Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Tropical Rainstorm - Trip to Monkey Mountain – Flat tyre – How to buy a motorbike in Vietnam – Visa Extension

In the last 5 days it has happened so much that I don’t even know where to start.

Was so looking forward to my day off last Friday and I had so many plans what to do. However, I woke up and heard heavy rainfall. First time since I am living in Da Nang really. Oh well, wasn’t bothered as I thought it will stop in an hour or so. 14h later the rain stopped! I checked the news and they said it is a tropical rainstorm, which is heading towards Hanoi and China! Unreal how much water came from the sky. I stayed all day at home except going out to get some fresh baguette. But at 7pm I thought I need to meet some people as this rain is too frustrating.

So I put on my raincoat, helmet and I drove in pouring rain to the Waterfront Bar. Good decision. So good to talk to some people – I had a really nice time so. Just when I was on my way to drive home it stopped raining :)

Saturday morning than it finally felt a bit cooler and we had some clouds on the sky. So I drove to Hoi An in my favourite ancient town. Got some food and bought some presents and lampions for my house.

Sunday morning the sun was back and it was already 30 degrees at 8am in the morning. So decided to go to the beach! In the afternoon than I finally took my motorbike to the Monkey mountain, which is just 15min from Da Nang!

What a journey and adventure at the same time. If I look back it was maybe a bit dangerous to go there completely by myself. I drove up the road to the “White Lady Buddha” and followed the coastal road – after 25min or so I came to a kind of gate and first of all nobody was able to speak English. So I had no clue if I am allowed to drive through or not. The other option was to go back (which I didn’t want to) or to go up a small tiny road, which was very steep. 3 men were talking in Vietnamese and all pointed to the steep road and saying “Da Nang”. Ok, so I was praying that my motorbike will make the steep road and start driving up there…and I drove through lovely scenery and forest.

However the road still went up and up and I had to drive in the first gear. Driving for another 15min or so I didn’t meet any other person – no motorbike or anything. I felt a bit queasy.

Around the next corner there were three young Vietnamese guys who waved at me and told me I should stop. I did so and they explained to me that they saw monkeys. So I parked my motorbike and waited with them curious for 10 minutes. However no monkeys did show up. So decided to continue driving. I was so glad that I meet some people with motorbikes on my drive up to the top of the mountain. It was all worth it when I reached the top! What a view !!!! So many mountains around Da Nang! Breathtaking! Guess what happened to me on my way down ;) I saw two monkeys, which just were on the way into the forest! So cute – they were maybe around half a meter high. The Vet I met in the bar recently told me that there are 150 monkeys in total living up there in that mountain.

Now the “How to buy a motorbike in Vietnam” story started Sunday afternoon.

A Vietnamese woman which lives in Da Nang and I know her by looking at one of her apartments which were for rent told me her Dad would sell his motorbike. He wants to buy a new one. The bike is only 4 month old. So after my Monkey Mountain trip I met Trang and looked at the bike. Lovely new bike, Honda Wave in dark red. I even took a test drive and what a difference to the one I am renting right now! Wow! Now the fun starts. I told Trang she should please ask her Dad how much he would sell it for. So she came back to me and told me a price.

In the meanwhile I drove to a Honda Shop and asked how much this bike would cost me when I would buy it brand-new. Not if that would be possible here as foreigners are not allowed to own a motorbike in their own name. Anyway this bike was a rip off and I walked away.

On Monday afternoon after teaching from 7am for 4 hours I picked up Mai (a nice Vietnamese woman) who promised me to help me. We wanted to visit Honda Dealers and also so called “Cam Do’s” (which sell 2nd hand motorbikes where people cannot pay the leasing or payback rates anymore as they gabbled a lot during the World Cup).

We just drove 5 minutes down the road (I had Mai as a co-passenger) and I had a flat tyre on my back wheel. Thank god I had Mai with me who arranged quickly in one of the small local stalls along the street to check my bike. The tube had a whole, was already fixed one’s – so I got a brand new tube in 10min and it did cost me 2.5Dollars! Amazing, I have to say!

Now the motorbike hunt could begin. We went to 3 different Honda Dealers and to a lot of Cam Do’s. The essence of all of it was, that it only makes sense to buy a new one! All the other options are too dangerous – paperwork might not be easy or even possible. So now decisions need to me made – what motorbike do I buy? What colour? Which model? Decisions, decisions, decisions etc.

But the good thing is that my landlady will own the bike as I cannot do this. Anyway, everything will be sorted.

So imagine I would have been on the top of the Monkey Mountain on Sunday and I would have had the flat tyre….oh I don’t think about this now ;) All is good and soon I will have a brand new motorbike! Yippie!

I also extended the lease of my house until February 2011!

Oh and I did pick up my Visa today – took me 1.5 hours to get my passport with my new stamp, which says: “Allowed to stay until 5.11.2010”.

One thing you have to learn in Vietnam is to be the most patient person in the whole world ;)

Looking forward to hear from you all!

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