I still can’t believe I’m writing this, but my nerves have finally calmed enough to get it down.  I’ll start by saying that before the trip, our little family talked a lot about what we hoped wouldn’t happen on the trip.  We talked about all four of us staying together as much as possible, and never going somewhere alone (even to the toilet).   We practiced circling up and watching each other if one person was talking to a stranger – we used that one during our RATP episode in Paris.   We also talked about how to meet up again if we got separated on the subway.  Several  of our fears finally caught up to us in Vietnam.

Rain was coming down in sheets.  Karen, the kids and I, and everything we had was soaked to the core.  The cab driver wouldn’t let up, and kept stepping in front of me when I tried to walk by.  I had put my already soaked bags on the ground so I could use my hands to help communicate that we no longer wanted his cab, ’cause I’ll be derned if I was gonna give him my business after the ridiculous badgering.

He stepped toward me with his right foot and right hand and I honestly thought he was going to take a swing at me after all of the yelling.  I’m going to try to describe in detail what happened next, because I can see it clearly in my mind and want share the story without missing anything.  Most of you know that Caleb and I have taken martial arts for the last 8 years, and my natural reaction was to take a half-step back with my right foot and bring my hands into the “I don’t want to fight” position (which in reality gets my guards up with my hands open).   So that’s how I was standing when I saw my wallet in his outstretched right hand!

This whole scenario was so scary and crazy!  Well, I had hoped to never have to use them but Caleb and I had practiced disarming techniques at Desoto TKD, Bailey’s Karate, and Grandmaster Dong’s, and my reaction was the same.  I twisted my left hip forward, grabbing his right arm behind the wrist with my left hand.  Quickly twisting back, I smashed my right palm against the back of his hand and my small wallet flew to the ground.  I wish that was the end of the story, but I couldn’t stop the muscle memory that finished the technique: I automatically made a quick step across with my right foot (right to left, between our bodies) and torqued his wrist and arm down and back.  I think everyone on the block heard him yell – even over the noise of the pounding rain – as I stood over him and the pressure was applied to his wrist and shoulder.  Of course, this is what the officer under the canopy down the street saw when he looked up after he heard the scream.  So here I am, in Hanoi, trying to communicate what happened to an officer who speaks absolutely no English, and trying desperately to explain that I (the one he saw hurting the Vietnamese driver) am the good guy!

I was trying, looking at Karen, praying that we wouldn’t wind up in another one of the hope it never happens scenarios – jail in Asia.  Just when I thought the cuffs were going to come out, Anna yelled “Daddy!”  The family had circled, just like we practiced, and I turned just in time to see the driver coming at me again, this time with his fist!   I was surprised and didn’t have a chance to do anything.  I was as good as hit, but he didn’t get to me.  Caleb was watching too, and he raised his left foot – right into the guy’s stomach!  I guess that finally convinced the officer, and he grabbed the doubled-over driver and shouted something very loudly at us and waved us away.  We grabbed our bags and bolted, grabbing a cab for anywhere as quickly as possible.

And here is the craziest part of all.  Back during the initial shouting match, K said to the kids “This is nuts!  It’s like something on YouTube.”  SO ANNA RECORDED THE WHOLE THING!!!  I’m not sure I will ever look at it again, and I really don’t want it on YouTube going viral, but you can check out the video below to relive this unbelievable affair.


Ummm hmmm...Thanks for reading this fictional account of events in Hanoi. You may now return to the usual, factual posts.

Yeah, right…Thanks for reading this fictional account of events in Hanoi. You may now return to the usual, factual posts.



Everyone we met in Vietnam was, without fail, absolutely a pleasure to be around.  Smiles were part of the landscape, “Hello’s” came from every adult and child, and we met nothing but helpful, friendly people everywhere.  Even the sellers were so nice, I found myself buying things because I liked them:  “Please look in my shop. If you like nothing, say no thank you and smile and I’ll be happy.  If you like, you buy and we both happy and me lucky to meet you.”  A beautiful place with beautiful people.  I promise the rest of the posts will be more realistic, now that I have this out of my system.  – ALaff

2 thoughts on “Hanoi

    1. 4laffs Post author

      Ha, sorry. Tried to make it believable by sprinkling in some facts. Actually, the first paragraph is entirely true up until the last sentence. We talked through many different scenarios since we were travelling as a family. As for the line with the different martial arts schools and the technique described… Caleb and I have advanced degrees from 2 of those schools, and learned a lot from our time in another. Glad we haven’t actually had to use the information thus far, and hope we never have to!

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