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Singing in the rain

September 25, 2010

Every Friday night, down the street from us, they have a wine tasting. It costs 150,000 VND ($7.50), and they give you eight tickets for half glasses (or you can get four whole ones.) They also have light hors d’oeuvres. We’ve attended the last two Friday nights. I’m curious what it will look like when we’re gone. It was probably was really posh and full of snooty French people until about thirty American pilots descended on the place. It has a nice cellar where we usually hang out because it’s cooler, but whenever I’m down there I imagine bulls in China shops and think how expensive it could become if someone fell down.

That was the starting point for our evening last night. And initially, I planned on it being the ending point. I was tired. We’d been out Wednesday and Thursday nights. But, there’s nothing like peer pressure. It’s your last Friday night in Hanoi. We won’t see you again for a long time. What, are you an old person? And for once, my husband was not sleeping on the couch.

So we piled into a taxi and headed downtown and headed to the karaoke place. We had tried to go one night earlier this week but all the rooms were full. One of our pilots planned ahead this time and reserved a huge room for us.

Karaoke in Asia (or on Buford Highway) is much different than what we’re used to back home. It’s much more of a private event. You rent a room. There’s a stage in the front with video screens behind it. The other three walls are lined with booth-style couches and there’s a table in the middle for the song selection books and drinks. For some reason our room had balloons hanging from the ceiling. It was also much bigger than the other rooms (I looked through the window on the door because I’m curious like that), but that was probably because there were so many of us.

It started off well. There are two microphones and you can sing sitting down or up on the stage. This is the only way I have ever, or will ever, sing karaoke because it’s only people I know, and it’s not like I stand up in front of a bunch of people and they all watch me sing. It’s more of a group event. Just about everyone gets involved. We get up and dance and pass the microphones around.

The only problem I have with these places (in my limited experience so far) is the terrible shortage of fun, English music. We went through “Dancing Queen,” “Hit Me Baby One More Time,” “Imagine,” “Hey Jude,” “Forever Young,” and some Backstreet Boys song and then there weren’t really any others to choose from that weren’t love ballads. “I Will Always Love You” is fine, but you can’t follow it with “Lady in Red” and “Endless Love.”

After we ran out of songs, we followed our pseudo Vietnamese guide (he’s one of our pilots, but has been living here for five years and is married to a Vietnamese lady) to an authentic Vietnamese nightclub. It had a huge stage with a live band – complete with a singer with funky spiked hair. This is where a few of us decided to call it a night. I’ll have to have a re-do when I’m not so tired.

Today is Jonathan’s first unscheduled day in two weeks, so we are taking full advantage of it and doing nothing. Neither of us seem to be able to sleep past 9am (which is pretty annoying), so we got up and realized those sandwiches we had at 6:30 last night weren’t cutting it anymore. There was a brief discussion as to whether we should go walk somewhere and find food, or just have pizza delivered to us. It was a very brief discussion. With Jonathan, pizza always wins. Before 11am we had a pizza at our door.

We ordered a thin crust Al Fresco’s (the name of the restaurant) Special. It has ham, pepperoni, chili beef (tastes like ground beef with chili powder – not bad but not awesome), bell peppers, onion, pineapple, sauce, and extra cheese. It was so good, and somehow we managed to kill a large. (By the way, all the weight I thought I’d lose when I got here is still with me. I can’t imagine why.)

This promptly sent me into a food coma that led to a two hour nap. What a lovely, lazy day.

A little while ago, as I was sitting here writing, I happened to notice that some of these swan shaped paddleboats had made it to our side of the lake. We were commenting on how difficult it would be for them to get back across because the wind was picking up, blowing them away from their dock. We went out on the balcony to watch, and it felt like we were wrapped up in a warm, damp blanket.

A few minutes later, I could see the rain start to move across the lake. The water is wind-chopped in some places, then there’s a distinct line where it has a matte finish caused by millions of raindrops. It moved fast and within a few minutes the other side of the lake had disappeared into whiteness. Throughout the whole storm the golfers were still out on the driving range whacking balls into the storm. I hope the boats made it back in time.

I love a good rainstorm, and Vietnam really knows how to put them on.

Currently reading: “The Eaves of Heaven: A life in Three Wars” by Andrew X. Pham

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Dee permalink
    September 25, 2010 13:45

    I love your blogs! I think you have a tremendous ability to transport a person to your experience! I have a favor- would it be allright if a friend of Joe’s(my King and Husband) read your blog? He goes to Vietnam frequently to take care of a school that he sponsors and I thought might have some constructive input for your time there(hints things to do things not to do etc) Please let me know!
    ôm ,
    D

    • September 25, 2010 14:18

      Dee,
      I’m so happy for anyone to read it – pass it on to whoever you want. I really appreciate your comments. I would especially like to hear from this man who has experience here.

      Have you been here?

      Always wonderful hearing from you.

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