Most people whom I’ve met for the first time in this country thought I was Vietnamese – that is if I keep my mouth shut 🙂
Interestingly, as I stepped into Apocalypse Now! last Saturday for a quick drink, I wasn’t asked to pay for any cover charge that is usually applicable to the locals. I wondered if I had “foreigner” plastered all over my face, or perhaps the usherers’ senses were just so keen that they can sniff me out easily.
I jostled my way through the crazy crowd that was on a superlative high and finally got my gin & tonic (extra lime) fix. I managed to find a corner where I stood silently sipping my drink while observing all the party-goers who were dancing in wild, erratic rhythm as the blaring stereos threatened to render me deaf.
But I liked it. Tremendously. A place where people had no inhibitions temporarily and danced like nobody’s watching.
A few more swigs of my limey drink and a couple of shots offfered by some new found acquiantances later, I went home feeling satiated though there wasn’t any “happy ending” most people would have harboured for 😆
Age is finally creeping up on me.
Her curvaceous body underneath that slinky little black dress showed prominently albeit the somewhat dim lighting. She flashed her shiny black Chanel purse, and gestured towards the bartender for a vodka lime as she sat on the bar stool next to me.
I turned my gaze towards the expat crowd gathering outside the al-fresco area, trying to look away. But I found myself staring at the reflection on the glass panel where I discovered that she was stealing glances at the same direction surreptitiously. I thought I saw a furtive, almost elusive, perhaps even coy smile on her full, cherry-glossed lips.
She turned her line of sight away from me abruptly as I looked back into the bar area. I took my time to examine her: intricate silver ear-rings, smooth velvety black hair tied up immaculately in a pony tail, matching black open-toed heels and carefully manicured nails. She wore a light make up with subtle, smokey eyes and perfectly curled eyelashes.
The strong, sweet, floral scent she carried was disturbing. It was so cloying that the cigarette smoke coming from other bar goers began to smell like a breath of fresh air.
I took the last sip of my long island iced tea, bid the bartenders farewell and called it a night.
A nice tandoori chicken roll wrapped with fresh, crisp lettuce & tangy yogurt to cure my hunger pangs; a refreshing jus de betteraves, poire, pomme et gingembre to quench my thirst. A piping hot glass of café latte to sustain my caffeine addiction; a perfectly executed crème caramel with passionfruit syrup to provide that sweet finishing touch.
I continued to sit at the lovely green mozaic tiled table with my clumsy laptop on for a little while, looking at the coming and going of people from different walks of life. And for a moment or two, it seemed to take away the burning pain of the recurring headache. I wondered if the lady in a splendid green maternity dress would give birth to a pretty looking baby girl, or a handsome baby boy; I wondered what the guy with the afro hairdo was thinking about as he gazed into the distance, sipping his 333 ever so slowly…
Sometimes, just sometimes, mondays aren’t all that blue.
Two years ago, I came out from my performance appraisal feeling disillusioned, crest-fallen and bitter. Little did I expect an offshore assignment to Vietnam thereafter provided me with unspeakable relief and comfort. Honestly, the first impression I had of picturesque Vungtau is still quite vivid in my mind right now. A healing place – that’s what I told suyin and ah tan back then.
The cà phê sữa đá at M&K Cafe is still as delicious as ever; the contrasting flavours of the bánh mì is as good as I remembered it to be. Walking down the streets in Vungtau again, I can’t help but wonder how my life would change by accepting the offer to relocate to this socialist country, where a lot of fond memories (of people I met) took place.
Is this gonna be a turning point in my life? I don’t think I have the answer yet. For now, I need to concentrate on getting the job done and press on for my own goals. I just hope the uncomfortable feeling deep down will continue to serve as a constant reminder of why I said yes to my boss in the first place.
First chopper, checking in at 0600hrs tomorrow. I forgot how much I disliked waking up so early and dragging my big fat arse to the helibase. It’s just all too familiar. But I don’t think I would mind a nice cup of cà phê sữa nóng at the break of dawn.