We got ourselves some bikes the first day here in Saigon. It turned out to be very easy as the bike market amongst the backpackers is very active and most people are able to turn over a bike within a day. As for the bikes themselves, there are a couple common choices. The Honda Win is the most prevalent in the backpacker community. It's a cheap, inconsistently manufactured, Chinese bike that be got for $250-$300. Ben was adamant about having the full experience with a manual bike and so made the mistake of buying one of these. He surely didn't understand the implications of learning a clutch in the horrendous traffic of HCMC until our first outing yesterday. Another popular bike is the fully automatic Yamaha Nouvo. This was the first bike I tried. I decided that the automatic was far too boring though, so instead I settled on compromise: a semi-automatic.
I bought a Suzuki semi-automatic (I still dint know the model) which proved to be an excellent in between with zero possibility of stalling in busy city traffic but still with the great advantage of gears. It also seems to be popular amongst the locals (you certainly won't find then riding a win) which was very attractive to me. It was also a great deal for the price ($275). The girl I bought it from said she paid $330 for it in Hanoi where bikes are generally cheaper. That means that if I make it full circle with I it, I should be able to make a small profit off it, not considering the unexpected repairs I'll likely need to make.
Yesterday I took my first real ride for four hours or so outside of the city. Getting out of the city is the most difficult part with all of the dense traffic. Fortunately, the traffic looks much more intimidating as s pedestrian than it is on a bike. For the most part, you only need to point your bike in the right direction and people will move for you.
Tomorrow we'll leave HCMC, though we haven't decided yet where we'll go. Today, we'll visit a museum and find a mechanic to get the bikes a look over and change the oil.