Saturday, May 14, 2011

Nha Tro

Back to the most bizarre day I've ever had in Vietnam...

(PICTURE: These two things being in the room should have been a sign that this wasn't an ordinary hotel.)

When leaving the village, Huyen was drunk and I felt the tiniest bit of a buzz. I don't like to drive if I've ever had more than one beer so immediately after getting off the dirt road, I pulled over to a little road stop to have a drink of water and some sugar cane juice. Huyen immediately started looking for something to eat and found a bag of chips that suited her appetite. I, on the other hand, started to down a bunch of liquid. Originally there were only three people at this snack shop and the husband couldn't stop talking to me. The guy was most likely drunk and kept saying, "I once saw a tall guy with a beard like you. He was from Cuba. But he was younger than you. Maybe 23." I think he repeated this about six or seven times.

Finally, two other dudes pulled up to the roadside shop and tried to practice their English. They spoke roughly three and a half words each. However, this didn't stop them from trying to speak more. Huyen started to translate and then said with slightly slurred speech, "Please don't make me translate for you right now." I laughed at this and decided it was time to get going especially since one of the new guys lit up a cigarette and was making no effort not to blow it in our face (this is very typical as people generally assume in Vietnam and especially in the countryside that nobody minds cigarette smoke).

So Huyen and I hopped back on the bike and drove to the nha tro in Pleiku (you may recall from two days ago that we had thrown our bags in a room and laundry in a machine before we set out for the hydroelectric plant). Well, when we pulled into the guest house, the owner came out and said, "I'm sorry, but you can't stay here. We're not registered for foreigners." Immediately something clicked in my brain: this was a whore house and not a hotel. You see, when we first came, I think they had assumed we were just going to have sex and leave. In fact, when we left for the dam, the woman came out and said, "Are you leaving now?". We had said no and took off to sight-see.

Frankly, this place was pretty gross even for our standards on this trip, so we said it was no problem. We agreed to pay the woman half of watch she originally asked for and then grabbed our bags and wet laundry. Naturally though, as soon as we got back on the bike, it started to rain. We then drove to the next hotel on the main street and were told that they were full. So we hopped on the bike again and went to the next hotel, a very nice establishment. The owner there too said they didn't allow foreigners. Now keep in mind, on our hole trip this had never happened to us. But in Pleiku it happened at the first three hotels we went to. Finally, we found a very nice hotel in the center of town and paid the second most we've ever paid for a hotel room.

As we checked into the room, I glanced at the clock and saw it was 2pm. So to recap, before 2pm we had nearly had a machine gun in our faces, got a private tour of a hydroelectric dam, drank rice wine with a bunch of drunken villagers and were thrown out of a whore house. And then, to top it all off, I checked my email and found out that our change of schedule the past week had been for naught since Linh's hometown was Pleiku and not Buon Me Thuot. What a day!