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Tuesday, 06 February 2007

Moto, Madame? - Page 3

Written by Jennifer Anthony
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The taxi pulls away from the crowd of cars and pedestrians at Noi Bai International Airport, wiggles and worms its way through the congestion, and zips toward the road that leads to Ha Noi. I roll down the window and the humid July air, tempered by a light rain, shoves its way inside. On the main road, we are joined by a fleet of mopeds, or ‘motos,’ as they are called in Viet Nam. They appear suddenly on all sides of us, unrestricted, it seems, by the concept of lanes.

Moto Mania

The smugness vanishes when it is time to leave.

 

My friends want to return on the cheap, hail a xe ôm, or moto, instead of a taxi. You okay with that, they ask rhetorically before turning to negotiate a fare with moto drivers. It seems we are going to split up into pairs for a moto ride home.moto

 

One friend notices my clenched-tooth smile and says that I should ride in the middle, between the driver and herself. I throw a shaking leg over the seat and clutch onto the driver’s shoulders. Gently, he pries my fingers off and indicates for me to place my hands on his hips. My friend hops on behind me.

 

And we set off, swerving through the dense sea of traffic in the Lake District’s narrow streets. Our moto driver is a great fan of the horn: he honks ceaselessly. I’m not so convinced that the bus drivers or cars can hear our tooting. I pull my knees in when we squeeze through the narrow gaps between them and the sidewalks.

 

We break free from the labyrinth of streets and head out onto a wide thoroughfare. We accelerate, as do the cars, taxis and buses that zip toward us and around us. It is delightfully cooler at this speed, although the back of my throat burns from the air pollution. People may not be wearing helmets but most are wearing smog masks.

 

The moto driver delivers us intact to our hotel. He accepts the fare with a nod, and scoots away. Charged with adrenaline, I watch him go.

(Page 3 of 5)
Last modified on Sunday, 16 December 2012

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