Sunday, April 08, 2007


In hot, rainy, dusty Ho Chi Minh City, a bike needs a regular good wash. Your options are
(a) street cafes that double up as motorbike cleaning agencies. The bikes are handcleaned whilst you sip a cup of Vietnamese coffee. Some can even do minor fixes.
(b) or drive-in superwash

Here's option (b) in detail.

STEP 1: Get to the motorbike drive-in. You can spot these by the number of tyres hanging from the ceiling and the really wet floor. Of course there should be evidence of clean bikes around.

STEP 2: Dismount. Some of us used to driving cars may forget and may get rather wet.

STEP 3: The bike is jacked up and shown in all its elegance. Basically it also helps to get to the grotty bits especially under the wheels.

STEP 4: A superjet flushes out dust, dirt, pebbles, chewing gum and dead rats stuck to parts of the bike.

STEP 5: Professional foam soap spurts around the bike. This is no cheap bike wash ok! It costs at least 8,000 VND (about S$0.80 plus tips it'll come up to S$1)

STEP 6: A good rub down is given with some kind of gucky rag. Somehow, the guckier the rag, the shinier the bike. Maybe the gucky rag has this ability in picking up dirt and never leaving anything behind. Only in Vietnam is this possible.

Meanwhile, bikeowners can still have coffee (ordered from conveniently located cafes nearby), watch the latest Korean/Chinese/HBO movies in Vietnamese, or read the latest Tre Troi (Vietnamese Newspapers)

STEP 7: Finally, the bike is dried out usually by the street (so it can catch more dust). Everything should be fine and dandy unless you suddenly remembered that you forgot to take your precious electronic gadgets out of your now rather wet seat storage!

STEP 8: The bike's so clean you can do what every regular Vietnamese loves doing after lunch. Have a siesta on your bike!

PS: Apologies for not updating this blog for so many months. I didn't realise people were reading it until i saw the last blog's comments. Of course i also have problems with other strange visitors and i somehow can't erase those comments. Thanks anyway for keeping me motivated! More bike stories are on the way

Sunday, April 01, 2007


Going on a bike ride isn't as simple as it seems.

(1) The first step begins with the driver steadying himself. Potential passengers have to also ready themselves - pack the bag, carry other heavy "luggage" into proper position etc.

(2) The second step is preparing to sit on the back seat - or whatever is left of it after all necessary luggage is balanced appropriately.

(3) The final outcome is a picture of perfection - notice the streamlined look of the passenger, the "luggage" duly squeezed in the centre and the anxious face of the driver. Of course, the mother's face is actually more anxious than the driver's but the final picture shows that everyone arrived safe and sound. The luggage did not return as normal however - it was a little mishapen after the rather bumpy and nervy ride, due partly to the weight of the back seat passenger

Credits: Chien, Pauline, and Dylon! (and of course, Ben, the xe om driver)(Meredith was saved from this harrowing event as she was left at home)