Sunday, April 7, 2013

Life on Two Wheels - Ho Chi Minh

Here's a long overdue post of more photos from Vietnam. In Ho Chi Minh, the people tend to refer to vehicles not as cars and motorbikes, but rather in terms of numbers: either you ride two wheels or four wheels. Most of the population relies on two wheels (mopeds and bicycles) as their means of transport and livelihoods.

These shots were taken while riding on the back of a Xe Om's moped. Xe Om is pronounced 'Seh Om', which is essentially a hired moped driver - not necessarily a properly registered cabbie, but rather, a mercenary with a scooter and a tank of gas at your service. My Xe Om had a particular fondness for black coffee and purple corduroy pants (and no, he was not a hipster). Picture a rotund-ish Japanese Kamikaze pilot, but instead of a plane, he would attack oncoming traffic (head on, more often than not) with his tiny little moped. While wearing Purple.Corduroy.Pants. He wasn't Japanese either, but that's beside the point. I would be the equivalent of the gunner in the back, shooting anything and everything in the way. We made a good team - his slightly erratic driving (to me, anyways) gave me the opportunity to snap off some candids of two wheeled folks in action from their perspective. I would not have captured these same views on foot (the lowliest of low in the transport hierharchy). Thanks Purple Pants! You rock.

Life on Two Wheels-5

Life on Two Wheels-2

Life on Two Wheels-3

Life on Two Wheels

Life on Two Wheels-8

Life on Two Wheels-7

Life on Two Wheels-9

Life on Two Wheels-4

Life on Two Wheels-6

And below, I introduce you to the Mopedaire himself, Mr. Purple Pants. In four days of riding with him, I never did get his actual name, but I think it was something that sounded like 'Ayuk.' Regardless, it mattered not for we didn't greet each other by name, but rather through exchanges of manly head nods and restrained half grunts.

Xe Om

Photogeeks: The street photos were taken with the Sony RX-100, while the portrait of my Xe Om was taken with a Kiev88 CM on Fuji NPH 400 (a film stock which yields terribly flat colours).


  1. Haha, I think his name is probably "Anh ut", meaning "little brother."

  2. That makes sense, but I like Mr. Purple Pants better.