The one thing about Ho Chi Minh is that everyone rides a motorcycle, it’s a never ending flow of these pranky two wheelers, girls, boys, people in shorts, people in suits, young, old all alike ride on two wheelers. The other thing are the road side bars, well they were the strangest road side bars I’ve ever seen. You see them all around continental Europe, but its like you have a big bar, that has a patio where people come out to smoke and have their drinks. In HCM the patio is the bar, inside, there are two seats, and the bottles.
So I am sitting at one of these road side bars, having a Tiger, (you have any other thing and the locals take you for a sissy) when as was expected this Vietnamese girl walks over and says something in…wait for it…bingo, Vietnamese…I obviously have no clue what she is saying, but seeing as she has pulled the chair, and is pointing towards it, I can tell that she wants to sit down. Looking at her face, I can tell by the sorry excuse for a makeup job, and the old dress with worn out hems, broken toe nails on her feet, she is one who sells her soul in redemption for a fist full of Dongs. Now this was an offer I should have refused, but then where would all the fun be, so I nudge, extend my palm, gesture her to sit down. She sits down, and looks into my eyes. Now I know she is trying to be sexy, nay seduce me, yet all she is doing is well…disgust me, she probably hasn’t brushed her teeth in two days, and brushed her hair the moment she decided to sit with the guy drinking the Tiger. I look back into her eyes, toggle my eye brows, back where I’m from this means whats up, she makes a strange face, obviously this means something else in HCM. I lean back, whatever, she can go fly a kite, or go do someone else’s flies. As I lean back, and my back has barely touched all of the seats back, another one comes over, she’s better looking, wearing a jeans that’s not as worn out as the last American soldier to leave nam, a top straight out of Stayin Alive, and mascara on her eyes that would make Madame Dracula look to shame. While she is helping herself to her seat, she says, you have a nice nose, thank-you I say, you have nice hair. Always works with the ladies, men check the face, the bossoms, the ass, and well every thing else, the hair don’t matter to us, and women around the world, well they like to be told that they have nice hair. Unfortunately, she says something back in Vietnamese, she perhaps had asked someone prior to coming here how to say you have a nice nose, and that is all she knew of English.
So there we are, the three of us, sitting, looking at each other, well they are fixated at me, and me, well I’m looking around, looking at them, looking around, taking a gulp, looking around. When silence is broken, one of them has the drinks menu, and is pointing towards the most expensive shake on the menu, I look at the price, converts to three dollars, hmph, I raise my hand to call the waitress, who looks like the dirty ones sister. When she comes, I point to the dirty one, she says what not, and I look around. The other one hits her toe to my calve, she is wearing ballerina shoes, I look at her face, she says something slowly, and then stops, and then thinks, and then says again, where are you staying, at the Metropolitan, her face droops, I make an inquisitive gesture, she says, the manager, no let me in, I smile, thank god. The other one starts chirping and long chirp, when she is done, the cleaner one says, you can get a room here, she points across the street, 20,000 dong only for the night, ahan, nice offer, and for 80,000 dong more, she and me, an even better offer. Both of them are now staring at me. I am taking the last gulp from the Tiger, I motion to the dirty ones sister looking waitress, to get me another one. she hits me with her ballerina shoe again, lets go, I motion in a nay, she starts to talk faster, and louder, the other one joins in, I smile. They are probably saying, we make you an amazing offer, what you don’t like us now, and what not, or even more likely, they are cursing at me with all their might and their limited knowledge.
My second drink arrives, with the dirty ones martini glass containing iced something. The cleaner one yells, I look, she’s calling out to someone else, a hawker appears, she gives him some money, he hands her a pouched plastic bag containing some balls. Look like candies at first sight. She opens it by cracking the shell, I take a sip, the dirty one takes a gulp. A yellowish candy-like inner appears, she eats it in three goes. Im looking at her with interest, she offers me one, I take it in my hand, its slightly rough on the outside, dark green in color, with black spots, she takes it back from me, saying something again, her hands are hard, probably from working in the fields. She opens it, like an egg, and hands the inner to me, I take it in my hand, looks like a small egg, I look at it, both of them start speaking again, and then shouting again, tapping their hands on the table, encouraging me to eat it, as I examine it, I realize this is an egg, of either a snake, or a crocodile, and its been boiled, you know how a boiled egg has a slightly shaved end which is the top while the egg was being boiled. Now I could refuse this offer too, and I decide to refuse it, but they are chanting with all their might, I throw it in the air, and catch it in my mouth, and gulp it.
Both of them look at each other, give me a hug each, and the cleaner one says, one more, I say no, she says no, one more, and then you can go. What am I a hostage here, she says goto metropolitan, no need goto room, she points to the room across the road, I smile, you never know with their thugs, they may have actually forced me to goto the room. So I give a defeated notion, she smacks her hands, the other one claps them. I take a long gulp of the Tiger. She cracks the egg open, and holds it in her hand, with the other hand, she holds my chin, tells me with her eyes to hold the tiger in my left hand. I do the same, she puts the egg in mouth, and puts a finger around my adams apple, I cant gulp it, she looks at me, and motions to chew it, I smile, she keeps chewing with her gums, I follow suit. It is pretty much taste less, like a hens egg, except the yoke is bitter, I take a gulp of the Tiger, a long one, in fact I shoot it all down. The check is here, I pay up, and stand up. They give me a hug, and I decide to walk to the Hotel that night, maybe the walk will help my body digest the snake faster!