The man that had served us dinner came over to talk to me. He said that he knew that we had seen what happened to the dog, and that this is why he chained up his dog (above) at night. It was his neighbor that was cooking the dog, however someone who had passed by earlier had poisoned the dog that died. I asked why they would eat a dog without knowing what poison he has been given, but he said that he didn’t know. I could tell that he was trying to comfort me, however I don’t think that his story was the truth because we saw the lady from across the road give the dog something just before he died.
Whisper Bungalow, Cat Ba Island, Vietnam:
Once the rest of our tour group had returned to the boat, to make their way to Cat Ba City, we sat down to relax for the evening. Only four of us had decided to stay at the bungalows for the evening. Cleo and Mark(from the Netherlands), Justin and myself. Valentino told us to relax, have a few drinks, and that dinner would be served at 6pm, in the thatched roof restaurant. We chose sleeping in the jungle over the city because we wanted an authentic experience… Well, we got exactly that!
As we sat observing people go by, we thought about how different our lives were to those living here. The locals would wander by leading a cow, or followed by 6 chickens. Life is simple here.
There were two dogs running around in the path near where we sat. While “people watching” we saw the lady who lived across the road arrive home on her motorbike. The two dogs jumped for her attention. She rubbed the one on the head, and we noticed her give a treat to the quieter dog. At the time, we thought nothing of it.
As night started to fall, we were amazed at how quiet and peaceful the surroundings were. Once again we joked that we had been led into the jungle by crazy Valentino, and that he was never coming back to get us. We were left with instructions to wake up early and ride our bicycles to the pier that we arrived at. Valentino said that he would be there waiting for us.
We sat here for quite a while. There were no other English speakers in sight, so the four of us chatted for a couple of hours sharing life and travel stories. We played some card games and had a few beers.
If you look closely, you will notice that our bikes are parked under the tress in the picture above. This is where we left them when we arrived. Justin and I were allocated the bungalow just to the right of the tree. On a trip to use the toilet, I noticed one of the earlier spotted dogs stretched out underneath my bike. I remember taking note of this because he chose to take a rest under MY bike. He didn’t respond as I made my way to the bungalow, and I thought nothing of it.
Once I got to my bungalow (right picture above) I noticed the other dog that we had seen earlier. He was resting at my door, almost as though he was waiting for me. I thought this was adorable, so I left the door open while I went inside. He didn’t enter, he just sat at the door looking in at me. Now honestly, people say that dogs don’t have emotions, but I felt something for this dog, and he seemed drawn to me. If I could have, I would have taken him home with me. I guess I’m just a sucker for dogs!
When I exited the bungalow and locked up, I sat down next to him to play with him for a while. Off to the left, an old lady appeared. She was laughing and mumbling in Vietnamese. I rose up to see what she was on about. When I walked towards her, she motioned to the dog. It seemed like she was telling me to keep playing with the dog, so I touched him a bit more. Each time I straightened up to walk away, she would tell me to touch him again. She never stopped laughing, and I started to get confused. Eventually I decided to go back to the others *this lady seemed crazy*, but as I walked passed the sleeping dog, the lady pulled me over towards it. Now she looked delighted that I loved dogs, and she wanted me to touch that one too (I think… I don’t know for sure, but she was pointing at the dog, laughing, and making a rubbing motion with her hand). I moved closer to the dog, hoping that he didn’t wake with a fright, because I didn’t want to get bitten. At this point the other dog was standing at my side. When my hand was inches from the dog, I realized that he wasn’t sleeping!! I asked the lady if he was dead. I used a knife to my neck kind of motion to indicate death… and she bellowed over with laughter. She seemed pleased with this whole situation.
Suddenly I felt a little bit sick.
I walked towards Justin, Mark and Cleo, and told them what had just happened. Perhaps I am too much of a dog lover, but I honestly wondered whether someone would bury him. The others suggested that he had been killed, and we started to wonder if the dog had been poisoned purposefully. This was the same dog that had been running around, just near us, an hour before. Then it dawned on us… The woman had given that dog something as she arrived home, but she didn’t give anything to the other dog.
We were very confused.
