The Most Amazing Vietnamese Cyclo Ride
My first Vietnamese cyclo ride was the most amazing in the whole country. The “driver” pulled me and the cyclo WITH HIS EYES!
I thought the strain might rip out his eyes, but I couldn’t stop staring at his tortured face. Veins erupted, eyelids bulged, and every muscle twitched from the unnatural burden.
It’s not what I imagined for my first Vietnamese cyclo ride, but I’ll never forget it.This was the most amazing cyclo ride in all of the country!Click To Tweet
The Amazing Viet Show
Unlike typical cyclo rides, mine was on a stage not the street. It was part of a performance called “The Amazing Viet Show,” in Ho Chi Minh City.
You might think of it as a “freak show” with some Vietnamese song and dance thrown in. The show has many sword swallowers, contortionists, and other performers with unusual bodies and special skills.
We saw a lot of weird acts. So when they called me on stage, I had no idea what to expect.
Would they ask me to do something dangerous – or worse, something gross? They called me up with a Vietnamese woman, which made me feel better. At least, I wouldn’t be alone on stage.
When they directed us to the cyclo, I felt relieved and happy. I always wanted to ride a cyclo, and it looked safe? How bad could it be?
Eye Lid Strength
As I climbed on the cyclo with my new Vietnamese friend, I noticed the performer putting these devious contraptions in his eyes. I realized what this performance would be. Shiny and metallic, with dangling chains, these devices would bind this man’s eyes to the cyclo. And he was going to pull us around with his eyes!
The other woman sat inside the cyclo. I had to sit on the “driver’s seat.” The assistant told me to put my feet on a bar, not the pedals. “Never touch. Very Bad. No touch, OK,” he said. I started to get nervous again. I didn’t want to mess up and hurt the performer.
The performer then approached the cyclo and hooked up his eye piece. This moment had a lot of flair. Stage lights were beaming, dramatic music was blasting, and the performer was the picture of intense concentration. I guess part of this was an act, but his eyes were in serious danger too.
This wasn’t just a magician doing card tricks. He could get seriously hurt. Imagine life without eyelids.
He scrunches his face, leans back, and pulls tight the wires. After a few tense seconds, we begin to roll. I was thrilled at the feat, but I felt more relieved than anything. A few more seconds and we crossed the stage.
The mostly Vietnamese crowd roared in applause. They had probably never seen their iconic cyclo used like this.
When assistants stopped the cyclo, I hopped out thinking that the act was over. But one assistant grabbed me and said “One more time, OK.” As strange and impressive as it was, the first ride was just the warm up.
The More the Merrier
They then loaded 4 of us into the Vietnamese cyclo – 3 women and 1 man. No way, I thought. Together with the big metal cyclo, we weighed several hundred pounds! And the performer would pull us with only his eyes.
I remembered all the little things that hurt my eyes in the past. An eyelash, a speck of dust, rubbing them a bit too hard, almost any eye contact is painful. I felt so much “sympathy pain” simply imagining what the next moments would hold.
So the performer approaches again with those “torture devices” dangling from his eyes. The assistants hook him to the cyclo.
He leans back slowly, gradually pulling the wires taut, and trying to get us rolling. His expression displayed the burden and will haunt me forever. Bright red and shiny with sweat, his face was tangle of fat, squiggly veins. Every muscle twitched. His eyelids bulged from the strain.
I could actually see his eyelids unnaturally stretch. I grew tense. They were only tender eyelids. I imagined them ripping right off his face. I wanted to look away, but I couldn’t.
Then he gave a Karate shout, and we were rolling across the stage. Once we were moving, his face relaxed and so did I.
When I hopped off the cyclo and left the stage, I felt like I just got off a roller coaster. I was excited and thrilled with some lingering fear and nausea. I know my eyes weren’t in danger, but it felt that way.
It was an incredible show. And the most amazing Vietnamese cyclo ride.
If you’re ever in Ho Chi Minh city, we recommend seeing the Amazing Viet Show. It’s a blast.
Tips on Hiring a Vietnamese Cyclo
By the way, a “normal” Vietnamese cyclo ride is a must when here. It’s a classic Vietnamese experience that’s both fun and useful. Cyclos are a unique way to see Vietnam. They are used mostly for tours but you can also use them like a taxi for short rides.
If you hire one independently, rates vary from driver to driver and from city to city. You will have to negotiate. 50,000VND – 100,000VND ($2-$5USD) is a fair rate to pay for a 1-hour ride around popular sites for one person.
Some will ask outrageous prices, but never pay more than 100,000VND per hour.
