Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Nice Castle Guests but not Mototaxi Drivers

This is Simon from New Zealand and he is our first guest on the balcony. Katherine met him out this weekend and asked us if we could invite him over...he's backpacking around SE Asia until he takes a job as a lawyer in London (like all New Zealanders do (Tarn did the same thing--actually, they are from the same city, Wellington). We could save him a bit of money, she says. Tarn and I are all for sharing the castle with people passing through.




Nicest guy in the world, and K and I get the balcony guest room ready -- we already got our landlords to put a single bed in, but now there is a small table and a guest towel as well. What else do you need? What a gracious guest. He comes in and is in absolute awe of the castle. He loves his balcony and cannot help himself; he recites something from Julius Caesar: He wants to stay with us longer (especially after we take him to the roof and he swings on the hammock under the palm with a beer in hand), but the rest of Vietnam calls him and he will catch his bus to Hanoi in the morning. K and I decide that we will post pictures of all of our guests in the room. We plan to have many of them between the three of us.



By the way, both Pam and Jessica, friends who plan to visit from Seattle (actually Pam will be stopping by while on her world journey) write to me today asking: when I come, do I get a party with DJ's too? The answer is "of course!!"



OK, now for a re-creation of an interaction with a motortaxi driver after school. Scene: dark clouds, smells like rain, nighttime (sad, at work until 6 again), wondering--do I get a taxi or a mototaxi?



(Keep in mind that he is speaking Vietnamese. But I know what he is saying.)



"Motorbike, miss?"

I show him my address. "How much?"

"Twenty (thousand)."

"Fifteen."

"Twenty."

"I can walk down to that street and get one for fifteen."

"OK, get on. I'll do it for fifteen."

I get on and The Intersection is massively congested. He spins a wheely and goes onto the sidewalk. His bike dies. I get off.

"I will not ride with you if you go on the sidewalk!" I say.

"OK, OK, no more sidewalks."

I get back on and then begins my wild Saigon ride. He weaves in and out, in and out, into oncoming traffic, in front of cars. Finally, when he is about a mile from my house, he goes not on the sidewalk but on the side of the road that is kind of a walkway. He is going the wrong way on the walkway, swerving to miss pedestrians. He swerves onto the road again and just misses an oncoming bus and curses at the bad bus driver, getting in his way. I hit him on the shoulder.

"Let me off!"

He stops. He's confused.

"Let me off. You are scaring me! I will walk the rest of the way," I say as I slide off the bike. I pound my heart. "You scared me to death!"

He is wide-eyed. "But miss, I am a good driver. I know exactly what I am doing. I will take you the rest of the way home, like I promised."

"I don't want you to take me home. You are a crazy driver and you were weaving all over the place and you almost hit some people and a bus. Here, take your fifteen thousand and let me walk."

Now he pounds his heart. "But miss, I am a good driver. I have been driving this motorbike since your uncle was in Saigon forty years ago. I have won medals for my superb driving skills. The way I weave in and out of traffic, it's what I am known for. It would be against my honor if I don't take you the rest of the way home."

This goes on for a few minutes. He will not take my money. I tell him if I get back on, he has to stay on the right side of the street, and he must go very slowly. He agrees.

He drives slowly all the way to my alley. I get off and he tells me that even though he swerved everywhere, he is a good driver and got me home faster than anyone else could have.

Crap. I only have a twenty thousand bill. I give it to him and he shrugs. He doesn't have any change. "It's OK miss, I won't charge you, since I scared you so badly." He hits his heart. "I don't want you to think badly of Saigon motorbikes...this one is on me. Have a nice night."

I start to walk away. Only, oops...I translated that last one incorrectly. What he said, evidently, was, "I did such a good job, you should really pay me twenty."

Because he suddely produces change.

He gives it to me, tells me "Thank you" in Vietnamese and makes me say it back with perfect intonation before he lets me go.



Now. What do you think his translation of this interaction might be when he is having a beer with his fellow drivers tonight? Something like "I was just driving this lady home and she kept getting off the bike and pounding her chest like a mad woman!"

Other news: I finally found a can of Raid in the backpacker district where K and I met Simon tonight. When we get home, the ANTS are GONE!!

I picked up my first dress and shirt tonight from the seamstress next door. She did a fantastic job! When you come, bring your patterns and ideas!

26 comments:

Brian Bowker said...

Marjie - Most hotels these days post pictures of their various suits so that potential guests can see what the room looks like before they rent it. We've seen the outside of your balcony suit, but not the inside or the layout. Maybe if you post some interior shots you would attract more visitors...

Also, good call on including a towel. A hoopy frood always knows where his towel is.

marjie said...

