Andre Akito

January 11 , 2021

Dirty Hands Garage Da Nang – A Day at the Mechanic

There are countless mechanics in Da Nang and all over Vietnam. It is definitely one of the most common and important jobs in country as motorbikes are the most popular form of transportation and they need recurrent repairs (especially if you’re driving a Honda Win…) According to Statista, as of 2020, there were over 65 million registered motorbikes in Vietnam, equaling around two-thirds of the population. And that’s without the unregistered motorbikes…

Therefore, it is not surprising that the streets of Vietnam are flooded with mechanics and garages. There are many different types of mechanic shops in Vietnam such as official repair centers (managed by Honda, Yamaha etc), custom shops and back street mechanic shops, which are the most common around the country. These last ones, you can basically find them on every corner of a city and even in some of the most remote places in the countryside. These are called Xua Xe in Vietnamese.

Most of the times, back street mechanics learned their skills by themselves and their shops tend to prioritize speed over quality. It is true that most of the times, they work out pretty well and they can put your motorbike back on road in less than 15 minutes. Many times, I had problems with my motorbike in the middle of nowhere and these shops worked out pretty well. However, the biggest struggle to someone who is not familiar with the motorbike maintenance, is to determine if a mechanic is good or if the mechanic is trying to overcharge you, or even tricking you to change some parts that are not necessary.

Over my time in Vietnam, I visited many mechanics, some good and honest, but also some bad and untruthful. During these years, however, I haven’t found a mechanic like Dirty Hands Garage in Da Nang.  

Dirty Hands is a small garage located in a quiet and narrow street in the city of Đà Nẵng, center Vietnam. Since the first moment you get there, you are treated like a friend and not like a customer. It is owned and managed by Bơm, a young mechanic who has been in love with the art since he was a child.

I met Bơm through another friend of mine who was his neighbor. I needed to do a huge check up on my Honda Win, since it had been one year since I bought it in Hanoi. So, my friend suggested me to visit Dirty Hands Garage.

I few days later, I went to Dirty Hands Garage and met Bơm. Instead of just leaving my motorbike, I decided to stay there to learn a little with him and to see his work in progress. In the meantime, I noticed that Dirty Hands was not only a garage, but also a place to hang out. I noticed that some guys were just going there to meet their friends, drink beer and smoke tuoc lao (the Vietnamese tobacco). And Bơm wasn’t just a mechanic, but also a good friend!

I spent two full days in Dirty Hands repairing my motorbike with Bơm. During these days, completely dismantled my motorbike, cleaned every single part of it and changed the parts that were broken or not working properly. He also painted my motorbike and fixed all the electric part. While he was working, I also had the chance to capture some images of the workflow in his garage. 

During these days he taught me that every motorbike is unique and that it takes a lot of time, experience and effort for a mechanic to understand each bike and take the most out of it. In addition, it requires a great degree of customization. Whenever I saw Bơm working, I thought he looked like an artist. He got so involved in the project that when he finished, he was as happy as me with the result.

Dirty Hands Garage | Da Nang | Vietnam

In the meantime, we also decided to shoot a video of the workflow together. It was a way to remember the days we spent together but also a small tribute to my motorbike (the one that took me to so many places in Vietnam) and also to all good and honest mechanics out there in Vietnam who are truly life savers for many people and travelers out there!

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