This is Paul from America. He toured the Vietnam War Museum with me.
After looking at the horrifying images and reading the heart-wrenching accounts from the people who of that era, we decided there was only one thing left to do. We went drinking.
Paul is an English teacher working in Japan. As we were sitting in an outdoor restaurant drinking our Tiger beers, we met up with another guy from our tour, who is from Japan. So Paul had a great time conversing with him in Japanese as we all talked about our day and decided what kind of trouble to get into tonight.
I said that as a joke but in Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) you just have to sit in one place and trouble with always find you. I happened to glance at this woman and the next thing I knew she was asking me if I wanted to go for a motor bike ride. I thanked her for the invitation but declined. So then she sat down beside me and ordered a beer. I asked her why she wasn't drinking it and she told me she didn't like beer but she said she DID like me and would like to invite me back to her hotel room across the street for the very reasonable sum of three hundred thousand Dong (about twenty dollars Canadian). She sat with us for about twenty minutes and I gave her a small amount of money and she left.
Meanwhile we had many vendors come up to us selling books and cigarettes. This woman wasn't shy. She just figured that if we weren't buying what she was selling, we didn't deserve to get a free photo of her. By the way, the cigarettes here are three dollars a pack, Canadian.
So as the evening is progressing, we are solicited every few minutes by taxi drivers, prostitutes, street vendors, and women and their babies, begging. They're not destitute. They just do it because it's an easy way to get money from tourists. And all the while, right behind us, at Ten at night, these two little guys, are happily playing with the wheel of this motorbike, like it's a big sandbox toy.
The three of us decided to play pool. We were met by some lovely women who work for tips and drinks. They were great company. We left the first bar after about half an hour because we either had to take the women to bed or move along. This is the second bar we went to.
And this is Nguyen Dung. She's twenty-five years old; and a pretty good pool player. We spent a couple of hours with Nguyen and her friends. This is the thing about Vietnam that I'm finding. It is a captivating country. Everything is so intense and vibrant here. The people are so engaging. I find at the end of the day I have experienced a huge range of emotions. It's like being on a roller coaster. In this country the one thing you come to realize is that there are no spectators. We are all participants, one way or the other.