What is the Saigon Kiss, you ask? Urban Dictionary defines it as:
A small burn left on the inner calf of the right leg, typically caused by a cheap Asian motorbike exhaust pipe.
Yup that’s it.
While getting off the back of a motorbike the other night, I made the critical mistake of sliding off to the right side instead of the left. This side of the bike is where the exhaust pipe is. And lo and behold, this particular exhaust pipe didn’t have a cover.
For a whole month in Cambodia and now nearly two months in Vietnam, I’ve been SO good about avoiding this! I’d read that motorbike burn is a very common traveler ailment in Southeast Asia, and I actually thought I could defy the odds. I very conscientiously dismount on the left side every single time – just ONE brain fart and now I’ve got a nasty burn on my leg. Ug! I curse you, Saigon Kiss!
Remember that totally awesome scene in “Fight Club” (one of my fave movies of all time), where Edward Norton’s character beats the shit out of himself in his boss’s office? That’s what I do to myself mentally whenever I make a foolish mistake. As soon as I realized what I’d done, I was so upset at my stupidity that I didn’t even feel the pain. I berated myself out loud for five minutes and kicked a wall (with the injured leg, no less, ha – stupid). I had a lovely audience as well, and these onlookers sat back and enjoyed the show while drinking their beers and smoking their cigarettes. Just another day in Saigon, they mused, I’m sure.
And THEN the pain set in. F*ck it hurt. I applied some cream medication at my cousin’s house, only to be told that the burn would probably blister the size of a golf ball the next day. Fortunately, it didn’t. Phew! My burn is pretty minor, but it is starting to blister a little and will likely leave a scar.
This wouldn’t be my first travel scar. I’ve always been a bit of a klutz and often joke that my daily life is an episode of Mr. Bean. Just over a month after I embarked on this world journey last year, I fell flat on my face while running to catch a bus in New Zealand. Literally, flat on my FACE. Not even two little hands to catch the fall – I fell face-first into the pavement while carrying a heavier-than-usual load in my backpack. If you’ve ever seen someone with a fresh head injury, you know that it is a terribly bloody mess. It looked like somebody tried to murder me. Fortunately, I live to tell the embarrassing tale, and it only cost me a trip to the emergency room, two stitches, a black eye and a permanent scar on my face.
I knew that living out my travel dreams would come with some unpleasant moments. And I’m pretty good about going with the flow and taking in every adventure, good and bad. But I am SO over injuries and scars! This Saigon Kiss can kiss my ass.