Wow, you blog readers are SOOOO demanding. Did I not just say that when the castle is picture ready, you will get to see it in its entirety, Balcony Suite and all?

And not even one comment on how I almost died on my way home?

What oh what is a hoopy frood?

kumma said...

OOOOOHHH, MARJIE!! I am SO GLAD you're ALIVE! What a HARROWING experience! Praise God and all His angels for delivering you safely to your humble castle!

Had you, in fact, died, where would we, as your fans, be? Lost in the middle of HCMC with nowhere to go.

Thank goodness our adventure continues... >WHEW!<

kumma said...

(p.s. when leaving my last comment, the first three letters of my mandatory "word verification" were L-H-S! Locker partners forever...)

kumma said...

May Hoopy Frood and all his minions guide you always.

kumma said...

Okay, I'll stop now.

marjie said...

SBill, thank you for validating my feelings after my brother so dispassionately ignored my cry for attention. LHSLPF! (You don't have to stop...there is no limit to blog posting that I know of).

kumma said...

I don't know what I would do without my life-long locker partner... >sniff!<

Brian Bowker said...

I'm sorry, Marjie; that was very insensitive of me. I clearly need to get my priorities straight.

Please pretend that I never posted that first comment, and instead accept this one:

MARJIE! What a harrowing experience that must have been on the back of that motorbike! I'm so glad that you are alive! I and all of your readers are terrified for your safety! Don't scare us like that! Please, oh please, promise us that you will post pictures of your balcony and the rest of your castle before you do anything like that again!

Your concerned brother,
Brian

kumma said...

Don't have to stop, huh?

kumma said...

No limit.... really??

Brian Bowker said...

Google "hoopy frood". You'll be surprised.

kumma said...

Maybe another verse from Eddy:

Workin' so hard like a soldja
Can't afford a thing on T.V.
Deep in my heart I abhor ya
Can't get food for the kid...

Pure poetry.

kumma said...

Seriously, I could go on all day...

kumma said...

I'm only at work...

kumma said...

I think I'll write a little diddy about Hoopy Frood...

kumma said...

Excuse me... I meant "ditty."

marjie said...

I'm sitting here at 12:15 in Saigon reading posting after posting of my nice locker partner and my brother (Brian, take lessons from my LPF), who has yet to tell us what a hoopy frood is. It's something from Harry Potter, isn't it?

I really should be studying more about Sumer, not Sumeria, as I posted last night. I don't even know the name of the civilization that I am teaching. But I can't sleep, so you two, keep on posting.

marjie said...

Got it: In the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, by Douglas Adams, hoopy is defined as "a really together guy."

A frood is defined as "a really amazingly together guy."
An example from the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy which discusses the importance of towels is as follows:

"Hey you, sass that hoopy Ford Prefect? There's a frood who really knows where his towel is!"

Thanks, Brian. Did your high school locker partner know that you could quote every line from THGTTG? My locker partner can quote every line to every song ever recorded, and he can double that for Billy Joel songs.

kumma said...

To the tune of "Jack and Diane," by another 80's icon, John Cougar.

Little ditty, 'bout Hoopy Frood...
Brian's phrase just made
in the Nummy Nam.

Hoopy gonna be
a rice cake star
Don't want no mototaxi
Just a nice car

An' Hoopy say,

"Oh, yeah, rice goes oooon
Long after the sweet,
pink balcony's gooooone...

Oh, yeah, rice goes oooon
Long after the palm
And hammock's gone..."

kumma said...

A work in progress...

kumma said...

Whoa! I post, and there you are, Smarj! Go to bed! Don't you have more mototaxi's to dodge tomorrow?? You need your sleep!

kumma said...

Bottle of white....

Bottle of red...

Perhaps a bottle of rose' instead.

We'll get a table near the street, in our old, familiar place...

You and I, face to face...

(you just HAD to mention Billy, didn't you...)

kumma said...

You continue to show that you are the best locker partner...

...EVER...

marjie said...

"An Hoopy say..."

OMG. I will go to sleep with your hit song in my head.

Oh yeah, rice goes ooon...
way long after smart Sumeria
is gooone

(trying)

Jessica and Julie, can you hear that song without thinking of Meghan stating that Jack and Diane has the worst line EVER? Remember what it is?

The Norris Clan said...

WHOA!! 25 comments... WHAT is going on... Kumma, you are fabulous! Quoting 80's songs... I bet you were the best locker partner.

I forgot what I was even gonna post I got so wrapped up in reading all the comments. Wow.

Marjie, I am glad you are alive. You keep pounding your fist! Maybe you can get more free stuff that way.