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Kindness One: Motorcycle causes a heap of travel trouble in Vietnam

Everyone loves my big yellow motorcycle with a sidecar, the one I’m using in an attempt to circumnavigate the globe. Kids love it. Adults love it. Cambodian monkeys also love it. But there is one place where the love falls short.

Since I left Los Angeles on Aug. 10, I have relied on the kindness of others for food, shelter and gasoline and have been fortunate to attract the best kind of attention. But for some reason border guards do not love my bike, which I called Kindness One, and they apparently do not like me either.

As I tried to enter Vietnam from Cambodia, things were not looking good. I had encountered border troubles before. The Thai border guards didn’t seem to know what to make of me and my bright yellow motorcycle. I spent six hours at the border trying to persuade them I wasn’t a vintage motorcycle smuggler. (This is a 1978 Chang Jiang motorcycle, outfitted with a BMW engine.)

I managed to talk my way around this when I learned that the head of the border crossing was a Liverpool, England, soccer fan, and after spending about 30 minutes talking to him about soccer, he let me cross.

Then came the Cambodian side of the border. The officials certainly didn’t like me and kept me overnight without releasing the bike. I talked my way out of that one by begging the chief of customs to let this Englishman cross into his country so he could get home to his family. I started crying on his shoulder and begged. He felt pity for me and let me through.

But now, I think my luck may have come to an end.  It’s pouring rain, and I’m stuck in the main border building. The Vietnamese have impounded my bike, and they are refusing to allow it into the country. They suggest I either “go back to Cambodia “ or “leave bike, please, sir” which is not an option.

I don’t have a solution so as I close this chapter, I find myself in a pickle. Will kindness prevail?

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