RhiannonPosted at 08:49h, 30 March
This is insane! How does this not cause unbearable pain??? I used to watch World’s Strongest Man and other weird shows like that as a kid and found it crazy how men could pull whole trucks with their beards or eyebrows or something. This is a whole other level!
The Travel NinjasPosted at 08:49h, 30 March
Hi Rhiannon. I loved those shows too. I don’t know how they pull it off. Seeing it person up close was something else.
ChrisPosted at 08:50h, 30 March
Certainly a different Cyclo experience!
I wonder how stretched his eyelids will eventually become!
My experience with Cyclo’s was usually us sitting on a little plastic seat at a Bia Hoi somewhere, when eventually a tour group (as you alluded to) would all file past in their Vietnamese chariots! 😉
The Travel NinjasPosted at 08:55h, 30 March
Hi Chris. I don’t know. His eyelids have to be damaged somehow. At the least they has to have some calluses from all the work.
ZinaraPosted at 10:24h, 30 March
Oh my god this is some crazy experience. Doesn’t that cause him pain? Anyway, what an experience to have in Vietnam! This reminds me of insane things people do in America’s Got Talent haha!
The Travel NinjasPosted at 10:26h, 30 March
Hi Zinara. It is quite a show. It deserves to be on TV. It seems painful, but I couldn’t ask him. He didn’t speak english.
SuzannePosted at 10:28h, 30 March
What a strange experience! I admit that I was visibly cringing when you said his eyelids were stretching! I had to stop reading for a bit.
The Travel NinjasPosted at 10:33h, 30 March
Hey Suzanne. Yeah, totally. I felt the same way in the moment, but I couldn’t look away either.
RuthPosted at 10:34h, 30 March
Nooooooo!!! I am squirming just at the thought of it. Ouch!!!
The Travel NinjasPosted at 10:35h, 30 March
Hi Ruth. We were all squirming in the theatre too. double ouch.
Raine C.S.Posted at 10:39h, 30 March
Oh my…. that looks….. ummmm, painful. Seems like it’s quite a show to take in. Glad you got to have that experience!!
The Travel NinjasPosted at 10:40h, 30 March
Hi Raine. Thanks. It was weird but I’m glad I had the chance.
Author Brandi KennedyPosted at 10:40h, 30 March
Yeah I probably would have been freaking out a little bit, too! I can’t imagine trying to pull a cyclo with just my eyes – I have sissy eyes!
The Travel NinjasPosted at 10:42h, 30 March
Hi Brandi. Me too. No way I would even put those things in mine. let alone pull so much.
robin masshole mommyPosted at 10:43h, 30 March
WOW! This sounds amazing. I would love to see this in person someday!
The Travel NinjasPosted at 10:44h, 30 March
Hi Robin. I was so impressed. Hope you get the chance.
JenniferPosted at 12:32h, 30 March
I would be terrified too of pulling his eyes out when I accidentally sneezed or something and tipped the bike over! What an extraordinary show of strength – or at least tolerance to pain! Sounds like a fun show.
The Travel NinjasPosted at 12:33h, 30 March
Hey Jennifer. We had lots of fun for sure.
Jessica HughesPosted at 12:39h, 30 March
What a completely insane experience! I can’t even imagine watching this man pull the cyclo with his eyes, much less being the one to do it! What a crazy show this must have been.
The Travel NinjasPosted at 12:44h, 30 March
Hi Jessica. Yes it was such a crazy night, but a cool Vietnamese experience too.
Amber MyersPosted at 14:33h, 30 March
Oh wow! How crazy. I’d be interested in seeing this show.
The Travel NinjasPosted at 14:44h, 30 March
Hi Amber. As a show it was very entertaining in many ways.
NataliePosted at 15:38h, 30 March
This has to be one of the weirdest things I have ever heard for a traveling adventure! You are amazing. How fun!! And….weird!! LOL!! Thanks for sharing!!!
The Travel NinjasPosted at 15:44h, 30 March
Hi Natalie. Thank you so much. I was really fun and exciting.
Anastasia JonesPosted at 15:53h, 30 March
I have taken a few rides over the years mostly in India, I actually really enjoy it, it’s very relaxing and the local drivers are so informative and knowledgable. I think I’ll stick to the normal rides – reading about that and looking at those photos completely made me cringe, what an odd experience!
The Travel NinjasPosted at 15:55h, 30 March
Hey Anastasia. Yup, its was so different from a normal ride, which are also fun.
Mihaela EcholsPosted at 17:52h, 30 March
I love plays and seeing shows. I dont think I would like to be apart of it though. just watch.
