Cyclo's are unavoidable in this part of the world. There are used to ship tourists around, moving house or to rest in for an afternoon nap. I haven't yet taken a ride in one yet, as it's invariably overweight tourists who use them, often driven by a guy a quarter of their size. However, they do have their charm. Yesterday, a group of us from work took part in the 10th annual cyclo challenge. It was a lot of fun, so let me tell you what you missed out on this year, and what you can look forward to in 2011!
Here is an interview between the left and right side of my brain. The left side is asking the questions...
Where? - Taipei School, District 7, HCMC
Time? - Midday to 6pm
Purpose? - To raise money for a charity that builds schools
So, what exactly is the cyclo challenge?
The cyclo challenge is essentially a 2 lap race. However, there is a significant twist. After your first driver does 2/3 of a lap, he has to jump off and give the garland (which is apparently the word for a floral necklace) to a race marshal.
Hmmm, interesting, so does the race marshal give the garland to the next driver?
Well, surprisingly no. 2 members of the team have to fish some carrier bags with plastic bottles in them out of a 'toxic' lake with a big stick. Once they've achieved this they have to take the bags to 2 more members. They then have to carry the bags back-to-back and drop them into a bin. The race marshal then gives the garland to 2nd driver.
Ok, I guess the 2nd driver then completes the race, right?
You would think so wouldn't you. But, you would be wrong. You see, the 2nd driver then does another 2/3s of the circuit before hopping off the cyclo and giving the garland to another race marshal.
Right, so there's another activity to complete?
Bingo! Two members have their legs tied together, 3 legged race style. They have to hold a jar of water by string, fill and maneuver it over and under some ropes. Once they've bypassed the 3 ropes they then pour the water into a bucket, before having to go back to the start to refill their jar.
Curious, but why do they have to go back?
Funny, you should ask that....You see, the bucket needs to be filled to the brim and the jar only fills about half the bucket.
Ok, understood! So once the bucket's filled the next driver can complete the race right?
Not quite, there are another 3 people waiting by the bucket. One of them is sitting in an inflatable ring, much like you'd find in a swimming pool or on the beach. This person has to balance the bucket of water between their legs while the other 2 people drag them about 10 metres. The idea is not to spill the water. Once this is achieved the race marshal will give the garland to the 3rd driver.
Hmmm, that seems a little pointless....what happens after the 3rd driver completes the race?
Well it's just a bit of fun, and if your team finishes in the top 2, there's a straight 3 lap race with your fastest cyclo driver to determine the overall champions.
So that gives an idea of the challenge. There where about 7 races in total and 10 teams were in each heat. A lot of the major companies had teams there and it really is a family event. There were a lot of Vietnamese celebrities (I don't know any of their names) there including their version of Angelina and Brad (pictured below), affectionately known that way because he left his wife as soon as he met her apparently. For the kids there is a sandpit, climbing frames, a bouncy castle and various games. For the adults, their is beer.
It was a fun day! I stayed for about 4 hours. I had a beer or 4, and took part in the dragging the ring game. Next year I hope to ride the cyclo but I was injured so cycling wouldn't have been a great idea! The event could do with a few more things for the adults to do. Fair ground activities like shooting or throwing a ball at coconuts would've been fun. But all in all it was a good giggle and reminded me of school summer fates when I was younger. At the end of the day it's all for a good cause and the atmosphere was very relaxed and friendly. It was probably the best event I've been to in VN so far, and I'm looking forward to doing it again next year!
And before you ask, we did terribly in our heat and I won't expand beyond that!