There are approximately 10 million people in Saigon, and somewhere between 6 and 7 million motorbikes. There may or may not be some sort of road rules; if there are, no one, and I mean NO one, is following them! So crossing the street, any street, is an excercise in blind suicidal/homicidal trust. The Book-Which-Shall-Not-Be-Named (ok, it's Lonely Planet, but shall herewith be referred to only as "TBWSNBN") suggests the following tactic for crossing the street without getting maimed, killed, or otherwise hideously impacted:
How to Cross the Street and Live to Tell the Tale
If you don't want to wind up like a bug on a windshield, pay close attention to a few pedestrian survival rules when crossing the street, especially on the streets of motorbike-crazed HCMC and Hanoi. Foreigners frequently make the mistake of thinking that the best way to cross a busy street in Vietnam is to run quickly across it. This does not always work in practice, and could get you creamed. Most Vietnamese cross the street slowly - very slowly - giving the motorbike drivers sufficient time to judge their position so they can pass on either side. They won't stop or even slow down, but they will try to avoid hitting you. Just don't make any sudden moves. Good luck!
Penny is blind in her left eye, which we have found very helpful in street-crossing. We put Penny on the side closest to oncoming traffic (that would be the left side, yo), while I hold onto her right arm and look straight ahead. This way, neither of us can see what's barreling towards us and therefore we cannot freak out/freeze/otherwise put ourselves on the brink, 'cause we just don't see 'em coming. So far, this seems to be working alright. That said, if you don't hear from me for a couple of weeks, then perhaps this wasn't such a great tactic after all... :)
There's an old Vietnamese man who walks around our neighborhood with a bible and a pink back scratcher - you know, one of those plastic jobs with a claw on the end. He makes daily rounds through the streets talking about jesus and heaven and sinners and hell and what's gonna happen "when you kick the bucket". I'm not sure where the back scratcher fits into the picture. Maybe he uses it for some good ol' fashioned bible-thumping when he gets far enough into his spiel. I've found that saying "NO JESUS!" in somewhat loud and devilish voice usually makes him mosey on over to the next potential recruits. Mind you, I wouldn't mind a good back-scratching, but the price seems a bit steep...(also, where the hell did he learn a term like 'kick the bucket'?)
But wait, there's more!
At said factory they had, somewhat incongruously, a 20-liter jug of snake juice, which allegedly increases a man's virility.
Since I am:
a) not a man; and
b) virile enough already,
I drank some just for the heck of it. It was quite nice, actually, if you're able to overlook the 10 or so snakes coiled up in the jar...
During said tour, we made friends with three wacky Indonesians, including a fabulously gay guy self-named Ivan the Bitch, and made plans to meet up later for a "must-see" Vietnamese Water Puppet show. This was hands-down the most dorkazoid activity we've engaged in on the trip thus far. So afterwards, we went out with the 'nesians and washed the experience down with a heaping helping of grilled fish, self-sauteed beef, and a fresh coconut chaser. We followed this with a foray into an ultra-posh club called the Q-bar. It was full of backlit bars and feather-boa chandeliers and a DJ who played crappy house music and had never heard of Queen, funk, or the Village People.
I ask you, what kind of DJ is that?
Nonetheless, we danced the night away, as the Indonesian trio were dance ho's on a par with yours truly. Dance, baby, dance!
Oh, yeah - before I forget: I put a mofo python around my neck and here's proof:
Luckily, that was before I drank the snake juice, or things may not have turned out quite so well. I'm pretty sure that pythons don't take kindly to people drinking the juice of their kinfolk!
I am now shutting my cake hole.