Taking the Long Way travel blog

Me and a snake

A little cobra

Heading to the snake restaurant

The slicing and ripping begins

Collecting the blood

Bleeding the snake

Bottoms up!

The heart IS there but can't be seen through the blood

The leftover snake carcasses

Snake soup

Snake bone dip

Plain old snake meat

Snake and seaweed rolls

Snake spring rolls

Snake spare ribs

Snake skin and liver, with garlic (as if that would make it...


Given that I've been to Vietnam before and spent quite awhile travelling around, there is alot of places I've been to and sights I've already seen. So when I saw a trip heading out to Snake Village my ears pricked up and I paid to head out there, without even finding out what it was all about. All I knew was that I hadn't been there before and it included a free dinner; that was all I figured I needed to know.

I was oh so wrong.

It started out tame enough, a drive through the city and out to a village on the outskirts of Hanoi to a snake handling place. I did the obligatory holding of the snake and having my photo taken then out came the cobras and a variety of other snakes. There were a few bottled snakes and I knew from past experience that the Vietnamese are a big fan of snake wine, which is their traditional rice wine with a snake left to ferment in it, so I thought we might be going to try some of that.

After a walk around the snake 'farm' and the village we went into the over-water resturant to have dinner. But first... Out came the bag of snakes of which one was selected, cut open, bled into a cup and the heart ripped out and put into a shot glass with a blood and ricewine mix and we were each expected to drink it down, all the while the heart was STILL beating in the shot glass. And there was one snake for each of us...

I was a bit apprehensive, after all its not everyday that one swallows a live snake heart, but everyone else was downing their hearts with gusto and I didn't want to be the only chicken, so down it went. It really wasn't that bad, you don't chew; just swallow. So all you taste is the rice wine (which is pretty vile anyway).

I was pleased that part was over when they then brought out shot glasses filled with the snake bile for us to drink. It might not sound as bad as a beating heart but trust me, it was 10 times worse. The bile is the most awful thing I have ever tasted. Fortunately I then got a beer to wash it down.

But the worst was yet to come; the dinner was solely made from snake. I really don't know why I hadn't realised this would be the case, but there it was. Snake soup entree, snake bone dip, snake ribs (I kid you not), snake and seaweed rolls, snake spring rolls and finally, snake skin with liver. The snake spring rolls weren't bad, if you're into that sort of thing, but I don't think they will ever challenge the success of the Chicko roll back home.

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