Location: Hanoi, Vietnam
It was another sweltering afternoon in Hanoi. (Read: the heat here gets trapped in the asphalt and thick concrete walls of all the buildings and radiates out of them like an oven. I seriously wonder sometimes when I’m walking down the street if I’m being slowly cooked alive.) I was hiding in our air-conditioned room at Lamfingo Hotel, researching possible activities for Cody’s upcoming birthday, when I stumbled upon Vinpearl Water Park. Ooh, I thought, now that sounds refreshing. As I read more about it, I became intrigued; not only did it include multiple adult-appropriate slides, a full-sized swimming pool, and a wave pool, but it was actually located inside a mall. And not just any mall; it was one of several activities available in the seven story high monument to materialism known as Royal City, a name I found quite fitting. The enormous structure was financed by a billionaire and also boasted a bowling alley, skating rink, high-rise apartment complex, art gallery, piano, 4D movie theatre, gym, plenty of fancy restaurants, and a convenience store. It sounded like the ultimate play place for several inebriated adults celebrating a twenty-fourth birthday.
That was a few days ago. Today, I report to you as a happy customer of Vinpearl Water Park. You know those television ads in which they interview fake customers about their satisfaction with a product or service? If those were real (spoiler alert, they’re not), I would volunteer to represent Vinpearl and all its chlorinated, fun park goodness in a heartbeat.
It was a Friday night and we waited until evening so we could get a discount. I highly recommend this; it’s much cheaper and who can last more than a few hours at a waterpark without suffering from over-pruned fingers and toes, anyway? I think the best part, even more glorious than the five-story high slides and nonexistent lines was the nearly-total lack of supervision. There were only a handful of workers visible in the entire park and I wasn’t warned once not to run on the slippery floors. Did I fall several times? Did I end up bruising my hip and both knees when I went down a slide the wrong way? YES BUT WHO CARES BECAUSE FREEDOM.
There’s one slide in particular I have to mention because of it’s pure, unadulterated epicness (and I know that word is overused and so 2009 but sometimes it’s just required). Now, it’s not for anyone who is claustrophobic, nyctophobic, basiphobic, or acrophobic. Seriously. You climb up about five stories and the ride operator points you to a mysterious, human-sized test-tube. You stand in the tube on a circular platform, cross your arms over your chest and cross your legs. Then the operator presses a big green button. A plastic case snaps across the front, closing you off completely from the world. An ominous beeping sounds three times. Then the floor just drops out from under you and your body is whisked away down a tight, completely black, nearly vertical tube half-filled with water. You can barely breathe, you can’t see, you don’t have time to think. It’s fast, exhilarating, and absolutely freaky, especially when mid-beeping you begin to wonder what kind of amusement park safety regulations Vietnam has anyway...
We’d ridden everything a few times and were beginning to wear down when we figured out that the kiddie area had a pump gun that you twisted to build pressure and then shoot water. Cody was taking a turn on it when, underestimating his The-Rock-like strength and the overestimating the engineering of the kid’s toy piping, he tugged the pump too hard. There was a snap and a crack appeared in the metal. And then water began to burst through that crack with a sudden violence that caused Cody to scramble backward and shout at me to get out of the otherwise empty kiddie area.
As we bolted, I saw the water spurting into the air with a force that could rival Old Faithful. How long could that metal pipe hold before it snapped entirely? We met up with everyone at the lockers and as we gathered our things to leave, I noticed workers shouting and running toward the broken pipe. It was time to split.
Entrance fee, after discount: <$10
Beer at Royal City’s convenience store: $1 per can