Story of a pig

On our way through the highlands we had a little accident coming over a ridge into a small town 30km north of Ea Drang.  In the middle of the road between two streams of opposing traffic was a medium sized, adolescent pig looking very jumpy.  I followed suit with the other motos passing the pig and slowed down.  Unfortunately, in this Vietnamese style game of Russian roulette, there was just enough distance between my bike and the one in front of me for the nervous pig to think it could make its escape.  I pressed the foot and handle brakes, turning slightly off the road but we still hit the pig’s back flank and went down sideways.  We had been travelling a such a low speed that apart from a bruised leg, bruised finger and a couple scrapes we suffered to injuries.  The pig was fine as well and ran off into a nearby field.  The bike didn’t have the same luck we did and suffered a broken clutch, a smashed front headlight and a bent speedometer.  The friendly people from the village came over to help us and piled Nathaniel and the bike on the back of a truck to take him to the nearest mechanic.  The rest stayed and offered me food, water and company.  Though they spoke no English we communicated with hand signs and they were very curious about why I wasn’t wearing a sweater (in 30 degree heat) to keep my skin nice and pasty white (like the rest of south-east Asia, the Vietnamese consider lighter skin more beautiful).

When Nat rode back on the bike it looked better than it had before the crash.  The mechanic had replaced the clutch, horn, front light and speedometer with brand new parts and although we probably still got overcharged, the bill was minimal.  What would have been an expensive, four day ordeal for a Western mechanic took only two hours and cost us 21.50$.

We have talked to a number of other travellers taking the same motorcycle trip we are and have yet to meet one who hasn’t crashed their bike.  Generally the story is also the same, except that most people hit dogs.  Our accident is much less dramatic than most and we have no serious injuries (in fact, Nat came away completely unscathed).  We have only 280km (about two days of riding) left to get to Ho Chi Minh City and are currently in the French hill station of Da Lat, enjoying the cooler mountain climate.