Vietnam Part 2: A girl, a dog, and some tea leaves

And the second part.

To finish up my eye-opening trip to Vietnam, once in Hanoi I met this “English student” around Ho Kiem Lake (maybe, but not likely a student). We’ll call her Doong. Doong was cute and knew all of the cute things us foreign guys like to see and hear (giggle at stupid jokes, ask what clothing items are in English, talk about family, and say that you have no boyfriend). I figured, “What the hell, let’s tag around this chick and see what happens. I don’t have much on me to steal.” So she takes me around the lake and it’s obvious she’s done this to others because she’s got her script in the little black book that she keeps showing me. Whatever, carry on. Doong mentions that he uncle’s house is nearby and that we could drop in to say “hi.” A few things run through my mind as this point: 1) this is where I should say “thank you” and move away because her uncle is member of the Vietnam Mafia. 2) I check my pockets for condoms. 3) Check the woman’s features in case I need to make a police report. So with those thoughts running through my mind, I decide to join her.

Finally, we come to Doong’s “uncle’s house”. For those of you thinking that this was a bad idea, well, yes, probably. Her uncle wasn’t around, but her cousin was. He was tending to the moto-renting business. We go into the garage and sit at the back behind the motos. He offers me something to drink (I’m waiting to get poisoned and robbed any minute here) and we get talking (well, he didn’t actually speak English, so this chick had to interpret). After a few minutes, he pulls up a bong from which he smokes Vietnamese tobacco. Me, having a Yes-Man moment, decide that it would be a GREAT idea to try this thing out. Holy fuck. Bong goes my head. And that was a small, improper toke. He’s so pleased by my ability to smoke, he invites me to dinner. We agree that I need to go shower and should return to his place around 6 pm. Doong doesn’t want to come back cause she doesn’t like to see me drinking and smoking (awww, what a wonderful girlfriend she would make! She’s concerned about me!!), but I convince her to join me because there’s no way I’m going to sit by myself in a moto-rental shop with her tokin’ cousin and a bunch of his friends.

6 pm, dinner time. He cooks up some pig, rice and some vegetables, pulls out some Bia Ha Noi, and invites a couple other friends over for the celebration. Doong doesn’t want to drink, but I’m all for it. Since I went back to the hotel, I emptied my pockets of everything worth stealing and only kept my insurance papers and some cash. After the beer’s finished, we drink the home made “Ro” (rice-whiskey, similar to lao-lao) and that fucks me up. In any event, after drinking so much, I gotta pee. Go to the toilet. Leave toilet, spook dog, dog bites my foot. FUCK! Now I’ve been bitten by a fucking dog in a developing country! If there’s one thing you HAVE to go to the doctor for, it’s getting bit by a dog. I sit down on the couch and let Doong spray some anti-septic on my foot and bandage me up while her cousin tells me that it’s not a “crazy dog.”

Bandaged and still eager to continue on, I take another hit of that bong. And BONG! again goes my head. This toke doesn’t sit right, and you know what happens when you feel that way. So up comes the good pig Doong’s cousin has cooked for us. Whoops.

But it doesn’t end there.

Not to be daunted by the dog bite or the up-chucking, I tell my man Ling or Lao or Lou or whatever his name was (Doong’s cousin’s friend who can speak English), that I’d like to see some live music, jazz specifically. So we get on his moto and find a jazz club. It’s swinging and a great time. No worries. I request Rollins, and the band yelled something back in Vietnamese. Unsure what they said. I applauded anyway. And now Ling wants to go to a night club.

We go and it’s not such a big deal. Hip hop mostly complete with choregraphed dancers on the bar tables. Kinda expensive, 500,000 VND but we have a good time (on my dollar, btw).

Drunk, bitten and in need of some sleep or a woman, I get Lao to drop me off somewhere close to my hotel. He dropped me off a block away from my hotel but SOMEHOW I got lost. So, what happens? Well, some dude pulls up on a moto bike and offers me some weed. I say “yea, that’d be a great idea” (it wasn’t). I ASK if he has change (Steve, you did what?) for a 500,000 bill (how much did you show him you had?). Which he grabbed from my hand and drove off (did you at least get the weed?). No weed, but some nicely packaged tea leaves.

Upset at being ripped off, I decide it’s a good idea to try to rob a moto driver (at this point, I thought of Vietnam as a collective organism committed to one thing, telling the world how horrible their history is and bilking all tourists of their money). Well, sheeit, the first guy who stops screams bloody murder and all of a sudden, the cops magically appear! WOW! Try to get that service anywhere else! The good Lord was above me then because I back off knowing that going at it with the cops would probably be a worse thing than the dog, the puking and losing $25… and much tougher to explain.

Maybe one day my opinion of Vietnam can change, but right now, I’m glad I’m out of there.

PS – Be careful of boom-boom, there may be more behind the abbreviation of the country’s currency than you think.

PPS – I did see one guy die on a bench by the lake. His friend was either trying resusitate him or kill him more by hitting and jumping on his chest. Kinda sickening, actually. Cops showed up and casually walked over to the bench and didn’t even touch the guy. Weird.

PPPS – It was on the way to Vietnam I created the following playlist. Not sure if it says something about my state of mind or if it’s just a series of good tunes to listen to.

So What – Metallica’s version

Fuel – Metallica

Breakin’ me Down – Soil

Halo – Soil

Garden of Eden – Guns N’ Roses

Die, Die my Darling – Metallica

Alconol – Ciaira’s tears


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One Response to “Vietnam Part 2: A girl, a dog, and some tea leaves”

  1. My Life on the Farm « Steven Sirski's Blog Says:

    […] away by torrential downpours and frost! Suddenly getting ripped off $30 at the Cambodian border or buying tea leaves for $25 doesn’t seem so bad!) If you’d like to see some more photos from my time on the farm, […]

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