These bikes may take you to 7th heaven (your problem!) or. . . hell (your problem, again!)!
”Transportation”, “Warning and dangers”, Nightlife”, “Local customs”. . . a bit of all . . . . The girls in the bars look much more sympathetic than these bike drivers who accost you at night and propose to take you to some massage parlours or whatever with “special service”. The problem is that there are customers! And so, they think that every “white” foreigner walking in the streets is a potential customer. . . . . Send them off, they are one of the real plagues of humanity: pimps! Or go-between for pimps and their business! They didn’t like when they noticed I made pictures. . . . .
So, be careful, or even throw stones at them!
I wrote about R&R places in the introduction, and as an interested real traveller (haha), I decided to have a look. . . and to have a beer! By the way, I drank a half litre (a pint) Tiger beer in the bar full of girls for 20.000 Dong (less than one dollar!), whilst the same beer, in the check-in area of the airport in Saigon costs you 70.000 Dong!
It was “low business season”, and in the bar, there were more girls than guys; they were very kind with the photographer, and were even happy to let me photograph them; I made the pictures without flashlight, tried not to disturb the “customers”. I almost get a blush, writing that I enjoyed the one hour I spent there, drinking a few beers, chatting with the girls (some speak a bit English, better for “business”), photographing them, and commenting the photographs. I am almost sure these girls do not have a happy life, and I felt they liked to spend a few minutes with a “not one of the usual guys” who tried to show them how they look like on their “workplace”. Ah! My travel book is full of email addresses. . . . . I had to send the pictures, of course. . . . .
Outside, red light, but inside, too (first picture) just for the atmosphere. . . . The barkeepers are ladies, naturally (picture 2), and it is difficult to know if they have another job here. . . . . . Well, R&R meant to me “repos du guerrier” (Warrior’s rest), which to me has a very precise meaning. . . . . so here is a look at the recreation part of R&R; drinking beer, certainly, being in a feminine environment, being animated to drink, and billiards is apparently a very popular recreation, preferably with young nice looking ladies. . . . . . like on picture 3 or picture 4. Well, tens of pages could be written, but I do not know the subject (money, pimps, violence, human degradation. . . . . . ), and it may go far beyond what VT stands for! It is just travel discovery too! And, when the girls do not “work”, they read, write, receive phone calls, chat and share. . . like “normal” people (picture 5).
A word about a real plague of humanity in the last “tip”.
I am not (really not!) a beach goer, so I visited the city when I was not at the conference, “discovered” some Buddhist temples, visited the marked, got lost in the small streets. . . tried to photograph the local life. . . dreamed in the streets,. . . things I like. And I also was out at night, and had some . . . eeeuuuhhhh. . . . . , how to say? . . . interesting encounters, sorts of local customs, which, if I do not “approve”, (writing “not approving”, I mean, I have no value judgment to express about that custom, I just have the feeling that “special tourists” are promoting this sort of thing, and I do not belong to the species which practises that sort of “tourism”).
However, I think that these night bars give much more character to a place than the standardised- franchised “clean” places (like Starb. . café, Hard ro. . café, and all that sort of Mickey Mouse standardised brands which colonise the planet. . . . . ) you find in many cities of Vietnam and elsewhere in South east Asia; this is real life in some way, and, I found my visit in two of these places quite interesting, unexpectedly. . . . . . and in fact, if these bars are not “innocent”, it is not that bad as I first feared. And, finally, this is “heritage” from the American troops which were here for R&R!
Is it not difficult to resist when such a lady says “welcome”, as written on the door behind her, with a great smile? I stayed outside and the girls, not busy, were very kind posing for the curious foreigner, sitting on a big motorbike (picture 2), posing as groups, (picture 3), or demonstrating friendship or solidarity (picture 4). It was one of these places, with red light, of course (picture 5)! I did not “visit” inside one of these, but walking further, I finally decided to have a look inside another of these “establishments” (next “tip”).
There was also an opening ceremony. . . . Kids and dancers have been mobilised for giving a warm welcome to the conference attendees! In Europe we are not used to make shows at scientific or technical conferences or congresses, and we have a tendency to look at that custom with some condescension; it is a stupid attitude, as the people in “developing” (they are way more developed in other aspects!), and we have to respect the efforts they do for giving a good image of their country and culture; I am myself sarcastic, sometimes, but in my deep feeling I have nothing less than respect for that. So, here are two first pictures of dancers for welcoming, then “official” speeches (well, militaries. . . I have less respect!) to open the conference. Ah, in Vietnam, they are proud to achieve some technical challenges, and they symbolise this here with the display (last picture) of a drilling rig in the swimming pool of the hotel. . . . . . . . Don’t laugh please!!! I found this ridiculous at first, but who am I to judge? It is just pride, not much more. . . !
When you attend some conferences, there are opening ceremonies, closing ceremonies. . . . “cultural shows”. . . . . I here just share a few pictures I took during the cultural show on the first evening of the conference, and. . . . believe, me, it is “hard work” to attend even the cultural show, as, as “esteemed guest” you sometimes have to make an improvised speech (luckily not technical that time! See travelogue).
So, beautiful dancers with nicely coloured hats and fans on the first picture. A big chorale performed some patriotic song (picture 2), but I liked much more this lady with her two strings music instrument and her great voice (picture 3) who kept the assistance quiet for 15 mn! There were also dancers on the stage (picture 4), and at one point (with a few glasses of wine!) I was almost sure Cleopatra was dancing a few metres from me (picture 5)! In fact there were many non-Vietnamese inspired choreographies, and I must admit that with help of (French) wine (and other Soviet-inspired and imported customs and drinks) I looked at the show with a “silly” mood and almost naughty eyes. . . . (Travelogue)
The local Vietnamese are deathly affraid of being tan. Whenever possible they cover up from head to toe, even while on the beach. It's a good idea if you're prone to getting sun burn.