Culture Shock: “Uber Motorcycle” Is A Thing

Culture Vietnam

Culture Shock: “Uber Motorcycle” Is A Thing

Mar 17, 2017

When I first heard someone say “I’ll just grab an Uber Moto home from the bar,” I thought it was a joke. But when I logged into my Uber app and saw a motorcycle icon sitting next to the “Uber X,” “Uber Black” and “Uber SUV” options, I realized that it was very, very much a real thing. And apparently, the only way to get around the city.

The traffic in Ho Chi Minh City is legendary for being among the worst in the world, and getting from point A to point B on foot is pretty much like living in a game of Frogger. Trying to do it in a car is pretty much impossible, unless you have an entire afternoon to spend going 10 blocks. Hence the need for an on-demand motorcycle service.

Initially, I was terrified. There was absolutely no way in hell that I was going to get on the back of a stranger’s motorcycle, especially after seeing how crazy the roads were in HCMC. People on bikes weaved in, out and around traffic, hopped up on sidewalks as they pleased, and saw no need to stop for stop signs, traffic lights or pedestrians (AKA me). Growing up, my best friend’s dad sold Harleys and was constantly trying to get me to ride on the back of one around their small, suburban neighborhood, and even that was too scary for me. Uber Moto was NOT happening.

But then, on one particularly busy afternoon, I had 10 minutes to get from a manicure a bikini wax appointment and knew if I walked or took a car I was going to be late… and I really needed that wax. So I sucked it up and called an Uber Moto.

My knight in shining armor (or, rather, in an adorable blue vest and helmet that said “UBER” across the back) pulled up, handed me a helmet and told me to hop on. I didn’t think “holy shit, there may be lice inside of this” until after the fact, which was probably for the best. I ungracefully threw my leg over the back of the bike, and clutched onto his waist for dear life with my eyes closed.

“You can hold onto the handles behind you. It’s better,” he told me.

… Oh.

At first, I was too scared to even open my eyes, but after the first minute I started to relax and realized it was actually kind of fun. We were cruising (read: Weaving through traffic at a psychotic speed) and the wind was blowing and the sun was shining and I was smiling like a looney tune.I felt like Lizzie McGuire on the back of Paolo’s vespa in The Lizzie McGuire Movie, except that I was in Asia instead of Rome and clutching an Uber driver who politely asked me to please stop touching him. (eyeroll.)

Eventually, I got so comfortable I took my phone out to start recording. I still knew it was dangerous AF to not be holding on, but decided that “death by Uber moto selfie in Vietnam” would be an OK way to go.

After that first ride, I was a convert. It definitely didn’t help with my daily step count that I was riding a block at a time on the back of a motorcycle, but it only cost 10 CENTS to get anywhere in the city.

Maybe now I’ll take you up on that Harley ride, Mr. P.

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