In 2010 my husband and I honeymooned in the beautiful country of Vietnam. We have many incredible stories from our trip, but there is one story that really stands out as it includes 3 lovely Vietnamese pointing at my husband and dissolving into laughter.
We spent the first half of our trip in the cities of Hanoi and Saigon and were unable to rent scooters because it is understood that it would be much too dangerous for tourists to ride anything motorized in the city. Just crossing the street is taking your life into your own hands. We were, however, fortunate enough to spend our last 5 days in a secluded resort on the beach. With the jungle on one side and the ocean on the other, the resort was willing to rent scooters to tourists with the naive assumption that not much harm could be done in such a peaceful setting.
We decided that a day on a scooter would be a lot of fun and would allow us to travel to see the biggest reclining Buddha statue in the world. Three Vietnamese employees brought us to the front of the resort to give us a brief demonstration on how to use the scooter. They showed us how to turn the scooter on (turn the key), use the brakes (squeeze the handles), turn it off (turn the keys the other way), and that was our training. They handed us our helmets and my husband excitedly jumped on. I, on the other hand, have an aversion to risking my life. With my husband at the wheel of a new “toy” I felt it best that he first take a trial run around the large circular entrance without me. It turns out that this was a wise decision.
My husband had no trouble turning the scooter on (great success!). He took off at a comfortable speed, and just when I thought I had needlessly been too cautious, he leaned into the left turn of the driveway. This is the moment when fireworks and gut-busting laughter erupted. Sparks began to fly as the kickstand on the scooter dragged along the asphalt and sent Pete bouncing from left to right like a violent weeble wobble. Pete would lean left, the kickstand would hit, “TING,” sparks would fly, the bike would jerk sharply to the right and Pete would have just enough wherewithal to avoid tipping over. He would overcorrect and the kickstand would hit again, “TING,” sparks flying. It was a beautiful and scary show of lights and sound. At first, the 3 employees tried to hide their laughter, but I could see their shoulders shaking, and eventually, hands were over mouths and the guffawing could not be contained. Watching Pete on this scooter was like watching a little boy in tee-ball hit the ball and run to third base. He was so confident, but it was so wrong!
It felt like my husband’s trip around the entrance was happening in slow motion as the employees graduated from trying to conceal their laughter to outright pointing at him while he barely stayed vertical. When he made it back around to us, he unabashedly adjusted what was left of the kickstand to it’s proper place and confidently said to me, “you ready?!” Of course I said, “Hell No!”
I mean really honey…you almost set the jungle on fire with your kickstand flare.
The employees were also second guessing whether or not they should still allow us to rent the scooter. I can only assume that after our very risky rental they were forced to develop 100’s of pages of disclosures, formal training, and a driving test that would ensure they never again rented to another clueless yet confident American.
To my husbands’s credit, he was capable of a few successful laps on the scooter with it’s kickstand in the upright position, so I took a leap of faith, fastened my helmet on tightly and reluctantly climbed onto the back. I like to think that my husband “ignited” the best day of our entire vacation and as much as I tease my husband about his inability to assess risk, I’m thankful for our adventures (and our survival). I truly believe it’s about balance. He will always create fun and I will always try to keep us safe…after he practices on his own a few times.