I was going to call this blog Good Morning Vietnam, but then I got a bit cross with the Americans and their bombing of beautiful people and also Robin Williams is dead. So it didn’t seem the cheeriest. I have every intention of writing regularly but let’s be honest, as soon as I go to the sunny South it’s looking dodgy.
I have seen a lot of things I can’t articulate well enough whilst in Vietnam. Today, it went next level.
I love Vietnam. I adore it, which is a very bold statement as it hasn’t stopped hammering down since I got here. I could talk all day about the rat intestines, or my apparent ability to get constantly ran over by shouty Vietnamese old men, or the number of times I have ended up inadvertently looking at a dead dictator, or the breastfeeding mother riding a scooter (I can feel Nigel Farage spontaneously combusting from here). I haven’t even got my head around the fact that the Vietnamese all sit on the most amazingly small chairs. They are so cool. When I get back to Newcastle I am throwing away my settee and replacing it with tiny chairs.
Hanoi was like nothing I had ever seen before. The locals call it Hanoi-sy and it deserves a blog all of its own but it’s Saturday night after all and PUB. Suffice to say it’s hectic and full of scooters and wonderful food and beautiful people and crazy water puppets.
I flew to Hue because in theory spending 14 hours on a train with chickens might seem exciting, but in reality, it’s a huge pile of torturous wank. Since I got here, it’s rained constantly, and as hardy and English as I try to be, it’s not much fun looking at dead people in old tombs in the rain. In fact, it’s not much fun looking at them in the sun either. After five days, I’m all templed out. I’ve done the history bit. I can only look at so much stone and think ‘oh, stone, yeah man’.
I imagine people blog because they are finding themselves or want to share the cultural stuff. I’m blogging because it’s raining and my brain feels like it’s going to explode and bits of vietnamese information will tumble out. I have spoken to all these people who apparently are all ‘zen’ and ‘totally digging the vibe man’ then are total tosspots to the lovely, shy Vietnamese people. And don’t get me started on hideous Western sex tourists.
I took a twenty four hour break from writing this as I have just spent the last day literally puking my guts up. I honestly thought I was going to die. So.
Yesterday now, I went for a massage. The weather was shit but it was Saturday and I had cabin fever. I wandered to a place which looked lovely, all of the therapists were blind, and apparently they are quite famous in Vietnam. In my head I had a picture of that film with Lionel Richie singing and him feeling her face. I have no idea what it’s called. You know the one I mean.
Anyway, I wandered in and settled for the ‘mooon package’, me thinking the fact it contained an extra o could only be a good thing. Plus, there was a photo of Jeremy Clarkson on the wall outside, and he’s treated like a god around here after that whole riding the bike thing. I was greeted at the door by a man who could definitely see, probably better than me in my specs. He introduced me to my masseur. She definitely COULD NOT see. She went to grab my hand and got hold of my left breast and pulled me into this room which I swear was darker than being down a mine (I imagine, I’ll check this fact with my pops).
‘Lie on the bed’ she said.
In a normal situation this would’ve been totally fine but I couldn’t see my hand in front of my face. So I felt around for a bed like structure, clouting my already broken toes extensively. I suppose the light was irrelevant to her, but it was quite crucial to me. So Banh came over, once again grabbed my tit and led me to my designated place. I lay down on my tummy and put my head through the hole in the bed and looked down. To make it pretty for the client, they had lit candles and they were floating over a pool of water containing fish. Quite a few dead fish but also some alive ones, which was a bonus. I don’t suppose they can see so christ knows how long they’d been dead. I started panicking. All I could think about was had JC lain here and had a ‘happy ending’? I don’t know how people with huge bellies lie face down come to think of it. Do their legs just hover mid air? Next thing I know, Bahn jumps onto the bed and starts swinging on a rope and running up my back. Now. Had I known this was going to be the case I’d have been prepared. But in the toon, if this happened, I’d be crushed under fifteen stone of Geordie Shore orange tan and false nails. I had no time to object. She was tiny and it didn’t hurt, but I defy anyone to say that someone running up your back is relaxing.
Then my head. She started wrapping her toes into my head and ‘pinging’ my hair. Don’t get me wrong, I love people playing with my hair WITH THEIR HANDS. Not their feet after I imagine they’ve waded through dead fish.
So there’s me, face down, staring at dead fish, trying not to imagine Jeremy Clarkson naked, with a nimble blind Vietnamese woman stamping on my head. Last week I was buying cheap knickers in Primarni. All I kept thinking was ‘how will she get down?’
Half an hour this goes on. Then down she scrambles and starts pulling my fingers and toes. I swear to god. Had I been expecting this also, I’d have warned her about my BROKEN TOES. Honestly. I was weeping.
But it was all going to be okay because now she was going to wash my hair. As we (I) emerged into the light, I noticed she was just about ready to give birth. Next time I hear a pregnant woman whinging about having back pain, I’ll just highlight the fact that at least they’ll not have to run up my back and that they can see.
So she laid me down, again led by boob, in the basin. In England, I’m used to lying on my back and someone massaging my scalp and protecting my face. Not in Vietnam, oh no. No no no. I had to bend over whilst literally water was thrown over my head. Cold water. Then at least five hands scrubbed my hair like only your mother did when you were small, until it was literally squeaky clean. I was soaked. Absolutely soaked. And so were they. Imagine Stevie Wonder having to wash hair for a living? And then, then they’re blow dried it. Five of them with possibly the most useless hair driers I have ever seen. Seriously, three mice blowing on me with their tiny breaths would have been quicker. And the style, jesus, the style. They flicked my fringe out at the sides. The lovely girl from my hotel even giggled and said I had hair like a cow tongue, which is exactly the look I was going for.
All done. The definitely not blind guy came and took my money, a mere two dollars, and I hope more than anything the money does actually make it to the lovely blind people.
By the time I left, someone had nicked my umbrella and I needed a wine.
Oh VIETNAM, I love you HARD.