Saturday, 4 October 2008

The Good, The Bad...And The Very Ugly

The afternoon had to take a wrong turn somewhere. On walking back from the ferry, we were accosted by an over-friendly (ie Not To Be Fucking Trusted) "Tuco", so named as he had all the sneaky personality of the villain of The Good, The Bad And The Ugly. You could almost smell the evil emanating from his pores, although the blue Hawaiian-style shirt covered in guitars lent him a comic egde.

"I am good guy, I have many western friends. I take you tour. I show you snake farm. You need ATM? I ride you to ATM" He proceeded to show us snaps of him with his Western "friends"...all of whom, The Colonel quipped later, were probably now dead.

We decided to ignore him after a while, as out polite declines were obviously water off a crispy duck's back. So Tuco got on the phone, wandered off 50 yards, and "Sharkeyes" turned up. This guy didn't look very nice. Middle-aged, thick-set...he came and leaned on the wall and watched us while Tuco disappeared on his bike, only to return with a couple of other unfriendly-looking types. One acne-riddled youth we named "Pockface", and a guy on a scooter with an aluminium helmet we gave the moniker of "Bullethead".

Now...I was facing these guys, The Colonel had his back to them. I nodded, and he turned to see Sharkeyes around five metres away, glaring at us (I had a brief vision of myself and The Colonel in a bamboo cage, up to our necks in water while Sharkeyes poked us with a stick...and Tuco gleefully threw hungry rats on us while attempting to guess our PIN numbers with one of those remote terminals you get in the shops these days). It was clearly time to leave. We moved inside the bar to the Tourist Information building, as Bullethead followed us on his Om. They showed us another exit, and we used this rapidly, as our hotel was only 200m away. A short run ensured we made it and, as we got upstairs, we could see Bullethead and Tuco circling outside...looking at our place and the one next door, obviously confused as to which one we'd scarpered to. Fools!

Our hotel staff didn't speaka da lingo, and the police are often corrupt round here. So I got a mate back home to get me the number of the Consulate in Vietnam (cheers, Neil). He said much the same as I was thinking...don't go out, ring the police as a last resort...and get out as soon as you can. What...no helicopter rescue? I'm a UK taxpayer. Send the SAS, my good man. Oh, OK...I'll get a taxi and risk death at the roadside, shall I?

So, as I awoke at 5.30...I moved quietly so as not to wake The Colonel until necessary. But he was already conscious and raring to go. Passports collected, and taxi ordered...we were on our way back to the relative safety of Saigon by 6.10am.

The Early Bird Catches The Worm, Tuco. Yer louse...

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