Welcome to Week One of The IndoChina Expedition
Thanks for tuning in to this week's journal from the road. As you see in the above picture taken at my office in Seattle, chaos before leaving is just part of the process heading in to a 70-day journey. So far, all I know that was left behind was my cat, Spyder. He is home with my wife Karen and his feline brother Beemer.
Sterling and I flew on the same plane to Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) Vietnam, while Chris Poland followed on a later flight. It was a long flight and quite a shock to walk out the door of the International Terminal. The heat and humidity, compared to the weather we had left behind us in Seattle, felt like a wall. Then there were another wall, a wall of people lined-up to greet family and friends. In among all the people, there were a sign waving with our names on it, and all of a sudden, I felt like we had come to a place of friends after all. Never have I seen so many people lined-up to great arrivers, and as our partner in Vietnam, Phan Than, told us, it is a custom for Vietnamese families to go to the airport to meet friends and family as they arrive back home.
On our way to town there was another wall greeting us - a wall of small scooters that were lined-up at the other side of the traffic light! As the light turned green, the wall of bikes became a river of constantly flowing small colorful bikes, winding in and out of traffic. At first, quite intimidating for a future rider on a big foreign bike. But as we got used to this constant flow of 2, 3 and 4-wheeled vehicles, we have concluded that traffic is not as crazy as a first impression had indicated.
I have been working on this journey for more than 2 years now, so the feeling of being just miles away from where our bikes are being kept "hostage" by Vietnamese Customs is starting to take its toll. Broken promises after broken promises are now starting to sound like a broken record, and we are getting behind schedule.
I have not lost faith yet, and still believe that this will all work out, and soon we will be on our way north to ride through IndoChina. Importing foreign registered bikes to Vietnam for tourist purposes is something that has not yet been accepted until now in this country. Our partner has been hard at work to change this, and as I type these words, he is desperately working to get the bikes out of Customs. There have been meetings at all levels of government to have this tour materialise, even meetings at the President's office have been needed to get the right permits. But I will not bore you all with the political implications such a undertaking as this expedition involve.
In this small report from the road, we are happy to share with you some images from our visit here in the city of Ho Chi Minh City or "Saigon" as the locals like to call their city <g>, all 10 million of them. We also had a chance to escape the bustling streets of Vietnam's largest city to enjoy the equally bustling activities of the Mekong Delta.
Enjoy the pictures and soon enough we will be plotting our route with our Touratech Transponder as we Ride north in Vietnam.