Friday, October 3, 2008

Motorbike Shopping/Playoffs

I'm looking for a different teaching gig for the evenings, checking out apartments, and meeting people that I want to hang out with. The time has come that I need more than a bicycle, so I started looking at used motorbikes. The first one that I checked out was this...

It's a Minsk. A 125cc, 2-stroke, Soviet made, kick starting, black smoke spewing, little monster. I loved it right away. But I didn't get it. This city is thick with smog already, and this bike gets about the same mileage as my BMW in the States, even though it's about 1/5 the engine size and half the weight. And because it's a 2-stroke, you have to pour oil into the tank each time you get gas, to be burned off as the engine runs. It just seemed like a little more fuel cost, hassle, and environmental damage than necessary.

So I got this...It's a vintage Honda Super Cub. A 50cc "step through". It's taking a little bit of getting used to for me. It's not a regular motorcycle, but it's not an automatic scooter either. It's a 3-speed, and you change gears without a clutch. From neutral, they're all down. You can come to a stop in any gear and leave it running and the engine will just idle. Very weird for me, but it's the way 95% percent of the bikes around here are built.

Even though it's been repainted this nice royal blue, all the locals think it's ugly. To westerners, it looks cool and retro, to Vietnamese people it looks like a pinto. This is the Hyundai motorbikes. (But, if you drove a Hyundai here, you'd be some kind of big shot. Go figure.) There are still a bunch of them on the streets, Honda has actually cranked out over 60 million Cubs since they started making them a half-century ago. But now Vietnamese folks are into newer bikes that have paint jobs taken directly from the spandex pants of 80's hair band lead guitarists, and pseudo-futuristic designs with way too much plastic. Bikes that I would be a little embarrassed to ride. It's funny how culture affects something like this.

In addition to being pretty, it gets great mileage. Unfortunately, like a lot of things here, it makes me look like a giant. It's just fast enough that so I've been able to evade all the pitchfork and torch wielding villagers who fear that I might swallow their pigs and children. And probably the best feature is that it's a nice Cubby blue. Just in time for the playoffs. I found a matching helmet that's made in the USA, with a flag sticker and all. It's nice to see the home country exporting something in this day and age. And it's probably the best commercially available helmet in the country.
I took the cubs sticker from my laptop and turned it into a batting helmet. With the way they're playing, they could call me up at any time.I've been getting up at 4:30 or 6:00 or whatever ridiculous time to watch the Cubs play on ESPN Star, which is carried by VTV here. But the schedule on the website is a mess. Yesterday it said that they were showing 2 American League games live. I don't know how they were planning to do that when there was only one American League game being played. The games start on the hour, but the network has them scheduled for the half-hour. The schedule is for Vietnam, but seems to be on Bejing time...

I know I'm really only complaining because the Cubs aren't winning. I even started watching the White Sox in the hopes of seeing a Chicago win, but that just made it worse. But I'm pretty sure the Cubs will win the next three and go on to win the Series. Yeah. Pretty sure...


Crazypants said...

Oh Frankenstein, your new bike is so cool! I just got myself a new bike too, but it is powered by me, so I don't have to worry about the whole gas and oil thing. You seem great. Email me when you want and let's write more in depth.

rebar said...

That picture of your helmet with the sticker is the first thing (baseball related) I've been able to laugh in days...

Yesterday, I was still stuck somewhere between disallusionment and mourning. You know, the way you usually feel in September when the Cubs have mathmatically eliminated themselves. Again.

But thanks to the irresistable siren's song of breaking a 100 year record, the heartbreak has not only clung on for a few extra days, it feels like it left a corkscrew like hole in my heart.

Thanks for lifting the veil...if only for a moment.

(sigh) Go Cubs.

And drive safe! I see pictures of the crazy trafic there and I'm concerned about you ending up in the shape of a pancake.

Mmmm. Pancakes. said...

I went through all 5 stages of grief but I swear I discovered a few more. At least the universe is still in balance. When the Cubs do win it all someday, I weep for some unsuspecting galaxy on the other side of the universe.

-- Sam