Underground, overground, Wombling free…

06Mar09

Two quick stories from the local press brought to the Comical Hat’s attention by our razor sharp journalist comrades in the offline world…

Story 1 – Going underground…

Brothels by nature will never be well lit joints on main street thoroughfares but one man took ‘dimly-lit café’ to a whole new level in Binh Dinh province: in fact he took it underground (tiếng Việt only). The ‘cellar’ was secretly built under a café run by a man in Tay Phu commune, Tay Son District, and had been operating as a brothel for a year before being (wait for it…) brought to light by local police. According to the local news website vnexpress.com, the 41-year-old pimp-cum-brothel/ café owner divided the underground parlour into two wee eight-square-metre rooms to serve his needy customers. There was a tiny entrance carefully concealed by a piece of “white sponge” (The flagrant neglect of installing a proper fire exit is the REAL scandal here). Customers to the café were lured there by the “special services” offered by the three waitresses, though the owner Nhut admitted if the demand was high he could call in auxiliaries from other nearby “cà phê ôm” establishments. For a vui vẻ-time customers forked out VND150k. Alas, it seems his secret basement lair was too popular as word eventually got out…  or perhaps Ong Hercules Poirot noticed how half a dozen men entered the premises before him yet the cafe was empty when he stepped in the door. “Captain Hastings, mon ami, I find it more than a little bit suspicious, this mysterious disapperance of the clientele, n’est pas? And also I note that this café does not actually emit the fragrance of cà phê … in fact, it doesn’t even have a kettle…”

Story 2 – The accidental wedding crashers

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We’re at the tail end of wedding season in Vietnam and there’s plenty of folk out there that are understandably tired, dazed, confused… every wedding, yellow chicken, serving of sticky rice, hotel, bride, groom, tram phan tram-session has blurred into one. So should we spare a thought for the dozen or so punters who accidentally crashed the wrong wedding in the Horison Hotel? The story goes, that one young couple called Van Cuong and Thai Huong had their big day ruined by this group of wedding crashers who came in, sat down, ate till their heart’s content, and even placed money-filled envelopes into the paper heart at the entrance before realising they were at the wrong wedding party (they only realised when asked to pose for photographs later on). How on earth you cry? Wouldn’t they have looked around for a recognisable face? Well in their defense, they can blame the hotel for mixing up the names written on a board outside the banquet room. It seems poor auld Cuong and Huong’s names were uncannily similar to another young couple also getting married in the same hotel on the same day and this added to the confusion. When some well dressed guests arrived early for the other wedding, they were simply ushered inside and there they proceeded to get in amongst them and were having a rare auld time before the penny dropped. After realisng their mistake, however, the wedding crashers asked to get their envelopes of money back, causing further chaos at the calamitous scene. “I cannot imagine how terrible my wedding became,” said the distraught bride. “My parents and relatives were all confused. I could do nothing but cry.” The aggrieved wedding party blames the hotel for making a mistake when writing the names and is demanding compensation. A hotel representative says the problem stems from the fact that the names were submitted without tones, which would have differentiated the names. The Comical Hat says the story kinda sums up the anonymity and wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am-style of some Vietnamese weddings (Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughan would have a perpetual field day in these pastures). But with the amount of make up some brides get plastered with at weddings here things might have been worse. Cuong might have gone home with the wrong Huong, for example – or vice versa.

It’s enough to make a young bride hunch her “shoulders like a tired old woman…”

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