Posted by: Richard Marshall | December 1, 2009

Settling in…

Yesterday, I lost the ticket for the downstairs motorbike parking. They did eventually let me out, but the incident made me realise that I really need to do something about paperwork. The problem is, I don’t have any. As of yesterday evening, I had no work permit, no police clearance, no Celta certificate, no driver’s licence, no motorbike papers, no parking permit, no health insurance card. I didn’t even have my passport which was with ila, though that has now been returned. I should get my health insurance tomorrow, but the rest of those documents will take weeks to arrive. I’m living in legal limbo…

Having said that, I am beginning to settle in to Saigon life. The major step forward I took this weekend was to start riding my motorbike around town. I had done a little practice in one the wealthy, leafy suburbs which fringe the teeming city proper, but hadn’t had the courage to plunge into the chaos of the downtown traffic. But I realised that I needed to bite the bullet, and discovered a couple of surprising things. One is that I really, really enjoy riding a motorbike. I had imagined that I’d be always in terror of falling off at high speed, but for one thing it’s no more likely to fall off a motorbike than a bicycle, and also at an average speed of about 25kmh, I probably wouldn’t actually die even if I did. Seriously, the absolute maximum speed I’ve managed on a quiet, good road at 6:30 am is 40kmh – motorbike riding in Saigon is a slow business. The other thing that surprised me is that I feel more secure on a bike than I do on foot. The traffic mostly flows ok, and if you keep an eye on the aggressive jerks in taxis and the tottering school children on bicycles you’ll probably be ok.

I’m also settling in nicely to my new house. I finally got round to taking some photos, so here they are…

Nguyen Thi Minh Khai street

The entrance to our alley

The Alley

It’s really difficult to get the whole house, so this is the best I can do – it’s the one with the orange balcony.

The entrance/ living area – and my bike!

My room


  1. I watched an episode of Top Gear the other night – they rode 1000 miles along to coastline of Vietnam on motorbikes – took them 8 days or so. I want to do that too – you keen? Biketrip!!!!

  2. Hi Richard

    You digs look great and I am pleased to see you have become a hells angel!


    Uncle Craig

  3. Hey rich! awesome room! now i can imagine you falling asleep there to the sounds of the city! looks like a really nice flat too! how are the other people you are sharing with?
    be careful on that motorbike!
    xoxo t

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