The following day the tour group, all freshly acquainted and reciprocating inane platitudes, ventured even farther south – towards the equator – to Mekong Delta.
While everybody made preparations for the trip south, lathering on their bug spray, their sunscreen, or even their bug spray with sunscreen – which actually proved to be a bust as the one woman I saw using this ‘SPF bug spray’ was among the few people who was actually touched by the Vietnamese sun – also taking their Malaria pills, and of course avoiding ingesting anything local, I hadn’t bothered bringing bug spray or sunscreen, and in fact I was still drinking from the hotel bathroom faucets…
I came to this country with the intention of experiencing – not avoiding – Vietnam; I wanted to see the real Vietnam, not just the part of it that had been tidied up, domesticated then conveniently set aside for tourists. As I saw it, if it was right for the locals, it was right enough for me (although as I would later learn, even the locals won’t drink the local water in some parts).
…We took a bicycle ride and, as a group, saw a broom factory – elderly women frantically lashing together fronds from a coconut tree – and in general had a pleasant time. We all attempted to construct spring rolls – which were then deep-fried and fed to us for dinner – and had a pleasant evening. Over drinks that night a few of the group talked about being up in time to catch the sunrise over Mekong; it sounded like a swell idea…
We then slept, under individual mosquito nets, in a ‘homestay’ style setup; four berth rooms and an outdoor bathroom with a shower that wouldn’t heat up (mind you, a ‘cold’ shower in equatorial Vietnam is not totally undesirable and besides, ‘Vietnam cold’ is far from ‘New Zealand cold’, anyway.
…As per the previous night’s advice I was dressed and out on the deck by 5:45 a.m. I was thwarted by mild cloud cover – also the fact that all the other ‘early risers’ turned out to have been blowhards – but ultimately, it was a pleasant way to begin the day.
The bus trip back to Ho Chi Minh City was pleasant enough; then, upon entering the Aston Hotel Saigon, the first thing I saw was my bag, stashed safely (tossed carelessly) in a corner. Upon closer inspection, while there were no markings to suggest it had been scrutinised by Viet Customs, my suspicions regarding bag-snatchers were all but confirmed.
Being the aspiring OCD fanatic I am, before leaving home I had positioned all three zips in line with each other; one zip was now left, one had been pulled hard to the right, and the side pouch which I recall having had difficulty closing before I left, now had a large tear in the material around its edge, where it had been pulled together too roughly. Convincing as this was, it was hardly damning; the true evidence came when I opened the bag’s main pouch.
My once neatly packed bag – on account of our tour group’s intended regular accommodation shifts I had elected for a large sports bag over a suitcase, regarding which I reckon I could have previously closed my eyes and pointed to where different clothing types were situated – was now a mess. On account of the unruly packing style employed by these Viet crooks, my once snugly packed bag was now bursting – hence one ripped pouch.
As mentioned there had been nothing of particular value in the bag, which was probably the reason that the only thing now missing was my faith in the integrity of Vietnamese people.
That afternoon the group caught an overnight train to Nha Trang. As I was one of only three solo travellers – the other two being women – and given the strict ‘gender separation’ rules implemented in the group by our guide, I took no issues sharing my four-berth carriage with the tour guide and two other, unknown, travellers. Prior to boarding the train our group leader/tour guide/security adviser had passed down the advice: “When sleeping in the train cabins it is important to keep all valuables out of sight – a good idea is put them under your pillows.”…
Although all cabins had locking doors, once somebody had departed for some reason – perhaps a trip to the W.C. – that door remained unlocked until they returned. I have in the past found myself in situations akin to this – backpackers’ hostels etc – and it always amazes me, firstly, how much noise a room of four can make without actually speaking but – particularly – the frequency with which members of that group are up and down throughout the night. In my experience therefore, when one is onboard an overnight train rest is not an easy commodity to harness and, being the light sleeper that I typically am anyway, ‘rest’ became just about the most elusive commodity I had ever known.
…In my (estimated 70cm wide, 175cm long) lower bunk bed (I stand at 183 and have limbs to match), I had closed my eyes early, foolishly expecting the ‘clickety-click’ of the train’s machinery to translate into an orchestra of mellifluous white noise, and the gentle rocking to have a further soporific affect.