A few minutes later, a man appear from behind the house across the road. He made his way to the dead dog, and picked it up by all four legs. The way that he carried it was the same way that a butcher would carry dead meat. He took the dog behind the house, and then came back carrying some wood. We watched him make a fire, and as he did, a sick feeling settled inside me… Was he about to cook this dog?
I have met many people along the way that admit that they have eaten dog while traveling in Asia. In fact, some people that have, and seemingly love, dogs say that they would eat dog meat. Many say that dogs are no more special than pigs or cows. I guess that it comes down to personal opinion. Justin and I cannot understand this desire to eat dog meat. We think that it is ridiculous to want to eat the same species of animal that we have grown up loving all of our life. I do understand that in some countries, like Vietnam, there are so many stray dogs that eating them is done almost out of necessity for meat. However, I still feel disgusted by this thought, and I never will purposefully eat dog meat. Fortunately, the feeling was mutual between Mark, Cleo, Justin and I.
With two hours remaining until dinner would be served, we sat watching the man mysteriously build a fire… We had a sick feeling that the dead dog was being prepared for us.
We saw the man put a pot of water on top of the fire, and then he disappeared again. Cleo and I were feeling ill, and we couldn’t stop staring across the road, waiting to see if we could pick up any other clues. The worse part is that even though I didn’t want to see the man cooking the dog… I was so extremely inquisitive that I could not stop turning my head each time I heard a movement in that direction.
There soon came a loud chopping sound. It might have been an ax. We listening closely again, waiting for more noises. Suddenly the man appeared, and walked to the front of the house. He got on his motorbike and sped away.
I made my way to the area above to see what was going on. I couldn’t see anything.
The suspense was killing us!!
I chickened out, and ran back to the table to sit with the others. I then begged Justin to go and take a look. I thought that because he is taller, maybe he would be able to see over the wall. I told him to take the camera!
Justin did see something, but the picture above was all that he could get. As he peered through some poles, he saw a man fanning a fire. Above the fire were two metal spokes coming out of a concrete block. Mounted on top of the metal spokes was the something….
While Justin was looking the rest of us kept a lookout for the guy on the motorbike. We were nervous that he would come back when Justin was trying to get a closer look.
After holding the camera up to take a photo, and not being able to get a good one, Justin started to walk back to us. Then, all the sudden he thought, This is Vietnam (I’m just going to do it!!), Justin made his way right up to the man at the fire and asked him if he could take a picture. We don’t know if he was shy, or if he felt bad, but the man shook his head, so Justin walked away.
An hour later we made our way to the restaurant area above.
The big question remained: What was for dinner?
As we were seated for dinner and same plates were brought over, we asked the question that had been burning in our minds. The man said, “Dog soup” but then he smiled and placed fish and some other vegetable dishes in front of us. His English was good, and he must have heard us freaking out abut the dog being poisoned and cooked, so he tried to joke about it to lighten the mood.
After dinner I was sitting just outside the restaurant trying to call my friend on Skype. Amazingly enough, the restaurant area had wifi. I sat with the dog that had earlier waited for me outside my bungalow.
If you don’t care about dogs being eaten, then it doesn’t matter. Does it?
If you’re a dog lover, like we are then you I’m sure you’ll understand
how sick this kind of thing makes us feel.
There were only two tables eating, so we joined together to play some games and enjoy each others company. All of us had to wake up early the following morning, so we knew that staying up late would make that morning bike ride difficult.
Beer is very cheap in Vietnam
Mark and Cleo spoke Dutch, and the other couple you can see were Afrikaans South Africans, so Justin barely understood a word any of them said. I felt quite a home 🙂
We managed to make a pyramid from all of the beer cans that we finished.
Unfortunately, the last can collapsed the pyramid!
Mark and Cleo
In a game we were playing, you had a draw an eight to be allowed to go to the toilet… Justin had gone a few rounds without an eight, and he was bursting at this point. We had a lot of fun hanging out with some cool people. Staying in the bungalows was DEFINITELY the best choice!
We went back to the bungalow to go to sleep. We tried to hang the mosquito net…
But we ended up just sleeping with it over us because it was the wrong size!