car we were on that had its side mirror closed but every vehicle on the road was using the same trick.
Then I got to experience tuk tuk in Bangkok and I will tell you it is not a great experience that I will cherish. There are so many cars and tuk tuks in Bangkok along with motor cycles and bicycles that you wish you were not sitting in an open vehicle in the summer heat stuck in traffic.
It was the same story in Vietnam with the traffic but in Vietnam we had booked air conditioned car which made our journey bearable. I couldn’t imagine being on a non AC car for 4-5 hours in the summer heat.
But there is one thing common in all these places I have mentioned above. They all have narrow roads with too many vehicles on the road and traffic chaos along with very slow traffic like 40km/hr.
In US, the traffic seems to fine expect in New York. In New York, cars were not even stopping for pedestrians on the pedestrian crossing even when the crossings are so big that you could see it easily from 100 meters away. In other parts of US, they have very wide roads and I really loved their freeway with their exit numbers. Even in peak hours most of the roads seem to cope a lot better than in Asian countries.
My perspective of traffics changed when I landed in Europe for my last holiday. I took a bus tour around Europe but in England we did our own driving. I drove a very small car for a couple of days and was shocked to see narrow roads everywhere. The good thing was that at least everyone was following the traffic rules so things were under control. While in Germany, we were on a no limit highway where there is no speed limit for cars and we could see that cars were zooming away in front of us. Funnily enough these types of highways are the one that have the least accidents.
Anyway travelling around Europe, everyone told us that wait till you get to Italy and you will realise what crazy traffic is. In my mind I was thinking, I am sure I have seen crazier traffic in Asia.
But the day we reached Italy, Italian drivers proved me wrong. OMG Italian traffic is a real example of chaos. Especially in Rome, there is no room for error. People were driver cars as if they were walking so there were no signals and they were driving the car wherever they can fit it into. And the worst thing is the roads are very small. On top of it, vehicles are parked on both sides of the road. In one occasion, our tourist bus had to reverse almost 500 meters in a tiny road because the place we were supposed to turn right at had a car parked on the corner making it impossible for bus to turn into the road. There was no other option but to return in reverse. I really believe that Italians are really good drivers after driving on those roads for years.
When we left Italy, I thought I had seen the worst traffic in my life but oho boy, how wrong was I. As soon as we entered Paris, I saw more extreme traffic chaos. The freeway we entered in Paris was so busy that we were crawling. The guide was telling us that our hotel was only 15 minutes away but it took us almost an hour to get there. I saw a bike colliding with a car just in front of us as well. Also one of the days we were there, I noticed the main city roads had no white marking so we didn’t know how many lanes it had. To top all this, motor bikes and scooters were everywhere squeezing in wherever they can.
I am sure I still haven’t been to any places like China and Mexico to see more chaos that traffic causes but I am glad I went around at least to these places because it made me realise that we definitely are in a better place in Australia. Next time when I am stuck in traffic, I won’t get frustrated as I have seen worse. I really appreciate the roads and rules we follow in Sydney. I guess all the people who whinge about Sydney’s roads and traffic need to have a round trip to Asia as well as Europe to appreciate how good we are compared to there. I know there are better roads in the world but definitely we don’t have one of the worst ones.
Safe driving everyone!!! Remember no life is worth reaching 5 minutes quicker to any places.