I've spent 5 years in Vietnam with the trusty steed here:
Philosophy of 2005 was Beard + Bike = Babe Magnet
However, I recently decided to go back to the old habit of cycling. There are plenty of reasons I took the plunge: a slower pace, a healthier lifestyle, savings in gas (though not to save the environment, don't you dare accuse me of that).
That said there are certain pitfalls I had forgotten about when it comes to the subtle art of cycling. There's of course the new position in the traffic food chain, barely scraping the bottom above cyclos, old women on chalys and people whose motorbikes have run out of gas (guess who wishes they had pedals now!)
Fact: Chalys have technical equipment only old woman know how to operate.
There's also the "Michael Bluth" factor in which I arrive sweaty to work and drip all over the overhead transparencies.
But the absolute number 1, tip top, crème de la crème reason you shouldn't cycle in Saigon? You must communicate in traffic with this:
This was a GREAT IDEA...until the guy next door invented the horn
Let's say a guy just cuts you off, totally throws off your steady flow and sprays the nearest pothole's watery contents into your face. You want to let him know this aggression will not stand, you want to demonstrate that you too are on this road and don't have to put up with it! You reach for that essential communication tool (Previously on the motorbike this would have been a solid tenor, bzzzzzzzz, it's no foghorn warning but at least it's not an "awuuuuuugah!" or some other novelty horn). That would show him! That would get the message across! So I reach for the bell and....
And now I'm sure the guy is thinking "what was that? Did I just cut off a coven of pixies? Have I angered a Disney princess Tinkerbell collectible?"
Disney's definition of "princess" is a bit broad
All the while I curse my decision to even bother with the bell. I should have just shouted something obscene instead of unleashing what would be akin to me putting on a pink leotard and dancing around his motorbike sassily yelling "that's not fair! that's not fair!"
It's no better should I want to inform someone at an intersection that the light has turned green. The "Bbrirrring" that I wanted to say "Hey fella let's get a move on" instead screams "Heeeeey! Unicorn riding on a pink cloud coming through." At first the image doesn't sound so bad except imagine the unicorn not as this:
Out of the way strumpet! I've got prancing to do, gnomes to see.
but more like this:
SPARKLE! (I really tried to remove the sparkle)
Nobody moves for that unicorn.
And situations like that guarantee that nobody is going to hear my bell ever again at least until I install this bad boy on it:
So until then watch out for me on the streets of Saigon. Here's what to look for:
The hidden charm