Tag Archives: motorbikes

Heaven and Hell on Wheels…

6 Nov

Bali. One of the most consistently beautiful places on the planet. With (outside the timelessly international package hell of Kuta) a culture that is beyond unique. Landscapes of misty mountains, stepped rice terraces, river gorges fringed with palms and broad banana leaves, stone-carved temples everywhere you look, and pavements littered with offerings lovingly hand-crafted from palm leaves, flowers and coloured rice.

Snacks for the angels, demons, gods and goddesses that are everywhere, even today.

This is a place where you can stop for petrol and find yourself overlooking an ancient royal palace built in brick and stone with views across to dark forest and crater lakes and down a staircase of young rice to a river gorge. So, for the driver, it’s almost exactly equidistant between heaven and hell. Continue reading

Like Jane Austen But Not: The Single Gal’s Guide to Travelling Asia

19 Oct Z and me in Georgian silhouette, Penang, Malaysia,

[tweetmeme source=”@mummy_t” only_single=false]

1: Avoid Spaghetti Straps
Shoulders are an erogenous zone in many cultures. Particularly shy ones. In South-East Asia, nothing, and I do mean nothing, says “hooker” more than spaghetti straps. OK. Maybe fishnets, Perspex platforms and a basque. And if you packed those, lady, make like the real fetishists and change before you leave the disco. Mm?

2: Hold the Back Bars of a Motorbike, not the Driver
In most cultures, pressing your breasts against a chap you’ve never met is a recipe for mutual discomfort. Continue reading

Western-Thai Dating: A Driver’s Guide

21 Jun

One of the most consistently entertaining aspects of the courting ritual indulged in by ageing Western men and much younger South-East Asian women is the inaugural motorbike outing.

Now, as any fule who has spent time in South-East Asia kno, these ladies can handle a bike. Dirt roads in the monsoon? No problemo. Hairpins? They shit ’em. Big city traffic, eight vehicles across three “lanes”? Easy as…

So quite how they feel riding pillion — and sidesaddle, at that — to some absolute muppet, one can only imagine. Continue reading

Easy Riders

30 May

Junk off the northern coast of Cat Ba island, Halong Bay, Vietnam

Journey's end: Cat Ba island, Halong Bay, Vietnam

We’ve been exploring Cat Ba island, which splatters like a Rorschach blot off the northern coast of Vietnam, trailing 300-odd islets in its wake.

It’s an implausible landscape to Western eyes: classic limestone karst territory, where tectonic pressures coupled with groundwater erosion carve surrealist sculptures out of the land, and the monsoon climate clothes them in forests of deepest green.

Yesterday, we hired bikes to explore the island, winding south coast to north coast, then looping around the west coast. And it’s a moot point whether Z, having been driven by his dad, will ever get on a motorbike with me again. Continue reading

Cab Journey from Hell #1

27 May

Z riding a xe om, or motorbike taxi, Vietnam

Cooler, in every sense, than a metered taxi...

I really thought, by now, after over four months in Asia and experience with virtually every taxi scam permutation known to man, my naïve London belief that anyone in a metered taxi with a light-up sign will know where they are going, own a map, and not take the piss too badly would have disappeared.

Apparently, however, this is still not the case.

We arrived in Hanoi on the Reunification Express and fended off the first wave of touts, who boarded the train brandishing offers of motorbikes and taxis.

Z, who, like any small boy, likes nothing better than hopping on the back of a motorbike and whizzing through city traffic, wanted to take a xe om (motorbike taxi). I said I couldn’t be arsed to haggle, and as we were only going a kilometre or so we might as well take a metered taxi. This was not my best idea… Continue reading

Hounds, Bikes and Dunes

2 Mar

Puppy at roadside stall, Mui Ne, VietnamZ and I are sitting at a roadside stall in Mui Ne, Vietnam, watching a very cute, extremely solemn and phenomenally determined toddler hounding an equally cute but definitely sorrowful puppy.

It’s our first outing on a motorbike sans chauffeur since I over-estimated my off-road capabilities on an elderly manual sized for a Thai lady, shredded my elbow, scraped Z’s hand and scared myself shitless. Our spanking new, man-sized twist-‘n’-go Honda has proved a far more accessible ride. Continue reading

Ladybird Hats

28 Feb

Z Wearing a Helmet above the Tonle San RiverIn South-East Asia, we’ve been spending a lot of time on the back of bikes. Call them motos, xe om or motorbike taxis, they’re generally the cheapest and always the quickest way of getting around. And, put it this way, I wouldn’t drive anything smaller than a tank in Saigon traffic.

The safety laws in Vietnam are an improvement on those in Cambodia. Everyone has to have a license, although to the untutored eye it would be hard to tell. Continue reading