The only thing consistent in Vietnam is its utter disregard for consistency. I guess that explains the catchphrase over here of “same, same but different.” Nothing is constant here though people think it is. And for a country that really can’t seem to venture outside the box, I am so surprised that the chaos called daily life seems to be anything but inside a set box.
The Big C Supercenter does not seem to go for consistency either. I stopped by to pick up some water since this 100 degree heat and relentless sunshine are combining to scorch my sanity. The security guard at the door pointed to my baseball hat and told me no. He then motioned to the lockers and told me stick it in one. Not to sound vain or anything, but I am not about to walk around a gigantic supermarket with nasty, sweaty hat head. And more importantly, this same guy yesterday allowed me inside with my Boston Red Sox hat twice. Yes, Twice.
I have no idea what changed overnight, but I just gave him a blank stare and walked past him. The Big Cs in Hanoi and Saigon seem to allow baseball hats by the way. The other security guards did not seem all too concerned by my wearing a hat, but this guy wasn’t going to back down as he got right up on me inside my personal space from behind. So I just did what always seems to work. I talked super loud in English while waving my arms like a crazy person. He scurried off like a little child and hid behind a column. Great security there.
I hadn’t planned on buying any food but a display of prepackaged chicken caught my eye. This was not just any chicken though. The rice was formed into the shape of a teddy bear and even had peppercorns for eyes and hot pepper for a nose and mouth. I have to hand it to them for their creativity so I supported their efforts with this 75 cent purchase of xôi canh đùi gà or sticky rice and chicken thigh.
Another security guard at the exit stamps the receipt and for the second time in so many days he thought it would be cute to stamp my arms and hands as well while laughing at me. I let it slide yesterday but today I was already irked by his buddy at the other doorway. After the fifth time he rapidly stabbed that thing into my body, I snatched it out of his fingers, broke it in half and tossed that self-inking stamp’s remains on the floor. He seemed genuinely shocked a western person does not like being assaulted with a stamp.
He said something in angry protest while grabbing at my wrist, so I smashed the already broken bits with my foot and kicked it all about twenty feet down the tile floor before making my grand exit to the shock and awe of all around me. Annoying security staff aside, truth be told the chicken was actually quite good. It could have passed for anything in America and I greedily tore into the moist meat just waiting under some skin I definitely peeled away. The marinade hinting of soy and honey was just right, too. All in all this was another unique addition to this journey one bite at a time, and I even have the souvenir arm stamps to show for it.