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Travelling through Asia with Foot-in-Mouth Disease

Author: John M. (More Trip Reviews by John M.)
Date of Trip: April 2006



My companion looked startled and replied more than a tad angrily, "I have just spent almost $1,500 in that shop, and at the top of the list is the furry jacket."

As I tried to regain my composure, she stared icily at me, stood, turned on her heel and left.

While I make numerous gaffes, it is also wonderful to see others do the same thing.

While cruising the Mekong aboard a magnificent and luxurious vessel called the RV Mekong, an American woman opposite me at the dining table looked at her evening meal and deftly pushed to one side of her plate some delicious and very innocent looking grilled aubergine.

"I have no idea what it is," she said haughtily, "but it looks foreign and I am not going to eat it."

The next morning we did an on-shore excursion to a snake wine factory. It was hot and steamy, and by the time we tied up at a wharf, stepped ashore and walked several hundred metres along the riverbank to the snake wine establishment, my American friend looked frightening overheated.

As we entered the place, a young factory employee handed everyone a glass of snake wine. The American grabbed hers and quickly tossed it down. "God," she said, "I really needed that."

I stared at her in amazement.

"I can't believe what you just did!" I said in astonishment. "You won't eat aubergine, but you have no hesitation in drinking snake wine!"

The woman visibly paled. "Snake wine?" she gasped in horror. "I thought it was rice wine!"

I watched as she scooted past scores of full wine bottles, each containing one or two pickled reptiles, and regurgitated her breakfast into the Mekong.

Just as interesting is watching people about to blunder into embarrassing moments - and being helpless to stop them.

While waiting for a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Ho Chi Minh City, I met some very posh women from Sydney and chatted with them briefly, discovering they were also heading for Ho Chi Minh City to join a tour operated by Peregrine, one of the more up-market adventure travel companies.

"We always travel with Peregrine," they chorused. "They have such a nice class clientele."

About 15 minutes later, a short rotund woman wearing a mini skirt that looked at least one size too small plonked beside me and introduced herself.

"I shouldn't have worn this bloody mini skirt," she said. "All the bloody men have been perving on me."

She told me she was also headed for Ho Chi Minh City - to join a Peregrine tour, presumably the same one as the posh Sydney-siders.

She was the total opposite to what the posh Sydney-siders, and I noted she was clutching a well-worn paperback called "Naughty Housewives." I smiled pleasantly at her and said: "I think those two women (I nodded in the direction of the Double Bay duo) are on the same tour as you."



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