Our most extreme case of Vietnamese generosity was in a town we were just passing through so I have no idea what it was called. We had stopped at a Banh Mi (more on those later), stand to have some breakfast and when we went to get back on the bike it wouldn't start. We had a big drive ahead of us so were hoping it was a quick fix. Just as we were getting ready to wheel it to the town mechanic, a paisley-shirt-wearing hero pulled over on his bike and started walking around Lil' Sebastian assessing the situation. Soon he was down on his knees with his an American flag screwdriver (a strange choice? I thought so too) inspecting Lil' Seb's insides. He played with the spark plug, poured water over the piston and engine to cool it down, and before we knew it we were back on the road. We were extremely grateful and offered him money for his services but he profusely declined. He pulled out his wallet to flash all his 100,000VND bills and credit cards. So he was basically telling us, "I don't need your petty money, thanks". All he wanted was a photo and a Facebook friend request. We could all learn something from our paisley pal.
Another item we had a lot of, but not willingly, was Rice Wine. Rice Wine isn't your average wine. To give you an idea, it tastes like home-brew vodka. A cloudy texture, served in a water bottle, and drunk like a shot. We noticed Rice Wine a lot as we drove north, always wondering what the cloudy substance locals were all drinking. Our first taste of Rice Wine was quite an adventure. In Mai Chau, the less touristy version of Sapa, we had gone for a drive into the mountains when it started to rain and we wanted food. There was a typical food establishment in the middle of these mountains serving Phở of course. As we drove up a group of men inside yelled out. This will be interesting. As we walked in they all motioned for us to sit with them. Not one of them spoke a word of English. We ordered a Phở and then attempted to have a conversation with these people. They force fed us some of their lunch and then a couple of shot glasses were put down on the table in front of us. Here we go. On the count of 3 we all drank our shot of what tasted like how I imagine paint stripper would taste. Unfortunately for us, in Vietnamese culture if someone offers you a drink it is extremely rude to decline. So 4 shots of Rice Wine and a couple of kegs being opened later, we found ourselves in the Mai Chau mountains, drunk, eating our Phở, which had never tasted better. What an incredible experience we were both thinking. These people are so generous sharing with us like this. The glass soon shattered though when the group of men went into the back to play pool and we asked for the bill. What would usually have cost us around 70,000VND, was now costing us 200,000VND! They were charging us for everything, our meal and every man at that tables meal. Conveniently he did not speak English so we could not argue. Well played sir, well played. 200,000VND converts to about $11NZD, but guys it's the principle!