The Travel NinjasPosted at 17:55h, 30 March
Hi Mihaela. It was a surprise to me too. I didn’t volunteer to go on stage, but I think they like to bring up the foreigners.
Nicole AndersonPosted at 18:00h, 30 March
I can’t imagine what it would be like to even witness something like that, much less be a participant. Just reading about this made me feel so uncomfortable as my mind came to grips with the idea. This is definitely something you would be able to tell your grand-kids about – and they probably wouldn’t believe you – except of course you have the photos as proof! Just amazing.
The Travel NinjasPosted at 18:01h, 30 March
Hello Nicole. That’s true. It is a unique story to tell.
JeanPosted at 19:08h, 30 March
Well now I feel that my cyclo ride to the bar was rather inadequate compared to your experience. I do wonder how does one find out that this is your talent? Pulling along a cyclo with your eyes. Oh the strange and wonderful things we find on our travels
The Travel NinjasPosted at 19:11h, 30 March
Hello Jean. Great point. How did he discover that talent? Great question.
Heather @ US Japan FamPosted at 20:27h, 30 March
Ohhhhh my gosh I can’t believe he pulled that with his eyelids! Ewww!!! I went to HCM about 10 years ago, loved it!!! But…. I’m glad I didn’t see this show hehehe I don’t think my stomach could take it 🙂
The Travel NinjasPosted at 20:33h, 30 March
Hello Heather. It is hard to believe that eyelids could do so much.
NadinePosted at 20:42h, 30 March
Omg this is crazy. I don’t know if I would manage to sit still while someone is trying to pull that with his eyelids. It sounds like a unique experience though I think I couldn’t take it lol
The Travel NinjasPosted at 20:44h, 30 March
Hi Nadine. It was weird to experience it, but I’m so glad I had that moment.
Elizabeth O.Posted at 05:56h, 31 March
What an exciting show! It would be so nice to watch when you’re in the area and if you’re a tourist, it a must see as well. It will definitely give you a different experience.
The Travel NinjasPosted at 05:57h, 31 March
Hi Elizabeth. We agree its a great night out if you’re in Ho Chi Minh City.
Carol CassaraPosted at 05:58h, 31 March
This show sounds like it will keep you at the edge of your seat! It’s exciting and interesting! I wouldn’t mind watching this if I were ever in Vietnam.
The Travel NinjasPosted at 05:59h, 31 March
Hi Carol. Well put. We were on the edge of our seats, even on the cyclo.
Only By LandPosted at 11:19h, 31 March
I’m impressed you were on TV, or was it a show, whatever it was, I’m impressed. It is so un-natural what that guy did, pulling you all like that. You have some impressive pictures of this event!
The Travel NinjasPosted at 11:22h, 31 March
Hi Only By Land. It was a great time. I don’t think it made it on TV. Its a regular live show in Ho Chi Minh City.
Ms.WildHead beauty blogPosted at 14:46h, 31 March
Wow, it looks like very interesting show. I think I would like to watch this show so much 😉
The Travel NinjasPosted at 14:48h, 31 March
Hi Ms. Wildhead. We had a fantastic time there.
Wanderlust VegansPosted at 15:54h, 31 March
Well this looks like a really entertaining show. I will look into it if we find ourselves in Vietnam,
The Travel NinjasPosted at 15:55h, 31 March
Hi Wanderlust Vegans. Good to hear. Hope you enjoy the show.
jenPosted at 17:52h, 31 March
OMG! This is the craziest thing EVER!!! You guys go on great adventures!
The Travel NinjasPosted at 17:55h, 31 March
Hi Jen. Thanks we do love a good adventure and unusual experiences.
GlendaPosted at 19:44h, 31 March
The Vietnamese cyclo is so neat! Looks like you guys had so much fun. I would like to ride it myself!
The Travel NinjasPosted at 19:55h, 31 March
Hello Glenda. We do love Vietnamese cyclo rides, especially this one.
Sandy N VyjayPosted at 11:20h, 01 April
I just can’t imagine the pain the performer went through. It’s difficult for us to pull the cyclo with our bare hands let alone our eyelids. I broke into a cold sweat when I read this.
The Travel NinjasPosted at 11:22h, 01 April
Hi Sandy n Vyjay. It is chilling. I don’t know how he managed it. And after the show we met him and he seemed fine. No red eyes or anything.
nehaPosted at 12:35h, 01 April
OMG..I could feel a shiver thinking how he managed to pull the bicycle with his eyes. It must be so difficult. He must be super talented but still, I feel it is a risky act
The Travel NinjasPosted at 12:44h, 01 April
Hi Neha. It is really I think too. Its only flesh and blood. His eyelids could rip and tear realistically.
