Photo of the week 2014 – Week seven

It was raining outside. It was that heavy continuous rain that goes on all day, so any plans we had were washed away before us. After watching the rain fall for what seemed like an eternity, Ben turned to me and said “how do you feel about eating a still-beating snake heart?”

Without the need for an answer, we walked out into the pouring rain, hailed down a xe ôm, a local moto-taxi, and rode towards Hanoi Snake Village, obviously the place you go to for eating snake in Vietnam.

Swerving in and out of the back streets of Hanoi, the Hanoi Snake Village is hidden away in a residential estate 20 minutes outside the city. Walking through a gated entrance, we were quickly greeted by Thu, our host for the afternoon.

Without anyone really speaking any English or explaining anything, it was pretty clear how you ordered your meal. Simply, you pointed to the snake that you wanted to devour and you were taken to you seat. Nothing more, nothing less.

After being told for years that size doesn’t really matter (though we all know it does), both Ben and I pointed to the two fattest snakes. We both came to the conclusion that this was probably a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, so we might as well a) make it last, and b) get our money’s worth by choosing a snake with some serious girth (how many times can you legitimately say that in a sentence?)

Anyway, 15 minutes later we were brought the first dish of our seven course feast – a still-beating snake heart in a shot of its own blood. And when I say a still-beating snake heart, I mean a still-beating snake heart.

With all the locals watching in anticipation, Ben and I looked at each other, and with a grin across our faces brought the dish to our lips and let the snake’s heart slip down our throats. The blood quickly followed with a chink of our shot glasses and a “bottoms up”.

Soon after the still-beating snakes heart in a shot of its own blood, we made our way through crispy snake skin, snake spring rolls, snake soup and snake meat (all good), as well as the entrails of its intestine, liver, kidneys and any other offal they could find in the thing (not so good). All of this was washed down with further shots of blood (this time diluted with Russian vodka) and snakes bile (bright green and without a doubt a lot worse to stomach than the blood).

By the end of the banquet and feeling slightly drunk, Ben and I stumbled outside, hailed down another xe ôm and headed back to our hostel in Hanoi with a sense of satisfaction, glad for the first time that day that it was still raining…