Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Vung Tau 2 - Gone to the dogs

After our excursion up Big Mountain, we retired to the hotel for a little nana-nap.  This was great, because it made our one-night holiday into a two-sleep holiday.  Sort of as if it was two nights.

It was after I woke up that I noticed the sunburn (it's bad) - and that kind of did put a little bit of damper onto the rest of the weekend for me, because it made me sun-shy.

Luckily for us, our next planned activity wasn't a day-time one.  After a great dinner at an Italian restaurant we decided to take our friend's advice, and get some excitement at the dog track!

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It was pretty fun.  I've never been to ay kind of races, and I didn't quite know wat to expect.  It was very family-friendly - as most things in Vietnam are - with little kids running all round the place.

When we first went in, there was a man standing by the entrance with his dog. The dog was sporting a cool set of sunnies and a big number 10.

I immediately decided to place all my bets on number 10, but of course it's only an 8-lane track, and there were no number 10s racing that day.

There was another man further around the track who had two pairs of puppies in a couple of play-pen style cages.  The puppies were very friendly, and the idea was to encourage kids to come up and pet them.  Of course, we were about as excited by that as the little kids were.  The little kids all had paper bags of candy-corn that they were sharing with the pups.  We didn't have any popcorn, but the man gave us each a small handful of doggie treats to give to our slobbery friends.  We couldn't get any decent photos of the pups, they were far too wriggly.  They were in excellent condition.  Most Vietnamese puppies that we have met so far have been all mangy and flea-ridden and mis-treated, but these guys were healthy and strong-looking with glossy coats and bright eyes.  Their fur was very soft, and their long pointy noses give them an air of sophistication that is really quite out of place - there is nothing very sophisticated about a licky waggly pup, really.

We went ritzy at the ticket booth, and bought VIP tickets.  They are double the price of regular tickets - a whole $3 each.  Being VIPs bought us access to the private air-conditioned bar upstairs, booking offices with no queues and a balcony view of the track. As Martin's mother says, you have to be in to win - so we laid bets on every race.  $1 on each race, for each of us. The idea was to pick a winner.  Did you know that when a greyhound poops on the track before the race, there is a great stir among the crowd as everyone rushes to change their favourites?

Shitty job!

My criteria for picking was mostly aesthetic, though I thought if they had pooped on the track then they were probably more likely to run faster.  Depending on the state of the poop.  In my opinion, a good dog is one with a nice smily expression, and a tail that points upwards a bit, or at least wags.  I was distrustful of the dogs with tails that hung flattish.  Also, it should look strong and maybe a bit unruly, and have no bandages - lots of the dogs have bandages on their ankles.  I also like dark dogs with white tips on their tails, or dogs with very uniform pale coats.  The pale ones remind me of racing camels.

I took this camel picture in Abu Dhabi in 2003. 
Not only did the camel-colour greyhound come in last,
it turned around and ran the wrong way in the final few metres!
 So, if you're planning on making a fortune at the dog races now you know how to bet - just pick any dog that doesn't fit the criteria above.  None of my dogs were winners.  Though  quite a lot of them did get second or third.  Martin picked two winners.  But because the ticket clerk misheard me and gave me a ticket for dog number 3 instead of dog number 2 on one of the races, he only got the payout for one of the bets.  Tripled his money, though!

This is the face of a man who is 64,000 dong richer!

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