So this is what the inside of the Huong Giang Hotel looked like 20 years ago. (The rooms have since been painted and spruced up.)
Somehow that screen up front transformed into a mosquito net frame and hidden poles around the other corners of the bed sprang into action to hold up the net.
Mozzies were not to be trifled with in Vietnam.
But this bed held other memories for me besides keeping out blood-thirsty mosquitoes.
Lieng, the guide who profited from the naivte of a young guilt-ridden American (moi), not only relieved me of US$700 that week, but also asked me to engage in a little project at night.
In this hotel room.
Nothing raunchy, mais oui, but emotionally taxing nonetheless.
He asked me to transcribe all the lyrics to all the songs on his Best of the Carpenters cassette.
Lieng didn’t own a cassette player and while his English sounded flawless (he’d worked for the US government in some mysterious capacity during the war), he painstakingly failed to comprehend every last word of his favorite group’s songs.
So every night after dinner, I returned to my hotel room and listened over and over and over again to Close to You, On Top of the World, We’ve Only Just Begun, There’s a Kind of Hush, Yesterday Once More, and countless others, scribbling out every single word to these songs.
And to this day, I can’t bear to listen to the Carpenters.