Snake Village (by Anna)

Trip Start Mar 01, 2010
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Vietnam  , Ha Nội,
Saturday, March 27, 2010

It turns out the Vietnamese eat just about anything that moves. If you've heard about the practice of eating monkey brains then you’re certain to find it here alongside dogs, rhinoceros and a whole host of other species, particularly endangered ones! With this in mind, Nicola and I were persuaded to sign up for the snake village tour where we were promised a fun packed evening involving the chance to kill snakes and then gorge on them. Looking back at the tour description I’m not entirely sure what possessed us to sign up, maybe we were still drunk from the previous night’s antics, nevertheless it was certainly an experience we won’t forget and which still haunts us!

As we entered the so called 'Snake Village’ we all congregated around giant bottles of local Vietnamese moonshine containing all forms of giant snakes. (Just about anywhere you go in South East Asia they seem to feel the need to place a dead snake in liquor. I have yet to work out why but I suspect it has something to do with the properties they believe the snake has.) Suddenly out of nowhere our Vietnamese host started producing snakes and flinging them into our hands. I think I may have held my snake too tightly as it unexpectedly went out of control and started hissing at me and wriggling towards my face with it’s beady little eyes. It scared the living day lights out of me and i no longer felt so guilty about the fact that I’d be nibbling on him in a couple of hours.

Once that escapade was over the host appeared with a rather sleepy cobra. Unsatisfied by its lethargic nature he started banging its head against the floor in an effort to anger it and make it’s head raise. Although I’m not an animal lover I felt a bit sorry for the poor chap. This was surely a sign of gruesome things to come.

For many of the guys in a group, part of the appeal of the tour was the chance to slaughter a live snake and devour it’s main organ. 2 Welsh brothers we’d been hanging out with recently were quick to volunteer. We stood around them and watched as they slit the live snake and then furrowed around for the heart and swallowed it whole while it was still pulsating. It was all a bit too much to watch for poor Nicola who witnessed in horror as the snake twisted and contorted in pain a minute after it’s heart had been savagely ripped out. Once the heart had been removed the blood was squeezed into a nearby glass and mixed with the local snake moonshine. In another glass a bile cocktail was prepared by squeezing all the green gunk from it’s stomach. A few dead snakes later we were summoned to our table and told to down the fresh cocktails while they cleared up the remains of the snake massacre. I can only describe both concoctions as utterly revolting. Who in their right mind came up with the idea to use snake blood and bile as mixers?

Once seated we were served limitless amounts of snake moonshine and told that as part of tradition we had to down a shot each time a different snake dish was brought to the table. 12 dishes later we were beginning to wonder just how many ways snake can be prepared. We ate crushed snake bones with popadoms, grilled snake, snake spring rolls, crispy snake skin and so many other dishes that I no longer recall. If you thought you were hard done by with the meat on the spare ribs back home then I suggest you try snake ribs!

Endless shots later we staggered to our minibus blindingly drunk and with bits of snake caught between our teeth. The concoction of snake meat, blood, bile and moonshine was beginning to take its toll and we could feel it churning in our stomachs. As we drove back in the direction of the hostel Nicola rolled down the minibus window and vomited half a python whilst carefully trying to avoid the passing motorbikes. Several hours later it was my turn to spew up snake.

We woke up the next morning after suffering from horrific snake nightmares with horrendous hangovers and vowed never to kill or eat another snake again!!!
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