‘A great way to see Vietnam by motorbike – and independent,’ a notice in red felt-tipped letters read. It was taped to the seat of a large heavy motorbike which had been rode up to the hostel’s front entrance by Lori, a tall blonde-haired large framed woman from New Zealand, travelling with her son who rode on the back. She also wore hiking pants and boots, suitable for motorbike riding. Judging by the bike’s number plate, she had bought the model in Vietnam. The words FOR SALE indicated it was now time to sell it on. My feelings about the Easy Rider tour had already convinced me that motorbike travel in the country would be ‘great’ and ‘independent.’ Lori and her son would have had a fantastic experience, but some other time.
Ruth popped into the internet area of the hostel lobby. I was idly sitting beside a small table drinking green tea from a China teapot.
“Why is everyone on Facebook?” She criticized
“Well, it’s part of the 21st Century internet craze. It’s used by young people a lot. It’s incredibly popular.
“But why correspond with people they don’t know?”
I could see the generation gap rising.
“They’re not all strangers. Some are their friends and past acquaintances. They like to chat, send messages, and post photographs. I have an account, too, although I can’t use it in China. It’s a very useful way to build connections. Zillions of people are using it. Its part of today’s social networking revolution.”
Being able to access it in Vietnam is part of the Western pandering here.
“If the weather doesn’t get warmer, I’ll head for Thailand.”
Spending – or wasting – time for 6 weeks in one place that is not entirely conducive is beyond me.
I’d placed my rucksack in a line of others along the corridor, ready to be hurled into the waiting bus.
Seeing I’d no longer be around, Ruth went over the road. The French guy quickly finished off a bottle of red and fled the restaurant, having had enough of her ramblings, before there was a chance to say “hello.” Her loneliness once more, left to the wind.
The bus halted at the prodigiously popular Green Field Hotel to ferret in more young backpackers.
Tourism – or trafficking in Westerners – is big business in Vietnam. The cash flow is seen in plush grandiloquent-looking hotels the bus passed, enhanced by having lit up fronts.
Not all, though, are benefiting from the money drain. Some stores and homes are dirty, run-down or shabby.
The bus was cleaner and more comfortable than Chinese sleepers. There was even a lever to adjust the upper part of the recliner – a more modern design. For a richer, larger, more powerful neighbour not to have cottoned on to spend money designing and building a more up-to-date convenience, you’d think it didn’t care about reducing headaches.