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  • Writer's pictureJoanna

Human Kebab

Updated: Jun 16, 2023

When I got back from my day on the hog... I thought it might be a good idea to

Lather myself in sunscreen. Jump in the pool to soothe the burning...

That's right.. I found sunscreen. Not that I even needed it anymore- the sun's rage has already exploded all over my poor, weak, helpless & fragile body... and unfortunately at this point in time,  no screen will help.  But... I bought it nonetheless. The pool was deserted... much like the rest of the resort.  Due to the fact that there was no one here, I felt comfortable enough to wear my new hideous pool digs.  Hot... Once in the water, that episode of Return to Eden kept coming back from the 80's to haunt me... remember when the bad people they put a crocodile in Stephanie's pool... and she jumps in to do her morning laps... tragedy...

It's a traumatic and unsettling thing to be in a unfamiliar pool all alone.  I didn't necessarily see any signs warning me about sharks or crocodiles in the pool, but I've missed things before and I'll miss things again. The phobia is real.

I emailed my hotel from Ho Chi Minh City to beg them to meet me at the airport on Tuesday and asked if they would be will to do the bathing suit 'hand-over'... Originally I was planning to jump in a taxi and dart back in to town and back again as fast as HCMC city would let me... but time will not allow. I am calling this Operation Bikini Body... so let's see how it pans out. I fly in at 11:50am- have agreed to meet them outside the airport at 12:30pm. They'll hand me the little silk pink bag with my bathing suits and I'll hand them 400,000 dong.... (about $24)... worth every penny to never have to wear my Vietnamese itty-bitty teeny-weeny ever again. I very much brings to mind my days on Sesame Street... "I'll meet you and Stan by the tan van, man." Let's try not to screw this up!... fingers crossed.

I knew that the sun would be going down soon enough so I decided to go for a nice walk along the beach... very pretty, though slightly rough trying to manoeuvre my way through some tight spots that are definitely feeling the pressure of erosion creeping up... I have to say, this beach is MUCH cleaner than the beach I first encountered yesterday. But don't get me wrong- there is still a LOT of litter everywhere you look - regardless of direction. I think someone needs to start Operation Clean Up Vietnam... Operation No More Plastic Bottles... Operation No More Take Out Containers... it's sad. Once my little trek up the beach was finished, I sat down in my new little favourite restaurant and had some yams and a couple glasses of Vietnamese Red Wine.  OK- whenever I sit down and order red wine, people look at me like I just ordered the most unusual thing none to man... and then they come back with something along the lines of "It's Vang Dalat, ok?" ...and tend to just nod OK, mostly because I don't really know what that means... so bring it on.

I did my research though and this little Southeast Asia red is grape wine cut with fermented mulberry juice. It rates at about 2.5 stars and sells for anywhere between $3-$7, which if you look at in that light, what a cheap high!  I found this amusing article about a wine sommelier trying it out and being given a choice between a bunch of other drinks and Vang Dalat - check it out here. But whatever... it has a strong vinegar smell, a bitter rotten fruit taste, a deadly aftertaste of fermented death and it's all that most restaurants offer... so bottoms up, I say!

Cruising on my chopper yesterday, when I was in Duong Dong, I noticed that there was a Night Market advertised in one of the main streets, so I figured it would be a good idea to check it out later on!  I was beat after my blog and Vang Dalat... so I had a couple hours nap and then headed in... Super vibrant and bustling with locals & tourists - it was the Dinh Chu Night Market.  Not impressed with how my stomach was acting up again when I've just thrown myself in to pretty much a full buffet of dining opportunities- fresh seafood, street snacks, beverages,... So. once again, no partaking in any of the food, but I did do a bit of Vietnamese souvenir shopping.  Don't need a strong stomach to spend money! There was probably about 100 stalls.  The money still weirds me out and I'm sure that I've given a few 5 million out instead of 500,000... but what's another zero, eh?

