Mama the merry Prankster 

copyright 1998, James Waldron Design, all rights reserved 

Mama Hahns Green Hat Tour 
Nha Trang 
N 12 deg. 14.327 min. 
E 105 deg. 51.082 min. 

I first heard about Mama Hahn from two travelers in Koh Phi Phi Thailand. I hadn't even planned on going to Vietnam, but after a discussion with these two Australians, and their glowing report about Mama Hahn, coupled with their reported ease of travel in the country, I decided to visit. 

Mama Hahn is either the most decadent Communist in the country, or it's shrewdest entrepreneur. Her trip is not in any of the guide books. Promotional material doesn't exist in local hotels, but she is known by everyone throughout the tourist industry in the country. It's a very simple idea. Give the tourists what they want on the sea. And what they want is a nice ride in the harbor, lots of good food, some fun music, lots to drink, and as an added bonus to some, free dope. 

If you have ever been out on a boat or lake and passed by the boat that is having the most fun, and wanted to be on that boat, this is the trip for you. Forty-five of us went on my trip, mostly budget backpackers. Mama Hahn sets the tone with her introduction. "Everything on Mama Hahn boat is free. Free swimming, free food, free wine, free fucked-up. Mama Hahn is free too baby. But listen to Mama Hahn. Don't be lazy on my boat. No fucked up, no fun, so don't be lazy." Simple enough, the party boat needs full concentration. 

After a short journey we anchored and the whole boat piled off into the crystal sea to snorkel around a nice coral reef. The staff tosses life rings down for everyone to float  and chat with. Mama is back in the kitchen of the boat preparing lunch with five bamboo-hat-wearing helpers. 

After the hour swim the patrons retire to the top deck for sunning. Slowly, the staff begins to bring on the food. Dish by dish the delicasies arrive. Grilled fish, squid, tofu, noodles, crab, rice, vegetables, snails, shrimp. Just around ten dishes to choose from, and ten dishes of each, spread across the top deck of the boat. Everyone sits along side the feast and munches away with chopsticks. The tastes are wonderful and diverse and the food stretches the 35 foot length of the boat. An amazing spread

Just after lunch the real fun begins. The floating bar opens. Mama dives into the sea with a life ring, some swim fins and thirty or so bottles of red wine in a cooler. The entire boat empties out after her and crowds the bar while Mama spouts her, "Don't be lazy!" phrase and accosts the men visitors. She is a gentle woman for someone who is jamming the neck of a wine bottle in your mouth and forcing you to guzzle until she decides you've had enough. This is usually well past the time YOU think you've had enough. 

After the wine her trusty sidekick, a Swiss guy who has been on 75 consecutive trips this summer, passes around a fist full of joints he has been busily preparing during the entire trip. After an hour of such debauchery the inevitable belly-flop competition from the top of the boat starts amongst the drunkest patrons, and points are awarded for the most painful water entries. For those less inclined to damage themselves, the cooks now become manicurists and masseuses, offering reasonable price attention with a great view of the sea

The afternoon continues with a fruit feast rivalling lunch, with fifteen or so local tasty delights spread once again over 100 plates. Mama turns into disc jockey at this point, spewing witicisms over a megaphone and spinning tunes heavily weighted towards the early 1970's music popular when the Americans were in town. 

So after daily drunken excursions with rowdy tourists for at least three years is mama Hahn a wasted drunk? Seems that way, but every day she's getting between 25 and 100 folks shelling out the 7 bucks to do it again. One has to wonder what she was doing in 1975 when Saigon fell, and how much she has to pay to the local authorities to run her tour like she does. It sure beats selling cigarettes on the street like everyone else in Vietnam. 

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© (1998) James Waldron Design --