Adventures in Saigon

Here is just a brief update of interesting things in Saigon for the week.

1. Valentine’s Day has caught on in Saigon! The streets were completely jam packed with motorbikes and the pollution was atrocious. Since it was Valentine’s Day I planned to take my girlfriend to the Saigon Town Club for a special Valentine’s Day dinner. My girlfriend working for a horrendous Japanese Travel Agency only had about three hours break and then had to go back to the hotel (see next story) to take care of tourists.

By the time we sat down, we only had an hour to finish a seven course meal and then half an hour to drive her back to friggin Cholon (China Town). What we didn’t know is that the streets would be so packed the entire way.

For those of you who have visited Vietnam, you know there are no rules in the street and it’s extremely dangerous to drive a motorbike, especially when the streets are so packed. However, just as athlete’s can get in the zone during a game, a motorbike driver can also get in the zone and miraculously avoid crashing and near misses. I had about 10 near misses that night and actually only saw two wrecks. One of which the poor guy had blood gushing down his leg but was still standing.

In Vietnam, when you see a wreck, you have to mentally prepare yourself that the person might actually be dead. The disregard for traffic laws is so serious/deadly that it becomes morbidly comical.

2. My girlfriend working for a travel agency often has to go to hotels to make sure the massage areas are clean, well staffed and no funny business for the tourists. She was telling me last night that sometimes the older Japanese men are looking for “Happy Endings” to their massages and since the rooms are private it’s something she really can’t check on. But the funny thing is that while complaining is common for tourists, usually if one receives a happy ending you don’t complain to the Travel Agency that the tip for the girl was too high which is exactly what one Japanese guy did.

When I heard that laughed out loud in the restaurant. Can you imagine??? “Yea, the tour was great, the price for the hotel room reasonable, but damn, can you travel agency people please find a place where we can get cheaper blow jobs?”

3. FIGHTS! – While hanging out at the Ghetto tavern and having a few beers, we saw a very large white foreigner stop his motorbike in front of a car whose Vietnamese driver got out and the two started yelling at each other. We really didn’t know what had happened but guessed that the white man on the motorbike was new in town and had gotten cut off by the driver of the car. Apparently the white man didn’t understand that there are no rules except:

1. Don’t crash. And if you do then see rule number two
2. The richer person pays for the damage.

They were both really pissed off and yelling really loud. Then the pizza guys from the restaurant above the ghetto who were standing outside got into the argument which was when the white man made a big mistake. He pushed one of the Vietnamese. But it wasn’t such a serious push and not a punch which probably saved him from getting seriously beaten.

One rule that every ex-pat knows is you never ever ever fight the Vietnamese. If you punch one, you will be ganged up on by every Vietnamese in the area and seriously hurt. Also, Vietnamese like to use weapons and will grab anything in reach. So since this guy pushed one, he obviously hadn’t been in town too long.

The Vietnamese are not violent people however, and when you see a fight there is usually more threatening with weapons that actual hurting. But if you’re a foreigner and you start the violence then watch out.

Us ex-pats in the bar simply looked out and almost anticipated the beating of this guy. It would have been like the bringing down of an elephant by a pack of vicious chimpanzees with weapons.

Also, last night at the Ghetto Tavern, something really random happened. I was sitting there chatting with my mates, and had just mentioned that I had gotten a swollen lip the other week from an accident in the gym. A guy who had been sitting by himself next to us got up and said “If you keep talking like that you’re going to have more swollen parts of your body.”

We all just stopped talking, looked at the guy and tried to figure out what the hell he meant. Then he said “Americans are so fucking stupid,” to which I was a bit shocked, since this skinny guy surely wasn’t trying to pick a fight with me and two other guys sitting with me. The other guys though were Australian and one of them looked at the guy and said “I beg your pardon!” in a very stern voice. (sounds funny to Americans to use this phrase), but the guy was quickly out of the bar and down the street.

The only sense I could make of this is that the guy must have been on some sort of drug or perhaps had recently had his girlfriend stolen by an American. The guy had been sitting by himself for over an hour and seriously, if you can’t get a date in Saigon, you should just give up and commit suicide. But seriously, this guy had to have been a tourist, on drugs, and in a very bad mood to try to start something with a guy in an environment he knows nothing about. I guess the point of the story, is you’ll meet some strange characters in places like Saigon.

By Mateo de Colón

Global Citizen! こんにちは!僕の名前はマットです. Es decir soy Mateo. Aussi, je m'appelle Mathieu. Likes: Languages, Cultures, Computers, History, being Alive! \(^.^)/


  1. A Japanese friend of mine (a girl) works as a transfer guide for Japanese tourists here in Copenhagen).
    Once an elderly man just exactly got off the plane before asking her where he could find som prostitutes. Now that he was in Scandinavia he thought that was the right thing to do.
    She didn’t give him straight directions but since his hotel was only a two minute walk from the red-lights district she figured he would probably not be lacking in that department.
    Maybe he was all talk… Leaving Copenhagen he complained about his bad luck getting any.
    Go figure.

  2. Hi,
    Great blog you have here. I am a “viet kieu” from california. I plan to be in vietnam in middle of march. I don’t know anything about Saigon, even though I live there for the first 10 years of my life. I can’t wait to be back there from reading this.

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