**The following is a guest blog from Selective Asia**
“Why am I doing this? I thought to myself as our taxi drove across Hanoi’s Red River and away from the lights of the city. The streets our cab was navigating
were becoming increasingly narrow, there was no longer any sense of security to be felt by the view of neon signs or a thousand friendly cyclo (type of bicycle)
drivers trying to encourage you to hop on for a ride. Oh no, we were leaving everything that we knew and everywhere that we felt safe.
Why? Well, as the lone female in a group of competitive men on their holidays in Vietnam, I had somehow found myself agreeing to a late night visit to one
of Hanoi’s most bizarre tourist attractions – Le Mat or the ‘Snake Village’ as it had become better known among blood thirsty backpackers determined to do
something unusual. Namely, eat snake!
I let the boys take control of the ordering of our feast that evening and decided to rest my jelly-like legs and get in a round of much needed beers. As they returned
to the table laughing and joking (a little too hard) I was informed that that evening we would be eating cobra. I didn’t know whether that was a good thing
or a bad thing but it most certainly didn’t make me feel hungry.
The ‘show’ began with a young boy of around 14 presenting us with an infected wound where his index finger had once been. We were informed that he had
been handling the snake on an evening much like that night when the snake had made its bid for freedom by sinking its fangs into his finger.
Once that had been made clear, the boy bravely scooped one of our angry cobras out of a basket accompanied by our gasps of astonishment and my sheer terror.
After what seemed like hours of the cobra thrashing around, the boy whipped out a knife and cut the snakes throat. As it became lifeless in his hands, the boy
approached our table and topped up our shot glasses with its blood.
We all glanced at each other nervously before picking them up and knocking them back as quickly as we could. Just as I was struggling to keep that down, a
fresh glass full of the cobras bile was placed into my hand and I was downing that too. Neither of the shots were pleasant but according to local legend, cobra
blood makes you strong and I would no doubt need that added strength for my three week holiday with these boys.
Fortunately for me – that is where the excitement ended. I was more than happy to dine on the feast of snake soup, snake spring rolls, crispy snake skin and other
snake related treats that were put before us.
The boys however, had one last challenge – who would take the still beating cobra hearts? It’s safe to say that I have never witnessed a more nervous game
of “Rock, Paper, Scissors”. It was a good job they had already drunk the strength enhancing snake blood as swallowing those still pulsating hearts must have
taken a seriously strong stomach. Kudos to them.