Alas between a half dozen more pick-ups, resulting in screeching brakes and other – unbelievably loud and utterly alarming – unknown noises, as well as plenty of bumping and jerking, when I think I did finally start to drift off I was woken by the cabin door being thrown open – I swear – as hard and as fast as it could be opened. I cracked my right eyelid to see a man disappearing out the door and down the corridor; I reached a hand under my pillow and pressed a button on my phone – which had since orientated itself – 12:05 a.m. I cursed the world and slumped back down.
What felt like a minute later I again heard the door rumble open, this time more gently; again I cracked an eyelid. His outline was illuminated by the comparative light in the train’s corridor. A man was standing in the doorway looking in. I wondered if this was the same man who had just left; I supposed it wasn’t. As if first checking that everybody was asleep this man stepped inside the cabin and walked silently to the top bunk opposite my bed. With the sleeping figure oblivious, I watched this man carefully slide his hand under the pillow, slowly remove it then turn to the recently vacated bed, directly above my head. I assume he did the same there then turned and departed.
I closed my eyes but I was not sleeping. A minute later the door opened for a third time, and soon after I felt the bed above me being occupied. I wondered if that man’s possessions were still there. I wondered a lot of things. I think I wondered them for the rest of the night.
It was before 6 a.m. when I heard my guide, in the lower bunk opposite me, stirring. We sat up in unison and looked at one another. The guide smiled and whispered “Good morning”; I frowned, smirking, and shook my head.
Our group congregated outside the train station and took further instruction from the guide, who then dropped a bombshell: “And guess what guys, today is Tim’s birthday!”
Everyone cheered and some even sang. I shook my head and wondered how the hell. We went to our hotel, freshened up then as a group, we went out for breakfast. As it was past 10 a.m. by now, I tried to purchase a celebratory bottle of Johnnie Walker Red – which I assured everybody would go tremendously with our breakfasts – for 750.000 dong, but found myself under a strenuous ‘recommendation against’ from our esteemed team leader. Thus while many of the others settled for a rather hackneyed coffee with Bailey’s, I made do with pensively slurping through a straw a double measure of scotch, neat.
That day was spent largely at one of Nha Trang’s famous beaches, doing not much but, laid back on one of the myriad loungers under sun-umbrellas, doing it in style.
I was overjoyed to find a licensed café in Nha Trang – right near the beach – that would make me a glorious Vietnamese Iced Coffee (a strong, hot, short black mixed in with a generous dollop of condensed milk, ice cubes on the side), where, with the right amount of convincing, after I’d lowered the level of my original beverage, they then agreed to ‘Irish up’ with a double measure of scotch whisky (which, after reading that sentence through – ‘Irish up’ with a double measure of ‘scotch whisky’ – I now appreciate is a blatant misnomer). Regardless, the 12th July was a good day in Nha Trang.
Indeed, it wasn’t until the evening of 12th July that things became underhanded.
Between roaming, beaching, and drinking Irish coffees, (also doing some other stuff), daytime in Nha Trang quickly became evening. Confirming with the day’s ‘activity sheet’ always posted at our respective hotel’s reception, I had just enough time to shower and change before the group would assemble to head out for dinner together…
That night’s dinner was one of our tour group’s many ‘optional activities’ (generally the ‘optional activities’ were trips to see sights not included in our tour, or such, to help us occupy our many ‘free’ days) that Intrepid organised for the tour which, while it wasn’t covered in the initial cost of the ‘tour package’, an individual’s participation was recommended; given that tonight’s festivities would be doubling as my ‘birthday dinner’, and given furthermore that I suspect nobody wanted to be accused of snubbing the lone Kiwi male in the group, full attendance was recorded.
…Seating myself (inadvertently) at the head of the table I looked towards the restaurant bar – then momentarily panicked – they weren’t licensed. I quickly stood and hurried over to where the group leader sat, at the other end of the table. After waiting an impatient minute for sycophants to stop trying desperately to endear themselves to our guide, I lowered my posture, also my voice, and said, “Yeah, I’ve noticed they don’t serve alcohol here … Would it be alright if I nipped out and bought a bottle of scotch, then brought it back here – you know, to share with the group?”
The youthful Vietnamese guide looked up at me, appearing to find my frantically laid contingency plan rather amusing yet, not without a hint of begrudging, replied, “That should be fine, Tim…”
I turned and I was gone.
“…Tim!” the guide’s voice caught up with me…
I turned back and returned eye contact.
“Tim, just please, this is Vietnam … Just be careful.”
