Motorbike Giants

Day 28: Ho Chi Minh City to Cu Chi

By the time I’m up, Flo has already taken his bike to the shop to get the headlight repaired. Today we’re going to ride 40km out of the city to see the Cu Chi tunnels, supposedly one of Saigon’s best attractions.
After breakfast, I take an hour to do some writing while Flo picks up his bike. He returns with a helmet for me.
Safety!
Then we drop my bike off at the shop to get tinkered with so I don’t blow a gasket in the middle of a rice paddy. And it’s already time for lunch.
Sometimes what you order at a restaurant in Asia is what you are expecting and sometimes it’s not. Sometimes, you order pancakes and get chicken curry instead. At least it’s not cow brains, but forget satiating that flapjack craving.
It’s 2pm now (who keeps pressing the fast-forward button?) and we wonder what time the Cu Chi tunnels are open til. It will take two hours to get to the tunnels, then however long to walk through the site, and then two hours back in the dark. The logistics of time suggest it’s probably best if we go tomorrow instead. There is a moment of silence. We look at each other.
“Fuck it. Let’s do the tunnels.”
So we pick up my bike from the shop, and I learn how to ride a motorcycle through the honking mass of pandemonium that make up the streets of Ho Chi Minh City.
I stall five times in the middle of a roundabout as bikes and vehicles whirl around, people peering at me over their face masks. It seems that stalling is actually a finely tuned talent of mine during the ride, and Flo waits patiently each time. We make our way past towns and villages, stopping only to chug water in the blaring sun.

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On a stretch of highway, three guys in a work truck follow closely alongside me, yelling and blowing kisses while I focus on not veering off into the ditch or careening into their damn vehicle. Real cute, guys.
Three hours after the definitely-not-pancakes meal, we reach the tunnels. Closed. It’s rather quiet in this nothing of a town, but we find a strange place around the corner serving one dish – noodle soup!
It’s dark now. We decide to spend the night here. No one speaks English, so it’s back to playing charades as we ask around for a place to sleep. We drive up and down the unlit street, finally pulling into the right place. They have us park the bikes in a garage and the old man at the desk shows us our fluorescently lit room.
The fridge out front has beer. And out the side door, through a weird garden and nestled in the dirt is a table to sit at. It’s on the edge of a massive construction site dotted with cranes and tractors and mountains of sand. Dogs run up and down the sand piles, barking, as we guzzle back some brews in celebration of our first real day on our new babies!
Maybe it’s the endorphins from the bike ride, or the sense of adventure perched anxiously in our sitting bones of the weeks to come, but we’re both feeling ten feet tall and counting.
“I feel some kind of high,” Flo smiles in his perky German accent.
“Me too!”
Or maybe we’re just drunk.
Nevertheless, we rest easy, our feet hanging about four feet off the end of the mattress.


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