Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Jenny's Journey

(PICTURE: Joy riding in Ha Noi at 2:40AM)

When I was a kid I had a computer game for my Apple IIe called, "Jenny's Journey." The game was really simple: Jenny needed to get to X place in town and you had to give her directions based on a map. Well, I rocked the game and grew up with an uncanny sense of direction. If only Mom and Dad had bought me another Apple IIe game called, "Vu's Vietnamese Lessons" I'd actually be able to talk to a pharmacist and say, "I have a very red and irritated diaper rash." 

Anyway, that's besides the point. The point is, in general I have a very good sense of direction. Last night this came into play. Here's the cliff notes version of what happened (for the long, Asian slanted version go read Song's blog):

After a long night out a bunch of us left a French ex-pat party to go to a late night bar/club/lounge called Solace. Five of us were in a cab, two were on motorbikes and one was on a bicycle. The one on the bicycle was Ryan. This was a bad idea since:
a) A bicycle is much slower than a car and a motorbike
b) Ryan doesn't know Doi Can from Han Phu from Ba Ding street or any other street in Ha Noi.
c) Despite a genius plan of Ryan following a motorbike, the motorbike took off without him.
d) We were in a part of town very far from anywhere Ryan had ever been. 

It only took two minutes for Ryan to be separated from the pack and then two hours to figure out a plan to get him home. The plan--I believe it was plan D-- involved me riding the bike home at 2:30AM while Song and Ryan enjoyed the rain-free luxury of a taxi. There were a few problems with this plan too: 
a) The aforementioned rain.
b) The map I took from the cab driver was torn exactly on the route I needed to go.
c)  The only vehicles on the road late at night are GIANT construction trucks.
d) The fact that I was wearing A BLACK SHIRT and DARK JEANS and the bike HAD NO LIGHT made me a tad invisible to those trucks mentioned in C.
e) The pot holes that line the streets here were filled with that rain I keep talking about so I really couldn't see them. 

Well, those are the first five problems. The good news was:
a) My late night bike riding practice in Santa Monica prepared me for this journey.
b) My map skills that I bragged about at the beginning of this email were in full effect. 
c) I could hear the big trucks coming so I would casually ride over near the sidewalk and wait for them to rumble by. 
d) I got out of paying any part of the HUGE taxi fare that was accumulated do to two hours of dropping people off at Solace/looking for Ryan/trying to get Ryan home, etc. 

As they say, alls well that ends well. (although I'm not sure how happy Christine, the bike owner, is going to be when she finds out she has come crosstown to get her bike). 

Finally, I want to give a big ahoyhanoi happy birthday shout-out to the mother of my niece. Happy Birthday, Kathy!!!!


Turn Down The AC!

 (PICTURE: Guards in front of Uncle Ho's Mausoleum. No, these guys weren't saluting because it's part of their job, they were saluting because they are big "ahoy hanoi" readers. The third one down on the left recognized me right away and challenged me to Connect Four tonight.) 

This morning we went inside that giant concrete building and checked out Uncle Ho in his glass resting case. A few casual observations:

1. It was the most air-conditioned room in all of Asia. It was freaking freezing in there. 
2. There was a special step-stool around the case for little children; and there were a lot of little children on school trips checking out UH. 
3. I think I can get one of the Guards' uniforms copied in Hoi An for about $40 (depending on whether I want to step up to a nicer material).
4. It seemed a little tacky but they were playing Queen's "We Are The Champions" on a loop inside the mausoleum. 
5. Despite, every guide book saying Uncle Ho looks like wax, I thought he looked like a really old dead guy in glass.