There and back again.
It looked simple. It sounded simple. All we had to do was pack enough into a green duffle bag for a weekend and hit the road on a yellow scooter that still rattled and rolled.
Bunny and I were on a journey of a 116 KM — we are doing the HCMC to VT via Bien Hoa loop. It was the most traditional way anyone would embark on a motorbike ride to the popular tourist destination. Normally, we would buy two tickets for a ride in one of those companies that run large vans back and forth from the two cities.
This time, however, was a change of pace and scenery.
An adventure was the name of the game.
The first part was hectic. I drove the first part out of the city but as soon as I entered the larger highway — the one that would take us over the Saigon River — Bunny opted for her to take over.
This is good for two reasons: 1.) she’s a pro and 2.) I am a novice compared to her.
Yes, I can ride those semi-automatic bikes and she can’t but she knows the way and has a better grip and understanding of the rules of the road.
So we went off like a bullet and zip along with the hordes of would-be travelers on their way out of the city. We eventually stopped for dinner because we needed to eat before we got too weak during the ride. Had a plate of rice and pork and soup. And after this break found us back on the road and into the night.
During the ride, we made many stops to switch back and forth. Asses get too numb too early if you sat in the back. But an interesting observation is the rider in the front, who was driving the bike, was more comfortable and at ease. On the back, you’re more prone to the butt numbness and cold and sore feet.
Basically, it’s best to drive if you want to be comfortable. But never to drive when you’re tired. It’s important to note that. And so we kept switching back and forth in 30 min to 50 min shifts depending. We got Redbulls and water along the way.
Near the city was the crazy part because — this was a country were corruption and extortion still ran rampage — and we encounter flocks of men in black uniforms waving you down regardless of you driving proper.
The name of the game was simple: don’t slow down but don’t speed up, keep steady, and just drive through them. And that’s what we did and none ever chased us down.
It was scary because they waved their batons and whistled their whistles and blinked their flashlights at you. One even cracked a taser in the air. You just knew it was fucked up because you could feel the heat of panic from some of the riders who gave in and stopped. At this time, it was Bunny at the controls. She decided we take the newer road. It was a long straight path into VT — but there weren’t any other turnoffs… just a straight path.
And so they picked the best place to stalk out the night.
The important thing was not to completely panic and speed off. That was the wrong thing to do. If they were really up for it, yes, they could chase you down and then you can pay your “fine.”
It was a pang to the heart to see how these so-called protectors of the public and keepers of the order abused their power of authority to gain some extra pocket money.
The total trip was about 116KM and took about 3 hours.
To the fellow expats who wish to conduct such a trip, I wish you the best and to always drive within the speed limits because your health and safety are more important than making a good time.