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Thread: Saigon

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    Saigon

    This was written about a trip I did in 2004, It's been posted on a couple of other forums and a short story site, ThailandStories.com.

    This tale is of a subject most of us have enjoyed on occasions, the introduction of a newcomer to the scene to the delights of South East Asia. A couple of years ago I was living in Angeles City in the Philippines when my mate Bob rang me to see if I wanted to meet him and a friend in Saigon for a couple of weeks then carry on to Cambodia and Thailand. I was in a relationship that was foundering rapidly at the time, (she got married to a Philipino while I was in Australia for three months) and was glad of the excuse to get away. I got there a couple of days early to scout the land out and sort a hotel, booking for myself at the airport hotel desk and then trying to book for my mates at the hotel.
    Travel note: the better Vietnamese hotels can be up to half the price if booked at the Airport rather than at the Hotel. So I rang them and advised them to book themselves in on arrival and they ended up in a similar hotel a couple of blocks away.
    Bob’s mate Andrew turned out to be a cheerful bloke who liked his bottle but was a complete newcomer to Asia. One night soon after their arrival he and I were walking back to his hotel from a restaurant and these two young ladies on motorbikes drove up onto the footpath and blocked our way. “Boom boom, ten dollar” they announced. Not fancying getting on the back of a motor bike and going God knows where in a strange city in the middle of the night I thanked them for the kind offer and declined. When we got back, a somewhat bemused Andrew said, “What’s boom boom?” I just looked at him and he went Oh, Ohhh!

    The next morning found us on the river ferry to Vaung Tau, a beach resort about an hour away, then walking along the Esplanade in the company of a very nice, completely respectable, Vietnamese girl we had hired as an interpreter/guide for the princely sum of three dollars US a day. Somehow she got ahead of us and an attractive girl on a motorbike pulled up and struck up a conversation. After the pleasantries were exchanged, in good English on her behalf, she then asked if one of us would like to accompany her to a nearby hotel. As I was about to decline Andrew interrupted and said he wouldn’t mind. Not wanting to spoil his fun I found out where they were going and decided he couldn’t get into much trouble at eleven in the morning; so I told the girl we were getting the three o’clock ferry and if he wasn’t at the terminal by two I’d ring the tourist police.



    Sure enough two o’clock came and no Andrew and I went for a bit of a walk and there he was coming down the road. To say he had enjoyed the experience is putting it mildly, not having stuck it into anything other than old boilers for years, and he sang the girl’s praises until I told him to shut up and get some beers in before the ferry left. As he went to pay at the bar he looked a bit puzzled and announced there appeared to be a US$100 note missing out of his wallet.
    The following conversation occurred.
    Me: didn’t you keep an eye on your clothes?
    Andrew: she never went near them.
    Did you have a shower?
    Yes.
    Where were your clothes?
    On the bed.
    Where was she?
    In the shower with me (smirk smirk), God, what a body.
    Did she shut the bathroom door?
    Err, yeah, come to think of it she did.
    Did you put the security latch on the hotel room door when you came in?
    Errr…. No I don’t think I did…IT WAS BLOODY WELL STILL WORTH IT THOUGH!!!!!

    Part 2:
    Vietnam was a real eye opener for me and especially for the two guys I was with. My mate Bob had a couple of contacts there, a family he had been asked to take some presents to by Vietnamese friends in Australia and a Vietnamese girl he had met the year before on a world trip. I suspected a close relationship there but nothing was further from the truth. Hong-Hue was 48 years old, looked 25 and informed us she had never had a boy friend. She was a third class translator (unqualified) and apologetically informed us she could charge US$3 a day. We said we could manage it between us. She turned out to be one of those rare people you occasionally run into, totally honest and ready to believe anything she was told without reservation. She had learnt perfect English in a nunnery and was completely ignorant of any slang terminology, particularly Australian.

    She informed us that she had left the cloisters just before her final vows as in her heart she wanted a husband. Her father, she informed us, had been one of former South Vietnamese President Diem’s right hand men and had been jailed, after Diem’s murder, by the new US backed regime. With a perfectly straight face she told us that her brothers had been in a consortium that had organised the assassination of John Kennedy in retaliation for Kennedy ordering Diem’s murder. She said the real assassin was an American Indian mercenary well paid for the job. I genuinely believe that she didn’t doubt what she said was true. Also, she told us, when the last of her brothers was released from a Communist “re-education camp” in 1993 there were still American POW’s there. She told us in a matter of fact way like it never occurred to her that anyone would doubt what she said.

    The highlight of my day was always when I went to Bob and Andrew’s hotel to meet them for the days outing; she would always be there before me and as I entered the hotel room she would cry out to me, “Julian, Julian, I don’t understand what they are saying to me, tell me what they mean”. It was always some thing disgusting in Australian slang. One morning the now street wise Andrew, who had indulged in a few more motor cycle trips (without a $100 in his pocket) had been talking about “boom boom babies”; what did he mean she demanded to know. Boom boom I told her was an American military slang term now commonly used in Asia for sexual intercourse.
    “He wants to have sex with babies?” she cried in horror. No, Hong-Hue, “babies” is the American vernacular for attractive young women. She understood words like vernacular perfectly. She made up nicknames for all of us, Bob was the “good heart”, I was the “cool guy” and Andrew was the “dirty old man”. I think cool was the only slang term she knew and she never had that right.

