We check in to the Hangout in Saigon and get a few beds in a dorm room called Rehab. It’s a colorful place with travelers from all over. We get settled and go to the bar to get beers and blog it up.
The compy won’t connect to the hostel wifi though so it looks like catching up here isn’t going to happen. Ah well.
We switch to mixed drinks for a bit. The Hangout has a bunch of vodkas that it looks like the infuse themselves. MacKay is sampling the chili vodka with some sprite and it’s pretty tasty. I peruse the shelves and decide on a ginger vodka and tonic. The bartender shoots me a strange look, “You sure?”, “yep”, hmmm what’s the hesitation. He pours up my drink and it is just foul. Whoa is it bad. Mainly because I misread the label and it’s actually garlic vodka, not ginger at all. Oh man. I try a sip. Agggggh, this drink is nasty, “You’re not gonna want to talk to anyone after that”, “It’s gonna be seeping out your pores and…”, yeah yeah I hear ya. I get part way through and decide that the ramifications of finishing the drink outweigh any possible benefits. I switch to the chili vodka, waaaay better.
There is a legendary pub crawl mentioned on the chalkboard here that Frenchy Bryce had told us about in Chau Doc. It starts at 9 so we have a bit of time to grab food first if we want to partake. We go back outside and just around the corner is a million places to eat and drink. It’s a busy, narrow street filled with scooters and travelers, I think it may be called Backpacker road. It’s a happening scene to say the least. Actually it’s bumping off completely ridiculous.
We find ourselves at a place on the corner called The Bookworm. Just a narrow hole in the wall kind of place but we grab a table on the street and get comfy. The menu is extensive, it’s got apps, pizza, western food, italian, british, indian, vietnemese, deserts, pretty much anything you’d want to eat, they have it here.
An English guy, presumably the owner, comes over to our table, “You fucking ready yet?” Haha we’d literally just gotten the menus and he’s giving us the old piss. “Yeah, actually we are”, Drisdelle and I get some clay pots and MacKay goes for the Bangers and Mash. “Ahhh Bangers and Mash, good to try the local cuisine.” Ha, this guy’s great.
While we wait for food all manner of vendors come up to the table trying to sell us stuff. Mostly it’s girls with these baskets full of random travel supplies like money clips, fans, bookmarks, nail clippers, lighters, just a bunch of shit. We politely wave them and the smoke vendors off.
But then this tiny little girl comes bouncing over to us and her voice is super high pitched. “Me me me me me me meeeee!” is all I hear on approach. She’s dressed all in pink and she is the happiest little girl on the planet. She comes over to the table as fast as her little legs can spin and plops right down next to MacKay. We barely have time to react, we’re just instantly laughing at this little girl. She’s selling gum. She’s giving MacKay a hug and tickling his goatee. Drisdelle and I are cracking up like crazy, this girl is super funny. We can’t make out anything she’s saying, but her voice is like the Wizard of Oz munchkins on helium and she’s rattling on about a mile a minute. We’re laughing so hard at this girl as she’s cupping MacKay’s man-boobs clearly trying to make us laugh even harder. He’s so uncomfortable, “Don’t touch me. What the hell is this?”, “It’s your new girlfriend man, she’s adorable!”. MacKay can’t handle this little girl, he’s visibly upset about it. This, of course, only increases the funny factor tenfold.
We tell her a handful of times that we wouldn’t like any gum, thanks, and then she pouts for a second, then flashes us a huge smile and giggles, then runs away chattering into the street. “Oh man, what the hell was that?”, “Oh she’s back haha”, and she runs over and cups MacKay’s tits again and then runs off giggling some more. Hilarious. Drisdelle and I are wiping laughter tears away. MacKay is red in the face but can’t help but laugh at it all.
The food comes out and it’s pretty great. The clay pots come with rice, I just dump it all together and stew up a fine feast. Finish up with a couple of Saigon Green lagers and we’re pretty content. And then that little munchkin is back all the sudden haha. She jumps on MacKays lap and kisses his cheek, “Ahhh what the hell?”, we’re dying laughing again. She wants us to get a picture of them, haha yeah of course!
And then she’s off running through the scooters on the street, giggle-chattering again.
Alright it’s Pub Crawl Time!
