Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Still, I'd leap in front of a flying bullet for you

At Ho Chi Minh City airport I was stopped at the boarding gate for the flight back to Hong Kong and asked to open my bag. After a thorough search nothing was found, but I was asked to put the bag through the x-ray machine again and then the officer searched one more time. Still nothing. I was getting a bit irate by this time, so a woman officer was called over (to handle me with more tact perhaps?) and she said that something which looked like a bullet was hidden in my bag.

My little perfume dispenser (currently containing Allure, as it happens) was a present from my brother-in-law and is a silver bullet-shaped object which has gone undetected in my makeup bag through countless airport security checks – in London Heathrow, Edinburgh, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur, Bali, Tokyo – even Singapore which has pretty efficient security.

Afterwards I realised that the Vietnamese are more attuned for people carrying bullets than most, as there is still a lot of ordinance lying around from the war which after all ended only 30 years ago: guidebooks tell you that in rural areas you shouldn’t stray from the path because of UXOs. Presumably you can pick up discarded bullets in a field behind someone’s house and they often catch people trying to smuggle bits of guns, helmets, military insignia, grenades, anti-personnel mines and other crackpot souvenirs.

I sprayed some perfume for them to demonstrate how harmless my “bullet” was – which was quite rude of me in retrospect; the place probably reeked for hours afterwards.

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