A teeming and polluted hive, five million motorcycles for 9 million people in Ho Chi Minh City.
Say it like that it does not make too much sense, but when they are a hundred motorbike stopped in front of the traffic light ready to go when the flow start, it is impressive. Cars are also present, but most of the people here use motorbike and Xe Om (moto- taxi).
Girls are dressed short, very short, but they protect themselves from the sun with gloves, peaked hat and long skirts. Having a white skin is “a must” in Vietnam. I watch them from behind the taxi window, protected in my cocoon as every tourist coming in HCMC.
Few days later, here I am for my first experience on a Xe Om. In the car park, not one car but a plethora of motorbikes, scooters, simple and electric bicycles. I catch a glimpse of my driver who is waiting patiently for me.
Anti-pollution mask on the face and blue motorcycle helmet screwed on my head; I have to wind up. Shall I be in complete terror when the machine will start? I sit on the motorbike carefully, not sure where to hang to keep my balance and there we are on the starting block with great pomp through the parking exit.
Getting out of the neighborhood through a maze of narrow streets where everyone rushes at full speed, don’t even honk to prevent you and finding yourself at the last minute face to face with another motorbike is quite an experience. But one passes and the other too, even if knees and wing mirror are close to touching walls.
After twenty minutes of slaloms on this hellish motorbike through motorcycles, taxis, bus and other trucks, we finally arrive at the destination. Numbness legs, bloodless buttocks, completely damp with sweat, flat hair shaped, but alive and finally delighted by the experience!