We get back to the Hangout and get our pub crawl bracelets
A good collection of dudes has assembled. We nab some more Chili Sprites and mingle it up out on the street. The first guy we meet is a slurry drunk Irish guy. When he finds out we live in California he tells us he spent time in Visalia. He used to work construction but fucked up his knees so he got work at a yogurt factory. Can’t say I’ve ever met someone that works a yogurt factory. He tells us he mainly used his thick accent to pick up Mexican girls, “I slammed so many Latinos, it was all I did for months in Visalia. Oh no, now I miss Visalia.”
His buddy grabs him to go, I guess they aren’t even on the pub crawl. He stumbles out into the busy street outside the hostel and halfway across he gets clipped by a car mirror. This spins him around but he maintains his balance, he seems fine. We yell out to him, “You ok, dude!”, he just spins around, still not fully across the street, puts his fist in the air, “Versalia for life!” Haha, wow. The Irish.
Our first stop on the crawl is the other hideout hostel just down the street. It’s nice and air conditioned in there and a tall white guy is spinning up some cool house music. When we get up to the bar the bartender sees our pub crawl bracelets, grabs a bottle of mystery booze, and just dumps a mouthful straight into each of our mouths. Well, that’s a start!
We continue on the chilli vodka train. The bartender pours pretty hard and a few of the chillis fall ino our cups. “It’s good for your penis!” and we both crack up.
There’s a girl from Whistler that is staying at the hostel and working there for a bit. She’s acting as pub crawl coordinator tonight and she’s pretty pumped when she finds three more Canadians. “Sweet! Now there’s five of us! We can totally take down the English on the board with a round of Hand Grenades!” There’s an international shots board at this hostel too, like there was a Mad Monkey and Top Banana. Oh Gaaaawd.
The other Canadian comes over and he is also from Whistler but somehow he and the girl have never met before. He’s got a ton of tattoos, sleeve tats, neck tats, he’s wearing a mucsle shirt and it looks like he’s got a full chest tat too. Nice guy, his name is Nick, we shoot the shit over our drinks and swap some travel stories.
Meet another guy outside The Hideout who is also from BC, he’s from Vancouver. His a wily little Asian dude who teaches people how to dance to dance music online. “What? That’s a job?”, “Oh yeah man, you’d be surprised. What do you guys do?”, “We’re in software design (we can’t very well blow our cover and tell him we’re the world’s greatest adventure detectives)”, “Oh haha, you guys are my target market.” So yeah, this guy just sets up a webcam and teaches people how to dance over the interwizzles. He recommends a book to me that was the most influential thing he read when making his decision to just work remotely. But I can’t remember what it was. He gets a bracelet from Whistler Girl
After a few more rounds the critical mass of hostel pub crawlers have gathered and our dudefest ambles down the street with pumping fists, a swaying centipede of drunk legs.
We get to the street we were on before for dinner and the throng of travel drinkers has picked up dramatically. We’re led to a nearby place and all of the crawlers are funneled up stairs to a pumping dance club with a long thin bar. There are already a lot of people in the place and not much room at the bar. Fortunately we’re among the first to arrive and find an open spot without much trouble. A quick flash of the wrist band and we’re each getting more mystery booze dumped straight in our gullets from the bottle again.
The place is a little too packed and chaotic so we find a spot out on the balcony away from it all. We meet a couple more Irish guys out there who end up being hilarious. One says his name is Owen, “Listen to how my name is spelled, this is so stupid, man. O.U.G.H.E.N. Owen”, “What is that Gaelic?”, “Yes, exactly. Gaelic. Language of the focking fairy nymphs, I tell ya.”
Here’s some Vietnam telecom for ya. Unbelievable clusterfuck of wires on every pole, I have no idea how they can possibly keep it straight. Was like this in Thailand and Cambodia too.
These Irish boys have found a girl who is also from Ireland and are just ribbing her non stop. She’s a good sport, “…and her name is Nadia. She spells her name N.A.E.H.D.Z.I.O.H”, “That’s not how I spell it”, “Well no, I figured”. We laugh it up with these jokesters for a while. At one point MacKay straight up punches a cockroach off the wall. “Oh man, that’s disgusting, man. Let’s find some more, shall we?”
Another dude joins us on the balcony. He’s a total Bro with sideways ball cap and everything. I’m expecting to hear he’s from San Bernadino but he says he’s from Holland, from Amsterdam. “Oh Amsterdam is a cool place man”, “Fucking tourists, I say. Jacking up the prices all over town. I don’t think I like Amsterdam anymore.”
We get another drink and with some miracle in cat herding we’re able to get the pub crawl drained from the bar and down the street to the next place.
