The two men from Basque who arrived unannounced last night on motorbikes to our homestay deserve a post of their own because I feel responsible for them. We have sort of been left in charge at the homestay whilst the hosts are in Saigon at their apartment, partying I think.
So they came back from their boat ride this afternoon as I am sitting on a lounger, drinking beer (of course) and typing. They wanted to chat. So in a round about fashion we do…their English was not that good and my Basque (?), well, is pretty non-existant. So we talked about where we are going in Vietnam, and we talked about the war. They didn’t know Australia was involved, they just thought it was France and then America. Then they needed to book a hotel for tonight and leave.
One of them informed me quietly, whilst the other was on the internet, out of hearing, that this was only his second time on a motorbike. And they started in Saigon! I felt I should offer him some motherly advice and suggested he watch and copy what the locals do. The biggest issue, I said is that Westerners hire bikes in Asia and then want to ride how they do in Europe, or Australia, or America. Anyway, I said, the most important thing is that you go slow, watch everything all the time, listen behind you and stay close to the right.
He listened carefully to all I had to say and nodded thankfully. This is after I had told him that I hate motorbikes and never went on my husbands the whole time he had it, but I had to go on one here (which secretly, between you and me, wasn’t that bad). Anyway, it was time for them to go. They got changed right here, in front of me, in the front garden of the homestay, open to all passerbys. What will the hosts think!
The men said their goodbyes, wished me luck on our travels (we are catching a bus and plane to Hanoi for goodness sakes…they are novices driving bikes through swamps and mud and they wish me luck!). Off they go. Number 1, who is the more experienced with the big fancy looking bike appears at the front. He catches my eye and shrugs and shakes his head. In the distance is the sound of a motor turning over but failing to start. Oh oh, my friend…number 2 is having engine troubles. All the house staff come out to listen and we smile and grimace at each other. Finally, it catches and we all cheer, then he appears…gives the thumbs up and his engine stalls. He has a considerably smaller looking bike…a novice’s bike. He starts it up again, with luck! And off they go…we all wave.
I am sure they are going the wrong way…we rode that way and the path to the ferry was very difficult to negotiate. Oh well, I am sure they are prepared. They are riding to Hanoi after all. That is pretty adventurous. I get back to relaxing and all is quiet. The occasional motorbike going past the front, the chatter of the women next door, the occasional rooster, my host mum swearing in Vietnamese at the goat for going on the verandah. Then the big fancy bike reappears. It is the professional Number 1. He smiles and waves and points to his head. He has forgotton his helmet!
(I didn’t get a photo, so I googled Basque men on motorbikes and this is what came up)
And this one….