I realize that I have been extraordinarily remiss in my communication up to this point, so this post will be an extremely long one, for purposes of catching everyone up. Since this place advertises in-room internet, I assumed I could get it. Every interaction here is conducted by simply proceeding any noun you want to get (Or sell, as will become clear) with the word "OK." The extremely sweet, really pregnant girl at the front desk has assured me daily, "OK internet today!" but she proved to be the most mendacious, artful deceiver on this earth until this evening. When I realized that ACTUALLY GETTING SOMETHING DONE IN VIETNAM would prove to be impossible, I started keeping a daily diary, so this post will mainly consist of excerpts from that, since I'm really too lazy to rewrite anything. Forgive the parts that are written like illiterate telegrams, and at least give me credit for attempting to exclude the boring bits.
Thursday 16th: Arrive Vietnam super late at night, terrifying bike ride to hotel. appreciate bad ass hotel room, Go to Le pub, eat steak sandwich from vaguely sketchy street vendor. Meet Fred's friend Andrew and Helen, who edits pathfinder magazine, and seems constantly stressed out. Meet Trung, the manager of Le Pub, who is a good friend of Fred's. drink beer. Go to street bar for Bia Hoi (brew today, drink today beer) from A GAS CAN, which as you might imagine, tastes like gorilla shit. Drive home.
Friday 17th: woke up Fred at ungodly hour. Walked around streets to harmonious chorus of "You Motobike? Yooooo! OK Motobike? Where you go now?" went to ATM, drank coffee, hit by motorbike, (not fatal) witnessed the traditional ancient and beautiful "welcome to Vietnam!" ceremony, in which a stray dog listlessly approached our table and vomited up a copious amount of undigested noodle soup. We then went and got 90 minute massages for about six dollars, which was made less relaxing by the fact that the people administering them were gossiping in deafening shrieks the whole time. We had lunch at Quan An Ngon, a restaurant which had the novel idea to consolidate all the best street vendors, pay them triple their weekly earnings, and print menus. Oh yeah, and acquire health and safety standards. Afterwards, Fred went to class, while I drank too expensive coffee at this crazy cafe where trees were growing through the deck and the staff had to wear stupid uniforms. Later that night, we went to Jungle Barbeque with Natsuko and Helen, and ate Crocodile, which was awesome, and mouse, which has too many bones to be awesome. I threw bread at a waiter, who could not stop staring at us, and we were harassed by mute children, who were too petrified to say anything, but really wanted to sit at the table with us foreigners. afterwards, we met Korean royalty, or some shit, and could not find place to drink because the Karaoke rooms were full, there were too many drunk asshole australians, or there was BLOOD IN THE BATHROOMS (no lie.) The burgeoning leaders of Korea then dismissed their private chauffer, and took a cab 1/2 block to a terrible Gay club, in which Fred was groped by the waiter, and the drinks were expensive. Read, over two dollars. Fred and I left and went to Hoa Mai, a Japanese bar for mostly ex-pats. There we ran into a guy from Portland named Brian who has the dubious pleasure of some mutual acquaintances.
Saturday 18th: Fred had early class, and I woke up early, too. I left the hotel and walked around streets, where I saw a super old dude selling exclusively cigarettes and kotex(!!!!) from a pushcart. I walked through the street stalls in a fruit market, to the constant and unceasing barrage of "You motobike?" I came home, met Fred, and went to Benh Thanh market, an insane and claustrophobic rip off from hell full of things you would never want or use, unless you happened to be at Benh Thanh market. We left with all possible speed and went to Dan Sinh market to collect materials for ADVENTURE #1. This place is a filthy, ill-lit army surplus slash ghetto hardware store, also specializing in ladies underwear and gas masks. Stalls are all independent of one another, and very specific. like, this dude sells springs. Like 50,000 springs. Of all sizes. This yatch sells only wheels. Build some shit, and put some springs and wheels on that bitch! Everyone was seized with spasmodic laughter at our very presence, yet managed to choke out "Hello! You Buy?" We found large blue tubing at the market, but failed signally to find a funnel of any sort. How they pour some shit without spilling? mystery. We spent at least two hours in a fruitless search, and walked outside only to see A RUSTY FUNNEL ON THE GROUND. "Where you get that shit?" We demanded, and in return, received top secret directions to the lair of the funnel lady, who has a stall two blocks away selling everything ever made out of plastic. Please do not think there are even exceptions to this. EVERYTHING. We bought the biggest funnel, and drove home with the funnel on my head for purposes of space conservation. I tipped my funnel to ladies and children. We were a smash hit. We arrived home, and hacked impotently at the funnel with a machete. After prodigious amounts of both arduous labor and plastic shavings, we managed to fit the tubing into the funnel. We then also managed to receive a handful of dish soap from across the language barrier at the hotel desk, along with several cans of deplorable piss. We warmed the beer in the bathtub, while washing the HELL out of the funnel and attendant tubing. celebratory beer bongs for ALL! Flew "MISSION ACCOMPLISHED" banner from ass... took a Nap. Later, we transported our creation to Le Pub, where to the extreme consternation of some British sluts and the intense amusement of some middle-aged Irish lady, we exhibited the proper form and execution of said beer bong. We then convinced Trung to take a beer bong, with hilarious consequences. I have a video. Trung roped us into going to some horrible party at some upscale bar populated entirely by the petty bourgeoisie. We Fled, with all diplomatic haste, pursued by drunken epithets from Trung.
