In recent months, I’ve been traveling a lot by motorbike taxi using ride-sharing apps like Uber and Grab. Prior to my ride-sharing app days, I made much less trips using these modes of transport. Those kind of trips would usually just have involved negotiating a fare with a local driver, and jumping on the back of his (or her) motorbike. However, as a frequent motor taxi user, I’ve thought more about how I best use those services, and I’ve discovered some inexpensive gear to make these trips much more comfortable.
Today, I want to share with you some of the gear I’ve found.
First, there’s riding glasses. Before seeing a friend using them, I’d never noticed special purpose ‘riding glasses’. Riding glasses are simple clear plastic glasses (of varying quality) that you can buy from a chemist or many local markets for around $2-$7. The type of plastic used in many of these glasses is so flexible that you can sit on them, and they will bend, but won’t break. This flexibility has an added benefit in that they’re unlikely to accidentally break in your bag.
While these riding glasses don’t make me look as stylish as Bono’s glasses do, I’ve been really surprised at the difference these riding glasses have made to the quality of my motorcycle trips. When I reflected upon it, it makes perfect sense. All of those things like bugs, dust, and so on, that make the window screen of the car dirty, is what is actually going directly into your eyes as you ride a motorbike. I definitely notice the difference in the quality of my trips on the occasions that I don’t use them. You can find some different styles of riding glasses here at Amazon.com.
Next, there is the face mask. In developing countries, many people buy cheap surgical masks from a chemist to reduce the effects of air pollution. However, I suspect that this style of mask blocks hardly any (if any) air pollution. On the recommendation of a friend, I purchased a set of anti-pollution face masks from AQBlue in Vietnam that seem to filter more pollution from the air. I definitely notice the difference in the quality of the air I’m breathing when I’m in heavy traffic. These masks cost around $1 a piece and last for about 30 hours of road travel. You can buy them in Vietnam and China from AQBlue. Similar anti-pollution face masks, can be purchased at Amazon.com. The model that I’d been contemplating buying from Amazon.com was the 3M face masks. (I’d go for the masks from a company like 3M, that you know will have put some research into developing a quality mask. Many of the other third party sellers at Amazon will just be selling cheap generic product made in China.)
Finally, there’s the ‘five leaf clover’. Several months ago, one of the local motorbike ride sharing companies was giving away these little helmet liners to everyone who was taking their motor taxi. Basically, you put the liner inside the helmet that the driver offers you, so that your head isn’t directly touching the same place that the last 1,000+ customers sweaty heads were. Presumably for cost reasons, they’ve stopped giving these out. I think they’re an awesome little product, and I’m glad I made a stockpile of them before they decided to no longer issue them. When my stockpile runs out, I’ll look for an alternative product, which I’m sure you can find online. At Amazon.com they seem to be called motorcycle helmet liners.
In summary, if I was traveling frequently by motor taxi in a developing country, these are three little products I’d bring with me to make my trips more comfortable. They’re inexpensive, and they don’t take up much space in your luggage. The difference in the quality of my rides though has made them well worth the investment.