Trying to be cool while traveling in Vietnam

I went to Vietnam recently -- it was great. I saw beautiful monuments and learned history. Because that's what you do there.

But I'd rather talk about other topics because you can read about monuments and history on travel websites and in books and stuff.

I'd rather talk about embarrassing things.

One thing that was highly recommended for Hoi An was to enroll in a cooking class. I thought that sounded intriguing (and I really like food) so I signed the hell up.

It was a package deal -- shopping in the market for ingredients, canoeing through rice paddies to a secret island and cooking with a chef who was terrifying.

Doesn't it look ideal?

The chef wasn't marketed as terrifying and in fact, she started off in an extremely pleasant manner. I would even go so far as to call her sweet upon first impressions. But that all changed once I attempted to cook. Now listen, I'm not going to be on top chef, but I am not a bad cook. I make food in my home all the time and I think it is delicious. I do get stressed in situations that have an audience, aka large dinner parties, etc. But I thought that would be no problem in a cooking class because ultimately I was just cooking for myself, right?

Wrong. The chef was there to judge. And scorn.

Don't be fooled by her seemingly affable nature.

Step one was to make a spring roll - for which I received an approving head nod. But I lost a lot of ground fast after that. It was the required skillet flips that really got me flustered because I have poor hand-eye coordination...during the rest of the class I had many words thrown in my direction like, "Wrong!" "No!" and "Danger!" These exclamations were followed by deep sighs of sadness from the Boss Chef.

The class was stressful. However, at the end of the day I still thought my Asian cuisine was pretty tight.

But traveling can be stressful for a plethora of reasons, not just harsh criticism during cooking classes. For instance, everywhere I went in Vietnam, people told me to be very careful about being robbed on the streets. I never got robbed but I did get chased by an angry local one day.

An angry man chased me on the beach. It was mostly my fault. See, my friends and I found a wicker boat next to the water that day. It was really cool-looking so of course we started to stage a series of photos portraying us falling out of the boat and drowning. This was really fun and awesome until the owner of the boat came running down the hill screaming a violent Vietnamese rant in our direction. I assumed he wanted to stab me seeing as how I was the only one currently in the boat when he arrived. I jumped out of the boat and ran. This did not deter him. He continued to scream as he ran after me.

Here is one of our photos. Pretty good, huh? Moral of the story: If you fall out of a boat and I am the last person left safely inside of it, I'll probably just wave goodbye instead of trying to help you. You're welcome.

I was REALLY scared. I knew I was going to die or in the very least be assaulted by this very angry man. And I probably deserved it. But it turns out he wanted to return my backpack to me that I left in his boat while I was playing. So that made me feel better.

Those weren't the only times I was scared on this holiday. One day I woke up with a really stiff neck. That morning I didn't have time to wallow in self pity about it (like I usually do) because I had signed up for a walking food tour. (Really, I plan all of my trips around food) So I found my guide for the tour and was off. Well, as the morning wore on my guide began to notice my awkward movements (rotating the entire upper half of my body when he pointed something out rather than just turning my face to the right or left.) When the opportunity presented itself he approached me and said in a hushed tone, "Pardon me, but do you have neck pain today?" I replied affirmatively and he continued with his line of questioning. "If you don't mind me asking," he went on, "might you have had scary dreams last night?"  I was mildly alarmed by this question because I had in DEED had bad dreams the previous night. He must have sensed the answer from the look on my face because without a verbal response he said to me, "Aahhh, I see. Just as I thought. I have a solution for you when we arrive at the meat market."

About a half hour later I arrived at the said destination. It was brought to my attention that demons needed to be released from my neck/soul and that the way to do so was via an application of aggressive skin scraping and cupping practices done on the dirt floor of the local market, administered by a very sweet woman who spoke absolutely no English aside from the word "yes." So that is what I did

trying to be cool
end result
The demons were not released.

So that's a wrap. To be continued some day down the line. Happy Summer everyone:)