A Vietnamese child snoozes en route

You might have heard scooters and motorbikes are a popular form of transportation in Southeast Asia. Wages are small and gasoline is expensive (the equivalent of $1.20 USD per liter in Vietnam, for example), so the majority of families that can afford motorized transportation opt for the two-wheeled variety.

In Bangkok, designated moto taxis ferry locals and foreigners alike around. In Chiang Mai, it’s not uncommon to see an orange-robed monk sitting side-saddle on a scooter. Phnom Penh traffic lanes are really just a suggestion as scooters and tuk-tuks roam freely on both sides of the road. Carpooling in Siem Reap entails cramming two or three uniformed kids into the saddle of a Yamaha. In Saigon, scooting often means making a fashion statement.  There, as helmets are available in every fathomable pattern, market stalls sell colorful cloth face masks (for blocking fumes — not Avian Flu, mind you), women zip around in dresses and heels and infants ride under bug netting fitted with plush animal ears.

Him and I own a scooter, but we find riding double a bit cramped and hardly ever do so. And the cargo we carry seldom exceeds a single plastic grocery bag. I once wedged a six pack of Bud Light Lime between my feet to get from the grocery store to our home. I was terrified the entire half-mile journey.

Below are some of the oddest cargo arrangements we’ve spotted occupying (and not occupying) the moto saddle in Southeast Asia. By far, Cambodia takes the prize for some of the strangest configurations.

12. Enough luggage to fill the trunk of a Chevy Suburban (Saigon)

11. Two monks riding side saddle behind a moto taxi driver (Chiang Mai, Bangkok)

10. Two people and an upside down bicycle (Siem Reap)

9.  A shrine pedestal (Siem Reap)

8. The shrine (Siem Reap)

7.  Two guys and a washing machine (Siem Reap)

6.  A few dozen upside down, dead ducks (Phnom Penh)

5.  300 pounds of unsecured bagged (and dripping) ice (Saigon)

4.  Twenty live chickens divided amongst two side saddle baskets (Siem Reap, Saigon)

3.  Two people and a Lunar New Year orange tree (Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, Saigon)

2.  Three people and a small child sitting in a wooden chair strapped to the scooter seat (Saigon)

1.  A family of five (Siem Reap, Saigon)