I nodded affirmation and set off with little idea where the hell I was going.
Having eating nothing substantial since breakfast, I was ravenous. I left the restaurant premises and, recalling crossing a major intersection on the way there, strode back the way the taxi had brought us. I reached that junction and made an acute right hand turn towards some lights that somehow, I considered auspicious.
The lights turned out to have been a convenience store; it sold most everything a household could desire, yet it did not sell alcohol. I continued on – being sure to imprint in my mind every major landmark and point at which I changed direction – and after around 15 minutes of brisk walking in many different directions, I encountered another restaurant (I was hoping it wasn’t our one because if it was, I had been terribly lost). Upon entry I realised there was no chance of this place providing me with what I wanted; nevertheless staff were insistent, and made a very big deal of showing me upstairs to display everything they had to offer.
I eventually escaped, despite Vietnamese efforts to the contrary, with 100 percent of my finances still intact…
I had been withdrawing from local ATMs each day one or two million dong, but in fact had been struggling to spend even that (by 1st World standards) meagre sum. As a result, before heading out that night there had been the accumulated total of a little over four million dong in my wallet; then just for the hell of it – since the Ho Chi Minh fiasco I had adopted a decision-making philosophy of ‘Why the fuck not?’ – I had withdrawn another two million dong. It was while walking back from that particular ATM where, (this short journey back to my hotel had me navigating a gauntlet of Viet bars, massage parlours, Russian Bars, and other seedy-looking shops that sold I-didn’t-even-want-to-know-what), as is the accepted sales technique in Vietnam, shop staff were loitering on the streets outside their premises, trying to cajole passersby (both verbally and physically) to come inside and of course, to spend some money.
In my mildly intoxicated state (bless those Irish coffees) I recall one such interaction being noticeably more forceful than others; I then recall glancing up, seeing the name of this particular establishment – recalling furthermore how a group of young women within our group had been raving about a massage they had received at just this very premises – and thinking that, given the day, given the location, given the occasion – given the way the constant perspiration was leaving me bereft of minerals hence allowing all my old jiu-jitsu injuries to flare up and had been causing me great distress – I felt I could actually use a massage.
I was led (pushed) past the reception and into a waiting room, where I was given a ‘menu’ from which I selected the type of massage that I felt was right for me (this being Nha Trang rather than HCMC, I wasn’t too concerned about ‘misunderstanding’ in this regard); I ended up paying 270.000 dong for a ‘Full Body Vietnamese Massage’ (I was aware that the Ho Chi Minh version of the same ‘massage’ would have cost over one and a half million).
I was taken to a cloakroom of sorts where, with the masseuse waiting impatiently to one side, I undressed down to my boxers and stuffed all my belongings into a small locker. I closed the door and was about to lock it, then thought, ‘Shit, should I have grabbed my wallet?’ I reassured myself with, ‘Come on, this is Nha Trang, not Ho Chi Minh City…’ locked the door and with keys firmly gripped, followed the masseuse up the stairs, excited about experiencing my first ever ‘Vietnamese massage’.
We entered a beautifully laid out room with white hanging sheets blowing in the breeze of the ample air conditioning. The masseuse parted two sheets, gesturing towards a massage table. I climbed up, looking closely, inspecting the surface for anything unsanitary; it all looked above board.
The place was clean, it wasn’t malodorous and ultimately, it appeared high class. I lay, prostrate, and placed my face in the hole in the mattress. I felt the oil being applied to my back. I felt experienced hands go to work on my aching shoulders and back. The masseuse worked her way down my ribcage near the spine, somehow assuaging any discomfort and stiffness in my shoulder-blades. She pushed firmly on each hip and lifted each arm in turn, twisting my torso, cracking my spine. Then seemingly satisfied she’d taken care of the gentle work, she started pounding her fists on my back. I could actually hear my chest cavity (and perhaps my hollow stomach) echoing. Next thing this diminutive Asian woman had climbed atop the table and was actually kneeling on my back. Up and down my spine she trod with her little Vietnamese knees, eliciting all manner of creaks and groans – from my back and from my mouth. This continued for a few minutes before the masseuse climbed down and gestured for me to turn over. I was reluctant. Again she made a turning motion with her hands. Again, I just needed a moment. A third time and I could not refuse. I rolled over onto my now supple back. The masseuse immediately went to work on my chest and shoulders, every so often glancing down and smiling at what she had aroused.
