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Thursday, July 08, 2004

Ahoy Hanoi!, Ho Chi Minh is my boy

Well, we'z back in Hanoi. I'm starting to really enjoy this city as its ten times more chilled out than wacky Saigon. Though I guess by Canadian standards this city is what you might call "Fucking Crazy". The last 3 days we spent on a boat floating through Ha Long bay (that's when I say "This long" and everybody laughs and by everybody I mean no body, not even me). We shared the boat with a bunch of Brits and Canadians (and I think some Danish people but they never spoke much)and had some good Ol' fun drinkin' some good Ol' beer and swimmin' in the good Ol' ocean. Drunken night diving off the boat is something I'll never forget.

Well, its official. I was charged by an angry, and frighteningly determined monkey the other day while lying on a beach. But I guess it was to be expected seeing as the beach was located on the aptly named "Monkey Island". That and for some insane reason we'd brought a single banana, in fact quite possibly the single most delicious banana in the world, seemingly to tempt the monkeys into chasing and/or biting our faces. Now, when I think of monkeys that want my food, I think of seagulls or raccoons that want my food, and how I'd deal with them. So when I heard a scream from down the beach I leapt to my feet and quickly assumed my "get away angry monkey stance" which is where I brace my feet bow-leggedly into the sand, bend so as to intimidate the monkey with my ferocious "I eat monkeys, no matter what diseases they're carrying" face, and finally with my hands, I begin to clap much like my chimpanzee brothers do when very happy, especially in commercials.

Now, little did I know that I had completely mistaken the "get away angry monkey stance" with the "come hither beautiful angry monkey stance" and as the monkey approached, and my frantic clapping got louder and more erratic, the monkey became more and more drawn to our magically delicious banana which was resting in a sandal at my feet. Closer and closer came the entranced monkey, its tiny razor teeth glistening in the sun. I could have sworn it was smiling at me and I'm sure, if monkeys could talk, and I'm sure they can, that he was whispering something under his breath. And what he said made me want to release all liquid within me.

"AWAAAGHA AWAAGHA!! I'm going to eat your face!"
He mouthed.
"...Your face...And then the banana will be mine"

He was 3 feet away when our heroic and apparently monkey resistant guide leapt in front of me (In slow motion of course) and managed to give the monkey a real "Vietnamese monkey killin'clap" and off he scurried back into the depths of monkey island.(The Monkey, not the guide)

After that came the jokes.
"We had beaten off a monkey."
And then came more.
"We had beaten off the monkeys with our own bare hands"

So otherwise this trip is actually turning out better than I could have ever expected. Moral is fairly high, though poor Looqy is nursing a cold that he developed from our freezer box of an air-conditioned room. And we're bracing ourselves for our 30 hour bus ride into wacky Laos.

I've been trying to think of some funny signs and menu items, so heres a few.

Gruel with pigs chitterlings - "I think I know what gruel is, but what the hell is a chitterling?" Weird thing was that the people that worked there didn't even know what it was.

4 Items served in a bowl - "Do we get to choose which Items?"

A store named Bich Van - "that's what my Dad used to drive back in High School!"

There are so many others, and of course I can't remember one. But lets put it this way. Most stores have one or many of the following words: Thong, Dong, Long, My, Etc. And the hilarity ensues.

Our buddy Nick has been providing some comedic relief over, well, the entire trip really, but he set me crying the other night whilst playing a drinking game at midnight on top of our beautiful yacht. The game called for everyone involved to come up with an animal that began with the appropriate letter assigned to them. Nick was given the letter I.

"G eh?...Umm....Giraffe."
"Ok Next"
"H...Horse"
"Ok, Nick you're next"
"IGLOO!"
"Igloo?"
"Yeah, Igloo"
"An Igloo is a place of dwelling, not an animal"
"I don't care"
"Ok, Igloo it is then"

By this point, we had all had quite a few and it took several minutes for me to calm down again. Later on, because we were all very hot, and equally drunk, we leapt over the side and did some midnight swimming that I enjoyed very much.

After we had clambered back onto the still scalding hot deck, some went to bed, and some including myself decided we'd sleep on the deck under the stars. It didn't take long for all of us to fall into a cool, sea-salty sleep. Hours later, I awoke to dogs barking. At first I thought, "God damn dogs, shut the hell up" as if this is a normal thought when waking up in the middle of the ocean when you're pretty sure you left mainland with a distinct lack of dog on board. Then, a scream. And then some more barking. A british girl came flying down the deck towards us yelling "Theres a dog, theres a dog" but because she had woken me up at the time I thought "The dog should bite you and you should die" but I held back (But man, if it hadn't bitten her I would have laughed the laugh of kings)There was a moment of whimpering, and then BAM! The boat rocked, and I looked up to see another boat that had been completely T-Boned by ours and as I peered into the darkness I could see her crew, waving their hands and yelling at us in Vietnamese. In my current condition, this was too much to take, and without saying a word I climbed into my sauna/bedroom and fell into a swaying, sweaty, ant covered sleep.

I may write more. But I should publish this before I lose it all.

Max

(P.S. Even the spell checker had never heard of Chitterlings)

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