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Walrus on a Motorbike

By Dave Fox
Ho Chi Minh City. Vietnam
September 21, 2017

It’s the tail end of rush hour in Saigon. I’m riding my motorbike over a bridge into downtown, threading my way through traffic. The guy in front of me has three stacks of fresh eggs – maybe 600 eggs in all – layered tidily on little cardboard palettes on the back of his motorcycle.

A common site in Vietnam: Hundreds of eggs on a motorbike. What could possibly go wrong? (Photo: flickr/peuplier – CC BY2.0)

Suddenly, there’s a screech and a crash as a rider three bikes ahead of me slams on his brakes. The guy behind him brakes hard too. And then … the Egg Man.

I am next.

Flashback to 15 minutes earlier: As I was driving through the alley where I live, I had just been saying to myself, “Hmmm … my brakes are feeling a little weak. Maybe I should get them checked.”

Now on the bridge, I’m rolling at around 40 kilometers / 25 miles per hour toward a motorcycle pile-up and a faceful of eggs. Life moves in slow motion as I squeeze my brakes and brace for impact.

But no … I skid to a halt within an inch of the Egg Man.

There is no time to celebrate, however. Approximately 0.7 seconds later, there’s a loud crunch as the guy behind me slams into the back of my bike. I am knocked forward, tapping the Egg Man’s back wheel. His egg palettes wobble but stay on the bike.

Light traffic in Ho Chi Minh City. (Photo: Dave Fox)

I’m pretty sure my bike is damaged, but I can’t get off to check. People behind us are honking. They are pissed we are blocking traffic on a busy bridge. My engine is still running, so I resolve the accident in traditional Vietnamese fashion: I give the guy who hit me an angry stare and drive onward.

I’m feeling rattled as I continue toward my destination. I am wondering how bad the damage is. I’m pretty sure my plastic back fender is cracked. I’m worried about my exhaust pipe. I am wondering if I still have a license plate. And if not, how does one get a replacement in Saigon? I have no idea.

Five minutes later, I pull into a parking garage in District 1. I hop off to inspect the damage. I am shocked by what I see.

My bike looks just fine. My 260-dollar motorcycle is tougher than I give it credit for.

So all is well. Nobody was injured in the accident.

More importantly, not a single egg was lost.

I hope the Egg Man realizes how lucky he is.

Published on Thursday, September 21, 2017

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