Kristi and I were watching a sunset on a local’s beach in Phu Quoc, Vietnam, when a trio of young men – armed with grilled shrimp, a giant karaoke machine, and enough beer to drown a mule – waved us over. At first we shyly resisted, smiled and said thanks but no thanks, but they insisted. We decided to join them and within a few minutes Kristi was singing One way or another, I’m gonna getcha getcha getcha one way, or another and I was taking shots of some mysterious moonshine. I never, ever, take shots. Kristi, however, sings Blondie with great frequency.
We were soon joined by the families of the boys, and spent the next hour posing for photos, talking with our hands, eating grilled snacks, and taking gulps of beer between boisterous toasts.
As we hung out with the locals, I thought about how not that long ago our countries were mired in a brutal war, and the idea of Americans and Vietnamese hanging out on the beach seemed impossible. The thing is, people all over the world are basically the same. We all enjoy hanging out with family and friends, and everyone is a fan of grilled snacks on the beach. We are too easily divided by politicians and religious fanatics who exploit our differences for their own gain. If we could organize karaoke parties with people from all over the world perhaps we’d all see just how similar we are. Karaoke is better than war, unless I’m singing. I should note that I did not sing because my voice would cause an international incident and lead to shell shock for all in attendance.
Or better yet, maybe we need to get our bellicose world leaders together for some televised karaoke. If Trump, Putin, Assad, and Kim Jong Un had to sing on live TV, maybe they’d be knocked down a few pegs. Maybe karaoke is the key to world peace.
Anyway, hanging out with the Vietnamese locals gave me a bit of hope for the future, which is a valuable thing in this current political climate. Maybe someday soon I’ll be in Pyongyang taking shots of Korean moonshine as Kristi sings Elton John, although it may not be possible to sing Rocket Man in the north of Korea during my lifetime.
Here are some photos I snapped that evening in Phu Quoc. I should note that even though they had an old-school speaker and clunky microphone, the song lyrics were beamed from the sky into our cell phones.
If you have a better plan for world peace I’d like to hear it!