My girlfriend Amarett and I are headed to Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam, leaving this week. I have some work to do there, and then we'll take off for 3-4 weeks riding in Vietnam & Laos, returning to Vietnam and ending in Hanoi, where I also have to be for work. In other words, it's a tax deductible vacation. Our bikes for the trip are two vintage 125cc two-stroke Minsks. If you're not familiar with this bike, they were made in Belarus, and at one time (many years ago) they were the mechanical backbone of the rural economy in Northern Vietnam. I am not sure how that happened exactly, since Belarus is not particularly close to Vietnam, but they must've come over the border from China. 13 years ago I rode one through Vietnam from Hanoi to Saigon. It ran great. Back then Minsks were everywhere. Now, not so much. But that was one of the first big international moto trips I ever did so the Minsk has a special place in my heart. Here's an old pic from that trip. Last year when I was in Vietnam for work I barely saw any Minsks at all on the road, except the one I myself was riding. The roads are full of modern scooters and mini four-strokes, but no Minsks. The younger Vietnamese actually kind of look down on them, because they represent the past, and they're smoky and noisy and clunky to ride. But some expats and local Vietnamese are starting to collect and recondition them. And man they just keep going and going. They're great little bikes. Not because they don't breakdown, but because they are so simple to take apart and fix on the side of the road. But in the modern Vietnam where everything is clean, new, and sporty, the tough, smoky old Minsk doesn't really fit anymore. Most kids would rather have a honda or a vespa. The most practical choice for this trip would surely be a 110cc Honda Win or a step-through scooter. But the Minsk has an undeniable appeal, plus the two stroke power, which is notable in a country where engine size is limited to 175cc. When our friend Anton (an American designer living/working at our factory in HCMC) said he'd found two old Minsks for sale in Saigon last week, we were all over it. $440 apiece with legal registration (in Anton's girlfriend's name), new tires, and whatever mechanical work they need. Some pics Anton sent from the bike shop: Here are the bikes themselves, just got these pics from Anton an hour ago. All packed, ready to head out on Tuesday. No fancy riding gear or body armor for this trip. Helmet, rain jacket, hiking boots, and carhartts. Found this book online and read it cover to cover. http://www.minskclubvietnam.com/pdf/mInsk-repair-manual.pdf From Chapter 1: "The Minsk is a practical and pragmatic bike with no flash or sharp design. It is made of steel not chrome and prefers to be greased not polished. It is a war-horse which carries its wounds and scars well and can be repaired with just a rock and a stick." That's some straight-up poetry right there. Respect to Mr Digby. With a little help from the manual, we put in an advance request for the following spares. A concern we have is finding Minsk parts out in the countryside. Not likely to be as easy as it once was. - transformer (1) - electrical box (1) - generator (1) - carburetor (1) - clutch pads (1 set) - brake pads (1 set) - throttle cable (1) - brake cable (1) - clutch cable (1) - spark plug (2) - headlight bulb (1) - front tire tube (1) - rear tire tube (1) If any Minsk fans notice something missing from the list above please let us know. Also, any leads to Minsk mechanics in the area would be awesome. Amarett and I are on a tight budget. Flights were booked with airline miles. We'll sell the bikes at the end and hopefully get some money back. My business is in startup mode, by which I mean I'm living on credit. But off we go anyway.