When I got back from the Night Market, I realized that I didn't really have much planned for tomorrow... and with the way that this sunburn has progressed, I wasn't exactly willing to just idle my day away lying on the beach..  So what better to do when you're red, hot & bothered?  Book a fishing trip! Funny thing, was that during my walk through the market, someone handed me a pamphlet... now, normally I don't put my hand out and accept junk mail - but for some reason, this time, I did.  I think that maybe I figured it was a map... and God knows how much I needed a map.... earlier...

I didn't even glance at the brochure until I was back at my hotel room - but it was a company marketing fishing tours, snorkeling, island hopping, scuba....  I had previously gone on Viator and Expedia looking for something to fill my day, but neither of them had anything available for the day.  Even with this brochure in hand, I still did a bit more research and sent out a couple inquiries.  Sunday night though... I didn't really expect many responses... if any at all. I did manage to get a hold of Dandy tours through (from the brochure) on Facebook and we agreed to have me picked up in the morning between 8:30-9am... gave them my hotel address, room number... etc etc.  Perfect... see you in the morning.  Then they emailed me... and told me they would pick me up at 9am and asked me for my hotel address and room number again.  Strange... but I gave it to them... again. My stomach was starting to do flips again... and the only conclusion I could come to was the deep fried yams.  Here may result in the ultimate elimination of deep fried foods from my diet... except for Poutine... Don't say it might be the wine.  The jury is still out on wine. I was just hoping that it would settle down by the morning.  If I had a hard time in a plane, in a van and maneuvering my way through 4 foot tunnels... imagine the phenomenal fun I'd have on a tipsy, topsy, rickety old fishing boat at sea.  My prospects weren't looking up. I decided that in the morning, I would just stick to fresh fruit and water... NOTHING ELSE... but of course, as soon as I walked in, they handed me a plate with some fresh pancakes on it and I ate the little buggers.  Damn it Gluten, why do you have to be so damn delightful?  Errrrr.... I had a lot to do before the tour was picking me up. Eat, shower, get my pack ready, return Mr. Cutie Blue Scootie, get some writing done... maybe get a swim in if I was lucky? Returning the moped was more of the same old waiting game.  It couldn't just be easy peasy monkey squeezy like 'just drop off the bike, helmet and keys'... nope, I had to wait for Mr. Burnt Toast 4 Teeth to motor down and return my license.  He didn't even check the bike for damages!  I didn't do anything... but still, that's shocking to me... Then the stomach started up again... but only slightly... and I managed to fight my way through it.

I love the fact that I'm in the land of new, delicious (and cheap) foods and my stomach decides to throw a hissy fit. All that was going through my head was;

Don't get on a boat.

Don't get on a boat.

Fuck that... I'm getting on a boat.

Famous last words??

I'm in Phu Quoc and I'm going to make the most of it. Stomach be damned. While I'm having this stomach vs. travel epiphany, there was a knock at the door.  It was the front desk guy letting me know that my tour was here to pick me up.

Are you kidding?  They specifically wrote to me and said 9am.

It's 8:23am...??? Panicked... and pissed off... I was half naked, had just lathered up with sunscreen and most of the shit that I wanted to take with me was spewed all over the room.


They SAID 9am.

Errrrr..... Running around frantically.

Have you ever heard of "hurry up and wait?"... well that's what we did.  We got to the boat dock... and we sat there.... Then we sat there longer. Then quite a bit longer.

There was one other young girl we had picked up along the way and she just sat there silent, expressionless, and watched some Vietnamese soap opera on her phone.  Finally a tour guide approached us both and announced that it was time to go... so I naturally followed... They led us to where a bunch of Vietnamese were all loading in to a speed boat. I was confused. The van driver looked at me and said, "You go in speed boat?"

I don't know???... Maybe?  Aren't YOU the tour guide who's supposed to know what I booked? I was even questioning myself now... what did I book?  How much Vang Dalat had I had??

