I bought Teo Em ! Yay for pirate DVD vendors !

So here’s a funny story.. at Tet (Lunar New Year) this year, my wife and I went to see Teo Em. It was a cool movie. I posted about it on Facebook.Yi REALLY loved it though. She kept trying to find it on Youtube and complaining it wasn’t there. I said “The DVD release won’t be for a while now… you won’t find it on YouTube”.

Well, tonight I was sitting on my balcony with Daniel DeGrood drinking rum and chilling while Yi lay inside watching TV dramas… when I saw a dude ride past on his typical 3-wheeled DVD-selling tricycle with the wooden boombox at the front full of pirated DVD’s.

Well, from the balcony I could clearly see he had a piece of paper on the side of his wooden cart with his latest, popular titles shown. One was “Teo Em”. I ripped open the door and screamed “YI ! YI ! COME HERE ! QUICKLY !” and she jumped up like I’d lit a fire under her and said “What what ?” as she rushed outside.

Pointing at the cart, I yelled “That guy ! He has Teo Em ! ON DVD!!!”. She said “OMG. I want it”, but the guy was already half-way down the street. I said “Do you wanna run after him and get it ? Go on.. He has it.. Go buy it !” But she declined. Daniel said “Go on man.. go buy it for her”. “But he’s so far away now,” I complained. “I’d have to run all the way downstairs and through busy Bui Vien… I won’t find him… or… will I … oh screw it.. OK !”

And I did… I ripped open the door and slammed it so hard behind me the foundations of the house shook and tore down the stairs so fast that the boss’s brother and his friends who were downstairs drinking and having a late dinner leapt up in surprise. I all but LEAPT over their small stool of Chao Gio and tuong ot and raced out the door like a madman, holding up my pants as I pelted down the street as fast as I could.

Well, thankfully, life moves pretty slow in Bui Vien at 1 in the morning, so I caught up with him before De Tham street and yelled “Em ! EM ! DOI DOI DOI ! YOOOOO !” and he turned around and looked at me in surprise.

I ran up to him and without having even lost my breath, said “Teo Em ! Phim Teo Em !” and his eyebrows went up and he laughed and reached for it.. he knew exactly where it was.. it was an advertised product.

I let out a whoop as he passed me the DVD and clutched it to my chest proudly and then asked “Co Dau Dai Chien Hai ?” … he looked blank even after I repeated it twice. My massage guy turned up and I turned to him in desperation and said “You know the movie.. with the guy who screws over the girls with proposals and they all try and kill him. I want it.. You know the name.. say it.. he doesn’t understand my accent”. He was lost. I guess he was too old and male to know a popular female movie like that.

Two guys from the cafe outside which we had stopped were sitting their leaning forward, grinning their asses off. One asked “Which DVD ? What ?” I said “You know.. Co Dau Dai Chien… the movie with the brides… it came out this new year and last new year. I want the new one !” He turned to the guy and repeated exactly what I’d already said, but with a better accent. He understood and began flipping through DVD’s.

Sadly he didn’t have it. I think he would have known if he had, because that movie would be hella popular.. probably more than Teo Em if it was available. He came up blank and I searched my mind for something else to ask him for.

“Ly Hai ! Ly Hai !” I recalled, my good friend Uyen having recently told me the name. He recognised it straight away and pulled one out instantly.. “Ly Hai ? OK !” he said. I grabbed it.

By this time the Vietnamese cafe guys were cracking up laughing. They asked “Music ? not movie ?”. “No,” I said. “Phim Nhac ! I like Ly Hai, Wanbi, Luong Bich Huu”.. they chuckled.

“Minh Hang !” I exclaimed suddenly. They both said “Ohhhh, Minh Hang ?” “Yes,” I said. “She is a good friend of Wanbi. I like her too”. The guy closest to me slapped the table in time with his laughter and said “How you know so much Vietnam music man ?”

I just said “I know. I want these ones”. The guy kept pulling out other crap saying “English movie ? Sexy movie ?”. The two guys kept pulling out his porn DVDs and holding them up and I kept shaking my head vigorously saying “No. I tell you what I want. No English movie. No sexy movie. Only want these Vietnam movies and singers !”

The guy tried, with the help of the amused onlookers to fulfil my requests, but in the end I settled on just my Ly Hai music DVD and my Teo Em movie DVD. He wanted $5 and I laughed and offered him $3 and he equally laughed and pretended to be offended. (Realistically, they should have been about a dollar each, but even if I can speak some Vietnamese and know the names of the singers and movies, I’m white as hell so I can’t buy those things for $1 each without driving a super hard bargain and the whole damn street had seen me piss-bolt down the street Jackie Chan style to reach this guy so he knew he had a sale).

He suggested $4 as I gave him $25… (I had no change) and he gave me back the $21 (I am converting for you.. this was all done in VND, not dollars) and I whined and said “muoi nghin !”, wanting 50 cents further discount. He started to respond and I knew we were going to haggle for a minute over 25 cents difference so I just grinned and slapped him on the shoulder and said “Cam on Em !” and then waved to the two Vietnamese cafe employees who’d been enthusiastically helping me and laughing at me at the same time and said “Thanks for the help guys. Have a good night” and I ran off with my change.

When I got back to the house, the people downstairs already knew what I was doing. Someone had been out to the street to see what I was up to.. they were curious. They asked “Music DVD ?” and I said “No.. new Vietnamese film, Teo Em. My wife and I saw this over Tet and she loves it. I had to buy it for her”. They all laughed and smiled.

It was a crazy moment. A precious little bit of craziness that amused the street for a moment as the fat white Aussie bolted down the street leaping over stools and dodging motorbikes in order to catch the pirate DVD vendor.

Just one of those moments in Saigon I guess :D

Hope you like the story. We’re gonna watch Teo Em in the morning and enjoy it. Yi was so excited she asked “Can we watch it now ?”. I said “No honey.. it’s 1am.. we’ll watch it tomorrow. Are you happy I bought it ?”

“Yes. Very happy”.

Well.. that’s why I did it, right ? :D


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