Many times when I'm doing things in Hanoi, I think of my friend Brett and end up laughing to myself. I love Brett but we're not exactly cut from the same cloth. You see, whereas I'm fine with sleeping in say a Ramada Inn with cigarette stained sheets, Brett would prefer to stay in a place like a Marriott or a Four Seasons. Hey, there's nothing wrong with this and in fact, I know that I'm in the minority. And don't get me wrong, Brett and I have a ton in common...just not when it comes to cleanliness and luxuriousness.
Let me give you an example of what I'm talking about: The other night, Huyen and I went to eat at a local sidewalk duck restaurant. While eating, something caught the attention of my eye. I wish I could say it was a waiter walking by with a chocolaty dessert, but no, it was a large as f&*k rat scurrying across the floor. Then something else caught my attention. Nope, still not dessert but rather another rat. All in all I think I saw about six rats in a one minute span. During this time, as I continued to eat, I thought of Brett and started to laugh to myself imagining him there: "Dude, I can't believe you're still eating with rats running around." I then played out this conversation in my head and justified my eating by saying, "Yes, there's rats on the floor but there's none in the kitchen." You see, with street food restaurants you can see the whole "kitchen." In the case of the duck shop, there was just a BBQ for grilled duck and a glass enclosed stand that was 100% rat free. Being the crazy writer/person that I am, I continued to have a conversation in my head. I thought that I would make the argument that, "I'm sure in NYC some of your restaurants are spotless in the dining room but have rats running around the kitchen. Here's it is the exact opposite. There's rats in the dining room but none in the kitchen. Personally I think this is cleaner."
Literally I had this conversation in my mind as I continued to eat my duck. I think I even had a smug expression on my face as I won the argument in my head...but then one of the workers at the restaurant knocked over a condiment bowl and spoon onto the ground where rats had just been running around. He then smiled at me as if to say, "my bad," and then picked up the bowl and spoon and put them right back on the table -- yes, sans washing.
Immediately I thought to myself, "Okay, Brett wins this argument."