The was a little too 'smoke and a pancake' organization for my liking. Then he continued, "If you want go speed boat is now. You want slow boat more than more wait." 

Guess I'll take 'more than more wait' cuz I don't think I signed up for the speed boat tour. FINALLY my big fishing boat trip came along and all was well in the world again. I would say that on a percentage scale, it was

1% Canadian - Me 2% Malaysia 5% German 92% Vietnamese

And due to these baffling and well researched statistics, the crew paid the 8% of us on the boat with zero consideration, attention or even regard (at some points) and everything was ONLY in Vietnamese.

Then I met Azreen and Zulfa. They were Muslim women from Kuala Lumpur and they were fabulous. I’ll tell you though- I was not jealous of the amount of clothing they were wearing in the heat.  Even in the ocean!!!  When we started speaking about where each one of us has been and where we want to go, they convinced me that I have to plan a visit to Malaysia. Done!

We had a lot of laughs- mostly at the expense of others.

To make a few mentions-

  • The couple with the matching outfits.

  • 500-shot photo shoot of one girl swaying in a hammock in the ocean... in a sexy manner, of course. 

  • 300-shot photo shoot of the same girl swinging on the swing... trying to be sexy again...

  • Did I mention the sexy photo shoot of the same girl in the little ocean pool? Arms up, arms down, splashing... it went on and on... I think that all she had done from the moment she stepped on to the island was try and look sexy for the camera.  

And she really needn't have...

I just wanted a photo of me on the swing, and we had to stand there and wait while she went back and forth... higher... feet up... twist the swing... higher again...

Here's me... and it only took 7 shots and a filter to subside the sunburn.  I'm naturally sexy though... no need to really work on it.

From now on, I'm taking someone on vacation with me who's sole purpose is to take deep and meaningful photos of me. I'm tired of these selfies and horrible stand stills. I always say to people,  "please make me look thin, pretty and like I'm having a really good time!"

When they called lunch. they tried to bulldoze us all in to specific sections on the boat, dictating where we all sat in the conjunction to where they were going to serve which food.

Seafood - sit here! Chicken - sit here! Vegetarian - sit here!

Azreen and Zulfa were my only friends on the boat, so naturally I wanted to sit with them.  One of the crew came over to yell that is was the vegetarian table only!!!

Fine... today I’m a vegetarian.  No biggie. Relax.

They were so adamant about the rules that they almost split up a German couple. The girl refused to be separated from sitting with her husband and basically made the valid point that he could get up and go to the other table if he wanted to grab some chicken.

Quite silly.  Lunch was actually fantastic, and it's a rarity to have delicious food on a tour.  Rice, egg noodles with deep fried tofu, cooked greens (no idea what they were actually... maybe collards??), omelette bites, tofu cooked in a spicy tomato sauce, pineapple... delish.

I do have to make mention of the 'fishing part of the day' as that's really what the tour was solely marketed on... Fishing & Snorkeling,  I was under the false impression that we would really be out deep, in the thick of it all, really getting our backs in to it and pulling up blue marlins and octopus.  No.  Basically... the boat anchored- they handed us all these red spools with lines, hook and some bait that resembled a small piece of plastic - pointed at the water and yelled “fish!”

We were given 20 minutes.  Some people caught little fish... 


I snagged something and had to have my line cut.

So much for the big “fishing adventure”... Next... Then came the snorkeling... and for the first time in my entire life (snorkelling), I KNEW that if a shark were to happen upon our little group, I would not be the first to die.  Not in this bathing suit anyway.

But all kidding aside, all these teeny tiny Vietnamese girls, squealing like pigs and splashing their legs around frantically - I knew they’d attract the beasts faster than I ever would with my stealth like mermaid moves... The boat had thrown out an anchor to one of the nearby rocks and tied it up with a rope, for the frightened swimmers to grasp on to.  And grasp, they did.

