A Brief but Odd Invasion - Unchained Melody - CycleBlaze

November 24, 2023

A Brief but Odd Invasion

A Brief but Odd Invasion

It was during the heat-of-the-day of our third day when it happened.  We were lounging in our A25 Hotel in Saigon, contemplating a siesta when the silence on our floor was shattered.  We had grown accustomed to the silence because we don't think anyone else has stayed on our floor in the three days we've been here.  Suddenly there were guests moving into what seemed to be all the rooms on our floor, really loud guests.  We thought they would get quieter as they got situated in their rooms but the cacophony only grew.  They were shouting loudly back and forth down the hall and across from each other's room.  They were Vietnamese voices and mostly female but that's all we knew.  They were really loud!  Most people would have gone to the front desk to complain about utter disregard for others.  There was no way we could have a siesta. But there was no way we were going to complain either.  If we complained to the hotel staff it would reflect on US poorly.  It would be considered in bad taste.  Such are Asian ways of thought I have come to  know.  Our three days of beautiful silence on our floor had passed and this too shall pass.  

But it wasn't passing very quickly and we still couldn't figure out what was going on or who all the noisy people in the hall were.  Finally it was dark and dinner time meant we needed to go foraging for a restaurant.  We stepped into the hall and immediately into a clutch of young women all dolled up waiting for the elevator right across the hall from our room.  They were in such numbers that they could easily go into ignore-the-old-tourists mode.  I wish I had taken a photo of them as we all waited for the elevator.  

When the doors opened we stepped in first and thought they might decide to wait for us to go down alone. The doors were almost closed when they apparently changed their minds.  A brave hand came through the crack in the doors in the nick of time and eight of them crammed in with us.  We were engulfed in excessive amounts of hair spray odor mixed with perfumes.  Eight teenaged girls all wearing more or less the same sorts of outfits -  lots of black and white.  No one ever made eye contact with us.  No one attempted English and we sure didn't attempt Vietnamese.  They talked among themselves a little bit but mostly it was a silent ride down from our 8th floor.  I didn't bring up the fact that we had exceeded the limit of people riding, according to the Tu Dong Elevator Company's recommendations.   

The ride was ten times longer than normal because it stopped at each and every floor!  When the doors opened, no one was waiting.  What this told me was that possibly the entire hotel was filled with teenagers!   They must have all been waiting for the one elevator on each floor and had given up and taken the stairs.  Our floor, the eighth, must have been the cutoff point where teenagers refused to walk down flights of stairs.  Eight floors = too many stairs to descend.  I thought that was interesting research right there.  No siesta but look at the knowledge gained about teenagers. This long trip down to the lobby made the inhalation of hairspray and perfume nearly deadly for us.  Teenagers are apparently impervious to it.  More knowledge gained right there!

When the doors opened to the lobby we gasped.  The entire lobby was filled with the same young people, too many for the lobby and they oozed out the front doors and down both sets of stairs.  They were so crowded together that we had a very hard time getting through. By this time I was just laughing.  I had never been in such a jam-packed situation with the same-aged, similarly-atired, perfumed and hair-sprayed crowd of young people.  There were some boys too but the majority were women.  We had no idea what the group was all about.  No one would have been able to tell us even if we had pursued the inquiry.  We have found very little English even here in the big city. 

We finally made it to the street - WHEW - and looked back at the crowd and we just laughed.  It was going to be a long night!

Wherever the kids went they didn't return until around 10PM.  It was not a silent return. It was crazy noisy again until 1AM when probably one of the chaperones came up and told them all to cool it.  Then it was silent until around 5:30AM when we heard all the showers turn on. 

