Unfortunately I didn’t get enough good footage last weekend on my trip to Saigon to make another web video. Took a lot of footage at the same location and at night – Just not happy with it really. I’m a little bummed that I can’t make another web video featuring all of the riders here before Ben comes. I wanted to show everybody the parts that they donated in action on the guys bikes and show you all how good some of them are despite all of their limitations in terms of equipment.
I’d like to share some photos with you and a bit of a story. I plan to do a lot more filming and a little less riding when I go back to the capital to meet Ben Moran on Wednesday September 8th.
It was an early start but my standards here as a night owl. 8am ferry to the capital. Iced coffee. Choppy seas. Glad I’m not hung over like the two Russians in the row behind. They’re struggling.
We arrive exactly 13:30mins later. Met by the same disorganised hoard of fake taxi drivers, motorcycle taxi drivers and guys who want to carry our bags. We follow the usual routine of pretending we’re walking to our destination, brushing people off in Vietnamese and going across the street and around the corner as quickly as possible. There we hail a real taxi. Real taxis have meters that are locked in boxes that aren’t accessible. In the fake cabs the meters are adjustable so they see what your worth and twiddle some knobs before you get in.
We use sign language to direct the taxi driver to our hotel. Streets are thick with Thai made Honda scooters that sit in a deadlock. Sky’s thick with fumes and swollen with rain. Who knows when it’s coming in Saigon. I hope it doesn’t rain all weekend. . . It rains everyday here – just when and how much are the things that vary. We really ought to get a card for this place. Or at least memorize the name of the street. I’m looking out for things to show Ben. Pretty much everything is worth seeing here. It’s all so different. Street food and drinks vendors on every corner. Tailors and knock off clothing down every alley way. Sex and heroin available on every corner. It’s District 1. Love it or hate or money’s created it. I love it. It’s alive it’s real. Old fella in the park said there were chickens running around and dirt roads 7 years ago. In 7 years time I won’t be able to afford to eat and stay there. Everytime I got back an old building’s been replaced. It’s unfamiliar now. Progress is fast here. Health and safety doesn’t exist and yes is the only answer when money’s on the table.
We bank right and turn away from that image. Staying on the outskirts close to the park. I’ll probably stay here with Ben. I can’t sleep in the centre. People siesta here which means they stay up late at night and get up early. Any hours inbetween the roosters have got covered. Cock fighting’s big here. I think it’s legal too… Men walk around everywhere stroking their prized cocks. First thing I saw when I crossed the border was a cockfight. Very eye-opening.
We arrive at the hotel. Rain falls as I start building my bike. Chicken and Phuoc come and meet me. They bring a rubber mallet but nothing to remove the one-piece. I’ve got a yellow Colony flatland crank in my bag that Andrew gave me, a sprocket from Karl and some pedals and a BB. I’m pretty excited about getting Phuoc’s old cranks off. It’s so bent that it sits at 03:40hrs. It’s gonna feel weird when he rides a straight one. We head to a bike shop in District 3 – Phuoc’s hood. He introduces me to Nam. Nam is a legend. Wiry family man. Late thirties. Front room’s a bike a repair store. He’s got a few tools but he works miracles. He never charges the riders even though he’s poor. They just buy him coffee and perform him some tricks outside when their bikes are repaired. He looks at the Colony cranks with obvious admiration. He’s never seen titanium before and is amazed buy it. He asks me many questions about how to install, maintain and remove the cranks. He asks what I’m putting on the parts – it’s grease. It’s white lithium grease – He’s never seen that stuff before. He’s a great guy. I sit with his family while Phuoc files the sprocket adapter and bolt a little. I’ll get some footage of his place when I go back. As a foreigner you don’t meet many people here who care more about friendship and community than money. It rains heavily. We stay a couple of hours.
Clouds part and we go to ride. Underwear’s wet. It’ll soon dry though. Hot like hell’s kitchen. We’re weaving through rush hour traffic. Phuoc’s bunnyhopping and loving it. He says that he’s been too scared to bunnyhop for a year because of his bent one-piece. I’m really happy – we go for a little street mission. I remember what it was like to get my first three-piece. 175mm Profiles. Chrome. How I felt that day. It’s like how I feel now. Except I feel better now. Phuoc appreciates it so much. I remind him to practice hard because I I’ve invested titanium in him and there’s no ti on my bike. He’s kind of embarrassed. Doesn’t show his emotions often. The bunnyhops are enough for me though.
Thanks for the parts guys:
On Chicken’s bike are:
My old barends
On Phuoc’s bike are:
My old wheels
new Colony cranks from Andrew
Karl’s Kink sprocket and many smaller parts
USA BB that I got from Hell on Wheels
A few more small parts here await installation.
Cheers guys – I love you all.
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