Monday, October 19, 2009

That Time I Was In Asia: Vietnam Odds and Ends

• I'm not saying that the communist propaganda is blatant, I'm just saying . . .

• While in Hanoi we saw a water puppet show. It's a puppet show that takes place in water. Here's what I wrote in my journal about it: "Show lacked developed plot. Everyone was chasing something – fishing, hunting, courting. The symbolism was heavy handed." While that's douchey, it's no where near as douchey as the guy who sat in front of me videotaping the entire thing. Like no one from home was going to believe he went to a water puppet show? Or am I to assume that a few weeks after he and his wife get home this dude's going to be like, "Hey honey, let's open a nice bottle of wine and watch the water puppet video." I just don't see it happening.

On the plus side, the music was mesmerizing. At one point Brooke leaned over and said, "Is that guy playing a fish?"

• One day I wanted to get a foot massage but was afraid the masseuse may try to jerk me off with her foot.

• Best conversation of the trip goes to an exchange I had with a random girl working at our hotel in Phú Quốc island (Slogan: "It's Relax Times!"). She was probably 19 (35 maybe?), pretty, and a bit shy. Regardless, when Brooke left to go inspect prospective rooms for us to rent, I stayed behind in the lobby watching soccer on TV. A couple of minutes in, this girl walked over and sat down on the couch next to me. We exchanged smiles, and then the questions started. Clearly, she enjoyed practicing her English. Our conversation unfolded like Chapter One out of an ESL textbook.

Her: "Do you like to sing?"
Me: "No, I do not like to sing. Do you like to sing?"
Her: "Yes, I like to sing. I am the best at singing."
Me: "Do you like to dance?"
Her: "Yes, I like to dance. Do you like to dance?"
Me: "Yes, dancing is very fun."

And so on and so on utilizing every other verb you learned in freshman year Spanish. Then after we had exhausted the list, there was an awkward silence before she continued.

Her: (pointing outside to where Brooke went) "Your wife?"
Me: "My girlfriend."
Her: "You swim now?"
Me: "No, we drink beer now."
Her: "Oh! How many beer do you drink?"
Me: "Five."
Her: "That is a lot!"

(pause)

Her: "How many beer your girlfriend drink?"
Me: (contemplating) "Six."
Her: "Wow! She is the best drinker."
Me: "(gleaming with pride) "Yes, she is."

• Of course there was a fish at baggage claim.

• If our friend who is currently teaching English in Vietnam hadn't warned us about the death-defying act of attempting to cross the street, there's a good chance Brooke and I would still be standing outside out hotel in Hanoi wondering what the hell to do.

I tried to get a good video to show how truly hazardous it is, but every time Brooke and I crossed the street, we did it together. This way, if we died we would die together, and the other person wouldn't be left to explain to our grieving relatives how their loved one died while trying to get a good video of crossing a Vietnamese street for [redacted].

Luckily, I found this video on YouTube, shot by a less forward-thinking couple.

Basically, you just had to accept the fact that you may crap your pants. It was a real possibility. On the plus side, it really conserves energy when you are forced to stop and think about how badly you want to get to the other side of the street. Is it really worth it? Indeed, I imagine entire Vietnamese families have decided where to live based on what side of the street they were currently standing on. "Well, well," they might say staring out at the sea of menacing motorbikes, "this corner seems as good as any!"

• I love the idea that Vietnamese people are learning about America through MacGyver. Like I go to Asia and assume everyone knows martial arts, and they come to America and assume everyone knows how to escape from a meat locker by combining seemingly useless items into a chemically engineered blowtorch.

• When Brooke and I told Buffalo Joe that we wanted to start a website called ThingsOnaScooter.com, he seemed confused. "Yes, we carry many things on a scooter," he informed us with the nonchalance of an American being told about a website called ThingsInYourSUV.com. But I challenge anyone to name something that you think wouldn't fit on a scooter, and I will shout back in your face that you are dead wrong. One time I even saw a scooter on the back of a scooter. I can honestly say it changed my life.

19 Comments:

Blogger Who is this Writer? said...

That fish in the airport is mine. The airline is having trouble locating it. Could you tell me which baggage claim that was?

October 19, 2009 at 3:36:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Andrew said...

That video of crossing the street= Amazing

And that's my great contribution for the day.

