a day in the life.

Pharmacies in Vietnam openly sell a variety of stuff you would need a prescription for back in the US, and usually fairly inexpensive too. For example, you can buy a 10 pack of generic Valium (diazepam) for a dollar. I think for heavy duty narcotics you need some kind of necessary documents, but not being a pill popper I'm not 100% sure on that. My trips to the pharmacy are pretty rare, and usually as a last resort for a sleep aid due to my chronic insomnia, or for a probiotic.

Sometime last week I popped into a pharmacy nestled on the ground floor of an office building to grab a probiotic or Imodium (pharmacies tend to run out of stuff, so I'll take what I can get), as the stomach was telling me a tale that day. Except I couldn't get in the door, as it was blocked by two American backpacker girls wearing the ubiquitous “elephant pants” that are so ridiculously hideous yet seem to be part of the Required Backpacker Uniform in SE Asia. I swear, some backpacker blogs out there must have lists and visual aids of what one needs to look like when one is traveling. All these kids look the same, no matter what nationality. For both men and women, the elephant pants are a must. Shoes optional, but dirty feet required. The tiniest of tops with barely any straps to hold it up, but for women a dirty lacy bra must be showing (in fact I saw one girl who didn't deem it necessary to wear a top at all and just had a bra on. This isn't Miami Beach, folks. This is a working, bustling city. Fortunately for her, she did have the body for it). And for men, a man bun is absolutely required. No ifs, ands, or buts about that last one.

So these two chicks were blocking the way into the pharmacy and couldn't give a rat's ass that they were doing so. One was squatting down and pointing to something in the glass case. When the other finally moved out of the doorway, she still cockblocked my passage to the counter. So I had to wait. And then they both glanced back at me, confused and embarrassed, and it became clear they didn't want me to see what they were buying. It was a pregnancy test.

I don't know why in this day and age people still don't use condoms. They're sold everywhere, right next to the register at all Circle K's. A Vietnamese friend told me that the Vietnamese are embarrassed to buy them, so they have unprotected sex anyway, including herself. When I gently berated her (my motherly side coming out), she said she knows her partners are “clean” because they come from good families. I lectured her heavily on that bullshit. And to see two Western backpacker kids buying pregnancy tests makes me shake my head. Wrap it up, people. Life isn't a dress rehearsal for something better.

The girls purchased what they needed, then finally scooted out of the way. I promptly forgot about them… until about an hour later, I was walking down the street and spotted them on a street corner happily eating ice cream cones. Whatever outcome of the test they wanted must surely have been in their favor.


Last night I went to the grand opening of a concept store. The GM is a friend of mine, and graciously invited us.  Everyone was in a good mood (free flow wine will do that).  There were passed apps, which I snarfed down happily. I was busy talking to some friends of mine, when a large drunk man with a big red face popped his head into our little group.

“Where you from?”, he demanded of my friend Susan.

“I’m Canadian”, she said.

“Oh, you’re from Canadia?”.

“Ha ha. Canada. Yes, I’m Canadian”.

“So where are you from?”, he said, turning his attention to my male friend. “You from Canadia too?”

“Yes I am, actually”.

“Surrounded by Canadia! And you? You look Irish”, he said, now focusing on me.

“I’m not, actually. I’m French”.

“Nah, that face says 5 different people”.

“Uh well I do have a French nose..”

“Too many words there, honey”.


“Where are you from?”

“I was born in San Francisco, but I grew up in…”

“Too many words. Just tell me where you’re from, don't need an explanation. You from Canadia?”

“Uh, dude”.

“Cos you look Irish, sweetie. I’m from Scotland”.

“You don’t say”.  I saw that Susan and my other friend had quietly extricated themselves from the group and found some free chairs to sit on. Jealous.

“Yeah, SCAWTLAN. Not Canadia. That where you from? Canadia?”

“No, San Francisco”,

“What? Nah, look at that face!”, he said, his finger wagging ever so close to my nose. I may have snarled, and would have bitten him had he come any closer. I ought to wear a pin that says Please Don’t Feed The Animals.

By that point Larry got himself into the conversation so I very quickly sidestepped out and took a deep breath.  Dealing with expats can be tiresome.


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