Traveler Michele Ponte tries riding for the first time in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, where chaos reigns supreme.
One of my friends says that there are no bad ideas. There are good ideas, and then there are awesome ideas. By these standards, riding a bike for the first time in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, certainly qualifies as an awesome idea (meaning, anything but).
My favorite Top Gear episode is, not surprisingly, the Vietnam special, where Clarkson, Hammond, and May ride bikes from the south of Vietnam to the north, doing in eight days what America couldn't do in eight years. This episode was the introduction to the complete chaos of riding in Vietnam's big cities, where traffic laws are merely casual suggestions that everyone seems to completely ignore. Everyone rides bikes because the cars are too expensive there. This makes Ho Chi Minh City one of the craziest places to ride in the entire world, and probably one of the worst places to try riding for the first time.
This doesn't stop Italian traveler Michele Ponte from doing it. On the contrary, in his mind, if he can handle riding in Ho Chi Minh City, he'll be able to handle riding anywhere else easily. Ponte clearly believes in trial by fire. With no experience whatsoever, he rents himself a scooter. After being taught how to start it and where the controls are, he sets off into the fray.
Ponte actually handles it rather well, especially for his first time on a bike. He takes it slow and yields to pretty much everyone else, whether they deserve it or not. Amazingly, he doesn't crash. In fact, by the end of his ride, he's mastered advanced techniques that the locals routinely use, such as riding down the wrong side of the road.
All I can say is, don't try this at home. If your home happens to be Ho Chi Minh City, consider trying a bike for the first time somewhere outside the city.