The so-called "journalist" gets riding in Việt Nam as wrong as anyone I've ever read...
"Getting through Vietnamese customs with all of our gear was our first step."
There is no VN Customs for airline passengers unless you're bringing it over US$5000 cash, and even then, they don't check. Ask me how I know. There is only Immigration where they check your visa and stamp you in. After picking up your "gear" at baggage claim, you head toward the exit. Immediately prior to exiting, you put your stuff on a conveyor belt that runs it through an x-ray machine—just like security theater in the U.S. except that you are on your way out of the airport and it's an older, larger machine. Your stuff comes out the other side and you take it on your way—unless the operator sees something interesting. Zero questions, and zero paperwork. If you left the weapons and contraband at home, you're on your merry way, khong sao (no problem). That's NOT customs.
Then he whines for two paragraphs about how tired he is. Next time, get your client to spring for Business Class—they're already wasting their money on you, what's another $5000? Or you could halve your posse with no apparent deleterious effect and that would more than pay for the upgrade.
"We have no idea where we are going, or how to get there. We have no working cell phones, no local money."
You don't even know the name of your hotel? Is this your first time traveling internationally? There are places to change money and get a phone card before you leave the terminal. I'm thinking we're supposed to feel sorry for this tired, hungry, confused, and apparently clueless person who's about to do what tens of thousands dream of... get paid to ride a Ducati... AND he gets to do it in beautiful Việt Nam!
"With the support of Ducati Vietnam, we’re about to travel the entire country by motorcycle." Why? Ducati motorcycles are mentioned in a context that would help a potential purchaser exactly 2 more times in the article.
"Meanwhile, what seems like Ho Chi Minh City’s entire 12 million citizens race by." According to what I found on-line, there are about 8 million people in the city... an error of only 50%. If you include everyone within 20 kilometers, you might hit 10 million. A minor point, maybe; I'm just showing how inaccurate this guy is.
Next, the most egregious line of the whole article: “There is only one rule about riding in Vietnam," we are told. "There are no rules.”
Rules are regulations (I just looked it up to be sure). There are a LOT of rules to riding in Vietnam, including rules that everyone six years and older must wear a helmet, rules that you must stop at a red light, and rules against texting while riding and riding drunk. As with all rules, these are broken by people every day.
|Looking at the phone while riding with an UNHELMETED CHILD on-board???|
I don't care if you kill yourself, but what about the kid (or other motorbikers)?
Many rules, like stopping at red lights and waiting until the light is green AND the intersection is clear before entering into it or looking for on-coming traffic before turning out of a side street or driveway, are ignored so frequently that they may as well not exist. But they do exist.
What he should have been told is that most people here ride their motorbikes so that it looks, to a Westerner, AS IF there are no rules. It is NOT anarchy, it is controlled chaos.
I know many native Vietnamese who live and ride every day in Đà Lạt and who shudder at the thought of riding in Saigon. "It's too crazy!" is frequently heard. Yes, it's crazy and chaotic and sometimes scary. It's also exhilarating!
Just ride as if you were invisible and you'll be fine... maybe.
NOT INVINCIBLE, invisible...
A bit further along, he writes, "There are no speed limits."
WRONG! The speed limit is 40 kph within city limits unless posted otherwise. Outside the city, the limit for motorbikes is 80 kph unless posted otherwise.
"There are no cars."
WRONG! About 5% of the private vehicles are cars and there are taxis EVERYWHERE in the cities. If you aren't seeing cars, then you shouldn't be riding 'cause you're NOT watching the road.
"There are no rules."
WRONG! Already covered.
The author and five others were given Ducati motorcycles to ride: "With the support of Ducati Vietnam, we’re about to travel the entire country by motorcycle." The on-line article is on the web site of a company that caters pretty much exclusively to motorcycle riders, a great many of whom travel internationally and have enough disposable income to buy a Ducati motorcycle. Why Ducati supported them is never apparent. I hope it wasn't for the usual reason—so that he would write about how great the Ducati line is. If that's the case, he still owes them an article.