Aviators and Accidents: What Happens When You Drive in Vietnam with Little Experience

Can Tho Travel Blog

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Craig and random kids at one of our stops. All of the citys in the Mekong Delta seem to border the main road.

Today was all set to be good. Real Good. By 10:30 we were all set with a beauty of a motorcycle, silver with black decorations on the sleek body.




Enough said. I can't begin to describe the excitement that surged my body as we haggled down those sunglasses, put on our somewhat ill-fitting helmets, and headed off; I'm living the dream and it's amazing. I kept catching glances of my beaming reflection in the side mirrors and couldn't beleive I was actually doing this. Theeennn just two minutes after we set off, Craig slowed to round a corner, and instead of hitting the brake, turned the handle thingy (yeah, don't know my moto lingo very well lol) a bit too far, and before I knew it, we barely missed a group of guys on the corner dressed in blue, but did manage to hit the motorcycle parked there, sending it, us, and our bike crashing to the ground.

Typical town all the way down to Can Tho

It all happened so fast and all of them came to help, making sure we were okay. I had a slight scrape on my left fore-arm, but Craig had a gash on his knee that was bleeding an unpretty sight. To my surprise, no one yelled at us for crashing into the bike, though one of the men was inspecting it for damages. The bike was a mess, absolutely falling apart, but it was clear that it had been like that long before we got to it, and the men sent us off with warnings to be very careful after Craig handed over 100,000 Dong, which is only about $6 US. I could tell his knee was hurting pretty badly and I told him I was fine forgetting the whole idea, but he wanted to go anyway, which had me nervoud and praying for our safety for the first two hours that it took us to actually find our way out of Saigon and onto the A1 that would lead us down into the delta.

We quickly found out that while Vietnam may be more economically stable than Cambodia, English is way less prevalent here, which made finding our way out incredibly difficult, though those that did try to help us were very friendly. I'm pretty sure we went in a circle or two, as we passed the bridge the opposite way we'd crossed a mere 20 minutes before, but once we finally found our way the ride was great, minus the dull ache the the rear end region, and the pain in the knees from having them bent in a certain position for too long.

Slowly I became more confident of Craig's driving as I enjoyed the fish farms, rice paddies, and streetfront stores we passed along the way. The cafes here all seem to be the same-rows of worn hammocks with a chair and table next to them.

Nice TV's...hey-you have to have priorities!
We stopped several places to stretch and get much needed cold drinks, and I enjoyed smiling and waving the the kids, who all seem eager to interact with the strange white people passing by. There aren't many signs with directions here, so we stopped many times to make sure we were going in the right direction. And of course we had to stop to put on our ponchos from Siem Reap the several times the torrential downpours started.

We finally got to Can Tho by the time the sun had just finished setting, and were both happy to meet a friendly Vietnamese girl who spoke good English and stopped to help us find a guesthouse as we were consulting our trusty Lonely Planet guidebook. All smiles, she warned us to be careful on the motorbike, chastising Craig for driving without a license, and had a friend lead us to her sister's guesthouse.

The men playing their game of...?? I would've asked them, but their extent of English was "hello, sit. Have tea"
All was good until I hopped off when we got there and Craig went to park the bike, which meant getting it up a steepish curb.

In a blur of a moment somehow vivid in my memory, the clutch slipped and he hit the gas too hard, sending the bike flying into the lady standing in front of her shop, which sent her flying to the ground. Panic. Frenzy. What the heck do we do now?? Yep, he'd hit a nice little Vietnamese lady, and they were all gathered around her in two seconds, fussing over her and icing her ankle, with Craig apologizing profusely, obviously terribly upset about it, all, sending me to ask what I could get at the pharmacy and running off to buy some sports tape to wrap her ankle. Miraculously, they were incredibly understanding, and even told us that we could still stay at the guesthouse.

If the same thing had happened back home, someone would've yelled and sued, but they kept telling us not to worry and that everything would be okay. With a promise to come back tomorrow to check on her and pay for the medicine she would need, we finally headed off to find a place to stay, settling on a hotel near the river. After a shower and scrubbing off the exhaust and sunscreen that now caked my face from nearly eight hours on the back of a bike, we headed to get a small dinner, a beer, and a walk down the street before we called it a night. What a day! Tomorrow's an early start to see the floating markets for a good seven hour tour-we came all the way here, and we're going to do it right!

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Craig and random kids at one of ou…
Craig and random kids at one of o…
Typical town all the way down to C…
Typical town all the way down to …
Nice TVs...hey-you have to have p…
Nice TV's...hey-you have to have …
The men playing their game of...??…
The men playing their game of...?…
Can Tho
photo by: alanmica