So our bus pulls over at our destination in Saigon, Vietnam at about 8am. We’re pretty close to the tourist strip too, which is convenient, so naturally we decide to get food and figure out where we are and where we’re going. This is when we learned the important skill of crossing a street. There is SO much traffic everywhere in Vietnam, you literally need to play Frogger and just start crossing. Drivers are sort of expecting it so they’ll just dodge and weave around you, or they may slow down as you cross in front of them. Nobody will stop though. It’s pretty intimidating at first. As a North American, it goes against all street etiquette learned as a child. We haven’t tested this yet, but I’m pretty sure you would make it unscathed if you were to blindfold yourself and start crossing. We got used to it pretty quickly though. Now we just go for it and stick our hands out as if we have to power to stop cars. It’s fun!
We walked around for a long time before we found a place, but conveniently it was right next to the tourist strip, just a minute down the road from Crazy Buffalo. This was the Khao San road of Saigon: a bunch of tourists, lots of shopping, and at night they have all these tiny, red plastic stools to sit on and drink 50 cent bottles of beer. Needless to say we enjoyed our time in Saigon.
This was a pretty hectic experience on the whole. Especially since we didn’t know all that much about bikes. Some German dude approached me one evening on the street and asked me if I was looking to buy a bike. As surprised as I was, I think he was even more surprised when I said “yep”. He and his two mates had three Honda Wins, pretty beat up, and was asking $350 for each. We checked them out a bit but decided against going with the first offer. That night we met some locals who had some for sale too, so we went with them (on the back of their bikes) to their buddy’s shop. The dude that drove me was wasted and creepy. To make matters worse, I forgot to actually strap my helmet on my head, so mid drive, it flew off my head and smashed on the road. The dude didn’t seem to care. At their shop, the bikes were not repaired or road worthy yet, and they were asking for a deposit. We declined and ‘my’ drunk dude started getting a little animated so we hopped in a cab and peaced out of there. Unfortunately they knew where our hotel was and kept coming back and harassing us for the next few days. We heard back from another guy on Craigslist and took a cab out to see his shop. He’s a white British man named Kevin. It was a lot easier to talk about bikes and stuff with a guy who speaks English natively. Rush looked at a big Wav@ (125cc) and we checked out some Wins (100cc). Test drove them a bit and dropped our deposit off with him. We paid more than we needed to but there was some comfort in dealing with an Englishman who we could phone along the way if something came up with our bikes, which it did. So we packed our bags that night and set our alarms for 6am. The plan was to get a nice head start on our day and leave town before traffic got too heavy. I was up, outta bed, lights on but the guys couldn’t get up. So I went back to sleep. We got up at like 10:30 and went to Kevin’s. Oh well. Guess we get to learn the hard way.
Vietnam Voyage: Commence
We grabbed our bikes from Kevin, took every bit of advice he could give, and began our voyage. Highway driving was really intense but thank god we didn’t have to deal with any crazy intersections. At least not right away. We rode for about an hour before my bike broke down. Found a little shop on the side of the road, and paid the guy $6 to fix my “little box thing” under my seat. Then we were on our way again. We had a super fun first day of driving and made it to Vung Tao, where we stayed in a nice, empty beach resort. There was seriously nobody there. We had instant noodles for dinner. During our meal we were joined by a praying mantis, and decided to let it stay. There was also some old guy who followed us around a bunch. Seriously creepy old man. He would just look at us and smile, and maybe grunt a little. Didn’t speak a word of English. While we were in bed that night we saw him walk past our window at least five times. Creep. Next morning we tied our bags to our bikes and headed off again.
Vietnam Voyage: Day 2
We left Vung Tao, heading northward to Mui Ne. We took coastal roads most of the day, which made for a longer, prettier ride but also meant we weren’t gonna make Mui Ne today. Once we hit the highway, it was not uncommon for us to get split up a little, every once in a while. Reasons like: faster/slower traffic getting in the way, securing the straps on the bags/bike, or just plain stalls while we drove. I’ll skip the details but I stayed at the back of the pack and the others got a bit of a way ahead of me. So when I floored it expecting to catch up with them, they had apparently stopped and waited for me, and I guess somehow in the process, I burned right past them and we never saw each other. Thankfully we had our phones and we met up shortly after at a gas station in Phang Thiep. When I saw the guys, Russia had just taken a spill off his bike into a ditch, courtesy of a young cyclist cutting him off. He was not a happy camper and he acquired a massive burn on his leg. We grabbed a hotel, showered up, dressed our wounds (in Russia’s case) then hit the streets for beer and Viet-subs. For some reason there was heavy traffic and commotion on the streets near the bridge. Cops were everywhere directing traffic too. Turns out it was some kind of Vietnamese New Year and a massive fireworks display was about to commence. Heavy traffic and commotion is one thing, but in Vietnam, that’s really saying something.
So we grabbed beer and subs and made some friends in pink near the fireworks. They started at 10:10pm and lasted about 30 minutes. They put on a good show. After it was over, everybody started to scatter, so we headed home too.
*Gatty and Rush got an oil change this morning. We drove for about 20 minutes to Mui Ne and it was a very pretty area as we drove in. We noticed many signs in Russian again. Russians seem to be everywhere. The beaches here were nice, the resorts were quality, and the streets were quite clean. There were a hundred resorts, all super ballin, all $60-$100 a night per room. We chose one about five minutes down the road for $16 a night. What a score! It had a big pool and was five seconds from the beach. The rooms came equipped with TV, fridge and A/C. We were expecting a lot of cool people and kite surfers but there were none. So we just chilled and filmed our ‘Vietnamese Sand Tiger’ skit. Check it out on YouTube, it’s awesome.
Ryker spoke to a guy here and got set up to play a little gig at one of the local bars called DJ Station. So at night we headed out to the bar, grabbed some beer and shot some pool. This was Ryker’s first DJ gig in Vietnam, and it was a success.