Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Running the Gauntlet - Cycling through the new Thu Thiem Tunnel

With the renovations going on with the Saigon bridge and traffic at a stand still in the mornings, getting out of D2 is a freakin’ nightmare. So this week I have been taking the new tunnel to work. Yesterday I went thru on the Nouvo. No problem there. Today I cycled - This presented a slight problem as cyclist’s are not allowed in the tunnel. The route involves doubling back onto the new highway, around past AIS Thu Thiem Campus and along the new highway. As I approached the tunnel I thought (hoped) security would see I was sitting on more than 40km/hr and let me continue thru. Obviously some cyclist would slow things down in the tunnel, but I don't consider myself just some cyclist...however, it was going to be difficult to explain this to the 2 security guards who jumped out on the road as I approached the toll gate waving traffic batons at me [which looked like a short orange light sabres!] I considered stopping, for a mili-second, but as I had a nice momentum up, and 'let me drown' had just kicked in on my ipod (Soundgarden - Super Unknown, one of the bench mark albums of the 90's] ...I stood on the pedals, swerved around the 2 jedi masters and blasted down the steep tunnel entry - I clocked over 60km/hr here. Actually I had to slow up a bit for a few motor bikes. The tunnel is about a mile long, but luckily coming from D2 it’s the longer downhill section – and I think the steeper decline. The tunnel security systems went into overdrive with orange lights flashing, some big sign flashing big STOP letters and a voice frantically calling out over the PA! All the excitement gave me a bit of an adrenalin boost and entered the semi darkness at maximum speed.  I pushed pretty hard right past the lowest point of the tunnel and then a good way up the other side. Once the road turned a little I saw the exit and my bid to be [possibly] the first cyclist thru Saigon’s newest piece of infrastructure was in sight. I kept up the speed on the incline by drafting very close behind a motorbike in case security had mobilized some sort of capture plan on the D1 exit (you never know in Vietnam right!).  But my fears were allayed as I rode out into the sunshine and turned off into the back streets of district 1 to disappear into the crowded streets.  All this before breakfast today!

...and HERE is the peoples party article about the security technology, rules and regulations in the tunnel...I am thinking of emailing them to ask if they have the footage.
Distance = 14km
Time = 29min

I took this picture of the tunnel from the Bitexco tower last month.