The breakfast buffet starts at 6AM and we were wondering what was going to happen.  Surely the buffet area on the top floor (10th floor) would not be able to feed 150 starving teenagers.  Would they?  Andrea and I had much speculation about this.  Then, we could hear them gathering at the elevator again.  We tried to gain information by looking through the peephole in our door.  I could just barely see two red smudges which were the lights on the elevator buttons.  After much squinting I decided that the two red smudges I was seeing indicated our floor and the down arrow.  I was sure that the upper arrow was not lit.  This was great news because what we were worried about most was that the cooks would not make enough food or worse, they would have made a huge batch of food that they knew teenagers adored and nothing for old tourists such as ourselves.  I was relying on old research to be worried like this.  We had actually had this happen before and the hotel had made baked beans, of all things, for the kids!  We certainly didn't want that to happen again.  As you can imagine, I was getting more and more concerned by the minute because I have this hollow leg I need to fill every morning. 

Andrea and I went into panic mode:  "Can you see luggage while they wait for the elevator?"  "I don't know, let me try to see the floor area.  It's really hard to see through this hole."  "You check the window and see if there is a big bus down there loading them and I'll try to see luggage."  "OK, I can't really see the sidewalk but there is a bus not exactly in front of our hotel."  "I do see luggage!  That proves they are going down."  "Now there is another big bus and it IS in front of our hotel."  "Yay, I think we are safe.  They must be going to some huge restaurant that caters to large groups.  They must be leaving."  

All speculation - no real research.  

We decided it was all clear to go up the two floors to the buffet eating area but the elevator was still mobbed by the young people so we took the stairs.  When we opened the door to the eating area we were totally surprised.  It was completely filled with the kids.  We had misjudged everything!   I took a couple of photos and we decided we couldn't enter such a fray.  We went back to our room to wait it out.  Teenagers eat in thirty seconds so we figured we wouldn't have to wait too long.  That bus wasn't going to sit there blocking traffic forever either.  The whole thing was craziness but good craziness.  I actually enjoyed every minute of the scene, the speculation where we failed miserably, and just observing how it all went down.  I love young people, actually, even if they ignore me.

I wrote about chid in our room while we waited it out.  When we saw no bus, we sounded the all clear and beat it on up to the buffet area.  We half expected the buffet staff to be disheveled and lying about on the floor under a mountain of dirty dishes, smudged food all over their faces, smoking cigarettes after having given their resignations.  But, you know what?, they were bustling around cheerfully and had the place nearly completely cleaned up and back to normal!  Amazing!!  I was impressed.  And the same sorts of food as always were available for us.  It was like the whole thing had been a dream.  Nothing had changed!  

I just wanted to report this to you.  It was a most unusual and, fortunately for us, brief experience.  

lovebruce

Bullet points:
Teenagers eat in 30 seconds.  Teenagers will not walk down 8 flights of stairs; 7 yes, 8 no.  Teenagers are impervious to intense hairspray toxic odors.  Even if teenagers have luggage it doesn't mean they aren't going to eat.  Teenagers can ignore you like you don't exist.  Teenagers can be loud.

Heart 5 Comment 2
Brent HirakHow long does it take you to to eat normally?
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2 months ago
Bruce LellmanTo Brent HirakI'm the slowest eater in the world. It's noted in Guinness. I savor every bite. At a buffet I try to try everything and that takes time. Plus, I'm always filling my hollow leg and it seems to hold quite a lot, and that takes time too.
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2 months ago
Rate this entry's writing Heart 22
Comment on this entry Comment 7
Jen RahnI love the lighthearted 'guess what is happening' amidst the noise and chaos.

Great photo!

So glad there was food left for you. 🙂
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2 months ago
Betsy EvansWhat a great story!
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2 months ago
Bruce LellmanTo Betsy EvansThank you, Betsy. Sometimes I wonder, since it's a cycling website, how many people appreciate odd things like this.
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2 months ago
Gregory GarceauTo Bruce LellmanAlong with Betsy, I'm also one of your readers who appreciate odd things like that. The Chid story too.
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2 months ago
Rachael AndersonI love your description of this encounter! We had an encounter like this in Japan but it was adults and they don’t eat fast! It was like a swarm of locusts.
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2 months ago
Bruce LellmanTo Rachael AndersonYes, if they are like myself they would have taken hours to eat!
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2 months ago
Bruce LellmanTo Gregory GarceauYeah, well, this goes without saying, Greg. Even though I have never met you!
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2 months ago