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I’m a miserable failure

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This was the first thought that went through my mind when I failed this all important test. Any Vietnamese can pack at least one fridge on the back of his/her bike and I was struggling to attach my backpack on my scooter. Driving a motorbike through Vietnam supposedly is one of the greatest trips in life. I’m going one way (south – north), so a rental bike wasn’t possible for me either. And buying is legally not possible as people on a tourist visa like me, can’t own things in Vietnam. However, a little bribe supposedly fixes a lot of problems here. Determined not to have this great trip taken from me, I started to look for a suitable motorbike. The russian designed and 30+ years old Minsk is the coolest option, but I’ve traveled a bit to long now to work with unreliable gear. As my legal situation is rather weak, buying an expensive bike is a risk from police repossession and resale perspective. I therefore aimed for the most common automatic bike: the Yamaha Nouvo

Looking for a place that sells motorbikes is actually quite difficult in Vietnam. The main cause is that there are so many motorbikes everywhere that each store/house/bar resembles a motorbike shop to the untrained eye. Mention once that you want to buy a bike and you’re sure to spend the rest of the day from one guy’s house to his cousin and then his brother and… who each got the perfect bike for you for sale.

I don’t know whether it is still bad sentiment from the war, but Vietnam’s national sport seems to be ripping of tourists. Asking triple the local price for a motorbike is done without remorse. My first attempt to buy a bike was interrupted by the new year celebrations and the following Ted holiday. When after two weeks the stores started opening again, my eyes were opened by the (relatively fixed) prices of new motorbikes.

Afterwards, things went relatively quickly (2 full days). Mini-drama’s with the paperwork were solved by a fixer that I found out of town, who didn’t have any family over here. So, now I’m ready for an epic trip of a lifetime. If I can only attach that damned backpack safely.

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(from a trip with a rental bike)

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1 Comment

  1. Anonymous says:

    I get a feeling that ripping off tourists is a national sport everywhere. Perhaps a bit less so in developed countries, but still not uncommon. It’s hellishly annoying if you can’t just trust people you deal with and have to triple check everything.

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