Vietnam 2: Chuc Mong Hai Phong (i.e. “Happy Wedding,” or something.)

I’m going to go ahead and start this one kind of in medias res so that you’re almost as confused as I was.

1) Climb mountain. 2013-03-15 to Mai Chau 024.JPG

2) Enjoy view and chat with two other American chaps I met up top. Try not to make it sound like the fact that I’m on a bike and they’re on motorcycles makes me infinitely baller-er than them.

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3) Get one of them to take a sweet picture of me on the way down.

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Hit the bottom of the hill, turn left to head to the village supposedly stuffed with exotic hill tribe people, and happen very quickly upon wedding tent. Enter.

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I can see that the above style of writing is going to become extremely repetitive incredible quick, so I’ll go ahead and return to my normal voice now. I normally don’t stop at weddings, but this time I had backup in the form of Aaron (black hair) and Toby (blond), the two motorcycle dudes I met at the top of the mountain. We parked our respective vehicles and in we delved. None of the party folk even batted an eye! We were immediately ushered to the table and encouraged to have a seat and start taking shots of Vietnamese rice wine.

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It wasn’t that strong, only about 15%, but none of us had had lunch, and I had already cycled about 50km and climbed nearly 700m. Within five minutes we had already toasted three times. Toby was gesticulating quite forcefully that he intended to stop drinking, having his motorcycle and what not. Everyone else laughed and poured him another shot.

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He got over it.

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While on the road, it seemed that just about every child I passed within one kilometer of would scream “HELLO!” at me and laugh uncontrollably when I replied, whether with a “Hello” of my own, or with an (incorrectly toned) “Xin Chao.” Numerous times I heard “hellos” come out of houses I could have sworn were empty, or down off hills that at first glance looked uninhabited. The kids at the party were a little more withdrawn though.
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The adults, on the other hand, were nice and sauced. I think this guy was trying to get me to give this lady a kiss, but I just took a picture of him doing it instead. Don’t wanna rock the boat.

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I later found out that this was the bride. What the heck is she doing sitting there all alone? Without even an iPhone?

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When you carry a big fat camera, lots of people ask you to take their pictures.

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And then we moved over to the dance party.

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…except none of the women were dancing, only us dudes. …Or maybe because of us dudes?

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Mr. Groom requests that you take a shot. No, he’s not taking one with you.

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Two young (maybe?) ladies took a liking to me and Toby.

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We all got taken upstairs to eat leftovers from the banquet that we had missed earlier. The lucky couple joined us briefly – just long enough for the one guy who spoke decent English to tell us that it’s customary to offer the groom a bit of cash – say, ten or fifteen bucks? – to congratulate him.

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Hanging out, eating, chatting (how?).

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Love was in the air. In public no less! What kind of tribal culture is this? What sort of exotic taboos are we breaking? Is Toby about to get beheaded?

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…what the hell?! Me too?! This happened?! How?! At whose instigation?! And who took the picture?!

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Then we were outside again. At this point, your guess is as good as mine.

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I guess we must have tried to leave?

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…and then all of a sudden we were back in front of the karaoke machine, with me trying to emulate this so called “dancing” that other people do in such situations. Pretty good, right?

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And then, again all of a sudden, it was dark out and kids were mooning us and an old lady wanted us to pay five dollars a piece for having parked our vehicles in front of her house. Yeah right! We argued with her for half an hour (though the first twenty minutes or so were spent trying to figure out what she wanted and why) before our two lady friends came out, said something about boom boom if we gave them money, and then shooed us off when we gave them the old “no way.” Sad ending five crazy hours. Lordy. I wonder if all weddings are like this. I’ll have to do a bit more reasearch.

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