25th May 2012
Recovering the night we got back from the Halong Bay Cruise, I kind of spent the day kinda doing nothing. I had a walk round Hanoi, went for pho with Alannah, booked my flight out of Vietnam, etc.
However, it was truly an end of an era later that afternoon. Both Alannah and I were going our separate ways. Argh! She was to head off to Hong Kong and China while I would be going back to Thailand to finish off what I missed the first time round. The day crept up on us all of a sudden and before I knew it, Alannah was there with her backpack ready at the entrance to the hostel waiting for the taxi that would take her to the airport and take her on even more amazing travels under the sun.
There was a lot of wailing involved as we hugged each other and sobbed uncontrollably into each other shoulders, refusing to let go…did it heck. After a brief hug, we looked at each other, smiled and said, ‘see you later!’ Even Alannah afterwards told me that I didn’t have to wait with her for the taxi. I will be seeing her later, in London when I return from my 2012 Edventures. But guys, you haven’t seen the last of her. She’s going to do something special for you and me. So watch this space.
But Alannah has proved to be an absolutely fantastic travel buddy and cannot wish for anything less. Sure, we both had our off days (just don’t comment on her hair..) that required space from each other, but we also had fantastic days that was absolutely hilarious! I’ll never forget the disbelief on my face as she attacked a Kiwi with a camera and also her massive belly laugh in the kitchen of our Khmer Cooking Class. I was sure to miss her. (maybe not her constant questioning of ‘does my hair look ok?’…OK or fine does not bring joy to me.)
After she departed, I meandered mourningly through the common areas and found myself signing up to another activity that Hanoi Backpackers were offering. Remember the crazy Canadians I mentioned from the Halong Bay Tour? Well, they were doing it as well. So, Sexy Rexy? What are you doing, you may cry.
No, I’m not going to see a bunch of snakes living together as someone messaged me when I revealed my plans, I’m going to a village where there’s a feast of snakes! Confused? Let me tell you what I did and you will understand.
Snake meat is often found in Vietnamese Cuisine, so I wanted to experience the taste of it….RAW!
Darkness loomed and we were ready. The Canadians and I already had a few beverages for Dutch courage and boarding the minibus with our tour guide, we headed off to the infamous Snake Village.
Harvey, the tour guide, told us what to expect and asked us some questions in relation to our options (don’t worry, I’m coming to it) and we arrived to grinning Vietnamese men holding a looooooong snake for us to hold. We all took turns holding it.
I don’t see what’s the fuss about people being scared of snakes. Sure, some are venomous and will kill you, but other than that, many people don’t like the feel of holding a snake due their scales. I quite like it.
Then came the highlight of the night. A Vietnamese man came with a massive bag and it was throbbing and swirling due to the many snakes inside. Seeing as some of us were skittish and wanting to get over and done with, I let them go first. Then it was my turn…there was no going back. I committed myself to this and sure as hell as I was going to do this.
They pulled out a snake, that was thrashing and snappy, the Vietnamese swung it against the floor and stunned it. The snake went limp. Curling it out, they pressed a finger against the body to find…the heart.
BA-DUMP, BA-DUMP, I didn’t know if I was hearing my own heart or actually the snake’s.
Out came a knife and sliced open part of the body where the heart resided. It popped out and hung, beating furiously. Blood coating it, giving it a shiny, glossy surface.
I bent down on my knees, all pumped up and ready to do this. The Vietnamese man shouted out me to do it as the snake was going to wake up any second.
I quickly rushed forward, grabbed the heart with my bare teeth, felt it pumping in my mouth and bit through the veins and arteries surrounding it. And pulled.
The heart came away and detached from its body, the heart was still pumping in my mouth and I could taste the bitter tang of the blood dripping into my throat.
‘Swallow it‘ they cried! I munched it, but I didn’t realised that I didn’t bit through one artery properly and was there hanging out the side of my mouth. Gross. But I quickly scooped it up and popped it in my mouth and swallowed. With the beating slowing down, I could still feel the heart beat as it slowly went down my throat and into my stomach.
I didn’t have much time to come to the realisation that there was a REAL LIVE RAW HEART in my belly as I was quickly handed a glass of rice wine. With Snake Blood. Raw.
After I ate the heart, the Vietnamese man, quickly squeezed out the blood from the snake into the glass.
Did I drink it? Course I did. I downed it. It was actually quite nice.
So, you may be thinking, where’s the photos? I’ve got one better, I’ve done a video. The first video is the heart eating or heart breaker (as I’m one, hey hey) and the second is the blood drinking. Apologies for the swearing, Mum. I was told to say it!
Stunned that we have done such a thing, we sat down to a snake meat dinner! It was delicious!
I got talking to Harvey and he came out with something that completely floored me. I noticed he had been studying me throughout the night and turns out he was intrigued in my cochlear implant. As he asked about it, I started automatically talking about my deafness (as I have done a thousand times on my trip) when he said, ‘oh I’m thinking about getting one.’ huh? I didn’t see any hearing aids and he was talking great with people. Even as a tour guide, he was ok. He said that he was completely deaf in one ear and only has 30% hearing in another ear. What?! I asked how he was able to get by. He said he was okay. I immediately told him to explore all options and I even lent him my hearing aid for a while throughout the rest of the evening to experience it. He was pretty enthused about it and listening to the world around us. He said he didn’t realise how loud everything was to him then. Giving him encouragement, I told him to get himself to the doctor and start organising his path to better hearing. I told him about my Cochlear Implant Journey and he said he would check it out.
I hope I’ve helped him in some way.
Then it was time for another Snake related thing to consume. Snake. Bile.
As a shot, it was poured in to some shot glasses and I was slightly concerned when mine had a blob of internal organ in mine but we had to do it. It’s meant to have properties in it to make you appealing to people. Well, we will be putting to the test tonight!
Check out the video of drinking it. I only bent down as I was drinking it as I knocked my other drink over with my big damn feet and one of the Vietnamese women who owned the place was gesturing at me frantically to pick it back up!
Time to go, we headed back to the hostel and to the bar next door and partied. A live Vietnamese band was playing some great music and we all bopped in time. It was truly a great night and the heart was still there, in my stomach beating away ominously….what a great last night in Vietnam…
By the way, did the snake bike work? I tried my luck on a girl who after hearing about the Snake Village Experience said,
‘Snake Bile?! Ew, Gross, I ain’t kissing you with that in your mouth.’
Have you done the Snake Village Experience?