Up the stairs to the top level of this spot too and it’s pretty similar to the last bar. Flash the bracelet, mystery booze to the face and things are getting silly at this point.
The drunken dance crowds mixed with the increasingly obnoxious pub crawlers is wearing thin on the adventure detectives at this point and we start formulating an exit strategy. This is to simply bounce from the crawl and find our own fun. We’re back on the street with the bardar switched on.
We walk down the street and find a small patio outside to have a wind down drink. This was a place with glass tables and fancy lights. It was pretty dead buut we relax with a drink for a second to defrag. After the pub crawl sorbet we’re ready to pick things up again. We start down the street when Drisdelle suddenly vanishes into thin air. “Where’s Drisdelle?”, “I dunno, he was just here”, “Wtf?”, “Must have gone back to the hostel I guess?”, I’m scrolling through pictures and just start laughing. “Or maybe he walked his new Vietnamese child home haha, what the hell?!” This was the last pic I had of him.
Now it was late night food time. Nothing on this set of streets ever seems to close. We find a place that looks kind of upscale and dip in out of the street side chaos. It’s called Ayutya (?). The food was really good here, I got a traditional Pho dish and it was sensational.
MacKay and I dial things back to the Saigon Greens and are just chilling post-food. Some big, baby-faced dude comes up and asks if he can sit down. Sure, man. He sits and introduces himself in a thick Russian accent as “Vladamir, like Putin”. We’re not sure if this is a joke but we are laughing anyways.
Vladimir is a happy go-lucky sort of guy. We ask him what he does and he says he’s a Christian missionary. He says he’s converted 30 Buddhists during his time here. I’m not sure if that’s impressive or not but I tell him it is. He tells us about his charitable works and whatnot and he’s all wide-eyed with zeal and smiles.
We finish up our drinks and decide it’s time to find another place. Vladamir tags along with us and we’re back on the streets with the dark of the night sky breaking at the coming dawn. Vladimir, like Putin, offers us some weed from a joint rolled like a strange, long, pyramid shape. The last time I was in this situation with a Russian I was thrown in the back of a black BMW by some tough ass mafia types (story for another time), so I politely decline, as does MacKay.
We’re down some sketchy back alleys looking for another spot to try out. We emerge and Vladamir spots a place and leads us over. We go into the place and it’s a Shisha joint filled with dolled up girls. It’s just closing as we go in and so we’re back on the street.
Some of the girls come over to us of course to offer their services. Oddly enough a few of them seem to know Vladimir. Now this strikes MacKay and I as strange and we exchange a ‘does this seem weird to you’ glance. This big bible thumper, who brought us here, knows some of the girls here? MacKay pulls in close and says “Hey, something’s off here man”, “Yeah, seems sketchy. Somethings not adding up”, “We’re about to get scammed somehow, I know it”, “Yep, walk away?”, “Walk away”. And we turn and fast walk in the exact opposite direction of Vladimir, like Putin and his hooker friends. He makes no attempt to follow or call out to us. Kind of weird.
We walk aways a fair distance to make sure we’re out of scamming range. While doing so we pass by a couple of Brits drinking on an outdoor patio. They yell out to us, “Fuck you, you stupid American fucks!” and they start laughing to themselves. MacKay and I actually start laughing at this too, something about the delivery. So we flip them off, “we’re not American you dumb fucking Brits!”, and we keep walking while these guys start laughing their heads off.
We stroll for a bit while the sun was coming up but things in whatever area we’ve found seem to be closed up. Just scurrying rats and people getting up to start their day. We pause to weigh our options. “Go back and have a drink with those Brits?”, “Haha, yep. Sounds good.”
We come around the corner again and the Brits are still on the patio. They’re delighted to see us again and throw out another, “Fuck you, you stupid American fucks!” haha, theeeeese guys. “Can we join you asshole Brits for a drink?”, “Sure, but this asshole here is from Scotland”, “We don’t care, we’ll drink with any assholes from anywhere”, and with this polite exchange we came to hang out on the patio with these two while watching the sun come up.
They were funny guys. We told them about Vladimir, like Putin. “A weed smoking, hooker knowing, bible thumping Russian? More than a few things sound off about that, lads!” The place we’re at starts closing up so we invite the BritScots on a romantic stroll to find another location.
Close by there was another place opening for Breakfast. We ask if we can sit on the patio and grab some beers and since there’s seemingly no rules in Saigon this seemed to please the owner greatly.