Monday, January 24, 2011

My Birthday Surprise

I have been feeling a bit stifled.  We live in a city where you NEED two wheels to get from point A to point B.  There is some public transportation in the form of massive green buses, but they are weathered, cramped and sticky.  Without Gavin shuttling me around, my only other options are traditional car taxis or a xe om (motorbike taxi).  These are perfectly viable options when you have a final destination in the form of a concrete address to show your driver, but not so great for exploring.  Two months ago, I realized what I missed most about Istanbul was the freedom of movement provided by good pedestrian paths and reasonable public transport.  Thus, an idea started to slowly hatch.

Gavin tried to teach me how to drive his motorbike a few times, but unfortunately our last lesson concluded with me toppling over into a healthy potted plant.  The bikes here are just too big and cumbersome for me to get comfortable on. 

In Vietnam, there are "strict" laws on who can operate a motorbike.  You must be 18 years of age, have at least one eye, possess a drivers' license, and wear a helmet when you straddle an engine.  Most of the children and inveterate senior citizens opt for the traditional bicycle.  The landscape is uniformly flat and the obvious applies - bikes are cheap, healthy, eco-friendly, and easy to steal.  Alas, I'm not a big fan of daily exercise and cold vanity disallows me from showing up to work dripping sweat.  Woe was me...until from out of the blue, enters The Electric Bike.  Thanks to legal loopholes, anyone can drive sans license, even though you can reach speeds of 50 KPH!  So, like Todd Shaw so eloquently put it - you gotta get in where you fit in.

Ever since our trip to Vung Tau, where all of the cool teens whiz by on e-bikes, I have been inexorably begging for one.  As those close to me know, I can be very persuasive.  Every time I am on the road and I see an e-bike in the distance, Gavin gets a sharp pinch to the gut as I exclaim "There's one!".  After repeating this action about a hundred times I found myself in a bike shop.

After perusing several of the shops on Vo Thi Sau, we ended up at Xe Dap 152 (148B Vo Thi Sau). I picked out the one I wanted, then I had a shaky test drive.  Let's just say it ended with Gavin expressing severe reluctance to have me free on the streets.

But long discussions ensued and eventually I persevered. Today, Gavin and I picked up my very own sleek, charcoal black e-bike.  I now have the means to get me (and whoever wants to hop on back) wherever I want to go, whenever I want to go.


Carol said...

I especially love the basket on the front! go Nell go.....but be very careful.

Nellie said...


Don't worry, I am VERY careful! I even wear a helmet, even though I am the ONLY bicyclist I have seen on the road with one on. Better safe than sorry.

Isis said...

Nellie -

Happy happy birthday !!! I actually thought your b-day was later than this, like Feb.

Love the pictures. You do, indeed, look triumphant in your victory with the e-bike. I can tell Gavin would be "difficult" to beat in an argument. Except .... your charm is only surpassed by your tenacity. Ha ha ha !!

Hey for your Birthday, I'll do an Astrological Reading of your Birthchart. I am a "professional" Astrologer, ya know.

Email me your bday, city you were born, and the time (very important!) I'll write it out and email to ya.

Have fun on the bike, and yes, be careful !!! xox Isis.