Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Vietnam/Thailand Part IV: "The Fifteen Funniest Moments Traveling With Mama Chihuahua"
June 1, 2006
Bangkok, Thailand

In an effort to condense the raucous and most unexpected moments of our trip, here's a list of our top fifteen funniest moments:
*Warning: Obscenities, Catholic references, and sexual allusions are plentiful in the following text.

1) Most back-handed compliment: Our Thai B&B hostess tells mother one afternoon, "My auntie wants to tell you that she thinks you must have been really beautiful...when you were young. And I told her that you probably look much better when you dress up."

2) Most sacrilegious t-shirt on an Asian: A young Thai woman wearing a lime green t-shirt and a drawing of the Virgin Mary with a finger held to her lips as if to "Shhh." The text above her reads..."Mary Was Only A Virgin." The text below her..."If You Don't Count Anal." I don't think the woman had a clue what the English words meant.

3) Most OCD moment for Rachel: Watching the gloveless Thai salon woman scraping under Mom's fingernails until they bled with metal instruments she had just used on a previous customer.

4) Worst possible occupation: Women stand downstream of elephants bathing in the river and collect their warm, green dung in giant plastic baskets as it floats by. (I'll complain about a story deadline again. At least for a week or so.)

5) Funniest use of English by an Asian: The young H'mong children in the mountains of Vietnam swarming me as they thrust tiny little hands filled with charms and embroidered cloths...."BUY ME! BUY ME! BUY ME!"

6) Angriest Mama Chihuahua moment: Nice Vietnamese lady who shares tea with us along the lake in Hanoi transforms immediately into angry, Vietnamese Hulk Lady who gets in Mom's face (BIG MISTAKE), demands that Mama Chihuahua buy her postcards and her fans, and then says, "Me have NO MONEY! Must buy!" (BIGGEST MISTAKE.)
I pull Mama Chihuahua away from the crazy (and stupid) woman before she lets loose. She's pissed about it for at least ten blocks. Meaningful Mother-Daughter Conversation follows:

Mama: "You know what really pissed me off is when she said she doesn't have any money. I wanted to punch her."

Rachel (as diplomatically as possible--even though I hated the lady, too): "Well, compared to us, she doesn't."

Mama: "Well, too bad. She can't have mine."

7) Dumbest Thurston Tourist Moment: When we arrive in Chiang Mai, Thailand, on a Saturday, we can't figure out why the Sunday Market has already started and we spend the rest of the night questioning every Thai person we meet about the logic of having a Sunday market start on a Saturday. We secretly make fun of them for the rest of the night...what kind of idiotic people have a Sunday Market on a Saturday night? It's 11:30 p.m. when we catch sight of a calendar and realize that it IS Sunday.

8) Grossest Food Moment: Watching a man carry an upside down skinned carcass of a dog...deep-fried chicken feet...and gelatinized intestines.

9) Greatest # of old, pot-bellied, balding, white guys seen with pubescent Thai girls in one night of walking through Chiang Rait: 18+.

10) Most Naive Mama Chihuahua Moment: After passing the MILLIONTH! "LadyBoy" (the transvestites and transexual men who are cultural accepted and ubiquitous throughout the cities in Thailand) in a night market, Mom stops suddenly, pivots back towards an obvious example of a LadyBoy, her eyes the size of half dollars, and says with total shock: "Rachel, I think that WOMAN WAS A MAN. "
No?! You don't say.

11) Most Embarrassing Moment for Rachel: Discovering during dinner that my backside was completely slathered in baby elephant schmegma that had crusted over on all my black clothes...and it had been there for six hours of shopping, walking past temples, through stores, markets, and public transportation. I can only imagine what people thought it was.

12) Most Egregious Fashion Faux Pas: On a rainy day in the mountains of North Vietnam, Mama Chihuahua struts through town wearing...old-school velcro purple teva sandals WITH green and grey striped wool socks PULLED UP to just below her blue crop pants, a lime green shirt tucked beneath a bright orange fleece (mine), a deep purple raincoat, a red bandana tied around her neck, and a hot pink umbrella to ward off the rain and stares.
And no, this wasn't a dare.
We went shopping together (to find her clothes that would match) shortly thereafter.

13) Most dreaded Lonely Planet phrase read on trip (after returning from two-day trek through the mud and water buffalo sh%t wearing sandals): "Beware of hiking through rural areas and ALWAYS wear covered shoes. Rural Vietnam provides ample opportunities to contract hookworm and multiple parasites."

14) Funniest linguistic faux pas: Vietnamese has six tones, which means that an incorrect pronunciation can shift the meaning of a word completely. After incorrectly calling our guide ("Khang") a "cave" instead of "prosperous" which is what his name really means when said properly, he spends an entire dinner trying to correct our mispronunciations to worse effect, this time, our pronunciation is more blunderous and we end the night calling him a "cavernous prostitute."
He gives up shortly thereafter.

15) Funniest Guided Tour: When guide picks us up at B&B to take us to elephant camp, the truck doesn't start so he has to jump start the truck. When we go to the gas station, he keeps the truck running while he fills up on gas. Mom and I hop out of back of truck and walk a hundred feet away while he fills up. During drive into mountains, we catch a glimpse of him reading the brochure directions to the elephant farm. On our return trip, it begins to rain and we find that all the windows in the back of the truck are broken so we ride with our umbrellas deployed INSIDE of the truck.
Good deal.

Here's hoping you all have adventures of your own!

Rach and Mama Chihuahua