Maybe the Happiest Day in Vietnam Since the End of the War?

And for once, that may not be an exaggeration.

Yesterday, Vietnam beat Qatar in the semi-finals for ASEA U23. I think it’s the first time Vietnam has ever been in the finals. It was a very close game and the Vietnam team kept on coming back each time they fell behind.

But I had no idea the town, HCMC, would go so wild.  When Trinh asked if I wanted to go out and check out downtown, I said sure, I’m always up for an adventure.

These pictures and videos show the traffic, at a density I have never seen before. The main road we are on is a road I take a few times per week, sometimes at rush hour. The traffic is heavy and slower (10mph instead of 20 or 25mph!), but this gridlock, this number of motorbikes and people on the road was astounding.

I was also struck by the number of families out. It was clear from how people were dressed, that many had picked up family members after work or been picked up.  Many, like Trinh, had gone home to pick up her son, Thien, after his after-school tutoring that ended at 7:00 p.m.

We only got about halfway to our intended destination, by then I realized it was more about the experience and not about the place.

The final will be Saturday afternoon. I’m sure it will be interesting.

A few more pictures and videos of the crowds can be found at: https://dauntless.smugmug.com/Vietnam-Life/Asian-Cup-U23-Semi-Final-Victory-Celebration/

 

On a side note. As a proud American and military veteran, even after 9 months, I still have mixed feelings of seeing the (North) Vietnamese flag flying. This night there were more than I’ve ever seen, hundreds of times more than on Independence Day. But in spite of that history, in all my travels around the world, the Vietnamese here in Ho Chi Minh City, (Saigon) are the friendliest to Americans I’ve ever encountered.

Ever.

A New Motorbike Seat

I kept complaining about my motorbike seat, as I kept sliding forward into an uncomfortable position.

The family rests inside the seat place. Fabrics are on the far right. Foam shells are handing

Trinh constantly reminded me that:

  1. I was bigger than most Vietnamese
  2. It is a 6 million Dong bike (US$ 287) and therefore don’t complain.

But if anything, I don’t have much tolerance for things that don’t work as they should.

So, when I mentioned the possibility of a new seat, I expected push-back, because if Trinh has learned, I do buy a lot of things I really don’t need. But this time, she agreed we’d stop and look.

Oh Boy, it was like Christmas.  Though she had no idea how much a new seat would cost.

She gets right to work on replacing my seat. Some of the completed examples are hanging. But pretty much everything they do is custom.

After our little ice cream stop, we stopped at a seat place.

Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh City at least, is full of little shops, store fronts, that specialize in one thing.  In this case motorbike seats.

Thankfully, the lady running the place was dismissive of my current seat as soon as she saw it. That softened up Trinh right away so that it wasn’t just me wasting money.

Turned out the big discussion centered around color.  Everyone assumed I wanted black, the standard color.  But I had two goals in mind:

  • A better, more comfortable seat
  • A more distinctive seat, something different, since in the parking garage in my building, even knowing right where I left the bike, I have walked past it numerous times. So, I wanted something that stood out.  A red bike, I was thinking red seat.

But that was not to be. They had many shades of red in different materials, but Trinh, ever practical, pointed out that if I make

My New Seat

the bike stand out, it will be a target of police.

Now since it is not still not clear to me if I can legally drive a motorbike with my NYS motorcycle license, I figured I better compromise here.

Thus, we ended up mostly black with a red front and back.

And it’s really comfortable.

This operation took about 20 minutes.  They cut the fabric and sewed it to the new form core. Like almost everything I have seen in Vietnam, I was really impressed.  I got a handmade, custom seat for 360,000 dong, (that’s US$15).

Yes, I am really happy.  If only Dauntless was here, but then that’s another story.

 

One little aisle of the parking garage