Finally she squeezed and rubbed the discomfort from my feet, calves, and thighs, before stationing her face perilously close to my pelvic area. Then with one hand making a loose fist she asked (in the English tongue that I didn’t know existed in this one), “You want, happy ending?”
At the time I was genuinely surprised (although in hindsight: Come on, surprised..?); on assessing my bulge however, I think someone had had an inkling.
Whether it was the scotch in my veins or the uncomfortable straining in my underwear, I didn’t take long to make my decision. “Yes, please,” I managed to choke out.
Sometime later I made my way back down the stairs and into the cloakroom. I checked my watch; as promised the massage had been a full hour. The masseuse stood smiling to my left as I unlocked the locker door. The moment it swung open my heart sank…
I had stuffed my clothing into that locker, while the masseuse looked on, in an ostensibly arbitrary fashion, but for one area; suspecting that there was another key – my own key I had lain on the floor under the massage table and could be confident that it had never shifted – I had made a point of stacking my locker in what I considered to be an ‘illogical’ fashion. My shirt and shorts I had simply laid in the centre of the cubbyhole but when it came to my sandals, I had deliberately placed one at each corner of the locker; the right at the top left and the left at the top right. My logic was that if anybody unpacked that locker, they were unlikely to repack it in that exact style.
…Without touching anything I looked down at the tiny masseuse, standing innocently, and said, without equivocation, “I’ve been robbed.”…
Upon opening the locker door I saw both sandals had, much more logically, been placed with soles together and slid in at the top left hand corner.
…She peered up at me confusedly, but I had seen her initial expression – her micro-expression of guilt at being caught out – at hearing my words; she knew exactly what the game was. Still standing in my underwear I thrust my hand into the locker and pulled out my shorts. I pulled on the pants then removed from the back pocket my wallet. I was initially surprised to see any large denomination currency left at all. I laboriously flipped through the blue notes at the back of the wallet. (They may have been filthy crooks, but unlike HCMC, these ones were subtle; originally I’d had 4 million worth of 500 dong notes – 8 notes – but had withdrawn a further 2 million – 4 notes – then had used one to pay for this massage – there should have been – calculating quickly – 11 blue notes left.) I counted ten 500 dong notes. (Take so little that the rich Westerners don’t even notice it’s gone.) I glanced at the waiting masseuse who, ultimately betraying her inability to comprehend English, had since called for her superior. I counted the notes again. There were 10. I knew that I ought to have had 11. I removed the wad of notes and counted for a third time…
500.000VND is a mere pittance (somewhere around 20NZD); I had accepted this. What I just could not abide, and the reason that I was so determined to sort this out, was that as much as it might have been dictated by their modern culture, these people, simply, could not treat people like this.
…While it may seem odd to most, knowing exactly how much money one’s wallet contains at all times is not unusual for me; given my preference for using cash, in New Zealand my wallet always has in it at least a few hundred dollars, and I am always aware of its balance to at least the nearest $20.
Returning the 10 500 dong notes to my wallet I looked calmly at the middle-aged Madame who had just appeared. “Your people rob me,” I said in my best broken English. “Why your people steal from me?”
“What steal?” unsurprisingly, the middle-aged Madame only understood when it suited her.
“’What steal?’ My money … 500 dong…”
“Who steal?” It sounded now as if she was playing a game.
“’Who steal?’ You steal,” I was playing along, but without any of the joy that usually accompanies this sing-along.
I glanced down at the masseuse, who was now looking up at me with indignation. The Madame then brought in a number of her middle-aged friends, all looking as belligerent as each other. One of them stepped forward and snapped, “What problem?”
“The problem,” I responded, feeling my ire rise, “is that someone here has gone through my locker while I was upstairs, and taken 500 dong from me.”
“How open locker?” the woman asked, in more of a statement of disproof than a question, “You had key.”
“I did have key,” I held the single key with key-ring in front of her face, “but so do you.”
The woman’s face changed from one of disbelief, to one of despair, to one of anger. Her eyes widened as she brought her face as close to mine as someone of her lower stature could manage, shook her head and exclaimed, “You had key, we no had key.” Her arms shot up, “How we had key when you had key?”
I bent down to her height and answered with a sardonic sneer, “You had key, because there are two keys.”
