Sunday, November 16, 2008

Vietnamese Pool

Tired of solids vs. stripes or traditional pool? Well, the Vietnamese have a great variation on the game if you're with a couple of friends. Here's how it works:

First, you need a deck of cards. You shuffle the deck and deal out 7 cards to each person who wants to play. Each card represents balls on the table: Ace is the one ball. Two is the two ball. Three is the three ball. etc. etc. until you get to... Jack is the eleven ball. Queen is the twelve ball. King is the thirteen ball. The fourteen and fifteen ball are free balls (however it is a scratch if you hit in a free ball before you hit in one of your own balls).

When your ball is sunk in a pocket you get to throw down your cards. The first one to no longer have any cards wins. It's that simple...minus a few other little rules:

Rule 1: You can't throw down any cards until YOU hit in one of your balls.
Rule 2: If you scratch two times you're out of the game...and must do ten push-ups.
Rule 3: If someone throws down all their cards before you have made any shots you must do ten push-ups.
Rule 4: If you scratch you must pick up two more cards. If the corresponding balls for those cards have already been sunk, you have to pick up two more cards until you get ones that represent balls on the table.
Rule 5: Whoever has the most cards left after someone is out must do a push-up for each card in their hand.

It's a fun game and if you suck at pool like me, it's an easy way to get a good chest and triceps workout.

Chicken Speakeasy

Last night was an interesting one. After working all day, Huyen and I went to her friend Tu's birthday party at a hot pot restaurant. Following the birthday feast, Huyen's friend Hien and her boyfriend Dzung asked us if we wanted to shoot some pool. I agreed with the clause that I'd only like to play for an hour or two since I had some work to do. At this point it was just about 8pm.

Well, we got to the billiards hall and met up with three of Dzung's friends where we proceeded to play pool for the next couple of hours. Just as I was getting ready to depart, the owner of the billiard's hall invited our group to the VIP room. Everyone was so excited to get VIP status -- including myself since I didn't know you could be a VIP at a billiard's hall -- that I decided to stick around for "a half hour more."

We followed the owner up a metal winding staircase to the upstairs VIP lounge. Basically the room was VIP because:
a) It had plush couches.
b) Fancy pool cues.
c) Waiter service.
d) A clean, quietish bathroom.

Two hours later, somewhere in the ballpark of 12:30 AM, we asked for our bill to leave. As we were taking off one of Dzung's friends invited us to get some "very good chicken." I asked him where he wanted to go since it was already past midnight and the city wide curfew was in effect (the front gates of the pool hall were already locked and we had to exit through a side door). He told me there was a chicken place up the road that was open all night.

Well, he wasn't lying. We rode our bikes about a 1/4 of a kilometer up the road and stopped on the side of the street where a man was sitting in a chair. One word was exchanged: "Ga?" The man nodded yes and motioned for us to turn off our bikes. Just then a few teenage boys came hustling out of an alley and collected our bikes and ushered us through a door which was slightly cracked open. Inside the door was an all white room with two tables set up in the middle. From what I could tell it was just a garage that had had its walls painted and tile put on the floor. For all intensive purposes we were in a speakeasy...that served chicken.

A minute or two went by and a woman brought us out a couple plates of chicken. I can honestly say with no exaggeration it was by far the best chicken I've had since leaving the states. I now have my Thankgsiving plans if no turkey pans out.