An American expatriates to Vietnam and makes friends on couchsurfing. On her first night, they go out for a night and she learns a valuable lesson- when a policeman starts flashing his gun, it’s time to pay up and shut up.
Donna: When I first came to Vietnam, I met this guy on couchsurfing.
It was my first night and he invited us out. “Hey, I’m going out with my girlfriend and a friend of mine from the States. He’s here to visit.” We started drinking on De Tham [near the backpacker area], then we went to this place called Lush. It was the first time I went to Lush. We had a lot to drink.
He had a bike, but I took a cab to the club. After midnight, I decided I was tired and wanted to go back. “I’ll give you a ride, don’t worry, let’s get food first,” he said. It was me, him, and his friend on one bike. His girlfriend left early.
Two of us weren’t wearing helmets, you know?
Soon enough, the cops pulled us over. I was freaking out, because it was my first night in Vietnam. My mom’s told me before I left, “It’s a communist country, you gotta be careful!” So I was freaking out already, and then that happened, and I was pretty drunk.
“Let’s just pay them!” I said. The ‘I’ve been here for a year’ guy told us to be quiet. He started speaking to his friend in Spanish. He’s American, but he’s of Mexican descent. I told them to shut up and pay this guy. “Just give him money!” Then, the cops brought over 2 of their friends. At this point, there were four of them.
One of them brought a baton, and the other one started flashing his gun. I don’t know if it was a real gun. I don’t know.
In my head I was thinking, “Oh my god, we’re gonna die!!” I started crying.
This guy’s like “Calm down, calm down!”
“I can’t calm down, I wanna die!” I said.
The cops saw that I started crying, so he pointed at me and told me that I could go. The other guy and I could go, the ones not wearing helmets. The driver, my couchsurfer friend, has this “I’m a bad boy” look. He was challenging the cops. The cops would point at their gun and started taking it out of the holster.
“You stay, ” the cop said.
‘Oh my God, he’s going to die.’ I thought. ‘My couchsurfing friend is gonna die.’
Me: He took out his gun to gesture with it?
Donna: Yes! “You, stay!”
Me: That’s terrifying.
There were 4 cops at this point, and finally I started digging into my wallet. I didn’t know how much we should pay. “Here, have $20 dollars.” We gave it to the cops and they left. I was so scared! It happened so fast. It felt like it was hours.
Me: Your brain processes time differently in those situations. I think the driver is pissed at you now. “Why’d you give him money!”
Donna: Yeah, he got really upset! “Why did you guy’s pay?” he demanded.
It was my first night in Vietnam! I didn’t want to die. Then I just went home. I was really scared. Both of us, now could see the situation for what it is now, but your first night here?
Sometimes, people can be a little uncomfortable. Other times, they are downright creepy and intimidating.