The Meeting of Two Hearts

 

Yesterday, I purchased only the second vehicle that I have ever owned in my young, hot life. A Honda Win Detech Espero 110cc. I can tell you now that after only 36 hours of our coming together that I am closer to her than I ever will be to any potential unborn offspring that the future may thrust upon me.

The fear and trepidation coursing through my veins before our eventual meeting was immense. Everyone I’ve met who has had similar original genius ideas about buying a motorbike and driving through Vietnam on a once in a lifetime, Instagram filling adventure of self-discovery has assured me how I almost definitely wouldn’t regret it. Yet as I walked to meet a young Quebonite (man from Quebec) named Francois, the owner of the noble steed in question, I noted the anxiety seemingly wasn’t subsiding. Figuring the apprehension was probably just a cocktail of me being a one man show with limited working knowledge of motorbikes, mixed with the fact I hadn’t driven a manual bike in over a year and with a sprinkling of the common known detail that the traffic in Ho Chi Ming at 11 am is no less than flipping insane.

Now, I’ve driven in rural India a few times. I’ve driven a (small) van through central London at rush hour. I’ve side saddled a motorbike taxi in Dodoma whilst in the drunkenist of stupors. All places where horror stories are bounced around various circles and from my mother’s wide eyed western point of view, are the pinnacle of madness. None of these experiences prepared me for the bedlam of the HCM roads. Numerous blogs and websites will tell you not to take on the HCM traffic system unless you’re an experienced driver of motorcycles, of which I am not. Yet 5 minutes later I found myself sat on the saddle of an strange new vehicle awaiting to cast judgement upon a potentially large part of my life for the next 2-3 months.

20 minutes later on from then and Ever, (with an acute accent mark over an e, maybe both e’s) the name Francois had given the bike with in his romantic French-Canadian cross accent, was mine. It wouldn’t be until the next day when driving down highway 51 and saying to myself (I talk to myself a lot when riding, mainly in accents) “Ever” in the best French accent I could when I noted the similarity of the name to the slightly less romantic, more British and less likely to entertain my acute foreign accent syndrome, Heather. Like a Roman gladiator whom had just been spared from a gory death, Heather had received an emphatic thumbs up.

The 20-minute test drive through the streets of HCM had been a bigger success than I ever could have had imagined on my most positive of days. Even after eating a bowl of spinach or some such other green vegetable goodness I wouldn’t have thought I could have had navigated the labyrinth so magnificently. I’m a big believer in doing what you think is right even when the odds may be stacked against you and trusting your gut, going with your instincts and what not. So after only stalling twice and having no major freak outs whilst getting lost and finding myself on one of the main junction super roundabouts in the city, the bike felt good. I found my way back, pretended not to be too interested, bargained a deal, and signed in blood for the transfer of my beautiful new companion. My father and other people who are seasoned purchasers of vehicles won’t be impressed to know that Heather was the first and only bike I went to see. I had in fact arranged to see two other bikes after this one, but when something feels right you go for it. The rest is history. A deep and meaningful two day history…

And thus ends the tremendous tale of the purchase of my first bike and a drawing to a close of my first ever blog attempt. The two are intimately linked as it’s the experience of my first few days driving that have pushed me to get back to writing. In the future I’m not sure whether to just continue with my nonsensical ramblings or to actually include some details of what I’m doing an awkward attempt to help future travelling people. Ill definitely be including some food updates as from an outsiders point of view travelling in south east Asia doesn’t exactly come hand in hand with being a vegetarian/vegan curious young man. The food in Thailand and Cambodia has in fact been rather fabulous so hopefully Vietnam will continue the trend. Meh. To be continued…

 

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