October 19, 2009 at 3:47:00 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

All I wanna know is what are the exact steps to insecting a room? Because I don't want to start with bugs in my hotel room! Even in Vietnam. I'd have to drink way more than 5 or 6 beers in that case!

- Mon

October 19, 2009 at 4:30:00 PM EDT  
Blogger miss. chief said...

Oh man, I can't believe that street! That was crazy.

October 20, 2009 at 1:10:00 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Man, you are just getting better with every post!! Love it! The conversation? The fish?? The street-crossing??? Just awesome!

Keep sending this stuff :)

Lucy

October 20, 2009 at 7:48:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Dana said...

The street crossing = Frogger!

October 20, 2009 at 8:25:00 AM EDT  
OpenID muchtomychagrin said...

Oh man, the fish at the airport baggage claim totally made my day.

And coming from SEA, you'd think we were born to jaywalk but after leaving home and conditioning myself to actually walking on the sidewalk has rendered my jaywalking skills completely useless.

Kudos if you managed to cross those roads unscathed.

Love these Vietnam travel anecdotes! :) Hope you and Brooke had heaps of fun!

October 20, 2009 at 10:28:00 AM EDT  
Blogger DevilsHeaven said...

We experienced the same issues with crossing the street in Cairo, Egypt. We finally admitted how lame we were when we decided the best thing to do was follow a native across. The native? A 20 something mother of 3, all under the age of 5. One she held on her hip, the other by the hand and the 3rd was on his own. She made it across like she was walking from the car in the parking lot to Target.
Favorite thing we saw on a scooter? A family of 4 with the mother holding the BABY in her arms as she rode side-saddle; while on a freeway where 3 lanes of traffic were made into 6 lanes, because really, “those lines on the concrete are really just a suggestion.”

October 20, 2009 at 11:19:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Erin said...

Loving your Asia posts!

October 20, 2009 at 3:12:00 PM EDT  
Blogger ruby said...

this has nothing to do with anything but, oh well, here goes.

so i grew up in minnesota and had a really good vietnamese friend named hai le. I moved to los angeles about 10 years ago and in that time, have met another vietnamese friend named hai le. the new hai le has only been in my life for a short while, but the fact that i know two hai le persons that both came over from vietnam when they were under 5 kinda blows my mind.

so my MN hai le came to visit last week and i told my friends that know the CA hai le that we needed to have them meet. we were hesitant because honestly, we didn't know if the world would somehow implode from the sheer awesomeness of the two hai les being in the same place.

anyway, cut to friday night and we masterminded a meeting of the two hai les and believe me when i tell you there has been nothing in my life more anticlimatic and awkward than that night. well, maybe this story.

:sigh:

oh well.

as you were.

October 20, 2009 at 4:16:00 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dan Murphy, master blogger. Best Asia post yet.

October 22, 2009 at 12:57:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Christy said...

Working in a furniture store where people routinely try to pick up things like entertainment centers with their 2 seater mazda, I firmly believed that I would never see a full sized, easily 10 foot long entertainment center on the back of a motorbike. I just thought, it isn't physically possible. And then I went to Hanio. It was then that I realized you can put ANYTHING on the back of a motorbike. 25 ft long metal tubing...a dozen dead pigs, a family of 5...

October 22, 2009 at 5:52:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Molly said...

Haha, I love the textbook English conversation. I can't believe she didn't ask you if you like to go to the beach and the cafe with your friends.

October 23, 2009 at 6:11:00 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

C'mon Dan, and then what happened?

October 28, 2009 at 9:03:00 AM EDT  
Blogger *simply, M said...

I was in Tanzania last year and saw a woman put a live goat and a few chickens in the trunk of her car. I also sat on quite a few busses next to live chickens, as well as got handed babies to hold on regular basis.

October 28, 2009 at 2:23:00 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah, c'mon Dan. And then what happened?

October 29, 2009 at 9:25:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Janet said...

The 111 English class conversation makes me wonder how silly I sound when trying to speak French.

October 30, 2009 at 4:31:00 PM EDT  
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December 2, 2009 at 3:24:00 AM EST  
Anonymous viagra online said...

funny how I heard of the water puppets and even now I understand its meaning!

May 31, 2010 at 6:06:00 PM EDT  

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