This put the woman over the edge. Her eyes were enraged as she suddenly kicked her foot up between my legs. I managed to avoid the full force of this blow by reflexively pinching my thighs closed and trapping her ankle in my groin. On one leg she now lunged forward and began slapping my shirtless chest. I pushed her off and she stumbled back, furious. I also was infuriated. I turned to my left, locked eyes with the Madame and bellowed, “Where the fuck is my five hundred dong, you stupid old slut?”
With that she turned and left the room.
There were two other middle-aged Asian women in the room, who had turned up but who had not done or said anything. This left the masseuse and the belligerent crotch-kicker to stand either side of me and eye me furiously. With limited air conditioning in the small cloakroom, also the heat of exasperation cum rage, I was drenched in perspiration.
The Madame returned, holding, to my absolute shock, a blue Vietnamese banknote. We locked eyes briefly, before I surged forward and grabbed the money. I leaned back, dripping sweat and said, calmly, “Why did you steal from me?”
“The woman looked confused.”
This act of feigning confusion pissed me off more than anything and subsequently, I felt my anger return. “Why did you steal from me?” I asked again, holding up the 500 dong as if in demonstration.
“No … Steal..?” Either she had suddenly forgotten how to speak English, or she was having a stroke.
I stuffed the money in my left pocket and, swaying now from the powerful waves of exasperation that were continually assaulting my mind, directing looks of disgust at the masseuse then to the crotch-kicker in turn, stepping into my sandals and throwing on my shirt I edged forward. The crotch-kicker moved to block my path. “The fuck do you want?” I demanded.
She stared at me with her wild eyes, but said nothing.
I made to push past her; she shoved me backward. I caught myself, stepped forward, put my face in hers and said, “Fuck off.”
She attempted to push me back again but I pre-empted her force with my own movement and pushed past her. As I opened the door to exit the cloakroom I could feel crotch-kicker grabbing punching my right arm; another woman was trying to pull me back by my left arm. Then getting in on the game as well, the masseuse was putting her magical little hands to work punching my back. I burst forward, through the maelstrom of grabbing and punching hands. I felt a surreptitious hand slide into my back right pocket, no doubt searching for my wallet; I slid my hand into my front left pocket and touched my wallet, along with the 500 dong note. I pushed through the bodies, I pushed through the heat – I attempted to push through the confusion – I pushed through the door.
Out at reception and into the cool I spun to face my attackers, having now dropped several metres behind. “The fuck do you want from me?!” I yelled.
The response was silence.
I spun around again, utterly dazed, and saw a waiting room full of young European women and some men, most now looking at me curiously.
Turning back to my attackers I lumbered forward, trying to collect my thoughts – my sanity – and caught the arm of my, once lovely, masseuse. She looked up at me with a mask of innocent pleasantness, which didn’t quite disguise the horrid little troll she’d become only moments before.
I leaned in, having dropped the arm and now addressing all five women, speaking steadily but loudly enough that I hoped everyone in the waiting room would hear: “You are a pack of thieving wenches … I paid your bill – I paid up front for God’s sake – then for some reason you broke into my locker and you stole from me … While I was getting a massage you pack of thieving wenches fucking stole from me!”
At this point the tiny masseuse started trying to shove me towards the door, with the words, “You leave, you leave now…”
That was fine; I allowed myself to be pushed backwards all the way to the main entrance then stopped. I stared into the eyes of this furious little Viet woman and, now with every person in the waiting room looking on, I snarled, “I should have fucked you when I had the chance, you thieving little whore.”
…So with my funds still intact and still on the hunt for a bottle of scotch to go with my birthday dinner, I stepped out of that restaurant and started walking, then saw the convenience store I had just passed. I stopped, cursed and orientated – indeed re-orientated – myself. I performed an about-turn, and strode in the opposite direction. I soon came upon a minimart – exactly how a ‘minimart’ differs from a ‘convenience store’ would become apparent in the following movements – and expecting nothing new, headed inside anyway. As expected the minimart revealed nothing new; then I spoke with the attendant. I didn’t have a Vietnamese word for scotch, for whisky, or even for whiskey, so I hoped for the best. “Sin chow…” My mind went blank.
The attendant looked at me. “Sin chow..?” he replied, curiously.
Then it flooded back. “…Ban ko kware kom?” (‘How are you?’)
The attendant looked at me as though I was daft.
I tried again, adjusting my accent, “Ben koh queer kohm?”
