Tim Walker’s Vietnam XXXXI

Alright, first, let’s clear up the awkwardness. To all you clever buggers out there, thank you, I am quite aware that the Roman Numeral for 40, 41 and so on, would ordinarily require the use of Roman Numeral ‘L‘ – 50 – which is all fine and accurate but, the issue, I have tried this convention in the past – see, Fustigators – and it just became awkward. Example given, ‘Fustigator XL’ – without ‘XXXIX’ coming before it giving it context, honestly, who the hell knows that ‘XL’ is 40 and not just something quite large? In other words, if somebody is perusing the Your Daily Dose of Profundity site and decides they want to locate, from the ‘Search’ box, say, instalment number 42 – XLII – (which they very well might do because it’s going to be awesome), if they’re regular folk, by which I mean not Roman history fanatics,  honestly, what are they likely to do? Seriously, and this is not a dig at the intelligence of my readers this is reality, given the modern-day proclivity to use numerical numbers rather than Roman ones, most people, let’s be fair, are a touch uncertain of what comes after, say, XXXVIII; indeed, most people would probably, logically, think, ‘Shit, right, if number 39 was XXXIX’ (as it realistically is), ‘then 40 must be XXXX and 41 must be XXXXI, thus 42 will obviously be XXXXII’, which does make for good logic, but it would be erroneous logic nonetheless. (In Roman reality, 40 is ‘XL’ – 10 before 50; thus 41 is ‘XLI’, and 42 is obviously ‘XLII’.) Therefore, I have made the management call and, given there should be only three or four more instalments before the gripping (still 100% reality) conclusion, I am more than comfortable flouting legitimate Roman Numerals for the benefit of our modern-day ease of comprehension.

Hm. After that sizable first paragraph, let’s make the second one tiny. Alright. Done. Good work, team.

Anyway, back in the good old Arsehole of Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh City, District 1, while everyone was glad to see Stu’s plans for English Teacher grandeur back on track and no one was really giving a damn about my almost-conflict with the man named Gary-Garrick-Derek, when I considered it, I was somewhat disconcerted by Stu’s initial words upon our reunion – I still smelt the booze on his breath and felt his whiskers against my neck as he’d drawled something along the lines of, ‘…thought they might’ve killed ya.’

Now, I understand that in Vietnam, particularly after dark, if one is not constantly on-guard, in fact anyone is susceptible to being mortally injured by another, but Stu had used the pronoun ‘they’, and he had said it with such ominous vehemence – ‘they’ – as though whomever had occupied Stu’s time on that most worrisome of nights, was the same group, or were perhaps affiliated with that same group, of people who he’d thought may have been responsible for my demise. As I said, disconcerting, particularly as it was now accepted up and down Bui Vien that I, the bespectacled Englishman with the multitude of hats, could be found frequently roaming these darkened streets, seeking out scenes of interest or unrest – of course, unbeknown to the scene-makers, all with the projected intention of documenting the aforementioned scenarios upon my return to New Zealand – alone, unguarded and ultimately, at this late stage in my tour, fair to say, with a sense of confidence, or even, as some might have noted, moxie (interesting point, first time ever writing that word; in fact same goes for ‘bespectacled’). It occurred to me as a sudden revelation, however, that even after spending 20-something days canvassing this fetid environment, I still really had no right to be brazen; indeed, in no way should I have been so damned bold. I mean, other than my own basic knowledge of self-defence, I was unprotected. Against multiple assailants I was entirely vulnerable.

At this point I had no real idea why anyone on these crooked streets should want to harm me anyway, although I did suppose that ‘third night on Bui Vien’ unpleasantness may have caused some perceived ‘loss of face’ to various face-holders, and I was now well aware how seriously Asians – namely Vietnamese Asians – tended to respond to people causing depletion of said face; aware furthermore I was just how long they might retain a grudge brought about by this act of so-called face-stripping.

I probably should have been more concerned than I was because ultimately, I didn’t give a toss; these Viet street-youth were largely piss-ants – if that was in fact who was going to be targeting me – they were small, they were weak and, at this time, I felt they scarcely warranted my upset.

Therefore, I wasn’t, upset.



Article by Tim Walker

Edited by Washer Back Mann

Photography by Te Gunner-Gitcher


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *