While I was off leveling up my underwater skillz, Justin was busy gallivanting around the countryside surrounding Nha Trang. He hooked up with a guy with a motorcycle who took him to jump off a waterfall, visit an island inhabited by little monkeys on little bicycles*, and do whatever else they did. When I came home Justin said he knew a place where we could eat some snake and asked if I wanted to go. Oh boy, did I!!
Charlie, the guy with the motorcycle, and his “brother,” on another motorcycle, were part of the unofficial group of tour operators in Vietnam called Easy Riders. I always thought this reference to American culture was extraordinarily hilarious, as was Charlie*. I think anybody with a motorbike and free time can call themselves an Easy Rider, providing the seasoned, already accepted members don’t decide to beat the uppity out of you. This means the quality of any particular guy is entirely dependent upon that guy. We sure lucked out with these ones.
*Charlie introducing himself, verbatim: “I’m Charlie. VIET CONG! VIET CONG! Hahahaha!!!”
After a twenty minute ride to the edge of the city, our chauffeurs turned onto a bumpy, unlit dirt road. The buildings were quickly replaced by fields of impenetrable tall grass and slapped together shacks. We’d finally found the fabled “real Vietnam,” you guys! We pulled up to the restaurant (or house or shed or whatever) where this shit was going to go down and Charlie negotiated the deal. We purchased a pound of snakes to eat between the four of us, and besides the dishes made from the meat, we would also get to drink the blood. Because that’s what happens in Vietnam, sometimes. The rest may get a little graphic, gentle reader, so if you’re squeamish and want to skip the rest just know I’ll lose all respect for you forever.
The restaurant man pulled a few snakes, freshly caught, naturally, out of a box and brought them over to our table. He gripped them all in a big bunch, cut off their heads with a scissors, and squeezed their blood into a shot glass. His wife came and took the corpses away to make us some tasty yum-yums. Restaurant Man mixed the blood into a bottle of rice vodka which turned it a fluorescent red. We had to wait a bit for any teeny blood creatures to die, because it’s safety first in this part of the world*. It tasted exactly like vodka (strong vodka) and looked like this
*No, it’s really not. I’d say safety usually comes in solidly at third to last.
Restaurant Wife made snake rolls wrapped in some type of leaves, minced snake with basil served with rice crackers, and fried snake skeletons. The rolls were OK, the meat dip was pretty good, and the bones were crunchy and disturbing. Although our Easy Riders shared the vodka, probably the least wise item for the motor vehicle operators, Justin and I basically had to tackle the food by ourselves. Half a pound of snake makes a lot of food. The whole smorgasbord cost us each a whopping $5.25. That’s Vietnam, baby.
Kinda drunk and full of snake, we went home to sleep it off. Snake blood is alleged to make one strong and virile, but the only thing that happened to us was that Justin felt icky for the next few days. I was a hardened road eater, being on Episode 8 by now and all, and as such suffered no ill effects. Even so, I braved almost certain parasites and dyspepsia just for the hell of it. Because that happens to me, sometimes.