Goodnight, Vietnam!

” I hate people”, Swanson muttered, pulling his knees up to his chin. Sitting in the upright fetal position in a chair in the lobby of our home-stay, his eyes were  brimming with tears, making them red and sad.

“I do to. Sometimes I do to”, I said to him. I felt the same as he did but I threw in the “sometimes” to reassure him but at the same time not to throw a hate blanket on all of humanity. Parenting win! Hate Blanket is the name of my new band.

We had just come back from an amazing dinner in downtown Hoi An, Vietnam. Something to do with roasted pork belly, succulent smoked duck with crispy noodles, sides of red rice risotto all washed down with a couple of tasty Saigon beers. We briskly walked back to our room in the light rain. It was a fine way to conclude our visit to this sleepy, if not over-run by tourists, little fishing and tailor-made clothing village.

“Hmmm, that’s weird” I said as I turned the knob finding that our door wasn’t locked. I thought that maybe I had forgot to lock the door. But I never forget to lock the door. Maybe I didn’t lock everything away in the suitcase like I always do. I can’t remember as I do it so often.

“Where’s my ipad?” Swanson asked as we entered out room. “Over there, plugged in, charging.” I answered. But it wasn’t. There was only an empty space where it once stood. I rifled through our suitcase – we always locked out computers and valuables in the suitcase. Nothing what I wanted was in there. Our laptop, and 2 ipads had been stolen. Fucking hell.

Tami ran downstairs to inform the owners of the home-stay what had happened. They freaked out, making our freak-out seem quite subdued and understated. The old man started yelling at the daughter, there was a bit of pushing and shoving, pointing of fingers. The police were called.

The nearest they figured what had happened is that someone grabbed our key from the desk, infiltrated our room, absconded with our stuff and returned the key without anyone knowing. They even had a suspect, showing us the passport of the woman who they thought committed the crime. I thought that was a bit weird. But what could we do? Swanson wanted to go around knocking on everyone’s door and searching their rooms. I wanted the staff to search the suspects room. Nothing really happened.

That’s one conclusion that was drawn. My thoughts leaned towards an inside job. It was our last night, the last possible time we’d be away from our stuff, our key was in their possession. Seems plausible. Likely even.

Swanson fantasized about visiting the thieves in jail. He’d waltz up to them and say, “Sup?” That would show them!

I didn’t want to think that it was an inside job as they were super nice folks – even making us dinner on our first night (amazing Cau Lau – a dish I had been looking forward to eating again since the last time I was in Hoi An 12 years ago). They were also genuinely very upset. They refunded all the money we spent there – rent and food. They also asked us not to mention what had happened on TripAdvisor. I was tempted to write a review but what was I to gain by ruining their business?

To the thieves’ credit, they left our passports and credit cards (we’re still keeping an eye on them to see if there’s any weird charges as the hassle of going through canceling the cards and somehow trying to get new ones seems fairly daunting, bordering on impossible.)

The next day, after bailing on our early morning flight, Tami was whisked down to the police station to file a report. We hung out in Hoi An for the rest of the day, dazed and confused after a night of little sleep, and caught an evening plane back to Hanoi. Sans computers.

It’s weird the way this experience has affected all of us. Before the theft we were constantly bickering and getting on each others nerves. Maybe getting a little tired of each others company and just of traveling in general. Post robbery we stopped the fighting, united in our sadness, anger and frustration. So that’s a positive on a negative experience. And really, they are just things. They can be replaced (albeit at great expense). We have everything backed up on an external drive and also in the clouds.

We didn’t want this to leave a negative mark on our Vietnam experience. We all loved Nam and wished we could have spent more time there. Two weeks wasn’t nearly enough. And even if the robbery left a unpleasant taint in our mouths (that doesn’t seem to sound right), Hanoi and Hoi An were both amazing places to visit. Once again.

Here’s some photos of some of the nice things we saw in Hoi An.


Lots of old yellow buildings. They like yellow. And red.


We ate very well in Hoi An. Just ask this plate of spicy lemon beef!


Food and lamps. That’s all you really need.


Trucking through the meat market.


Steve thought he could leave the flock. Steve was wrong. Nobody leaves the flock.


We were here 12 years ago. There were a few tourists then. Now the place is crawling with them. The town has expanded and everyone will try to rip you off. Can’t really blame them.


Someone got a new shirt! We had a few nice articles of clothing made by a local tailor. Although it’s too hot to wear them. And someone has also usurped my hat! Usurper!


This tasty number is a local specialty known as White Rose. Rice paper filled with shrimp and pork with a lovely delicate sauce adorned by fried garlic and fiery chilies. So damn good.


Portable night coffee. Brilliant! Except I can’t drink coffee at night. But still brilliant.


Night cows!


Goodnight, Vietnam! (Yes that says “Cack” on the back of his chair)













4 thoughts on “Goodnight, Vietnam!

  1. Hi Darren, your blog continues to be vastly entertaining, but this latest episode is a real drag (except the food looks delicious). I hope you will not be too sad/furious and will keep the stories, pics, and wry comments coming. No pressure, but everything has been brilliant so far. Keep focusing on the good things, like Swanson’s snappy new shirt! At least everything was backed up. Hmmm – sounds like a reference to Immodium. Sorry.

    BTW, I dropped into Black Dog a while ago to pick up a copy of Force Majeure. I called ahead to see if it was in. Jessica answered, saying she was holding the video in her hand when I called. Freaky!! She also mentioned an upcoming video “Jack Hunter and the Quest for Somebody-or-other’s Tomb”. I quickly checked your Black Dog blog for all the details. At this point, I have to inform everyone that this is not really me. I have not visited any tombs recently, I had nothing to do with the making of this epic, and given the cheesy looking production values, I’ll just distance myself completely from this.

    Hope the rest of your trip is excellent!

    Cheers, the real Jack Hunter (and his faithful sidekick Dorothy)

    • Hi Jack,

      Nice to hear from you! And thanks for reading (and enjoying the words). Yes, it was a huge drag losing our stuff but it’s not the end of the world. It has made us quite paranoid with our belongings though (especially since we replaced the laptop and ipad mini). But it hasn’t dampened our spirits!
      And yes, we didn’t lose anything (I don’t want to talk about Imodium) 🙂

      I just watched Force Majeure last night! No kidding. Freaky! Good film.

      I thought you might enjoy that Jack Hunter movie. I saw it in a 7-Eleven in Thailand and couldn’t resist throwing it in the newsletter.

      Hope that you and Dorothy are well. See you in the summertime!


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