Friday, March 3, 2017

Shipping My Motorbike

Yesterday I was sitting in the lobby of my hostel in Saigon looking at the map of Vietnam and trying to figure out how I would be able to go to the places I want to go in the time I have left in the country, when Jessie, one of the women who works here at the hostel (I don't remember her Vietnamese name) told me that I can put my motorbike on a train and also head somewhere by train, so that opened up a whole new realm of possibilities to me.  I made a reservation on a train to Hue, but was told that I would have to go to the station two days before I was leaving to buy a ticket for my motorbike and have it shipped as cargo.

So today I set off for the train station on my motorbike to have it shipped to Hue.  I got to the station and parked in the parking lot, which charges 3000 dong to park there; it is maybe around 15 cents.  But I really didn't have to park there, as I soon found out.  The thing was that I didn't know for sure if they were going to take my motorbike right then or if I would just buy a ticket and then bring my motorbike when I was leaving.  But it turned out that they did take my motorbike right then.  They drained the gas out of it in preparation for shipping it, took off the mirrors and taped them to the rack, and covered the handlebars in cardboard.  I asked if I could ship the helmet with it, so I wouldn't have to lug it around with me.  The first guy I asked said no, but someone else who appeared to have more authority stepped up and said that I could.  I set it on the rack after they put the mirrors there, and made hand motions like, “are you going to tie/tape it up?”, and the authoritative guy nodded to indicate “yes”. I hope.  I stuck around for a while to see what they would do with it, but my helmet just sat there on the rack.  I certainly hope that it arrives with my bike.  For that matter, I hope my bike arrives OK with no problems, although it probably will.  I'll have to figure out how to get some gasoline into the tank, since they drained it.

The train to Hue will be about a twenty hour journey, and I will head up there in a couple of days.  This will be the first time I've taken a train in Vietnam, and actually the first time for me to journey by train anywhere in Southeast Asia, so I'll get to see what the trains are like.  I hope to ride down the coast back to Saigon and stop in several places on the way.  Taking the train will probably save me somewhere between a few days to a week of travel, though I wouldn't necessarily have to come back the same way I went up.

I decided to just walk back to the hostel from the train station, since it was only a few kilometers, and I wanted to take my time and check out some more stuff I hadn't seen yet.  I stopped by the Independence Palace, and was going to check it out, but I had gotten there too closes from 11:30 in the morning until 1 in the afternoon, and I got there right after 11:30.  Maybe I'll head back in that direction this afternoon, maybe not.

So I have no motorbike for the next couple of days that I am in Ho Chi Minh City.  I doubt it will matter much because I have been walking almost everywhere anyway.  BTW, some people don't know that Ho Chi Minh City, HCMC, and Saigon are all the same place.  I talked to a guy the other day who had no idea.  Just in case you didn't know, they are.

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