Thursday, December 30, 2004
|Ya ain't gonna believe this I'll bet.
Back in Hanoi after visiting some perfumed pagoda we never saw (elusive, like the sphinx). Tired and warming up from the frigid day. Walked to dinner then to an ATM to get some cash to pay for our taxi to the airport tomorrow AM. Said ATM was on the west side of the lake. Coming from the east side we heard quite the ruckus-sounded like a karaoke machine with the volume cranked way too high. So we went to check it out. Had to be karaoke for the upper echelons. Large stage, lights, the whole shebang. The duo singing (not prancing) when we walked up were decent. They finished up, the music was killed. No reaction. Not a single person clapped. Odd. More to note-the stage was set up almost in the median of the circle road around the lake. Lanes closed, but only because they were filled with people and equipment. Funny.
Conflustered, we stayed to see what would happen. 11 girls came onstage and started playacting as models-karaoke for models, I guess. Again there was not a single clap as the finished prancing (as they bounced around, I joked to R that I should go up and give the partner-less girl a hand. Prophetic as you'll see). Another band came up (boy band, guys all in white) and pounded thru the music. Not bad. No clapping. Entertained by this entire production, another band started up as some dude came up and began talking to R. Short, dressed like someone in the music/sound industry (sorry, bro. He was better dressed than you, if you can believe it); a detail we didn't recognize soon enough. Chitter chatter with R, then he drew me in. Know what he did then (the crowd had half-circled around us at this point)? Requested that we mount the stage and belt out a quick number! We laughed, as the clueless tend to do and declined the invitation. Which only made him try harder to convince us. Some Vietnamese flew from his mouth to the understanding ears around us, and the crowd joined in. Began clapping, cheering, urging (we assume). Now a bit worried, I marionetted to R that we should start walking away. We did, but they cut us off. Ok, new plan. Run didn't even have to be uttered. R gave me a swift kick in the knee (you don't have to run faster than a bear, just faster than your friend, ya know?) and tore outta the crowd, knocking some little dude onto his ass. I was 2 steps behind her and had to put my shoulder into some poor girl's sternum. Yes, we were faster, but there is something intimidating about being chased by all the inhabitants of a communist (or any, really) city! What a heart thumper! We wove like crazy; first away from our hotel in meandering circles then slowly back towards it as the crowd thinned. Unfortunately, the lead pack would yell ahead in an attempt to garner help and support. And it worked quite well. I was impressed with how quickly R took to rugby tactics. She knocked many people down. And after I took the lead, she'd surge ahead of me to clear the path and then fade back behind me. I think she started enjoying it too much (which is probably why she knocked me down once we were back in our room). They take their karaoke seriously here. Finally our hotel came into view, and a look back showed no one on our tail. Hopefully they don't find us before we get to the airport tomorrow.
In retrospect, it probably wouldn't have been that bad. After all, when'll we see any of these folks again? Next time.
Moral of the story? Sometimes it ain't easy being green.