When I was fifteen my parents bought me a scooter, the Piaggio Free, that had an orange body and a blue seat. I got as much wind in my hair as one can going at the top speed of 50 km/h.
Even if it was the smallest in its category of automatic motorbikes, it inflated my pride and self-esteem to very high levels – I was the first among my classmates to go to school on a scooter and that was so cool.
I had no desire for tattoos, coloured hair, alcool or drugs but the Free made me feel a bit of the rebel I wasn’t.
The speedometer of the Vietnamese motorbikes goes up to 160 km/h if for the automatic bikes. You can feel that the engine is powerful because the accelerator is often very sensitive and tries to escape your grasp. I haven’t tried, but it might be true that these scooters can reach well over the 100 km/h mark.
If you see the Vietnamese way of driving in Hanoi you can’t possibly think of renting a scooter.
But I got one in Hoi An, where traffic is calmer simply because of the smaller amount of people living in the city. I got reassured by the fact that I didn’t need to go far (either the beach or the city centre – 4 kms one way, 1km the other) and so now the country has one more speed demon on the streets (I only go against the traffic for a few meters, can’t really do it the Vietnamese way) with bad brakes and bad lights.
The An Bang beach is a lovely strip of white sand and bamboo umbrellas that you can use as long as you place a food order with the restaurant above. It was a delight to spend a half day swimming and laying in the sun. It was the real holiday from the holiday.
It is incredible how much of myself I still have to deal with: I am always busy, running somewhere and with something to do (!). I seem to not be able to get bored or maybe I am too scared of it and I try to avoid it at any cost. How many people do you know that get dark circles when they are on holiday?
The romanticism of Hoi An is very obvious, and couples everywhere look for the best backdrops for their photos : the smallest alleys, the perfect tree rooted in the oldest house, the shops displaying the most colourful lanterns…
Walking into most of the shops is like walking into an old Japanese house, with a little inner courtyard, a small pool for the fishes, steps going to an upstairs and all of this in dark teak wood. Any shop could have been a teahouse in the past, or just a very very beautiful place to live.
I think I like Hoi An a lot, I was just afraid to say it out loud.
There is no bus to Saigon today so I will have to stay here an extra day. Oh well, not a bad place to get stranded.