This morning we had our first potential motorcycle buyer. The Australian dude was not impressed and seemed to have a good deal of knowledge about bikes. “If you get someone to buy this for over $300, fair play, man.”
With the bike still in our possession, we scooted over to the War Remnants Museum, which focuses on the Vietnam War and the political climate, the loss of life, and the after effects of bombing, murders, and agent orange. I understand that this museum only showed the Vietnamese perspective, but it was horrifying to see the ruthless killing of innocent civilians because of the United States. Regardless of the blatant violations of international agreements, America didn’t have any accountability or consequences for its actions. Walking through the museum and seeing the photographs of slaughtered Vietnamese, who could easily have been any of the wonderful people we’d met along the journey, made a serious impact.
Unfortunately, the Reunification Palace, where the Northern Vietnamese tanks crashed through the gates and declared communist rule for the entire nation and therefore ending the war, was closed for a private event. However, we continued on and ventured inside the iconic and chaotic Ben Thanh Market. The lofty space inside was crammed full of narrow rows and aisles of vendors selling souvenirs, designer handbags, hammocks, fruits and veggies, fresh meat, and traditional healing herbs. The noise was deafening, the colors and lights were overwhelming, and the fresh food smells were pungent, but it was all exciting.
After our fill, we headed back to the hotel to post For Sale signs around the congested backpacker area. As we were walking to the next hostel, a Dutch backpacker saw our sign and waved us over. Our luck was strong today, as it turns out he was looking desperately to buy a bike, and bought ours for $325 after getting approval from his mechanic that the bike was solid.
To celebrate our success, we pigged out on buffalo wings at a restaurant owned by an ex-pat from Virginia. Much to Byron’s delight, the wings actually tasted like the ones back home and to my delight, there was a Dairy Queen right down the street.
As soon as we sold my motorcycle yesterday, a meek looking kid with wild ginger hair and a beard to match took down my info to see if he’d be interested in doing a motorcycle trip. This morning he decided he was up to the challenge and contacted us to take Byron’s bike for a test ride. The problem was, he’d never ridden a motorcycle before in his life. Byron and I put on our best sales pitch, reassuring the kid that there had been no issues and the bike was really a fine piece of machinery. First, we had to teach him about motorcycles in general, and then overwhelm him with information about the quirks and tricks to working the Honda Wins. The kid hopped on the back of the bike and Byron drove them around the area to give him an idea of what the bike could do. They ran out of gas and had plenty more time to seal the deal on their walk to the nearest gas station. All of our efforts paid off and soon we had over $600 in various currencies and no more motorcycles. Having paid only $550 for the bikes in Hanoi, we felt pretty proud of ourselves and celebrated over a large Saigon beer.
Without the bikes, we got our lazy feet back into action and did a walking tour around all the major attractions of the city: Ben Thanh Market, Bitexco Builing, boat-lined waterfront, Majestic Hotel, Opera House, Notre Dame Cathedral, Old Post Office, Reunification Palace and finally Turtle Lake.
We took a minor detour when we saw the storefront of a Dunkin Donuts, which confused us because Dunkin isn’t even nationwide in the US. But, we didn’t think too hard about its existence and instead savored the delicious taste of cold iced coffee.
We felt obligated to have some Vietnamese food for dinner after binging on all our Western treats, but still ventured to Baskin Robins for dessert. We strolled past the streets of the backpacker district, which was packed body-to-body, preventing any traffic from getting through. Apparently it’s like this every night with tourists and locals pouring out of the bars and restaurants taking their party onto the streets. We preferred to observe than to take part in the madness after a long day, and went to bed early.