December 29, 2009
Another check-in with Eric & Beth, our friends from the blog El Mundo. This postcard proves to be an adventurous one … Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Another stop on their trip around the world.
Since in today’s tech age the physical postcard has now been altered to text messaging, here’s the abbreviated (somewhat) summary with photos…
ngoại động từ (English translation from Vietnamese-enjoy!).
After much contemplation of how to spend our last day in Ho Chi Minh City we chose to make the journey to the Cho Chi Tunnels just outside the city. Eric and I were traveling with 3 of our friends from back home in Atlanta. The journey to the tunnels was fairly quick once we got out of the hustle and bustle of the city. The tunnels offered way more than any of us expected. Upon arrival we were assigned a group and a tour guide. Our tour guide led us through the forest and pointed out the secret passage ways that the Vietnamese used during the war. The first one he uncovered had been widened for us, the fat American’s to fit into. Each of us eagerly lowered ourselves into the small chamber and took a quick photo.
The tour also had great replicas of the torture devices and booby traps that were covering the fields. We had the opportunity to crawl through the small tunnels with barely any light just like the Vietnamese did during the war. This made me realize that being claustrophobic was not an option for these soldiers. I on the other hand could not stand being in the tunnel and took the first exit out while some of our group continued deeper into the tunnels.
Long before arriving in Vietnam our group of now 4 (me and Eric and two friends from Atlanta) had vowed to try the shot of the still beating snake hearts that we had heard so much about. Over the river in Hanoi, which is like the other side of the railroad tracks, there is a small village that the people here refer to as snake village. Our group prepared ourselves for this journey with a few cold beers and then hopped in a taxi with a guide from our hotel.
The owner took us across the street to a room with a thatch hut. The employees eagerly pulled out 4 snakes from a bag and handed over the knife to Eric. Eric sliced down the belly of the snake and the employee dripped the snake blood into a large glass. The heart was cut out of the snake next and placed into a shot glass. Snake hearts continue beating for 10 minutes after they are dead so this process had to be fairly quick because the tradition is to eat the heart while it still beats. The other two boys did two more killing and I watched as the employee did my snake (there was no way I could cut into a still squirming snake). The restaurant set up a table and passed out the shots that included snake blood, still beating snake heart and some rice wine.
Eric jumped the gun and took his shot before the rest of the group because he couldn’t look at it any longer. The other three of us nervously counted to three and downed the shot glass. Surprisingly the shot tasted a lot like red wine (or maybe I hoped that is what I was tasting). A few of us swore that we could feel the heartbeat in our throats for the next ten minutes. After the shots were finished the group downed some of the snake bile that was also in a glass on our table.
We were all pretty excited that we had all gone through with the shots. I am not sure if I would recommend this or not but it definitely makes for some unforgettable stories and memories to share with family and friends back home.