Sunday, the 19th: Woke up early again, worse luck. Walk down to sketchy cafe containing 10 lawn chairs and two shirtless dudes. Actually manage to order coffee in vietnamese. Read book and drink too much coffee. Watch movies with Vietnamese subtitles, take notes on vocabulary. got bad ass haircut and dye job for 18$. Came home, fucked with computer, tried to fix Fred's, with limited success. went to dinner at Benh Thanh market, ate the most incredible eel curry, sparred with waitstaff, harrassed by Vietnamese lady from Australia (please do not ask) while her niece giggled incessantly. raised eyebrows, smiled politely, left for Le Pub to meet Andrew, Helen and Trung and watch soccer. Began WAR with dude who works at Le Pub and speaks no english. Meet Hayden and his friend Andy, one of whom has lovely manners. Listened to Hayden talk for seven and a half hours. Went to bed.
Monday the 20th: took Fred's computer to get fixed, went to shitty americanized coffee joint so Fred could plan lessons. Got cell phone. Went home, read book, got dropped off downtown on Fred's way to class. Horrified by downtown, wandered helplessly past upscale stores, irritated instantly by several hundred tourists, inspected grossly overpriced goods, found a bar. Met Brian, drank beer for several hours, went out for Pho, met Fred at Le Pub, continued acrimonious dispute with my new enemy, went home early and slept.
Tuesday the 21st: Woke up early AGAIN, god damn it. Ate breakfast at hotel, went for a walk. went to ripped off DVD and game store, bought Siren 2. Went to awful bookstore, ate really good crepes for lunch, braved post office. Awoken from Nap by Fred asserting that "Something was definitely happening and we needed to go find it." Got on bike, followed beams of searchlights to WORST TRAFFIC EVER. Found out that it was only for some stupid yatch playing a concert. Met Naoko for BBQ and ice cream. Went home and drank four bottles of wine with Helen, bought street kids chocolate milk on trip to liquor store, threatened stupid street kid who bullied other street kids.
Wednesday the 22nd: Nothing. Seriously. Nothing.
Thursday the 23rd: slept kind of late, went to china town, went to liquor store, bought moutai, drank SNAKE WINE; which is even more odious than it sounds. And actually contains snakes. helped Fred plan lesson, tried to walk up to Benh Thanh market, got lost, drank a beer, came home, changed, tried again to walk to market, Actually made it, found belt, bargained with bitch, then realized I forgot my money. got pissed and drank some coffee waiting for fred. Went to WORST PLACE EVER for dinner, hated staff, food sucked. Drove out to Korean town to learn to drive. Me motobike!! Met Fred's student Tram (pronounced CHUM) who is offensively wholesome, and his lovely but asinine girlfriend who had to repeat high school. Attempted to communicate purpose of "knock Knock" jokes. failed. Came home, chilled.
Friday the 24th: Went to terrible Indian food. got lost. spent hours trying to rent a PS2 to play Siren 2. played with adorable but pestilent dogs while gently interrogating extremely youthful looking 22 year old about sketchy relationship with octogenarian in adjoining room. washed hands thoroughly. went to a coffee place to read while Fred had class. While sitting on my ass, received urgent request from Fred to make haste to Benh Thanh market to take pictures of a protest occurring. So I proceeded with preposterous expedience, deciding, on this occasion, to find an excuse for a much longed for activity: A ride in a Cyclo. Cyclos (pronounced: sick-low) are bikes with huge chaises attached to the front. Some are motorized, but most are just a dude pedaling you to your destination. They are aptly referred to (at least by Fred and myself) as RIDICLOS. My trip in a ridiclo was absolutely hilarious. I was hard pressed to contain myself, but observing that no one else bothered to, I gave vent to it, and laughed the whole way there. On arriving at the market, I found that the police had already dispersed the protesters, and there was nothing to be seen. I bought some tea and reflected that my next ride in a ridiclo would involve me wearing a preposterous hat, oversized shades, and smoking a long cigarette while drinking a bitchy cocktail out of a coconut with a frilly umbrella. Fred picked me up and we went to dinner at the street vendor restaurant, where we discovered that some snails are just too much work. and also, viscous. Came home and reveled in the glory that was, FINALLY, OK INTERNET.