OK, I said I would share a Vietnam story from my time there in ’98. This was my first experience of the country. Jet lag has a lot to answer for…..
Ho Chi Minh City is a wonderful place – vibrant, crazy, intoxicating. I set off for the Apocalypse Now Bar on my first evening.
Crossing the Saigon roads was like playing a reality game of Frogger (’70s video game for those not ancient enough to remember the game, which was sandwiched between space invaders and asteroids in the gaming evolution). Click FROGGER for a link to a free version of the game.
A couple of beers mixed with jet-lag, guard let down and longing for bed, the offer of a $1 cyclo ride back to the hotel was an offer I couldn’t resist – after all, lose at Frogger here and you don’t get a 2nd chance.
We were on our way. Five minutes in, ‘You want whisky ?’
‘Girls. Good party ?’
‘No, I just want my hotel.’
A moped driver pulled up alongside with a very attractive girl riding pillion. Unbelievably he offered her to me for $30! Err, no!
He zoomed off looking for a punter and I thought to myself, we should be there by now. Saigon is district 1 in HCMC, but a quick glance at a street sign told me we were now in district 6. Where the flipping heck are we ?
‘I take you on tour of city. Hard work. You want hotel now ?’
No place to argue. ‘OK.’
30 minutes later we were at the hotel – it was now midnight-thirty, I left the bar at 11. We dismounted and I threw a few Dong on the ground. ‘You’re bloody lucky to get that you swine !’ (or words to that effect !!)
The Viet jumped out of the saddle and aimed kick and then a punch in my direction. Now wide awake and pumped with adrenalin, I dodged both. His mistake this time. A whistle followed by some shouts and he was soon on the ground, rugby tackled by 2 hotel security guards speedily followed by police arrest. As he was led away with his livelihood abandoned by the roadside, I suddenly felt sorry for him.
$20 and a stern police lecture bought his release – the sight of his gap toothed grin and the safety lesson for me were well worth the money. I’ll walk next time though I decided!