Saturday, June 23, 2007

Pinky Moon

I got to Vietnam a few days after the other students and by that time they had already scoped out the bars down the street. They kept talking about this mysterious place down the road called the “Pinky Moon”, where they tried “snake wine”--liquor that soaks in a jug stuffed with a cobra. The Pinky Moon sounded really seedy. In fact, it sounded a bit like a brothel or an opium den. But I’ve been there a few times now and I’m convinced that it’s actually a respectible establishment. It’s clean, well lighted, and cold beer costs about 90 cents. It even serves good food. A few days ago they made the best fried rice I’ve ever eaten.

The Pinky Moon has become the unofficial common room for the trip, a nearby place to hang out when we finish our daily readings (or maybe well before that). I’ve even gone there to meet Desaix, the early-70s former diplomat who’s running our program. He wears white shorts with sock-sandals, and we meet to talk about le Indochine.

No matter what time you go to the Pinky Moon, you’re sure to meet the co-owners and barkeepers, Pinky and Moon. Pinky is the younger sister, distinguished by here black-rim glasses and relative shyness. Moon is in her late thirties and is more outgoing, giving us lychee berries, Pinky Moon t-shirts and even taking us to The Lighthouse, a riverside club that looks like Terrace’s taproom. We’ve shown our appreciation, as well. Those of us who went to the Cultural Palace to teach English were each given a bouquet of flowers which nobody knew what to do with. So yesterday we presented two bouquets to Pinky and Moon who were delighted.

Pinky (left) with sister Moon.

Some other people in the group spend much more time than I do in the Pinky Moon. Elias, a sociable Pike brother, can be found there through much of the afternoon and evening. A few days ago, Desaix needed to talk to Elias and the first place he looked was “The Moon”, as Elias calls it. Elias enjoys the place so much that we joke that he’s going to start working there soon. Yesterday he took a big step in that direction by compiling the Pinky Moon a new music mix, which mostly consisted of The Doors. Pinky let him play it and Elias cranked up the volume.

As The Moon’s best customer, Elias has come away with amazing stories. One night he was in The Moon at about 12:30 when suddenly Moon shut the metal door, turned off the lights, and told Elias to keep his voice down. In Hanoi, bars are supposed to close down at midnight, and Moon had heard that the police were raiding bars down the street. Pinky, Moon, and Elias huddled in the dark for a half hour until the police passed and then they reopened until at least two o'clock.

Another night, Elias ran into trouble as he was walking out of The Moon. The email he sent out right after the event describes it best…

Dear Gang,

I just thought I would let everyone know that I was just approached by two Vietnamese prostitutes who, like every other merchant in this city, would not take no for an answer. As one revealed herself to me, the other grabbed me by a part of my body that I reserve only for myself and for my significant other. Both were simultaneously shoving their hands into my pockets, probably in search of valuables to steal. At this point, I decided to raise my hand as if to strike while yelling fiercely for them both to get away from me--they got the message and bounced like fucking kangaroos. In any event, this should be a lesson for all to be careful after 11:00 when shit apparently starts to go down in Hanoi.Why does this sort of balderdash always happen to me?



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