I made a big purchase today…my first motorbike helmet. I kind of feel like it is my first right of passage. Or maybe I should wait and label my first right of passage actually driving my own motorbike! No, that may need another title…like ‘Dumb Things I Do”. So for now – my helmet is the first step. I can safely say that I never thought I would own my own motorbike helmet; but then again I never would have predicted that I would be living in Vietnam.
I chose orange. I felt like it was a color that screamed…”Warning! Caution!” and maybe the other drivers might take pity on me. Plus, the only other color they had was pink, and I’m definitely not a ‘pink’ girl. So orange it is.
I’ve actually started to get used to riding on the back of a motorbike. I kind of imagine that I’m getting a core body workout as you have to use your abs to keep your balance. Yes, I know this is stretching it, but when you have absolutely no exercise for 2 weeks, you start to get desperate.
Everyday is a new adventure on the motorbike taxi, I get to see the crazy world of Vietnam transportation where you see one thing every day that makes you do a double take. Today I saw a woman riding with her husband on the back of his bike and she was reading a book as if she were sitting on the subway commuting. I found it rather amusing.
I have somehow managed to secure a regular taxi bike ride in the mornings and evenings for 35,000 dong ($2 US) – same price as a subway ride. I have yet to figure out how to wear a skirt though and ride on the taxi bike; which has severely limited my wardrobe choices.
I have discerned that there is a national ‘helmet promotion’ going on here. I saw this billboard the other day; I have no idea what it says, but gauging from the picture, I’m assuming it’s something about kids wearing helmets. See – it’s not that hard to communicate here…as long as there are pictures. I can’t say that the campaign is very effective though, as the majority of kids who are riding on motorbikes with their parents (and there are many) don’t wear helmets. I can’t quite get my head around how a parent could walk out the door, put on their helmet and then not put a helmet on their kid. It doesn’t compute. Even worse, I am more baffled when I see a family on their motorbike and the parents have helmets and the kid is wearing a mosquito net on his head covering his face. What?! Yes, a mosquito net. I have no idea what the thinking is behind this; which just brings to light how different our cultures are. I can’t even come up with a humorous explanation for it. Do they think that while going 25 mph on a motorbike a mosquito will come attack their child. Or is it that they think he mosquito netting will provide padding or contain the brain splatter. Sorry for that thought…but I’m baffled.
I think I will start my own campaign, “Mosquito nets are for sleeping!”
I’m certainly not ready to turn in my lovely orange helmet for a mosquito net; I’ll leave the mosquito netting in the bedroom.