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!
Awesome photos – great story-telling!
great street photography/portraits.
Thank you. I as lucky to be able to get so close to drunk and uninhibited people!
Some of our very best travel and life moments, were in Vietnam hanging out with locals. Nice shots! Looks like a great time.
Getting to hang out with locals in general is always a good time, but the people of Southeast Asia are so much fun!
The last photo seems to be taken after the nth beer can and even more songs. 🙂 Without blogs like yours the world can be really depressing, Jeff. Today A and B are fighting C, then A and B are fighting between themselves, then D joins and helps A, but B decides to unite with C to fight A and D … an endless web of enmities.
Yes, the photos got progressively drunker! For the last 2.5 years (since Trump started his presidential run) the internet and world have been very depressing. I am glad you found some happiness here. 🙂
Really cool entry and great shots. I can almost smell the salt sea and the beer.
Thanks for sharing.
Thank you Bill.
Any night that devolves into karaoke is a great night, but on the beach with beer and food and strangers would be irresistible. I would have loved to be there! (And I like your plan for world peace.)
Often times in travel it is the completely unexpected that make the best experiences. Before we go, we know what sites we sill see, but we can never predict what sort of serendipitous adventures we will find.
The image in my head of Trump and Kim doing karaoke is going to leave a smile on my face all day. I couldn’t agree with you more that most of us just want peace, happiness , and hanging out with friends and family (the shrimp sound good too). I think they need you in Washington DC Jeff. Love your plan!
I put in a call to D.C. this morning. I’ll keep you updated!
This might be my favorite Jeff post to date. Also, the best plan I’ve heard for world peace. I’m on board.
Alright! I looks like 3 or 4 of us are on board now. This is how a movement starts.
Jeff, I so enjoyed this post. If only we could all experience this kind of random connection with people in various parts of world. I couldn’t agree with you more, we are all just people in search of similar things in life. This has been my experience in any of my travels & one I always refer back to when I hear the war of political bullshit that inundates us on a daily basis. Thank you for sharing this wonderful piece.
I am often struck by just how similar we are all over the world. I remember watching a soccer/football match in Egypt with some local guys and thinking how they are just like southerners watching football/American football on Saturday mornings. I am happy you’ve had the same experiences.
Oh what a party! It sounds like so much fun. Great photos, and I think it’s the best plan for world peace I’ve ever heard!
It was a great time, probably the highlight of our trip!
We all connected, and I suppose that Karoake could bring it out in a moment!
Yes, for better or worse! Something about karaoke on the beach tempered all the bad singing.
Jeff, Vietnamese hooch and karaoke on the beach sounds (and looks) like a party to me. Hope for the future is always good and, as you say, is in short supply these days. We just spent a couple of weeks in Ireland and are in Belgium now, and no one, thank goodness, has mentioned our simple-minded, dangerous president. Maybe that’s hope too. BTW, did the BeeGees make into the rotation? ~ James
That is very kind of the Irish and Belgians to not mention the thing we do not want to talk about. That shows a mixture of class and restraint!
I really don’t know if the BeeGees made it into the rotation – I don’t remember much, actually. If I didn’t have those photos, I may have forgot it happened altogether!
omg Jeff, I love this story!! Karaoke as a mechanism to world peace … it’s brilliant 🙂
Occasions like this one are the ones we remember and treasure!
Very true. It is the unplanned experiences we have when we travel that are the best.
I can TOTALLY see Kristi doing karaoke, and especially Blondie. I think I need to visit someday to experience it in person. I’ll buy the alcohol.
Sounds like a plan! Jess Caskey was here about 1.5 years ago so you can be the 2nd former HR colleague to make it over.
Someday! I have several friends in Thailand I need to visit at some point.
Hahaha, nothing better than karaoke to bond over…music is indeed universal, kudos for taking the microphone in public…or perhaps the drinking helped as much…haha…I still prefer my karaoke behind closed doors but I guess, it works this way as well…:)
This karaoke could be heard all over the beach and nearby restaurants. I am sure more than a few people had their romantic dinner ruined by our singing!
Hahahaha! Free entertainment for all then! 😉
Jeff I have missed your writing a great deal. Brilliant idea. Karaoke machines to all governments immediately. I love that complete strangers can come together and have such fun. I could match you in window cracking trauma inducing singing voice. I’ll be on the tambourine.
Good to see you back. I too was missing in action for the summer. Love the B&W’s, I missed your stories and wit.