Typically know as Vespas or scooters to those of the non-Asian variety, motobikes in Vietnam are more than just a form of transportation, they are an essential part of everyday life. With approximately 35-40 million of these motorized 2-wheelers throughout the nation (if you consider "the internet" a valid source of truth), there is approximately 1 motobike for every person of the "questionably appropriate" age to navigate one. "Sharing" the road with a mere 2 million cars, the whiny, endlessly-honking motobikes are literally the never-ending, pulsing heartbeat of the nation of Vietnam.
With an all-encompassing engine ranging anywhere from 110-125 CC's (for comparison sake, a bottom-of-the-line walk-behind lawnmower has 150 CCs), every single cubic centimeter is put to use by those that rely so heavily upon them. Whether veering around human and/or non-human obstacles, to carrying a load that most F-350 owners would consider too burdensome, there is no doubt these miniature "hogs" are not only vital to life in Vietnam, but also an inevitable presence for years to come.
With that being said, I leave you with a few "tidbits" on motobike-riding in Vietnam:
Rules of the Road - Paying attention to only those bikes in your nearby vicinity will no doubt result in a nice taste of pavement before the day is over. Instead, one must not only pay attention to the bike next to themselves, but also the bike next to that bike, and even the bike next to the bike next to that bike. And so on and so on. If someone 1/2 mile away beings to veer, odds are this is going to impact your location on the road at some point in the near future. Aside from this general "awareness" of one's 1/2 mile radial surroundings, the only other applicable rule is that if a paved area is wide enough for your bike, then ride on through! (this applies to sidewalks, alleyways, crowded markets, and at one point, through the middle of a busy restaurant).
Carrying Capacity - If it can be balanced, it can be carried. From entire extended families (our record witnessed was 6, yes 6) to appliances of any size possible (refrigerators tending to be the most common), all that is needed is a few bungee cords, a friend to help load everything up, and of course an iron will to navigate chaotic traffic with a potential cause-of-death sitting only 6 inches behind you.
Child Placement - While the most common location for those of "pre-driving" age is that of a standing, helmet-less spot at the front of the bike, other acceptable positions include wedged between parents (a "human seatbelt" if you will) or in a resting position on any family members lap (ensuring the head is not placed within range of "oncoming traffic"). Any reduction in traveling speed is deemed unnecessary, as a higher priority to your child's safety is instead the preparation for the inevitable future operation of their own motobike in years to come.
Fuel Efficiency - With a jaw-dropping efficiency rating that puts even-the-smuggest Prius owners to shame, your standard motobike travels approximately 150 miles on a single gallon alone. $3-4 and a full-tank later, and you are pretty much set for the month (and that is only IF you are doing a significant amount of driving).
Crossing The Road - With motobikes competing with humans for any available space possible, the inevitable "encounter" between the two is unavoidable when a street crossing is in order. Although the standard rule of thumb of "walk in a slow steady pace" is accepted by most, putting this guildeline into practice requires a bit of determination, and at least an hour of astonished gawking at others more well-versed then yourself. I leave you with a perfect example from an old (i.e. less bald version of myself) video experienced during my last visit to Vietnam: Crossing the Road in Vietnam
Onto the Best of the Best "Motobike-Stalking" Pics: