Today was the most challenging and stressful travel day that I have ever had. My Saigon motorcycle was great, but challenging to learn to drive.
I bought a motorcycle, which I named Snowy after Tintin’s dog. I’ve never driven a manual before so I had to learn how to drive it in Ho Chi Minh City (also commonly known as Saigon). Ho Chi Minh has 7.5 million registered motorbikes and its traffic is some of the most congested in the world. It’s a madhouse.
Now imagine learning how to drive a manual in those conditions with no road signs that are in English. Imagine stalling in an intersection like the one pictured…because it happened to me several times. I also ran into technical issues and needed to stop to see a mechanic…not once, but twice (see the other two photos). I also didn’t have reliable GPS and had difficulty navigating out of the city to get away from the traffic. At times I was driving in circles after running into one-way streets!
Fortunately, the Vietnamese people are some of the nicest and friendliest people that I’ve ever met. They’d stop and show me how to use the bike, push my bike with theirs to a repair shop, stop and ask me if I’m ok or in need of directions. 90% of the time they didn’t speak English but they still went out of their way to help.
Learning to drive my bike in these conditions was beyond stressful, but I wouldn’t have had it any other way. It pushed me to learn. It allowed me to grow as a person as I struggled with unfamiliar circumstances in a new place. It pushed me to cry out to God for help. I’ve grown not only as a driver but as a person. I enjoy being alone and being pushed to learn new things. So despite the stress, today was a success and the future is filled with open roads and opportunities.