The Inside Scoop: Truthful Investigative Reporting From Around the World Bobsledding in Vietnam, Chapter 11

North Vietnamese Landscape by Carrie Riehl
North Vietnam by Carrie Riehl

The remote part of the thick wet Narada tropical rain forest in southern Hainan was a hellish place to train, but the jungle resembled the terrain in Vietnam. Gibbons howled at night and the monkeys and the assassination team were trailed by elusive and hungry clouded leopards. Camouflaged from head to toe in banana leaves, palm fronds, and swamp mud, Dig, Dug, Odd Job, and No Job were all but invisible. As they crawled forward cursing in at least five different languages, various devices exploded, vicious traps were avoided or sprung, including watery pits whose bottoms were lined with dung-covered punji sticks. Poisonous snakes slithered between the sharpened stakes. That night, back in the barracks, the exhausted four had just fallen into a deep sleep when Dig was suddenly awakened by the whap, whap, whap of helicopter blades.

Fifteen minutes later, Chew Fat stood before them dressed in a Triad ceremonial robe. “Plans have changed,” he said. “You are not being parachuted into the Vietnamese secret valley to kill the bobsledders. The mission has a zero chance of success as a Vietnamese Special Forces regiment has moved in to undergo mountain training. Those fucksticks are out there in the damn bush day and night by the hundreds. Are you ready for this boys; we are going to kill the entire monkey-humping Vietnamese bobsledding team in Sochi. Kim has made contact through the Al Qaeda Islamic State of Iraq with the Magomedov group in Ingushetia. Along with fighters from Chechnya, major attacks will be mounted on the Olympic village housing units of the Americans, the British, the French and those rat fucking Israelis.” Excited, Chew sputtered, “It will be gorgeous, beautiful, spectacular, sensational….better than ’72 in Munich and with any luck as good as 9-11. Fuck you Osama, here we come.” Dig, Dug, Odd Job and No job chorused simultaneously, “Okay Chew, okay Chew, shit, okay, we get it.” No Job quickly covered the “I love bid Laden” tee-shirt he was wearing.

Chew went on, “These pyrotechnics will create chaos, diversion, a kind of screen, and we will use these glorious suicide bombers as a cover to nail the bobsledders. Odd Job and No Job, you’ll take out the support team just as the sled leaves the starting gate. Do this quickly and then head for the rendezvous point. Dig, Dug, you’ll be waiting for the sled just as it rounds the last corner—say fifty yards from the finish line. So, pack, we’re leaving in half an hour for a plane to Hong Kong and on to Ingushetia. Oh, here are your Cuban and Venezuelan passports, assorted currencies, a couple of packs of rubbers, and four great Cuban cigars, compliments of Raoul, who wishes you great success with your mission.” Much to Chew’s consternation, Dig and Dug immediately eat their cigars.

Meanwhile, in the hidden valley in Vietnam it was a lovely tranquil evening. Nam and Bich had just finished dinner and were sipping the last of a bottle of French wine. Deciding to take a walk, they started down the moonlight trail that ran round the top of the mountain. Nam had struggled with the dramatic changes in Bich’s body, but he looked inside her and saw the purity of her soul. Stopping at a scenic overlook, the bright moonlight gave a deep purple hue to the mountains stretching off toward the border with the Middle Kingdom. Nam attempted to put his arms around Bich, but her chest and biceps were so huge that he failed. Grabbing each arm and looking into her beautiful eyes he cooed,  “Bich, even though you’ve changed I want to confess that I love you more than life itself. How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. I love thee to the depth and breadth and height my soul can reach.

Bich thought, “I’ve heard that somewhere before,” but swept up in the moment and knowing that everything happens for a reason her heart skipped a beat, her small face flushed, her chest constricted, and she lost her breath. “Oh Nam, oh Nam, I too have loved you and was terrified that you’d be put off by my appearance. You know it was all a sacrifice for Ho Chi Minh.”

“I know, I know,” said Nam, “I know it’s wrong, that the Party wouldn’t approve, but lately I’ve been thinking about us, our future. After Sochi maybe we should quit sports—perhaps go away somewhere. I can’t promise you anything, only that we’ll strive to be happy.” Their lips touched softly at first and then unleashed a deep genuine passion in both of them. Nam whispered in her ear, “Je t’aime mon petit chou fleur! Je t’aime ma petite pomme de terre!” Later, walking back to the compound hand in hand neither said a word, they were beyond words now.

The next day the team prepared for Sochi. They pushed their bobsleds and mounds of equipment onto the huge cargo plane awaiting take off and then strapped themselves into the webbed seats strung along the aircraft’s outer wall. Well-armed plainclothes security men were everywhere. Bobsledding began at the St. Moritz Palace Hotel in 1870 and speeds eventually reached 125 miles per hour. Since 1933, 16 people had been killed in pursuit of victory. But nothing like the Vietnamese aerodynamic sled had ever been seen before and when one added greased lightning to the runners the sky was the limit. It might be impossible to keep the sled on the track. The years of hard training and sacrifice would surely pay off; a medal in Sochi was in the offing. Taking no chances, four Sukoi T-50 stealth fighters accompanied our bobsledders on their fourteen hour fight to the XXII Winter Olympics.

Well, that’s it for this month and don’t miss next month’s startling conclusion. Will the team win a medal? Will our bobsledders survive Al Qaeda and the assassination team’s valiant attempt to kill them all? The only way you can relish the excitement Bros and Hos is when you read the BO!


Seamus Farrago