Sunday, March 15, 2009


(PICTURE: CSCD Police. This picture is a rarity -- they never come out during the day.)

There's a strange occurrence that happens every night in Hanoi around 11PM. As the city begin to quiet, the storefronts close, and the night time garbage crews sweep the streets, a special branch of police start to appear in the shadows. Who they are, I'm not exactly sure. They have CSCD written on their uniforms. I don't know what that stands for so I've just started to call them the Vietnamese SWAT TEAM.

About nine months ago, while riding home late at night, I passed two motorbikes. On each motorbike were two guys wearing all black -- including I think bullet proof vests -- and holding machine guns. I'm no gun expert by any means but they sort of look like this:

This definitely isn't the exact gun but you get the point. There's dudes dressed in black carrying big guns in the shadows at night.

After that first time seeing the SWAT TEAM, it was a couple months before I saw them again. As Ryan can attest, I'm not exactly a frequent bar goer so I'm not on the streets that often late at night. However, from time to time I've seen these guys and my curiosity is always peaked.

About two weeks ago, during the day, I was riding my bike and saw an army truck drive buy with a dozen of these guys sitting in the back. I was shocked that these guys could actually come out in the daylight.

Last week I got an email from a "long time listener, first time caller" named Jacob Gold. Jacob told me he was once pulled over by these police at night. That's an experience I'm hoping I never have in Hanoi.