Woof, Woof went my Sandwich
The big Will She, Won’t She question before I moved to Vietnam was, of course: Will she eat dog? Will she munch away the memory of Lassie and roast up Old Yeller? Will she send Spot to the stomach and eat Clifford the Big Red Hotdog?
The answer: yes.
Truth is I’m not squeamish about the idea of canine a la carte. Don’t get me wrong. I love dogs; I adore dogs. I quote The Dog Whisperer at inappropriate moments and staged a wedding between me and my Golden Retriever when I was six. But, to me, eating dog is no more horrifying than eating pig or cow. After all, these are animals that are off the menu elsewhere in the world, yet scrumptious to many of us with refined (?) palates. Of course there’s the health argument against eating dog, but I’m pretty sure my chocolate addiction will kill me first. It might not be my favorite, but eating dog makes life here in Da Nang a little easier when my Vietnamese friends order for me. After all, I hate being the difficult one at restaurants.
Now wait, I’m not advocating being a push-over. Just because you’re traveling to a new place does not mean you have to give up your values. My vegetarian best friend managed to travel through China, Nepal and even Ireland without succumbing to meaty peer pressure. But that was her big thing, not mine. It’s all about choosing your battles. What are you willing to try? When do you say no? Only you know your own limits.
So while I may be open to dog, I am still not so sure about these scooters. Give yourself a month people said when I first arrived. Well, today marks my one month-iversary with Vietnam (parades march through the streets in celebration). And, yet, the scooters seem no less crazy than they did on Day One. Even when I am on the back of one I often have to close my eyes to avoid screaming out in fear, and I’m told that’s not a good way to drive. I have nightmares of running over small children, and then having their ancestors reincarnate me as a scooter.
Thing is, I feel quite justified in my paranoia. My history with modes of transportation is less than great. I tried a Moped once and crashed into a house. I tried motocross and crashed into a tree. I managed to flip an un-flippable quad on a flat, straight road. I’ve crashed bicycles into lakes, down ski slopes and into another biker so hard that she had to go to the hospital. By the way we were the only two on the road – but in my defense I think she was a big, fat baby; I also had a few cuts and still made it to Ultimate Frisbee practice. My squeaky clean driving license belies the fact that I am nothing less than a menace to society behind the wheel. The only reason I have no accident record is because I never drive. When I do drive I usually hit things, but mostly I get out of it by smiling or pretending to only speak Spanish. I’ve collided into stationary objects on rollerblades, skateboards and inner tubes. So mastering the art of the scooter in a land free of traffic lights and speed limits seems doomed for disaster.
Fortunately, there are ways to get around Vietnam without your own scooter. Cabs are about fifty cents to get anywhere. Scooter cabs are ten cents. I have strategically befriended those who have scooters and don’t mind lugging my useless lump around. Learning to drive my own scooter may come about with time, but only when I’m ready.
Anyway, I hear my dinner barking – I mean calling – so away I go; back into the strangely cool world of Vietnam.
By the way, if you fancy a bit ‘o fun, take a look at the Sensational Scooter Scene that I hesitate to join. Can’t figure out to embed it here, so go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-JNWucQJGVI&feature=related.