In my mind, it was a buffet of human kebab shark bait... come and get 'em.    Sitting ducks! It actually made for a lovely and peaceful snorkeling experience for me.  Despite the swimming attire.

I think that only two things saved me from the humiliation of this humiliating fashion faux pas decorating my body was;

  • the water that covered all of it.

  • the life jacket which covered some of it.

Once I had had enough of the underwater world, I headed back to the boat. I wasn't long out there because, to be honest, it wasn't very exciting. Not many fish and those that were there were tiny and very camouflaged to their environment. Not meaning to be stereotyp8ical AT ALL, but I find that the Vietnamese can be very pushy!  This man kept pushing past me in the water, to try. and get to the boat ladder first.  I could maybe understand if his swimming skills weren't strong... but he was wearing a life jacket.  Me, being an asshole, wanted to just shove him out of the way and scramble up the ladder first... I was there first!!!  Very rude. But empathetic me decided to relax (I was in tropical paradise... first things, first)... and see the scenario through his eyes. Perhaps it was justified.  Maybe he's also got a shark phobia and wants to be OUT of the water immediately.  This I can relate to, because if I even get an inkling of a shark being close to me, I'm like George Costanze thinking there's a fire at a kids birthday party. No one gets in my way.

All that aside though... there was no shark, nor has a shark ever been 'close to me' - that I'm aware of anyway... and I actually never want to know if there was one nearby. The guy was a pushy prick.

Enough said. When the tour was over, I went for a brief walk through the town and ended up sitting down at a small restaurant  to enjoy a glass of Vang Dalat and some brushcetta while I finished up a blog and watched the sun go down.

I wasn’t very hungry (hence the bruschetta) but the kid just kept the snacks coming... brought me peanuts, pineapple, watermelon... finally I turned around and he was standing beside me with another plate of bruschetta.  For you ma’am... I was amazed . Not really a highly effective way to get me to buy more food... but... ok...???

Anyway - not hungry and definitely not wanting another plate of bread, I smiled, thanked him, took the plate and at the same time, took a bite of one of the pieces of bruschetta plate #2.  Thanked him again, smiles through the chewing and put the plate down beside me to be polite.  It wasn’t 7 seconds before he was back.

"NO! No... not for you, miss!"

And the bruschetta plate #2 was gone...

On my way home, had a little change in my pockets, so I figured it was time for a massage.  My plan had been to get a beach side massage today, but instead I’d obviously opted for the Deep Sea Fishing bonanza!

I was very specific that it was my back ONLY and do not, under any circumstance, touch my sun burn.  I kept reiterating over and over again,"Very painful"... ouch!

Not sure how that all got muddled up... I thought that our communication was quite clear and I was actually quite impressed at my ability to get my point across so accurately despite the language barrier...  But, as luck should have it, it ended up that the girl thought I meant for her to ONLY touch my sunburn and somehow I'd managed to sign myself up for an Aloe Vera body bath.

After about 20 minutes of being 'washed'... I finally spoke up.  Awkward. Anyway - life got sorted out, I got my massage... and an Aloe Vera bath!  Hope that helps my sunburn anyway.  It wasn't the greatest massage of my life... she didn’t have very powerful hands... answered her phone a few times and opened the door to occasionally yell random things to the other people working there.

Oh well... won’t be going back again, so no biggie.  One more thing to mention... remember how I said that the tour group emailed me again and asked what hotel and room I was in?  Turns out that it was a DIFFERENT tour group that I had contacted.  I was so tired, I had no idea.  So the original tour group said they'd pick me up at 8:30... and they showed up 7 minutes early.  The second tour group said they'd pick me up at 9am.  

So I'M the idiot.  

Guess they showed up at 9am and I was already gone... As if they'd just come pick me up after a mere inquiry?  No back and forth coversation, no handing me a little bit of information, no 'do you have any questions?'... no 'this is what our tour options are'... nothing!   The organization astounds me.

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