Friday, December 27, 2013

a few of my Vietnam videos for you to enjoy

While touring Vietnam, I have been compiling video documenting my trip as best I can. Here is some clips that I have put on Youtube.
 I shot this while stopping to ask directions. The parents, as most Vietnamese, didn't speak English so they didn't come over and offer help however this child came over to get a closer look. Although she didn't understand English either,  I understood her perfectly!
While in an internet cafe some local kids gathered round and were watching the videos that I was uploading of my adventures. I started showing them all my YouTube videos and pretty soon I have all the kids in the place laughing hysterically.
While riding north in the country side I passed many grazing animals. Here they don't have fences but it you hit and harm an animal, you have to pay for the animal.
These isn't any rest areas on the highways of Vietnam so when I came across this one at a remote gas station, I though you may find it interesting. Having toured places like Morocco that only has holes in the floor, this place is as close to our normal as it gets ( with the exception of the heights of the urinals.)
World renown bike traveler and good friend Joe Sparrow heard about my trip and wanted to come over and share some of these good times. Here he is offering some of his knowledge of the Vietnamese language
The traffic in the cities is nothing like what we experience. The driving etiquette is also totally different and takes a little while getting used to.
Although I do not condone unsafe driving on public roads, here in Vietnam, the rules of the road are all different. If you go to slow you get ran off the road if not just ran over. It is better to go with the flow and pass as others do. Passing on the right as well as the left and splitting lanes in the norm here. DON'T try this anywhere else!
Stopping into a Honda Dealership for some parts for our bikes, Joe Sparrow and myself found out we could use an automated computer motorcycle driving test and get a Vietnamese license. You can tell we never had game boys because we didn't do so well. In my defense, I have several different people giving me instructions in broken English.
While checking out this vintage Honda motorcycle I couldn't help but notice the Bean're sticker.
every meal seems to be an adventure. I never seem to know what I am going to get so I just sit down and let them bring me whatever they are serving.
I love coconut milk ( basically coconut  flavored water) even though I do not like processed coconut. Here every where you turn is coconuts for sale. I make sure I have at least 1 or 2 everyday.
This is a little lesson in traffic etiquette. As I said before is is different then anywhere else I have been.
And traffic etiquette isn't just for driving or riding. It is also important to learn if you are going to walk as most places don't have side walks and if they do, they are filled with bike parking forcing you to walk on the side walks
This was my first video shot in Vietnam. Looking back I realize just how green I was 2 weeks ago. I have learned a lot and will continue to learn I am sure.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

First day on the road in Vietnam

I was told to take highway 14 north because it is a great new highway and it is the best road. Getting out of the city of Ho Chi Minh proved to be difficult and then missing a turn, I almost went into Cambodia. When I finally got to 14,  I was expecting something entirely different.
Road construction is going on in many places with no flagmen or safety devices. You just figure it out as you go and try not to get hit.
Every now and then there is a sign which does no good unless you can read Vietnamese. The rules of the road is if your bike can fit through an opening, go for it just watch out for steam rollers.
Unfortunately other vehicles like trucks use this same philosophy and it can get pretty tight sometimes.
This may sound dangerous but then you have to add into the fact that I am riding with one hand while snapping these shots.
Even this bridge that I stopped for a photo opp rocked and swayed every time that a truck of other vehicle rode by.
And if this wasn't thrilling enough, I still managed to find a roller coaster with absolutely no safety bars or belts or any other concern for safety. On the up side, the lines were short.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Vietnam at first glance

I've been in Saigon, Vietnam for a week. The initial cultural shock luckily have wore off. It was very intimidating with the traffic and the language barrier and every corner I turned was like nothing I have ever seen, and I have seen a lot.

Staying in the city for this short length of time has given me a chance to enjoy the city and take it all in
Most of the people here have their lives centered around 2 wheels.
Here is a scooter " pegging" a 3 wheel bicycle that is carrying about 15 sheets of drywall ( that is enough weight to make most small pickup trucks squat.)
This bicycle is made for hauling one extra person, NOT over a half a ton
 There are many of these 3 wheeler work horses. I've even seen then with double forks for extra weight like hauling a truck load of steel re-bar for all the concrete construction projects going on.
Here is the double front forks of one of the heavy duty trikes.
They utilize even inch of space on their bikes too. Here he even has some room left on the front fender luggage rack.
It is one thing just to ride with these big loads but factor in the thick traffic with road etiquette that allows no stopping for intersecting and bikes coming at you from every angle and it can be intimidating for even the most seasoned rider from the States.
So now I have a bike like what they ride however I did a little bit of Yankee customizing just in case they couldn't tell where I was from. Now I'll explore on two wheels and see what else I can get into-

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Dental work in Vietnam

    One of the things I wanted to do while I here was get some much needed dental work done. Over the years, every time I had a dental problem, I would just have the troubling tooth pulled which still was more then I could afford usually. This wasn't the best idea but since it started out with my rear molars, it wasn't very noticeable. One thing that was getting more and more noticeably was one of my front teeth was dieing ( and the other was a old crown done in my Marine Corps days.)  I knew that eventually one if not both were going to need fixing. I had a bridge with a crown next to my front tooth that was also done in The Marine Corps. This lasted well as it didn't give out till after more then 30 years but last year it failed. for about 2 years I stopped trimming my mustache to help hide the problem. As the problem got worse I started to smile a lot less being very self conscious about my teeth. Needless to say, I needed to address the problem so I looked into getting some dental work while in Vietnam. A Facebook friend had a son that lived here and he had a dentist that worked out of her house ( she moved her dentist office out of the commercial space to save on rent). I sent several emails back and forth and she met me the first day that I arrived and began working. Working 3 to 5 hours everyday, I have been in her dental chair getting all this and then some done. In all I received 9 porcelain crowns, 4 fillings and 2 partial dentures ( porcelain and titanium )for my rear molars. I have so many teeth now that I feel like Gary Busey when I smile.
     If you are interested in contacting this dentist, her practice is called Golden Smile Dentist Office. She is Located in Ho Chi Minh City ( Saigon) and her Email is