    The Vietnamese family were great people; they had a fourteen year old daughter who was a stunningly beautiful girl, and we invited them to a floating restaurant trip on the Saigon River one night. Eight people and the final bill, with floor show, and included a beer drinking competition consisting of me against all of the other four men in the group (I won) was the equivalent of B3000.

    The next day Hong-Hue informed us that they had invited us to a “genuine” Vietnamese restaurant and would we like to go the following night. Sure we would. On arrival the place astounded us, easily over 200 tables and packed out; we were seated and and small charcoal barbeques set up on the table. Bob and Andrew were very much spring rolls and fried rice men but were soon attracted to the grilling meat that arrived raw on platters. Our host proudly handed me the menu and pointed out what he had ordered, surprisingly with English sub titles. Vietnamese porcupine and Malayan mouse deer. Oh well thinks I, at least it isn’t dog, least said soonest mended. However Bob produced a rib bone about the size of a fingernail clipping. “Venison” I said. They kept their peace until the taxi back to the hotel and under the threat of dismemberment I told them what they had eaten. “I won’t forget this Julian” said Bob. If anyone’s wondering it tasted like chilli and lemongrass. (Same as dog.)

    All in all it was a good ten days; the other guys weren’t big drinkers, Bob a big night man with a three day hangover and Andrew a little often. All of us made a play for Hong-Hue but she had eyes only for Bob who shied off when he realised she expected a commitment. They still keep in touch and I still call him a fool but he says he has no time for a steady girl friend.

    A day which is firmly in my memory was a trip to hot springs north of the city. We bathed all morning in a private pool and on leaving stopped for a cold drink at an outside restaurant. We fell into conversation with three families having a day out and spent the afternoon drinking beer with the men. They couldn’t afford the springs but had brought the children to play in the gardens and I took several dozen photos and got them printed off the next day and having obtained their address got Hong-Hue to post them off to them.
    We booked our flights for Siem Reap and headed for Cambodia, but that’s another story.

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by sceadugenga View Post
    This was written about a trip I did in 2004, It's been posted on a couple of other forums and a short story site, ThailandStories.com.
    .

    so what have you done since 2004?

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    Quote Originally Posted by DrAndy View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by sceadugenga View Post
    This was written about a trip I did in 2004, It's been posted on a couple of other forums and a short story site, ThailandStories.com.
    .

    so what have you done since 2004?
    Be nice, be patient and all will be revealed.

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    and any pics?

    but great stuff mate! we want more!

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    I'm having a few probs with the gallery bizzo but will give it a try.



    Vaung Tau Beach



    Translator/Guide



    Vienamese Family

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    Last time I was in Vung Tau was in about '95. At that time, it was just starting to develop into a resort town, as it had been mostly a jumping point for all the oil-rig folks prior to that.

    What's it like today?

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    yes, I went there on my first visit to Vietnam, about the same time

    seemed to have several nice bars!

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    We were there on a terrible day weather wise. There was a life guard running up and down the beach trying to keep people out of the water and being ignored.
    We only walked along the esplanade until we came to a hotel with a pool that was on the lee side of the gale and spent the afternoon swimming.
    I never saw anything resembling a bar, and for that matter, never saw too much in Saigon. A couple of fairly poor examples where a very ordinary girl had the nerve to ask me for an 80USD barfine while she was drinking 5USD cokes at the rate of two a minute. When I left she had more nerve to ask me for money for her talking to me.
    There were some very nice freelancers riding around on motorbikes but I didn't fancy going off with them and was staying in a 5 star hotel who may not have approved me taking them back there.
    Esplanade

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    Vienamese Family
    They don't look very Austrian

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    It's the excitement of handling all this new technology. It's even the wrong pic, here's the one I meant to post.

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    Quote Originally Posted by sceadugenga View Post
    There were some very nice freelancers riding around on motorbikes but I didn't fancy going off with them and was staying in a 5 star hotel who may not have approved me taking them back there.
    you may not have approved either scea! I was on a bike with an American guy; we stopped at traffic lights and another bike with two girls drew up next to us. They said hello and gestured for me to change over pillion seats with the girl. My friend seemed to be all for it, but after a quick check (visual!) it appeared that they were katoeys

    so we said no thanks

    apparently this is a common way for them to pick up customers
    I have reported your post

  12. #12
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    A few years back I could only pick a katoey if they s/he built like a rugby player who hadn't shaved but thankfully my powers of observation have sharpened a little since.

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    A few years back I could only pick a katoey if they s/he built like a rugby player who hadn't shaved but thankfully my powers of observation have sharpened a little since.
    Lol so many would agree

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