A drive to Saigon

My bike and a police vehicle

Ha!! What a hoot! I just arrived dusty and dirty from my most recent adventure. A nice couple (Lindy and Gordon) who have decided they want a holiday of a different sort. From what I understand, Lindy was doing some research on Vietnamas a travel destination when she accidently came across this blog. She says that the material on the blog caused her to become interested in travel to Vietnam(I am flattered), but after she read the page “Off the beaten track”, she and her husband decided that kind of tour was for them. Apparently I was already in contact with them on Trip Advisorbut they did not

Spin that chicken head

realize that I was the same person. Then when researching places to stay and looking at a hotel that offered an alternative to the regular tourist fare…. She found me yet again…..  All of it fell together and we started exchanging emails to organize a trip that would be unique and “off the beaten track”, and I meant truly….., not just less touristy places, but to places that perhaps have never seen a foreigner since the French missionaries. I can tell you without a doubt that we have

Dangerous hwy 1

been to a few places where we may have been the first foreigners ever seen by the locals, and it so far has been a great time….. Here has what happened so far. (we have another 6 day adventure to continue, but we are relaxing our tired rear ends for a couple if days)

Tien ( my preferred partner) and I set off early morning for the hard and dreaded drive to Saigon. I had considered shipping the motorcycle by train, but the process and the size of my bike made it complicated, so drive it was. Driving highway 1 is hell and I tend to travel at higher speeds because as long as you are passing obstacles, nothing can surprise and hurt you from the rear. In an unfair spot similar to any country in the world, the police had a radar check and Tien and I were clocked doing 5 km over the speed limit. Ah…. No problem I thought. I have encountered this situation before and have been able to get out by a number of maneuvers. I was pulled over first and Tien after. The police

Cruisin

had no way to know we were together. The young officer that was issuing the tickets asked if I understood Vietnamese. I responded by saying “I am sorry but I have no idea what you are saying”. At the same time, Tien is telling them that he does not know me. The police tried and tried to communicate with me but I pretended to be the dumb tourist. Even after they saw I had a rare but valid license and legal papers on my bike, still I was not waves away…… Damnit!! I had some young rookie trying to do good by the law. In the end it did not matter what I did….. Tien and I were both given 150000 dong fine on the

issuing a ticket

spot and were issued receipts for the fine paid. As soon as the fine was finalized with the policeman’s signature, I asked him in Vietnamese why he would issue a ticket for such a small amount over the speed limit. At that point the 3 policeman other than the ticket issuer started almost rolling with laughter….. The young officer did not seem amused but the event was over and when I called out to Tien that this was the expense of doing business… he even looked more pained. We left after a few more laughs with the older but more junior officers and continued along. Driving highway 1 is dangerous at the best of times but when nearing Saigon, it became insane. Tien and I split up as he was going to visit his son and in frustration, I used the car lane to get into Saigonfaster…… Oops… Mistake! Again, a young policeman runs into the street and

Oh Oh… looks like rain

motions me to the side of the road with a billy club. Unfortunately, this fellow spoke English and there was no getting away with playing dumb. It cost me another 200000 dong before I was on my way. For the first time, no receipt was issued. Finally I have seen a bit of corruption by the police. Anyway…. After battling traffic, I finally made it to my hotel. I had intended to just relax and do some motorcycle shopping and without thinking of the consequence, I gave my friends Nghia and Hau a call to arrange a meeting for the next day to meet customers (Lindy and Gordon) that were doing a deep Mekong tour with V’Explore Travel, and then continuing with us on the back of motorcycles to Tay Ninh, Dong Xoi, Gia Nghia, Dalat and then to Nha Trang. Of course my friends would have none of that and instead of a relaxing evening, it was off for some excellent

Friend of Foe?

street food and very cold beers. At about 10 pm I was back to the hotel to finally get a little rest when the phone went off….. A customer (Tim from Texas) from my hotel that has become a friend was just around the corner in a girlie bar wanting to meet for drinks. Ok…. But just for one!!

Apparently I was very entertaining and we had a good time but my memory is pretty fuzzy. Tien was waiting in the lobby when I awoke and we checked him into my room for the night as we would be leaving very early the next day. The day ended with me, Tien, Nghia. Hau, Lindy and Gordon all getting together at a very local restaurant to enjoy the best frog in Saigon…. Unfortunately the boss was not there and the staff just could not get the frog right, but the rest of the food was good. Well…. They were happy with the U Minh Thuong tour in theMekong and hopefully we can carry on the high standard. We are headed on a 4 day tour tomorrow fromSaigon to Nha Trang.

The photos are from Lindy and Gordon

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Owee

Tour designer and Guide specializing in off the beaten track tours of Vietnam

2 thoughts on “A drive to Saigon

  1. The evening with v’Explore in SaiGon was hilarious, I’ve played spin the bottle aplenty but the chicken head uh uh!! I have no hesitation in recommending them to anyone looking to tour Vietnam. Btw Frog is delicious – goat is yuck (just so you know). As for the fine collecting, yip the coffers of the traffic police are nicely filled by you and Tien!!
    L xx

  2. That trip sounds wonderful !

    On a different note, can you do a blog on tipping? Cleaners, waiters & the like….
    How much would be considered so small to be an insult?
    Or too big as to be showing off?

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