It took me twelve days to leave Saigon to the north again. First I had to rrecover from my extensive holidays, with family & friends before. Then it was necessary to find a suitable motorcycle for my next stage on this trip and finally, I’d to get my driving license. That with the driving license is something strange. Normally you do not need any, not at all as a foreigner. Most police officers are afraid to stop Europeans – English is not very widespread among the vietnamese police, so they do not want to be naked due to problems of communication. But it’s just like an insurance – you only need it when something happens. As a foreigner you are generally disadvantaged in the event of an accident, in the case of personal injury, you go to prison without a valid driver’s license, regardless you are guilty or not. Because of international driving licenses in Vietnam are not accepted, it is therefore better to get one for little money. EU driving licenses can be exchanged – it has to be seen literally as a cheap prison insurance.
I know Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) quite well, has been here often. It is a very mundane city and if you would like, the hell is let loose at night. I have some friends here, with whome its easy to have one or the other beer – so it was not a big burden to spend the time here.
Buying a motorbike can be a costly business in Vietnam. On the one hand, foreigners are normally tending to get ruthlessly bamboozled. If one is not familiar with the local customs – especially if you try to buy a bike in the tourist district. On the other hand there is an import tax on motorcycles and cars of 120% – e.g. every Vehicle is generally twice as expensive as in Europe.
I had spotted a couple off bikes and wanted to buy one from a dealer in the outskirts of Saigon – we have been already in agreement.
As chance happens, I have just met a young Slovenian who had bought a motorcycle in Hanoi and wanted to get rid of it very badly. It did not correspond to my ideas about the engine, but after a short test ride, I was ready to make a compromise. He had tried to sell the bike to some dealers, but as with the sale it is of course also with the purchase – you get bamboozled. Quite disillusioned, he finally came into conversation with me – he had the motorcycle only for a very short period – from me he got a realistic price, nevertheless he had to take the loss.
My new companion had to be first – of course – prepared for the journey. Wheel bearings, brake linings and oil had to be exchanged before we could start. Finally, we will have to complete several thousand kilometers within the next few months. The only thing I did’nt get to run – despite several attempts – was the speedometer. But who would like really know how fast I am on the road – the only important fact is, you have always to see the others in the rear-view mirror.
Propper equipment was also found quickly – a relatively good helmet, protectors and what else you need for a longer journey. I took the best helmet available – it was pretty expensive for Vietnamese conditions – a Chinese brand for about 80 EUR. In Vietnam you get helmets from 5 USD – most have a helmet for 10 – 15 USD. Accordingly, my helmet was the focus of the interest – during the first days in Saigon, I was frequently asked by people how expensive the helmet would be. The motorcycle was not of interest.
However, my the departure into the north was on 30.3.2017. The goal for the next months is to travel extensively interesting routes in Vietnam and Laos. I have a lot of luggage this time, but we’ll make it. The first station will be Dalat, a quiet town in the northern hills.