How To Sell A Motorbike:Step 1: Make posters
Step 2: Pray for the best
Karlee and I had been told that both Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) were full of backpackers buying and selling motorbikes so we made sure to make HCMC our last stop, giving ourselves a couple extra days for the task. Karlee solo road-tripped from Mui Ne while I, with my tailbone issues, stuck myself and my bike on a bus for the trip to Ho Chi Minh.
When I bought the ticket, I wasn’t entirely sure how they would transport a motorbike on a bus but the Vietnamese men somehow managed. They picked it up, shoved it through the bus door, and placed it between/on top of the seats. I found this quite impressive. I don’t think the woman sitting on a lawn chair in the aisle with the handlebar against her head felt the same.
Arriving in HCMC our first task was to make posters. I typed up enthusiastic tales about the joy my Hamish could bring, threw in some photos to add visual interest, and posted them on every floor in the hostel. We had also planned to drape ourselves in said posters and wander the streets that evening (push, rather than pull, marketing strategy, you see) but we had a few hours to kill before our planned departure time.
We decided to make our bikes more presentable. We headed out to the parking lot, scrubbed off all evidence of our mud crash, and shoved any loose parts back together the best we could. It was show time.
We walked to the popular hostels in the area, asking every white person we saw if they wanted to buy a motorbike. Midway through, we decided that our sales pitch might improve if we had a couple of drinks in us (you know…for courage or whatever). Unfortunately, there is a fine line between a couple of drinks for courage and being too drunk to focus on the task at hand. We made some Swiss Stranger Friends and spent the night out with them instead.
Day 2 was a new day. We would SELL our motorbikes. We decided to try a different tactic and took our bikes out on the town, pulling up next to every pedestrian and repeating our new catchphrase: “Wanna buy a motorbike?” It was exhausting. Turns out, backpackers did not want our motorbikes.
As an Aussie expat pointed out to us, Ho Chi Minh City was suffering from a surplus of backpackers selling motorbikes and a shortage of backpackers looking to buy.
Plan B: sell our bikes to a local.
We continued to drive around, this time with a more defined target market. The locals were definitely interested and we were swarmed by many a mob of Vietnamese men poking and prodding at our bikes, discussing the potential buy. They were offering us less than half of what we paid for them so we continued to scope out the market.
Who DID buy our motorbikes, you ask?
We had pulled over outside a hostel and Karlee was discussing the pros and cons of Bumblebee with some backpackers when a Vietnamese man on his cell phone came up to me. He said he had a friend on the phone who was interested. He offered me $25 more than the other locals and said he would throw in another 25 if I had a beer with him (oh boy). I asked if he wanted to buy both motorbikes. He said he’d see what he could do.
20 minutes on his cell phone later, he’d given me $50 cash as a deposit for both bikes and agreed to meet us at a restaurant down the road to give us the rest. I would like to note that the man barely looked at our motorbikes. He didn’t test drive them, he didn’t know that our speedometers (and Bumblebee’s gas gauge) were broken, he didn’t poke at the crash damage, and it wasn’t until he’d paid in full and we’d actually given him the keys that he checked to see if the serial numbers were legit (fakes are common in Vietnam). Pretty sure the man just wanted to share a beer.
So share a beer we did. I am going to overlook the fact that Vietnamese Man was a bit creepy, sneakily showing me half-naked photos of himself on his cell phone when Karlee had her back turned, because it was actually a really fun time. We befriended a middle-aged guy from Holland and a crazy old man from ‘Merica who walked in with a bottle of whiskey (it wasn’t even 5 o’clock…and this was a burger joint) and at one point whipped out a police baton and we sat, shared some laughs, and got day drunk with our strange new friends, celebrating our successful bike sale.
About an hour into our celebration, Vietnamese Man announced that his friend was about to arrive. This was our cue to leave. We were afraid of what would happen when said friend saw the state of the bikes he had just purchased. We quickly said our goodbyes, thanked our new friends for the free-flow, and ducked out.
That is how you sell a motorbike.