The Cao Dai temple.
Alright, the bulk of this entry is going to be devoted to one of the craziest 24 hours of my life, but I gotta touch up on all the stuff before that of course. Took our day trip yesterday. Cao Dai is a newer religion in Vietnam that blends multiple religions. For example, they revere several different Saints that include Jesus Christ, Confucius, and the Buddha. Their temple was very colorful if anything. It is a bright yellow structure with varied themes such as lion statues, dragons crawling up pillars and grapes along the roof. The afternoon, we saw the Cu Chi tunnels which is a network of tunnels the Viet Cong had dug to gain access to Saigon. These tunnels were not only extensive (some stretching all the way to Cambodia), but also tiny (I had to crawl through them while trying one out) and well hidden.
Noon time prayers.
Pile some leaves on top a wooden cover and you'd never suspect it while trekking the jungle. Of course, the same thing also applies to booby traps and our tour guide showed us an array of rather brutal looking traps that involved impaling the victim with sharpened bamboo spikes dipped with cobra or scorpion poison. This is how the Viet Cong initially resisted the American troops until they were able to secure unexploded bombs and such to make bullets and mines from the iron.
But yeah, let's get to last night. There was much violence. I will say at the start though that we are not in any more trouble with the authorities and that I am perfectly fine health wise while Mike is recovering from the pain. Unfortunately, I'm going to make this the abridged version because that's all that matters for the purposes of me sharing it.
Down I go into the Cu Chi tunnels. Yes, it is as narrow as it looks.
Mike and I went to a hip-hop club and all was well although we did get really drunk. We are not sure how it started, but from when I could remember, Mike got hit by someone after we left the bar around 1 AM and he retaliated. That was my buzzkill and I spent time trying to hold him back and keeping a bunch of Vietnamese guys from beating on him while an Indian bystander hailed a taxi for us. Mike however, would not calm down and even inflicted some damage to the cab. When we got back, Mike was still making quite a ruckus and police from the local station showed up. Mike got angry with them too so they handcuffed him and had to taser him when he wouldn't quiet down. I got them to take the handcuffs off him so he could go to sleep and they left our room, but Mike eventually got riled up again and stormed out with me trying to hold him back some more.
One of the many Viet Cong bamboo traps used in the Vietnam War.
He was re-handcuffed and tased. For the record, I got hit with it twice too, the second time for trying to help him calm down again. It stung, but didn't really hurt. I, however, didn't get the sustained application of it like Mike did. At this point, I couldn't do anything more and Mike was taken to the station. This was around 3 AM. I showered and went to sleep.
I was woken up around 8 AM and went to the station (about 6 doors down) with the hotel manager. Some of the blanks got filled in at this point. Mike thought that the police that showed up at the hotel were the same from the bar (although I only recall bar security in black rather than the green uniforms we saw at the hotel), so that's why he was belligerent at the hotel. Mike also told all of us that he was continually tased by the police after taken to the station.
Dressing up for the club. Note my second tailored suit and my new eyeglasses.
Obviously such a thing wouldn't go down well in America, but we're not in America at this time. In the end, some paperwork was filled out and a fine for disturbing the peace needs to be paid on Monday (the police cashier doesn't work Saturday or Sunday it seems). The fine is 350,000 dong, or under $20. From there though, we had to take the claims from both the taxi company and the hotel manager for property damage. Mike was getting riled up on the charges they were drawing up and while I agree that some of them seem extensive, lower prices were negotiated to try to get things settled in a quicker fashion. I will not say how much, but admittedly, it is very light compared to what similar damage would have cost in the States. While Mike slept, trying to ease the pain he felt after the all night adrenaline had worn off around noon, I relaxed for a few hours, then set off to find a new hotel because the staff needed us to move out of our current room to repair damages and the rest of the rooms were booked.
For the life of me, I cannot remember this girl or taking this picture. And I will forever regret that lost memory.
That actually took about 2 hours of searching to fit the requirement of a place with wifi and around $14/night and available despite the fact there are hotels and rooms for rent every 3rd building or so. Even so, the A/C in this room is not blowing cold air which is how it goes sometimes. At least we have a fan. And to cap off this whole story, I checked my camera before starting this blog entry and I realized I took pictures with some girls in the club... and I don't even remember them or even taking the pictures! This has reinforced the most likely theory for why the fight got started in the first place; that Mike was hitting on these girls and the guys didn't like it and beat on him once we were outside. There are lots of things to learn and remember from this incident and I will say this for the moment: we are still continuing our travels and will be adjusting how we do things and handle situations from now on. It's safe to say that I don't think we will be ordering bottle service anymore on this trip.