A Motor Bike Ride in Ho Chi Minh City

The only real battle in life is between hanging on and letting go.”

Shannon Alder

It’s almost the end of 2017 and as I reflect on the past year of adventure, challenge and learning experiences, one episode during my trip to Vietnam which encompasses all of these three qualities comes to mind.

“No problem” I said to my young friend who offered to take me home on the back of his motor bike. After all, its not as though he was offering me a chance to do something death-defying like bungee jumping….or was he?

To my foreign eyes there appears to be no rules, rhymes or reasonings to the traffic which is mostly composed of mopeds and motor bikes in this city of nine million people. Yes, there are traffic lights but what goes on around and between them follows its own rhythm.

As I got on the back of my friend’s bike prepared to ride pillion, I thought of the last time I had ridden a bike. It must have been at least 40 years ago when I was a student…

And so strapping on my helmet I gripped the driver’s waist and prepared to experience the chaotic symphony of the city’s traffic. I looked around at the drivers and their passengers who were phlegmatic in their approach to manoevring their place in the throng.

But it had been a long stifling and humid day as thick raindrops started to fall. The heavy rain soaked us within minutes as we pulled over to don an outsized raincoat which covered both driver and passenger. Undercover, I felt like the back half of a pantomime horse! I could hear the horns honking and conversations and saw the rain whacking the pavements. Within minutes the roads were flooded as the blocked drains spewed forth. Though my hands were now slippery and hanging on turned into a vice like grip, we soon left the main roads and drove into the suburbs where the sound of blaring horns lessened. Soaked thtough with rain and sweat, I took a deep breath and smiled at my friend; it had been a thrilling experience

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