Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Ho Chi Minh City: Motos in "High Fashion"

Okay this is not really “high fashion” but my two days of having a lengthy dose of America’s Next Top Model (season 8 and 9) led me to dredge up the words. If there's a last song syndrome (LSS), there is what I call, "last words syndrome" (LWS). I should have titled this entry, “In Moving Fashion” or “Motos in Dress Code” but then again, who cares about title?

I was thinking how to present this travel in a not-so-travelogue-ish-kind-of-way but my not so creative mind is not working my way so, instead of moving on with the usual "what happens next" I thought of just presenting one of my favorite pastimes when we were in Vietnam: watching people in motos a.k.a moto madness! It's like watching people pass you by and you take photos of those that interest you instead, you ride in non-aircon taxi and you take photos of the moto riders that zoom off your way.

I’ve been living in Quezon City (the most populous city in the Philippines) for eight years now—where the traffic is worst and the numbers of public vehicles is tantamount to the numbers of human beings strewn in every corner of the street—but NEVER have I been this scared crossing the streets of Ho Chi Minh City.

motos stuck in traffic

Motos waiting for the green light. This was taken during mid-afternoon so that everyone wears a hat and puts on a piece of cloth to protect them from the heat and the pollution.


Motos or motorcycles are the main mode of transportation in the Ho Chi Minh because it’s faster, and easy to maneuver and squeeze in between traffic. But is it safe? You can ask a child on that.

In as much as I like running, I enjoy walking. But walking in this busy streets is perhaps the most dangerous way of getting around. While there are crosswalks, motos and cars will beat you to it. And they come from all sorts of directions so that even if you want to take every precautionary measure, it would be useless. These motos rarely honk by the way. They just whiz away, veer around you, and cross the street in full speed.

jackpacked houses

jackpacked houses

Everyone rides the motos and in all types of weather. A family of four can fit on one tightly squeezed moto. When the weather is hot, riders try to cover every exposed skin as much as they could. This comes from wearing a hat, face cover, mask, arm warmer, gloves or wearing long sleeves. When it rains, they usually wear a poncho and a hat.

jackpacked houses

jackpacked houses

Girls in skirts and dresses and high heels find no problem sitting with their legs still in poise as they zoom off at their destinations.

jackpacked houses

jackpacked houses

Since motos do not have trunks, everything must be held in either on the passenger’s lap, tied at the back, or hand held from the side of the moto (takes a lot of 'great' skill). This scene is so similar in Cambodia. Tiny motos carrying huge items from a refrigerator or television set to a stacks of sacks or lumber.

jackpacked houses

jackpacked houses

Some riders like to make everything "more" hot than it's already is such as wearing those heavy maong jacket. At least they cover the arms.


jackpacked houses

Even the nuns ride the motos. Nuns in a hurry. Perhaps they are on a mission.

jackpacked houses

jackpacked houses


Riders on their way to the office. Easy to wear long sleeves and coat (and all the dust of the earth comes with it).

jackpacked houses

They are not twins, are they? Actually, the shirt is bought on a buy-one-take-one basis.

jackpacked houses

Now this is high fashion!
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8 comments:

the donG said...

the place that i visited wherein motor is its main mode of transportation is Dumaguete City in the Philippines. you can see a motorcycle almost on every sidewalk. but maybe it's not as many as the one in Ho Chi Minh.

haggis basher said...

Its cheap and convenient, what more do you want?

Ohh... Aircon!

Sidney said...

It looks like fun... did you rent a motorbike to tour around the city!

If you know how to survive the streets of Manila... you can survive everywhere else... ;-)

darrix said...

Nice pics :) I'd like to see someone in a coat and tie riding a bike ;)

kyels said...

Interesting insight on the main transpo in Vietnam. Imagine someone in full suit riding the motorcycle.

:D

pieterbie said...

Reminds me of Florence.
Love the last couple, the gloves look really stupid. Over the top.

Toe said...

Hahaha... I somehow find this post so funny because I can totally relate. Those motos are the sort of thing that you have to be there to know what you mean. :) That first photo of the swarm of motos is SCARY!!! :)

Ferdz said...

Talk about Moto overload. Hehe. Love the set. Moto and riders in Fashion. Dumaguete seems to be our Moto captial in the Phil but not as many as these. Parang ako nangangawit dun sa isang deliver guy using one hand for the goodies and the other to drive.

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