It sizzled. That’s what I remember. Ten years later (see photo below) I can’t be sure that my memory is serving me as well as it should be, but in my head I can hear the steak-on-BBQ hiss.
She had her full weight on the leg as she dismounted the bike. That probably made things worse. Your normal, garden-variety “hand touches freaking hot metal thing” burn only lasts an instant before your reflexes kick in, but in this case she had to shift her whole body to a new position to break contact with the hot exhaust.
At first I had no idea what happened. She screamed. I looked around to see where the danger was. Snake? Man with knife? Broken glass in the sand? What? The exhaust? You’ve got to be kidding. Of course it’s hot! We’d been riding for an hour in Vietnamese summer, but still I felt guilty for not pointing it out to her. Note to self; always tell pillions about the shiny, burny thing two inches from their foot peg. Especially future wives.
I’ve never had a holiday go so pear-shaped so quickly. An hour later we’re back in the hotel room and on the phone to my mum, the nurse. There’s a blister on the back of her leg just above the right ankle that’s the size of a golf ball. I manage to get the thing dressed after (gulp) popping the blister.
Later we would discover that “non-stick” wound dressings don’t always work as advertised, and that the Vietnamese locals weren’t the least bit surprised. “Ahhh – MOW-TER-BAIKE” they’d say, smiling.