The day after Christmas started off fairly innocuously. We were dropped off with our bikes and our helmets on a dusty stretch of road, with nothing much in sight in any direction but rice paddies. It was a beautiful morning and I basked in the first sun we had had in days before climbing atop my aluminum steed.
Roughly an hour into our ride, our guide abruptly stopped his bike. Assuming this was just another water stop, I pulled my bike over to the side of the road – then noticed the thumping music coming out of the brightly colored tent with heart-shaped windows across the street. We had stopped at a Vietnamese wedding celebration.
Once the entire bike group stopped, our guide ran into the tent and re-emerged a minute later with the bride and groom. Our group – clad in bright spandex and helmets – joined the bride and groom to get a group photo. We all had a good laugh, shook hands, and started to get back on our bikes.
But as I started to pick up my bike, someone grabbed my arm with a vice-like grip. I turned, expecting to see Kim steering me out of some kind of imminent danger that I was blindly walking into. To my surprise, it wasn’t Kim, but a woman in a green dress. And she wasn’t steering me out of danger, but rather into the wedding tent – alongside the rest of our group.
In what seemed like the blink of an eye, I was inside the party tent, up on a stage and with a beer in my hand! Not knowing what else to do, I awkwardly danced to the thumping music that was playing, knowing all too well that Brian + spandex + dancing = a sight too ugly for words. (If you want a mental image of what that would look like, think of a marionette doll being controlled by someone who is being electrocuted – only the marionette’s body is a bowl of jiggling pork fat. It ain’t a pretty sight.)
As me and the rest of the biking group awkwardly danced on stage, the audience of about 120 Vietnamese was (thankfully) in fits of laughter. Not knowing what to do, we decided we should sing a song because, you know, when you group-crash a wedding in a foreign country, the first thing you should do is show off your karaoke skills.
There was a 30 year gap in age in the group, so finding a song we all knew was a bit of a challenge. Someone suggested Hotel California, but we couldn’t remember how it began. Someone blurted out that we should sing a Christmas song – it was the holiday season after all, and no one is immune to having every single Christmas carol lyric burned into their heads. So, it was decided: we’ll sing Jingle Bells.
So, let me recap here just a minute: in less than 3 minutes, I went from biking through rice paddies to crashing a wedding by being manhandled onto a stage, given a beer, and about to sing Jingle Bells to a Vietnamese wedding audience – all while in spandex biking clothing. Did I mention it was 10 in the morning?
Here’s a short video of the now-popular Vietnamese wedding song Jingle Bells:
Oh, and the worst part of it all? In the confusion of everything, I turned a little boy into my personal ventriloquist dummy.
Mercifully, Jingle Bells is a pretty short song. Once the song ended, I drank my beer faster than I ever have before and headed for the exit. As reimbursement for crashing their wedding a wedding gift, we handed the happy couple some money and retrieved our bikes.
Now, I know that one of the great things about traveling is that you never really know where the road might take you. But, never, in a million years, would I have ever guessed that my travels would give me a story that involves a bike, Christmas carols, and a Vietnamese wedding.