Memories of Vietnam…

We got back last night on SG and despite being a tad weary from our Hanoi trip, both the BFF & I pretty much found ourselves swamped with work and urgent matters to handle almost right away after reaching home.

Welcome back to Singapore.

Right.

Inevitably, I found myself sieving through hundreds of messages and email – I wonder if people got more busy with the invention of email. Did people get tons of faxes back in the olden days?

Anyways.

Hanoi was a good experience. It was the much needed eye opener for me… a culture shock like icy cold water shattering against bare naked skin.

I experienced the good, the bad, and also the ugly. There was nothing too awful that would keep me from going  back, and honestly, looking back (because hindsight is like lasik, i.e. always perfect) it’s almost laughable.

If you haven’t watched the film TURITAS (which means  Tourists), please do. You’d realise how very important it is to stay street smart and be alert at all times, when you’re in a  foreign country.

It’s not about being overly conscious (read: paranoid) cos it’s uncool… you’ve no idea how many people go missing every year when they travel abroad. Not funny.

Anyways, we had the most unpleasant experience with a motorcycle taxi dude on Sunday afternoon. Most tourists use taxis (be wary of fixed meters) but us being plucky gungho girls, we’d been experiencing Hanoi via motorcycle whenever we could. Yep, illegally sitting 3 people on a bike.

So, leaving a museum with the intention of heading back to our hotel, we were approached by a local Viet who had a motorcycle. He dissuaded us from taking the Hanoi Taxi cabs which were  parked outside, and said he’d take us back to Quoc Hoa for just 60,000 Dong.

It was only after climbing up on his bike and taking off that we realised what a complete speed maniac he was… His demeanor changed faster than you can yell “Jekyl & Hyde!” and was completely different from the other safe riders we’d experienced.

Sitting in the middle with me at the back, BFF realised he stank of alcohol and he was totally trying to take physically advantage of her. That wasn’t the only awful thing…

We realised that his motorcycle’s right side mirror was missing. Seriously, to our amused chagrin, the horny old goat was using his left side mirror to check us out.

As we sped past places, he’d leer and gleefully holler out “Singapore! Beautiful!” …as if BFF & I were pieces of meat he was proudly showing off. We damn nearly collided with many motorists at various points, because he wasn’t keeping his eye on the road.

It’s like living in one of those campy B grade films where it’s so bad a situation, you just don’t know whether to laugh and cry.

I laughed.

In fear.

With all certainty.

Cos the moment his scooter left the main roads and zipped in between narrow alleys and unfamiliar lanes, I thought we were totally f*cked.

Images from organ trade films and human trafficking documentaries went flashing through my head at an alarming speed, which matched his speeding two wheeler 😦

He suddenly stopped us at the front of a house on a dodgy looking street and got off his scooter, grinning at us as he bellowed to someone living inside. A man’s voice hollered back from inside and the door opened. We were then invited in to see his “baby”, and of course we didn’t take up the kind offer, thank you very much.

He tried to encourage us in, to play with his dog… a mutt with a skin condition. I thought of politely declining saying I’m more a cat person but BFF sharply pointed out that we were running out of time & we’re not going in.

We were both prepared to hop off his scooter and start running, if any more nonsense continued. But he relented and started the engine again and said we’d go. It was getting weirder by the minute, especially when he almost collided with other motorists on the road and practically cussed and spat at people he almost hit. It was a nightmare.

And we were living in it.

BFF was getting really pissed with his perverted methods of getting her to touch his… nipple 😛 And when he suddenly stopped his engine again, we got off and tried to leave. In all atrocities, he actually asked where we were going… I couldn’t believe it and enough was enough. No more being nice.

We told him we were done, and gave him his fee but he refused, saying NO and insisting we climbed back on his bike. I pushed the 60,000 dong to his chest but he waved it off, instead pointing to the USD note folded in his crappy wallet. Like, WTF?

I just about had it with the guy and while BFF was verbal sparring with the idiot, I made use of the misdirection to flag us a cab. It was a Hanoi Taxi (the sole reliable company which our hotel front desk advised) and it stopped for us.

As I opened the door for the BFF who had given up trying to reason with the crazy horny drunk, he violently slammed the door shut and started insisting at the top of his lungs that we complete the journey with him.

A crowd was looking on at us nervously… 2 Singaporean girls and a furious red-faced drunk. That was when BFF shoved him hard and yelled like I’ve never seen before – such fire coming from the small, lithe, fierce thing 😛 RESPECT.

I threw the money in his face and scrambled into the cab after her, shutting the door and begging the driver to just drive NOW! The irate drunk was thumping on the windows and making angry garbled noises as we pulled away.

We were quite shaken by what had happened, but I knew my BFF was a tough cookie and she’d be  okay. The cool cat almost kicked him in the nuts. Bravo, woman.

Our taxi driver was a nice guy who got us safely back to the hotel, without overcharging us. He spoke kindly using the few English words he knew, and seemed a tad amused by the dramatic mess we’d gotten into.

When BFF & I finally got out of his vehicle, I spotted the driver laughing along, as he saw us hug each other tight (so completely relieved that we’re still alive and all in one piece), laughing so hard till we both cried.

you can bet that I’ll never forget the 6th of September.

So yes… be extra careful and don’t take any unneccesary risks if you can because you may not have a second chance. We girls were really lucky to come  out unscathed. I shudder to imagine how it might have been had a whole gang of guys came out of the dodgy house after the douchebag had stopped his engine.

But that aside, my Vietnam experience wasn’t all too bad. We at at Bobby Chinn’s on our last night and we were totally pampered 🙂 Will upload photos + blog more later!

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