Just recently returned from a big motorbike trip but I really need to post up a few stories leading up to this trip otherwise it will overshadow everything prior.
So, I went down south of Hanoi at the announcement from my friend Son that there is a Honda Win for sale by his neighbor in his hometown.
And, we’ll start our first Vietnamese lesson now with the word “quê”, which means native place or hometown. As in the often-asked question, “Quê của bạn ỏ đâu?” Or, “Where is your hometown?”
Son’s hometown is south of Hanoi about 160km, next to the ocean in the gulf of China near the beach resort of Sam Son.
We went down there to purchase this motorbike, a Japanese made, semi-off road bike that we would use for motorbike tours here in the north. It’s for my friend Daria but when she moves back to Switzerland next year I hope to take it over.
These bikes are now the ubiquitous vehicles for workers in the countryside. So popular they are that there are now many different variations and models. The highest of quality are those originally made in Japan, then come Thai and Indonesian models with the Vietnamese and Chinese being the cheapest.
We spent two days to retrieve this because it’s a Japanese model and because Son wanted to visit with his new-born son.
My friend Son works next door to my local coffee shop in Hanoi as a coffee shop manager. He only returns home once a month and hasn’t spent too much time there since his son was born in January. Needless to say it was a fun trip if not a little too exciting as we drove the motorbike back to Hanoi via National Highway 1, a total death trap.
When you come to Vietnam for a visit or if you happen to be staying here, don't hesitate to take up offers from Vietnamese friends to visit their hometown. To Vietnamese, their hometown is a sacred place. It is where they were born and where their relatives live. And, it defines them.
For instance, Son's father and father-in-law were both soldiers in the northern army. Their homes are adorned with pictures of them in officer regalia, which I don't see very often in Hanoi. And, once I returned and after asking some questions about Thanh Hoa, I learned that this area of the country was where the revolution to expel westerners began.
So what started out as a trip to purchase a motorbike ended up being a journey to a friend's homeland to glimpse back at Vietnam's history.