was traveling in South East Asia and spending
a couple of days in Ho Chí Minh City, Vietnam.
I had just arrived and hadn’t yet adjusted
to the stifling heat. As I walked around the city
soaked with perspiration I spotted a pub set in
a small traditional alleyway.
to quench my thirst I took a seat on the outdoor
patio and gulped down a beer. As I sat on the
patio I took in the impressive traditional house
across from me, with its blue tiled roof curved
towards the sky at four points.
people began to gather outside the house, each
one dressed in formal clothes. They set up quite
a celebration, with several large tables filled
with food and drink.
my time living in Korea years earlier, I knew
all too well that the formal flower decorations
they had placed outside the home were used to
officially welcome someone to their new home.
I continued quenching my thirst on the pub patio,
joyful traditional music was played by a group
of musicians to welcome the family. As a powerful
drum beat could be heard with an electric guitar
thrown into the mix, I started to bob my head
to the music.
my dehydration and enjoying the rhythmic music,
I quickly polished off two very large glasses
of beer. Suddenly overcome with feelings of vacation
freedom, and wanting to immerse myself in the
culture, I began swaying to the music and then
fifteen minutes of vigorous dancing in full view
of the family, I turned to the woman working at
the pub to remark what a great house-warming party
the family was throwing. She looked at me in horror
- and told me it was a funeral, and informed me
that the place I had thought was an impressive
home was actually a holy temple for the dead.
I rushed out of the pub I passed the temple door
and spotted the corpse lying in state - who I
was sure was smirking at me.