Welcome to Week Two of The IndoChina Expedition
Yes, we have the bikes, two days late and lots of patience, but we have the bikes and it feels wonderful. Customs had a field day with our paperwork and we still can't believe that we finally were given the "all clear" to ride out the gate. Talking to a customs broker that had come over to admire the bikes, we were told that he, once before, had seen a bike similar to ours arrive in a box. Customs had opened the box twice before it was returned to where it had come from. He had no big hopes for our process, but wished us good luck. Great! Just what we needed to hear after all our hard work and high expectations.
As part of the process of receiving the bikes, and the paperwork involved, we needed to have engine numbers and frame numbers copied from the bikes. We were told that this was done by copying the engraved numbers to a piece of paper using a pencil. The last time I saw this done was when I visited the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington, DC. Kids would sit on the shoulder of a parent, and by holding a sheet of paper over the names on the Wall, then rubbing a pencil lead over the paper, could copy the names onto the paper. We tried to do this ourselves for the VIN number, but the result was not good enough. Our ever-so-resourceful partner in Saigon, Phan Than, had the solution to this dilemma too. From other side of town a Professional Copier, "kidnaped" from the local DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles), was brought to the Customs holding area to take care of this job. He was good . . . very good, and from talking to him we learned that he had built his life's career around this bureaucratic mayhem of the requirement that all vehicles in Vietnam had to have their frame and engine numbers copied to a piece of paper as proof of ownership.
Leaving Saigon was very interesting to say the least. I felt like we were part of a new movement, promoting mass communication on two wheels. Never in my life have I been surrounded by so many two-wheeled vehicles coming towards me from all angles. At first ,it is quite intimidating, but faster than one would think, the simple rule of "do not make any sudden moves" actually works, and it all flows nicely. Not once did I see an angry person or any other form of road rage that evening as we left Saigon in the midst of rush-hour traffic.
Chris and I had a blast this first day of riding in Vietnam, while Sterling was all a big smile as he was shooting video from all kinds of angles, doing a great job capturing the action on tape.
We are now one week into riding here in Vietnam, and we are all blown away by the great roads and variation of scenery that we have put behind us. Avoiding Highway 1 (along the coast), the small mountain roads that we have been following have, for the most part, been good sealed roads as they wind up and down mountainous terrain. It is a biker's paradise and we are loving every minute of it.
Well, I better get off and start to upload this week's installment. Enjoy, and tune in next week for more stories and pictures from the road in Vietnam.