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Still in Hanoi

CHINA | Saturday, 24 May 2008 | Views [1018]

I was planning on taking the night train to Hue last night and spending the day in Hue today, but after walking out onto the streets of Hanoi on Friday night, I immediately changed my mind and decided to see what the night life is like here.  I've still been hanging out with Barry and Raph, who I feel very lucky to have befriended, not only for the fact that a room split 3 ways is 1/3rd the cost, but also because we have had a number of interesting conversations about everything from managing financial investments (Barry works for some kind of financial investment firm) to the metaphysics of poetry. 

So last night we hit the streets and wandered around the marketplace for a while before heading over to the place where three streets meet and on every corner there is a bia hoi joint.  Bia hoi basically means microbrewed draft beer and you can get a decent glass of it for 3000 dong.  now 16000 dong is one dollar so you can feasibly drink 5 draft beers for a buck.  And its actually good beer.  If there's a cheaper place to drink good beer in the world, I'm going there at some point. 

And if all of that isn't good enough, right next to the beer vendors, there is a guy who sells kebabs for a dollar.  Beer drinkers paradise.  After putting down about a dollars worth of the sweet sweet nectar, we decided to head over to the bar district and ended up in some swanky new bar with a laser light show and a roaring expat community.  So I chatted with a few expats about this and that, nothing more than small talk really, but I was surprised at how similar the community here is to that in Japan.  Also at this bar we got some advice from the manager about a good club to go to, so we jumped in a cab (under 2 bucks) and headed to this club that was literally floating on the river. 

While there I started to get into the roove and danced for a bit when some Vietnamese guy came up and started chatting with me.  Turns out he lived in Japan for about 10 years and he was fluent in Japanese, even though his English was only so so.  So we hit it off, both of us equally surprised that the other was able to speak Japanese even though our native languages were totally different and he gave me his card and said that if I ever get into any kind of trouble at all in Vietnam I should call him and he could sort it all out for me. 

By then it was about 2 or so and Barry had been tired of the club scene for a while and was outside reading so we all decided it was time to go.  So we walked out the doors of the club, across the makeshift bridge and onto dry land, past all the taxis and motos and people trying to sell us drugs and into the dark street that led to the highway. 

As we were walking along three mopeds with two girls on them apiece passed us and then turned around, sensing that three guys and six girls could be a very lucrative evening for them.  So they got off their bikes and started following us even though we continually shooed them away until I literally had a girl on each side, two behind me and one in front, gripping at my arms and my clothes like hungry ghosts.  The woman in front kept reaching for my crotch and I was walking away from them but at the same time getting quite a kick out of the whole experience.  I guess everyone likes to be wanted (though something tells me they only wanted what was in my pants.  ahem.  money.  ahem.)

But as we neared the highway, and I was turned away from it three of the girls whose faces were turned toward the highway started screaming and their faces all contorted.  It was a very surreal experience, as just as this happened one of the women had managed to snake her arms around mine and had her hand firmly planted on my crotch.

I turned to see what the other girls were looking at and a motorbike with three people on it was stuck under a truck which was still spinning around a bit from the impact.  I ran over and helped pull the motorbike off the two fireigners who were trapped underneath, and noticed that there was blook coming from the blond girls nose and that her hand was also blood splattered.  Her pants were ripped a bit and at first it seemed as though nobody had been seriously injured.  Then she moved her hand away from her leg and we could see that the flesh of her leg had been split open and looked like a papaya that had been opened with a spoon. 

The man she was with told her to keep her and on it and apply pressure as much as he could and I asked the bystanders if anyone had a cellphone and if they had called the police or the hospital.  I remembered from Psychology 101 that in an accident with a lot of bystanders everyone assumes that an ambulancehas already been called, and so I made sure tha one of the women there called an ambualnce.  Then there was nothing to do but wait and listen to the moans of pain from the blond girl who was shaing uncontrolably at this point and kept repeating over and over, "Oh god, look at my leg.  Get me to a hospital.  Look at my leg."  And a number of people went close to her to try and pick her up and bring her to the cab but everytime one of the locals approached her all the foreigners said NO NO NO as we all knew that you are not supposed to move an injured person.  Eventually the ambulance got there and we walked home thinking about how quickly a life can change. 

Tonight I really will be on the night train to Hue.  I hope all is well with all of you and that you are not driving drunk.

Tags: accident, drunk driving, hanoi

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