The End of an Era

Location: Saigon, Vietnam

My Australian mate, Baby, and I spent our week in Saigon on a single-minded, all-encompassing mission to sell the used motorbike he’d ridden down from Hanoi and which he’d lovingly named Jackie Brown. The deadline was May 19, the day I would fly to the Philippines and he would grab a bus to Cambodia. We both created fliers and posted them at all the nearby hostels, bickering over whose was more enticing. During the day, we’d wander the streets, searching for potential buyers. At night, we’d drink beers in the common area with other travelers and casually bring up the bike for sale. We tested all sorts of selling points.

“It’s a nightrider, all black with a sexy mesh seat. The ladies love it.”

“Why wouldn’t you want to motorbike through Vietnam? It’s probably the coolest thing ever.”

“Have another beer. So, are you interested in buying a motorbike?”

What we found out is that neither of us were very convincing.

We spray painted the exhaust pipe and other metal sections where the color had faded. We stuck fliers to the seat and our backs and rode it through the streets. We uploaded ads on Craigslist and multiple backpacker sites. Baby waited downstairs all day, just in case someone walked by the hostel and gave the bike a second glance. But we weren’t getting any responses. Four days before our deadline, we lowered the price of the bike on the poster. Still nothing.

Finally, on our second to last day, a group of young Germans guys rocked up, saw the flier on the backseat, and asked about it. Baby and I chatted with them; they’d all just arrived in Vietnam and wanted to make it up to Hanoi in two weeks (a pretty ambitious ride). One guy had already bought a bike, so the other two needed to pick up their own.

We spent the next day hanging out with the guys, giving them riding tips and answering their questions about safety. I warned them about road rash, showed them my scars from my crash in Laos and repeated the importance of a full-face helmet, blue jeans, and tennis shoes. Baby offered a couple driving lessons. The deal was done.

Our last day in Vietnam was quiet. It felt strange handing off Baby’s bike to a new group of travelers. As they began their adventure, we were ending this leg of our own. After four months of traveling together, sharing everything from toothpaste to snacks to cramped bus seats to new experiences, we were finally splitting ways, heading to opposite sides of the world. It was uncertain if we’d ever meet again. We didn’t say much. We didn’t have to.