ElliePosted at 23:00h, 01 April
Looks like you had such a fun time in this! Looks like quite an entertaining show.
The Travel NinjasPosted at 23:11h, 01 April
Hello Ellie. That’s true we had a great time at this entertaining show.
AshleaPosted at 23:58h, 01 April
I would totally have been freaking out. Either that or groseed out yikes the damage he is doing to his eyelids.
The Travel NinjasPosted at 23:59h, 01 April
Hey Ashlea. It’s funny how it was both kinda gross and so fun.
Sushmita Thakare JainPosted at 12:06h, 02 April
Wow! That must be interesting to watch, wasn’t even aware of such ride existed.
The Travel NinjasPosted at 12:11h, 02 April
Hi Sushmita. Yeah it was new to us too.
blair villanuevaPosted at 01:39h, 03 April
Thats crazy and heart pumping! What can I say, Asians are talented and skilled AF. 🙂
The Travel NinjasPosted at 01:44h, 03 April
hi Blair. Youre right. Asians really are talented in so many ways.
EmmaPosted at 04:22h, 03 April
How amazing and incredibly bizarre at the same time – I can’t believe how much pain he must be able to withstand. Even looking ahh the pictures make me feel ill so I can’t imagine what it must’ve been like to be there!
The Travel NinjasPosted at 04:33h, 03 April
Hi Emma. It was tough to see so close. It had to be agonizing, but he seemed ok afterwards.
staceyPosted at 00:14h, 04 April
This is quite strange and at the same time I can’t take my eyes off this… pun intended.
The Travel NinjasPosted at 00:22h, 04 April
Hi Stacey. Haha. You joke but its true. Thats exactly how I felt in the moment.
IsabelPosted at 02:21h, 04 April
Wow this is the first I’ve heard of cyclo in Vietnam! This is so much like a performance on bikes!
The Travel NinjasPosted at 02:22h, 04 April
Hi Isabel. Yeah, there are lots of vietnamese cyclos but not like this.
TamiPosted at 02:52h, 04 April
This reminds me of some of the crazy feats displayed (in photos and books) at the Ripley’s Odditorium in Orlando Florida. Ripley spent a lifetime collecting interesting and crazy facts about people. I’ll never understand why anyone would want to do something like this, but I guess it is our differences that make us all unique!
The Travel NinjasPosted at 03:00h, 04 April
Hey Tami. Yeah it is like a Ripley’s event.
Elena NemetsPosted at 08:41h, 04 April
Oh! Oh! Now this is WEIRD!!!
The Travel NinjasPosted at 08:44h, 04 April
Hi Elena. Yeah. It was definitely very weird.
AshleePosted at 09:39h, 05 April
That sounds so crazy!! I can’t imagine ever doing something like that to my eyes!
The Travel NinjasPosted at 09:40h, 05 April
Hey Ashlee. Us either. It is too crazy to even consider.
Helen VellaPosted at 09:42h, 05 April
Wow crazy show, love the images that shows it off perfectly. Can;t understand why people do that though.
The Travel NinjasPosted at 09:43h, 05 April
Hello Helen. It is so curious. Anything for a good show I guess.
PRERNA SINHAPosted at 09:44h, 05 April
Oh God, people do such scary and risky things. Thank God, he managed it and was fine.
The Travel NinjasPosted at 09:55h, 05 April
Hi Prerna. It was a relief. I know it was just a show, but I felt better once it was over.
Alicia TaylorPosted at 12:48h, 05 April
I don’t think I could have stayed on that bike! No way! However, I could go for a “normal” ride. I do want to go to Vietnam. Interestingly enough, it looks like travel there is cheaper during my birthday month – and my son’s birthday month.
The Travel NinjasPosted at 12:55h, 05 April
Hi Alicia. That is a happy coincidence. Travel prices in Vietnam are lower than most places.
Punica MakeupPosted at 01:52h, 06 April
What an amazing show! Sadly this kind of vehicle is banned in Hanoi and Saigon 🙁
The Travel NinjasPosted at 01:55h, 06 April
Hey Punica. Yeah it was an amazing show.
AmiPosted at 06:00h, 07 April
This is freaky… Crazy. I would be so terrified to even see it. Not something i would want to experience. Reading itself made it so gruesome.
The Travel NinjasPosted at 06:11h, 07 April
Hey Ami. It was freaky for sure. Yes the show may not be for the squeamish.