Danang, Vietnam, 2002. It is a few days after New Years Day. Our guide has a New Years gift for us. It would seem that the Vietnamese believe that New Years is a gift giving time for us as it is for them. We do not give gifts at New Years, but I think it is great that they think we celebrate the same as they do. Our gift is a marble statue from The Marble Mountains. During my first trip back to Vietnam I saw bottles of snake wine. It had a yellow liquid with a cobra inside with another snake in it's mouth. On this trip I get to taste some. I found a bottle that had a list of what the wine would cure on the label and bought it. After arriving in America I checked into my hotel. After putting my suitcase on the bed I looked inside. It appeared the marble statue and the snake wine had a fight! The snake wine lost! Now I have wet clothes and a suitcase with a strong odor. I think of what might have happened if U.S.Customs had opened my suitcase at the airport. I would still be there trying to explain. I remove the snake and glass and put them in a plastic bag. I also put my clothes in plastic bags and put my suitcase by the window to dry. By now my room smells of the wine. My problem now is where to put the snake and glass. If I put it in the trash bin in my room, what might happen to the maid if she looks in the bag? I would be in big trouble! Looking in the hallway I spot a large trash bin and throw the bag. If someone looks in the bag now, they will not know who put it there. The snake will not tell! Even today when I see my suitcase I think of the fight between the snake wine and the statue. Next trip home from Vietnam the statue and the snake wine will ride in separate suitcases!
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