This is a post from guest blogger Roy, who I met while traveling in India.
I know you're probably expecting Kat, but unfortunately you've got this monotonous-voiced alcoholic instead, who, in case you're interested, calls himself "The Drinking Traveler".
This video is brought to you from Ho Chi Minh City (formerly - and actually still today - known as Saigon), Vietnam. You're about to watch me drink snake's blood whisky. Actually whisky is a commonly used mistranslation, probably owing to the reddish colour lended to it by the snake's blood. Snake wine, another term I've heard slung around a lot, also falls short of the mark. Vodka might be a better translation but still not quite right. In fact, it's their local rice spirit.
The dead snake inside is posed with either its own tail or the tail of a scorpion in its mouth and I'm told this has something to do with the Buddha.
Friends and doctors have warned me that the snake may well carry parasites and that its blood could give me Hepatitis. However, the local Lao and Vietnamese assure me that it's good for my virility, and as an added bonus can cure Rheumatism and Arthritis.
I've encountered this drink across Myanmar, Laos and Vietnam; in liquor stores, in Ban Xang Hai (the "whisky village" just up-river from Luang Phrabang) and in Hanoi's famous "36 streets", but only now have I plucked up the courage to try it.
The eating and drinking of snakes plays an important role in South East Asian culture and spiritual beliefs but, though it can still be found in most small communities, it is becoming less common due to pressure from medical bodies and animal rights groups in the West.
I'm pretty sure it's illegal, at least when the king cobra's concerned. This would explain why the shop-keeper disappeared so quickly when she saw I was going to drink it on camera.
I've seen this spirit infused with snakes, scorpions, geckos, squid, spiders and countless other creatures you wouldn't want to see in a bottle you're about to drink from.
For a second I doubted whether the snake was in fact dead, or whether it was just drunk, waiting for me to open the bottle so it could strike.
Actually, it didn't taste at all bad. If I die, I'll let you know.
Thanks Kat for letting me take part in your series!
Roy - The Drinking Traveler
While it is illegal to import snake's blood wine into the United States (CNN: 2009), I couldn't find anything about it being illegal in Vietnam. In fact, snake's blood wine is considered to be a traditional form of Eastern medicine originating from China. The beverage remains culturally significant throughout Indochina, particularly Vietnam, as described in Marc Passion's Travel Extraordinaire,
The snake in Vietnamese culture is considered a mystical creature with healing properties. Eating the still beating heart and drinking its warm blood mixed with local vodka has been tradition for generations (Passion: 2008).
NomadiKat doesn't advocate for the consumption of endangered species, but it is appreciated when travelers step out of their comfort zones in an attempt to embrace local customs. So here's to Roy's sexual virility - hope that works out for ya, buddy. Perhaps the next time you're in Chicago, you can try Tacocorp's "Three Penis Wine" (Schaffer, The League: 2009).
Passion, Marc. "Drinking Snake Blood on the Meekong." Travel Extraordinaire. Marc Passion Travel, 30 July 2008. Web. 26 May 2014. <http://www.marcpassiontravel.com/drinking-snake...
Phillips, Rich. "Name Your Poison: Snake Wine Seized at Airport." CNN. Cable News Network, 7 May 2009. Web. 26 May 2014. <http://www.cnn.com/2009/CRIME/05/...
Schaffer, Jackie M., and Jeff Schaffer. "The League." 3 Penis Wine Infomercial. YouTube, 2009. Web. 26 May 2014. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OuEf-x...
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