A SHORT STORY OF ADVENTURES
Straddling the warm wet seat of my motorbike I look around me, taking in the solid sheets of water that are raining down outside and hammering on the tin roof above me. Huddled in the dark, around a small portable TV, two young Vietnamese girls curiously stare at me, the familiar sound of The Simpsons voices fill the air, the screen illuminating their faces in the darkness.
I nod and smile to their father who is ushering me further inside the thrown together shack beside the road out of the rain, killing my engine as I do so. Their mother graciously pulls out a red plastic chair and places it beside my bike, motioning for me to sit to which I happily oblige, bowing to say thank you. \
The temperature drops due to the storm; I pull my coat collar zip up to my chin to conserve body heat and look out into the darkness wondering: how did I end up here?
With the Vietnamese heat bearing down on us, it started with two friends and I in Huè, jumping into a Tuk Tuk and riding to see a dealer. Not the kind of dealer you are thinking about, but in fact a motorbike dealer. As a threesome, we had decided that it would be an adventure to not rent but buy motorbikes and drive from the North to the South of Vietnam.
Having never rode a motorbike since I crashed my Dad’s when I was a teenager, I was very reluctant. To tell the truth, they scared the hell out of me. I didn’t want to be left behind however and I knew that it would also be a brilliant way to see the country in a way which would not be possible on a sleeper bus.
So, parting with my $200 USD, I was now the proud but nervous owner of a motorbike, and ready to overcome my fear.
Riding, it seemed, came naturally to me and I found myself racing through bright green rice fields, high winding mountain passes, sandy beach fronts and dusty dirt tracks through all types of weather. Our adventure led us through Nha Trang, Hoi An, Dalat and on to Ho Chi Minh City where we would then head towards the Cambodian border.
I felt a real sense of freedom, the road rushing beneath my feet, wind whipping past my face and the locals waving to us as we passed by, with only a shredded belt, burst rear tyre and broken ignition amongst some other setbacks to our journey (those of which are best kept between the three of us; Vietnam has those memories now).
Together we are the ‘Biker Mice from Mars‘ reliving one of our favourite childhood cartoon shows. Sat beside each other, we shake off the remnants of the rain water which had caught us by surprise, pulling out bikes out of the rain and onto the pavement cruising into the nearest shelter taking refuge, laughing as we do so.
Our humour never ceases no matter what Vietnam throws at us and we love every moment of it. It becomes infectious and before we know it the rain is a distant memory, one where we had no fears, no past and no future. We were living in the present, taking in every moment of it and not looking back.
The rain starts to slow allowing us to ride again, and I smile knowing that a month ago I would never have thought I would be here riding into the night having overcome my fear. Maybe I’ll but my own motorbike one day back home, but who knows?
Let’s not think about the future, that’s for another day.