Monday, September 13, 2010
(PICTURE: Jed's first taste of Vietnamese traffic.)
My friends Jed and Lena (last seen on the blog in the Summer of 2009 when I attended their wedding) came to visit Huyen and me in Hanoi this past week. It was great showing them around the city despite a horrible string of bad luck on a motorbike trip we took together. Here's the story:
Huyen took Saturday off so that we could show Jed and Lena some of the Vietnamese countryside. Ideally we would have gone to Mai Chau but it's just too much of a drive for a weekend. Instead we went to Tam Dao, the former French hillside resort about two hours from Hanoi. Huyen and I went to Tam Dao a couple of years ago and really enjoyed it. Besides being a nice drive, there's a decent hotel there with a really nice pool overlooking the valley below. I told this to Jed and Lena and they were game.
We headed out at 9AM on Saturday morning. After nearly being pulled over by the police for going straight in the turn lane (I just kept driving and didn't pull over as I pretended to be slightly confused) I felt pretty good about our luck. We drove a couple of minutes more and passed a large funeral. Apparently Huyen told Lena at that point that seeing a funeral was good luck. Well, not so much since moments later my tire blew. This was only my second flat tire in 9 months and should have been a sign to cancel the trip. Instead we persevered! Huyen and I went to repair the motorbike as Jed and Lena waited on the side of the road. Fifteen minutes later we had a new inner tube and were back on our way to Tam Dao.
I had told Jed the day before that if he wanted to drive, he could give it a shot when we were out of the craziness of the city. Once we had gotten on a somewhat country-ish road, I asked Jed if he still wanted to drive. He gave me the affirmative and I pulled over. When Jed and I told Lena the plan she seemed pretty skeptical. Jed convinced her it was no problem and gave riding a quick dry run. Jed said he felt comfortable on the bike so Lena hopped on the back and we hit the road again.
A few minutes later, the traffic on the road seemed to pick up a little. Up ahead of us was a pick up truck surrounded by farmers who were loading bottle gourds into the back. Approaching us at the same time was a decently large truck. I had plenty of time and space to pass the farmers' truck and did so. Seconds later Huyen started yelling, "Stop! Stop!" I immediately pulled over and turned around to see Jed and Lena half fallen off their bike and a farmer rubbing his foot. Huyen sprinted over to them to see if they were okay and to work damage control. Basically Jed ran over one of the farmer's foot. The farmer saw that Jed was a foreigner and told him to leave. Luckily, minus some pain and a scratch, the farmer seemed to be fine.
We brought the bike over to my parked one and had a little huddle. Lena suggested that Jed let Huyen and I drive but he was still feeling confident. Perhaps I should have put my foot down here but I didn't...and that's the story for tomorrow...