When the bug hits, that’s the time to scratch it

12 03 2010

Landing in Ho Chi Minh City I felt that I had now really arrived in Vietnam. Phu Quoc is just too lovely to be part of any real country whereas HCM felt like the big, busy, Asian city I had expected. The first thing I decided was to call the place Saigon – mainly because it’s a far better name but also it’s much less of a mouthful.

I checked into my hotel and went straight back out to accomplish the first task I always set myself in a new city – to get lost! This isn’t intentional as such, more inevitable really. But if I tell myself that that is the plan my ego doesn’t take quite the knocking. The first major feat was crossing the road with my life intact. India had prepared me for insane roadways and maniac drivers. What I didn’t know how to deal with were the thousands of motorbike drivers each trying to be the first to almost kill you as you put your first foot on the road. There are lots of pedestrian crossings in the city but it seems they are purely decorative. They function solely to punctuate the greyness of the streets.

I was in Saigon for three days. The first was spent achieving lost status. Day two was visiting the Cu Chi Tunnels and the Main Cao Dai Temple both out of town. Day three was back to the original plan of skillfully losing my orientation but on this occasion with added leisure and time to visit the atmosphere laden pagodas in Chinatown and to decide who served my favourite coffee in town.

The coffee in Vietnam is incredible. After two months of disastrous coffee in India, Thailand, Cambodia and Laos I am finally in a country that knows what they’re doing albeit with a local twist. Their coffee is extremely thick and ridiculously strong. It is universally served in a cup with a metal filter on top through which the coffee slowly drips with a molasses consistency into a thin layer of condensed milk below. I realise this sounds as appetizing as toe nail soup but trust me – it’s a knockout taste sensation. One of the very best things about Vietnam.

On my second morning I must admit that I did not wake up in bed alone. Hey – when you are in an exciting big city you got to go with the flow no? No! for I was not intentionally with company. I discovered four bed bugs had been enthusiastically appreciating my presence. I have never moved so quickly in all my life as I leaped out of bed in both disgust and terror. I had only just about calmed down enough to have a conversation as I checked out of the hotel minutes later. There are bed bugs in the room I informed the receptionist. Now, I am not entirely sure what reaction I expected. Personally if I was her I would have chosen to ring some alarm and gather all the guests into the street outside and dramatically yell at them through a megaphone that there was no need to panic – everything was under control. At the very least I would have imagined a hotline to the exterminators being employed – again sirens would not have gone amiss with this option. What I absolutely did not expect was a big smile and a response of yes sir, of course. Of course? I repeated in disbelief there are bed bugs – IN THE BED – BED BUGS!!! The exclamations were communicated through my puzzled and shocked furrowed brow. Noticing my not so subtle expression the lady went to fetch the manager and after speaking some words together in Vietnamese the manager meekly said I believe you wish to book a ticket for a boat trip. At that point I ran over to the computer in the corner and with flailing arms googled an image of a bed bug and found a big scary mean one that filled the entire screen. In my bed I shrieked while gesturing at the screen. The women grimaced together and immediately apologized and offered me a whole $1 off my room. That’s 25cents for each bug I found I thought – I should have just gone and ordered that boat trip! I left the hotel in a hurry in search of one those famously strong Vietnamese coffees – in the absence of any alarms that was the next best thing.

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15 responses

12 03 2010
Fat Sparrow

Oh my dear god, thank you, reallyreally THANK YOU for NOT posting pictures of the bedbugs. I returned a suitcase the other day because once I got it home, I though “You know, it looks like someone’s used this and then returned it…” and then my next thought was “BEDBUGS! AAAARRRGGGHHHH!!!” Because I have a bug phobia. Which also explains why I wrapped it up in trash bags and hermetically sealed it with packing tape which I did not undo until I arrived back at Wal-Mart. I know, I know you are thinking “She shops at Wal-Mart and all she worries about is bedbugs?” But yes, it is true.

Also “Phu Quoc” gave me the giggles.

12 03 2010
Hails

I am so envious of you with that coffee. Coffee in Korea is crap. That looks amazing (and also kind of like an upside-down Guinness).

12 03 2010
savannah

ewwwwwwwww.

not even the picture of that delicious looking coffee can make me forget the mental image of bed bugs biting!

i need to take a shower.
right now.
xoxoxo

12 03 2010
sassepoes

YAAAAAAKKKKKK!

if only it had been a silverfish, I know about that soft spot you have for them ! ha ha ha!

12 03 2010
Tessa

Bedbugs …. Gargh. I hope you didn’t put your luggage on the bed at any time. If you did, might be a good idea to go through it and everything in it. Or you could just set it on fire and start over …

12 03 2010
Shelly

Oh dear Cookie! You never did listen to you mammy did you??? “Night Night Sleep tight and DON’T let the bed bugs bite!” Wouldn’t mind but if she said it once she said it a thousand times!!!! No talking to some people tee hee!!!

12 03 2010
hidh
12 03 2010
hidh

Don’t click here: http://bit.ly/dox1yX !

12 03 2010
laurie

“that’s 25 cents for each bug”

at this point i almost choked to death with laughter.

12 03 2010
Nick

Goodness, everyone’s on about the bedbugs. Clearly your blogmates have a lot of collective experience of infested bed linen. Can’t say I do, must be my elevated social stratum, lol.

I’m very skilled at achieving lost status myself. I once wandered round Venice for an hour in hopeless confusion since every alley looked the same.

The coffee’s intriguing. I wonder what Starbucks would say if I asked for a tall Vietnamese?

12 03 2010
Hangar Queen

A nice ring of boric acid powder around the bed and luggage will sort it out.

Don’t ask me how I know this.

13 03 2010
Carole

I’ve never seen a bed bug, so I googled it. Yeww. Hope the rest of your stay is bugless.

13 03 2010
conortje

Fat sparrow – hehe I wonder how you would have coped being face to face with them

hails – it does actually now that you mention it! It really is delicious here and often they serve you a bowl of huge ice cubes if you want to turn it into an ice coffee which is also really yummy

savannah – I had to force myself not to think about them

sassepoes – ohhhhhh I don’t know which I’d prefer hehehe

13 03 2010
conortje

shelly – I didn’t let them bite me again that’s for sure

hidh – that’s the very one – yuck!

Tessa – I haven’t had a sighting for a few days so I think I’m safe – I HOPE

laurie – really can you imagine that’s all they offered me? bloody cheek!

nick – let’s hope starbucks never come to Vietnam

hq – how on earth do you kn …oh sorry… :-)

carole – so do I although I’ve read that Kuala Lumpur is rife with them and I got there in two weeks!

13 03 2010
Your occasional giddy sister

I bought those coffee metal filters when I was there. Think they’re in the attic in mum’s!! We can have a let’s pretend we’re in Vietnam coffee when you come back!! Also remember bed bugs in Vietnam and eventually the guest house owner pouring some powder on them prior to our, much to her disbelief, departure!!! And that’s why it’s called the travel bug!!!!

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