Thursday, May 12, 2011

Rice Wine and Pig Food

(PICTURE: It was all fun and games until I had to drink two times!)

With the town elder leading the way, Huyen and I climbed up to the porch of a stilt house and joined about fifteen guys who were all boozing pretty hard. There's was a large jug of rice wine to the side and bottles of beer in almost everyone's hands (including a teenager or two). Immediately the scene was a tad bit uncomfortable because clearly everyone was wasted. The only other girl there besides Huyen was the town elder's wife. We asked where all the women were and they explained that the women worked the fields every day while the men drank. With seemingly pride, they told us about a guy who had recently died because I drank wine for 48 straight hours.

And with that story, they invited me to drink from their rice jug. Every part of me wanted to turn this down because the local hygiene seemed to be lacking, but my sense of adventure trumped my sense of logic. I quickly found myself sucking on a long straw and downing pretty potent rice wine. After about ten seconds, I smiled and said I was finished. Everyone looked at me like I was crazy. They then pointed at a bamboo stick on top of the rice jug and said I could finish until the wine was below the bottom of the stick. I was already about halfway there and began to chug some more. I would estimate it was about 8 ounces worth of rice wine. When I finished this time everyone smiled and said, "Okay, now you have to do it again. We've already all done it twice." I think at this point I rolled my eyes internally and agreed to be hazed a little more. While they were reloading the rice wine, they handed Huyen a bowl of food and told her to try it. Huyen agreed and had a bite or two. It was clearly what everyone had been eating but still it felt like a practical joke. Later Huyen would tell me that she's pretty sure what she ate was the same stuff people usually feed their pigs with (I'm not trying to make fun of these people who were gracious enough to invite us to join them. I'm just stating a fact; a fact that happened to us before when we went on a trek a couple years ago. There the people told us that we were eating the same food they feed their pigs with and that they eat too.).

(PICTURE: Huyen eating the pig food.)

When Huyen finished her two spoonfuls, the locals asked her if she wanted to try the wine. Huyen agreed but said she just wanted a sip. The locals didn't agree with this and said she had to drink one time below the bamboo stick. Now, if you're a loyal reader or have met Huyen in person, SHE IS NOT A GOOD DRINKER. After just a little sip she immediately started to turn red. After finishing (which took a solid five minutes) she was downright drunk as a skunk...which made the rest of the afternoon that much more interesting...