Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Road Trip: Son Tay/ Vietnam Vegas

(PICTURE: Nicky, Long and Me -- the road trip crew.)

The first stop on our five day Tet Motorbike Trip was Son Tay. Our friend Mai -- the head of the Hanoi Ultimate Frisbee club -- invited a bunch of us to her for the second day of Tet. All of us who were going agreed to meet at a shopping center at 9:30 to caravan to Mai's house.

The night before I slept about an hour and a half due to my stomach bug which first started to reer its head at Huyen's house. At 4AM I decided to start a cycle of Cipro and vowed that I would only go to Mai's if her family had a western toilet. At 8AM, approximately after my dozen-th trip to the toilet, I went looking for an open pharmacy. One problem with this quest is that NOTHING is open during Tet. Well, barely anything. As I drove around the city I saw a woman walking into a darkened pharmacy. The pharmacy was definitely closed but I happen to catch the pharmacist coming back to her house/business. I asked her for Smecta (it's like Immodium AD but 100 times better...and that's coming form a lifelong lover of Immodium) and got ten packets. I downed the first dose and decided that it was time to face my fear of a squat toilet.

All of us arrived at the predetermined location at 9:30. Well, all of us except for Nicky. We called Nickey at 9:45 and woke him up. We told him to meet us in Son Tay.

When we got to Mai's house the first thing I asked her is, "What kind of toilet do you have?" She said, "A western toilet." Well, my face must have lit up because she started to laugh. She said she's had never seen anyone so happy about anything in her life. A week later she was still laughing at my expression and told me, "I'll never forget how happy you were about my toilet."

Mai was a great host and took us around Son Tay to a few famous spots. Our first stop was at a pagoda which was holding a Tet Celebration. It turns out that the celebration was the Vietnamese version of Vegas...where the dealers and gamblers were slightly younger than at the Bellagio. There were all these little games for money. Check out this dice game:

video

I won 10,000 Dong playing this game...which made up for the 40,000 Dong I lost in other -- slight more rigged -- games.