The other day was another notation in the list of experiences that I’ve had here so far. I went and ate dog meat. A few other teachers in the English department have been saying that they’d take me for quite some time, but it happened very suddenly. I was in my room, around 3 in the afternoon, and then a friend came and knocked on the door and said, “We’re going to eat dog meat.” So I hopped on his motorbike and we drove a short distance from the school to a small and dirty-looking place were two other teachers had already begun eating. I was nervous and didn’t know if I could do it, at first. There was a strange smell coming from the table, and I didn’t like it. But then I saw the purple paste in dishes and realized that they were eating a kind of sauce made from fermented shrimp, which I’ve tried before and can’t stand. And there were the plates of dog meat and everyone was eating like it was any other type of meat that you regularly order at a restaurant. I sat down on a tiny stool. They gave me some boiled dog meat, and I ate it. It was okay, a little strange, but just meaty. After the boiled meat there was grilled dog and then a kind of soup later on. After a while I just stopped thinking about what I was eating so much. It was just meat with a little different flavor. And from what I understand, there are some people here who love it, and some people who will never eat it in their lives. I guess I’m pretty neutral on the issue. I didn’t love it, but I didn’t hate it either. Just something new.
This afternoon I went with a good friend from the International Relations Office to get some maintenance done on my motorbike. The chain was tightened and oiled, the battery was filled, the air/gas mixture adjusted, and the electric starter was fixed. Then we had it washed and the oil changed. I think it looked like a new bike. I was advised to drive it to charge the battery. So I went to get some gas because I thought I was getting low (it doesn’t have a gas gauge). The attendant at the gas station asked what country I was from. I told him to guess. He said France—the second time that’s happened to me. Anyhow, filled with 3 or so liters I went zooming around Long Xuyen, something that’s especially fun when there is little or no traffic. It was lovely driving around a watching the people and dodging traffic and pedestrians.
I had another coffee invitation later in the afternoon where I was told that I might be filmed for national TV, pretending to teach in the library. I’m not going to hold my breath, but this evening and tomorrow morning my nerves may be a little jumpy.