Monday, November 28, 2005

vietnam 8...driving miss daisy

A friend of mine is on a trip to various parts for Southeast Asia. Topher and his buddy Michael are currently in Vietnam and have been sending messages of their trip. I find them quite humorous and thought that I would post the most current one. Topher is writing a book, so he has been letting Michael do the honors of the journal.

The introduction is Topher's work... the entry is Michaels.

for those at the faint of heart please do not read further past my notes but . . .

not to worry, the difficulty in breathing, loss of consciousness, violent convulsions and staring in the face of death has subsided . . . moments after I told the band we were breaking up and there would be no reunion tour, assured Michael I never really liked him and I was just riding his shirt tails as long as I could stand his constant whining, tried to negotiate a contract with the driver to represent him as an agent for the formula 1 circuit, and told everyone I was gay (if you believe that you need to watch "almost famous" once again), we pulled up in front of the hotel and the sai gon boys choir greeted us with somewhat of a Buddhist hallelujah . . . . oh my buddha . . . serenity now, serinety now

vietnam 8...driving miss daisy

First off let me say that although many of these stories are filled with sarcastic humor I have to tell you that my experiences over here have been unbelievably positive and the people are incredible.

But the way they drive...........oh mama

We booked a car to drive us the 180 kilometers from Mui Ne to Saigon today......
the spelling errors are due to me shaking......and I'm smokin a cigarette and pondering my life...everyday from now on is just gravy as I feel that we cheated death today.

The ride starts out with us careening wildly down the problem...we've experienced that before but then we hit traffic. This guy was passing trucks just before the crest of every hill, on blind turns and hairpin curves. Several times as we were passing a bus, a semi came over the hill and we were looking at an impossibly large grill screaming down on us with the horn blazing and the trucks lights flashing. I'm yelling "Mother F....." at the top of my lungs and Topher is repeatedly trying to push his left foot through the passenger side floorboard in a brake response.

Thank god the truck drivers weren't hell bent on winning this insane game of chicken and didn't take it as unmanly that our little rent a car was pushing their semi trucks way out onto the shoulder of the road.

After screaming at the guy....who is tickled pink by our reaction and is seemingly unfazed by by the yelling of other vietnamese drivers and the hand gestures that we were fairly certain were not greeting signs by the drivers we passed, we convinced him to pull over at a gas station. I needed something for my pounding temples and Topher needed some ointment for his lip that he bit through as he contemplated eternity before impact. Staring death in the face is no picnic brother. It takes a toll on you.

As the driver fills up the gas tank, we notice there is a steady stream of gasoline leaking from somewhere under the car. We point this out to him and he lets us know that he is aware of it and that's why he is smoking his cigarette some distance from the car.

When Topher and I refuse to get back in the car a couple mechanics come over, take a look at it....spray the leak with a water hose and give us the thumbs up signal. Well at least the undercarriage is clean now. These guys must double shift for an HMO overseas in the states

As we are in the middle of nowhere we decide our options are few and get back in although the leak is still going strong and the fragrance of wildflowers is strangely sweet mixed wth the pungent smell of gasoline in the air. We figure a fiery explosion is probably no worse than a mangled wreckage of steel so its 1/2 dozen of one and 6 of the other.

So off we about 45 minutes later as the rain and wind really start picking up Topher notices our driver is dozing off at the wheel (no I am not making this shit up) so we decide we better stop and get him some coffee. We stop at a rest stop where the kids are scared of Topher's size but intrigued at the same time. They run far away everytime he tries to take their picture but then run back up to him to see what the picture looks like and then they turn around and run away again. It was pretty funny to watch this ritual repeat itself for the whole time we are there.

The rest stops here have hammocks set up under cabanas and as the rain turned into a downpour, all the hammocks filled up as moped drivers pulled in and stayed, waiting out the deluge. This is an idea ahead of its time.

Needless to say.....the industrial strength coffee did not help our driver's patience or defensive driving habits. Finally we're on the outskirts of the city. At this point our flight or fight response has been on overdrive for so long that we are both exhausted. Topher is complaining about neck pain, erratic breathing and his left leg is numb from flexing against the floorboards. My stomach is sore from staying bunched up and I realize my face is sore from being frozen in a death grimace all the way from Mui Ne. We stop for a bathroom break and come out to find our driver examining the still flowing gas leak with one hand while holding his lit cigarette in his other. He smiles and asks if we are ready? That's it. We're done.
What do you say? We just got in and said lets go.

Ok so maybe it was all a blessing....I mean how many car rides have you had that when you sprang out of the car, hugged the first human you saw and wept with joy just because you were ALIVE! The valet at the hotel still thinks we're a little off.

So .......hug the first human you see after this email and give thanks for LIFE! It's gonna be a great day and every day after this is a bonus!!!


At 9:35 PM, Blogger jrepka said...



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