Suddenly the man smiled, and started nodding his head in delight. “Ah, ban ko kwair kom? … Doy kwair, doy kwair!” (‘I’m fine … I’m fine’)
I reciprocated his joy, while checking behind his counter for bottles of alcohol. Thinking that perhaps I had found what I was seeking after all, I asked, slowly, “Doy muon mooa…” (‘I want to buy…’)
The man nodded appreciatively.”
(Cursing my shortcoming) “Ah … Alcohol … Scotch … Whisky..?”
“Ah,” the man cheered, “whikky … You want whikky?”
“Vung” (‘Yes’) “whikky.”
Reaching into a partially opened box on the floor the man produced a bottle of brown liquid. My eyes lit up. He passed it to me. I read the label. ‘Genuine Vietnamese Scotch Whisky’, it read. (I could have kissed that happy little Vietnamese man right then.) I looked up with a smile, placed the bottle on the counter and pulled my wallet (with all 11 of its 500 dong notes) from my pocket. “Bough new tien?” (‘How much money’) I asked – given that the restaurant which had provided breakfast would have sold me a bottle for 750.000 – expecting a reply along the lines of ‘five hundred’ or even – who am I kidding, I would have paid – ‘a million’ dong for that bottle.
The man’s response was unbelievable. “One-seventy,” he said without hesitation.
My eyes widened as the smile grew. “One-seventy..?” I repeated in disbelief, thinking of my Ho Chi Minh glass of Jimbean for 95 (at this time I had yet to comprehend the fact that local products are extremely cheap while imported products are only mildly cheap).
The man nodded warily, as if he was worried I was going to try and bargain with him.
Grinning I gave the man a 500, told him to keep the change, grabbed the bottle of scotch and powered out the door; calling over my shoulder, “Tahm beeat” (‘Goodbye’) … “Hen gap lie” (‘see you again’) – which I now realise was as stupid as the way that we in New Zealand tell people, ‘See ya’ (‘see you later’), when there is no realistic way that we will ever see that person again.
I strode back down the street, oozing excitement (also scotch whisky) from every pore, almost breaking into a canter but keeping it respectable…
I switched on. I had passed the seedy restaurant. I had passed the convenience store. My hand was sweaty but the grip on my bottle was safe. I was on the right track. My memory of the trip there was vivid enough, therefore all I had to do was invert the memory. Right; simple. It was much darker now though than when I’d come. Alright, first junction; first test at night time orientation in Vietnam. Remember, invert, simple; veer right, simple. I was walking so quickly I felt as though I was gliding. Second junction; all the lights were different to the picture in my head. Remember, invert, simple; turn left. I was having to forcibly keep my pace below a jog. Third junction; remember, invert, simple. It was a hard left this time. I’d only passed three junctions on the way there. My restaurant should have been a few hundred metres up ahead on the left. The lights though, the lights were so different.
…How long had I been gone? I asked myself as I approached the table and sat down. No one even looked up; so busy they were frying their meats and other assorted edibles on the miniature open grills which had been placed around the table. I drained three glasses of water before filling a glass with scotch and slurping back half of it in two mighty pulls. I quickly ate some of the food then made my way around the table and offered everybody a drink. There were few takers. One man, in fact one half of the only two Scottish people in the group, probably from obligation more than desire, did manage a few swigs but ultimately, that bottle was mine to be drunk.
While I was a little disappointed, particularly after such a hearty reception at breakfast, not having to share my hard-earned bottle of scotch didn’t actually bother me one bit.
A thoughtfully coloured birthday cake was presented towards the end of the evening and again people sang; much as I tried to downplay festivities I did appreciate the effort.
Once dinner was done and the majority of the group had headed back to the hotel, I headed the other way. The guide again warned, “Just be careful, Tim … Remember, you’re not at home anymore…”
It was almost as though I had earned a reputation among the group for being a little on the reckless side…
Perhaps it was the fact also that, as I glanced at the glass receptacle being clenched in my right fist, my scotch was down to its last quarter.
…Had I not been so keen to make this night momentous, indeed had I known the kinds of duplicities that awaited me – which realistically, given the ‘massage’ episode only a few hours earlier, I should have at least been less ignorant – I might have heeded some of the advice regarding sensibility…
Alas I did not.
…Therefore as I swaggered away and towards Nha Trang’s famous nightlife for my birthday celebration, my over 5 million dong and I were essentially Vietnam’s for the taking.
Article by Tim Walker
Edited by Tree Man Douse
Photography by Miss Sarge