Once upon a time I would’ve gasped at the sight of a man riding a motorbike through peak hour traffic with a refrigerator behind him, dubiously strapped to the back part of the seat. And yes, I too remember the feeling of pity mixed with amazement at the gaggle of live ducks being transported by xe may to the local market. (But of course I got my camera phone out, took a quick pic and sent the message to the folks back in Oz). And let’s not forget the pre-Tet frenzy where innumerous two-wheeled vehicles sprout celebratory cumquat trees in large earthen pots – usually wedged between driver and passenger. It’s like weaving through a moving garden of Eden on the street.
But of course I quickly became conditioned. In fact when my parents asked me how I distributed Live Hoi An magazine I replied ‘well by motorbike of course’. Two boxes positioned comfortably in front between the legs and one on the back for good measure. Horrified, they tended to limit their questions to the weather after that.
Anyway, you’ve no doubt seen your fair share of unorthodox (in Western terms) items being transported by motorbike. Perhaps you just dodged the bloke carrying that 3-meter sheet of glass through the traffic light – even though the light was red for him and green for you. Or you mounted the back of a xe om along with 4 other people outside the pub in order to get back to the hotel. Good on you, embrace it! At the end of the day, accidents do occur but not as often as you may think. People here go with the flow and are more flexible on the road. Which means they anticipate how to slow down and speed up at the right time, and yes, are able to carry gargantuan objects on their motorbikes. How could you not admire the skill involved?
When still in Hoi An I decided I wouldn’t be satisfied until I’d managed to move the entire contents of my home to a new one via the back of an old Honda. Only then could I proudly say I was Vietnamese! Still haven’t given up on that one.
Here are further examples of the King of Vietnamese Transportation, but feel free to send us more at [email protected] – we’ll put them up on the website!
Text by Amy Morison, photos by Michele Ginder-North
Edited and updated: originally published in Live Hoi An MagazineBack to previous page