The Englishman, the Bear and the Whistle

We tumbled out of the train in Hanoi just after 5 am and made our way to a nearby 24/7 tourist eatery called Puku (evidently the Maori word for stomach).

There we found eggs and coffee and two lovely English midlanders, Dave and his Dad Neil from Derbyshire.  We had an enjoyable chat with them on everything from the resurgence of vinyl to their wonderful experiences visiting the H’Mong hill people of Sapa.


Neil told us the following remarkable story:

He had cruised from Vancouver to Alaska for a spot of salmon fishing. Decked out in waders and rods he and his group had made their way to the little rippling streamlets where the mighty salmon lived.

On the way they saw huge bear prints in the snow and mangled and clawed salmon lying here and there.  Your Alaskan Bear loves his Salmon, and doesn’t take kindly to outsiders pinching it.


If a bear stumbles upon you with one of “his” salmon on the end of your fishing line he is likely to take huge, several hundred muscular pounds worth of teeth, fur and claws offence.


So, if you see a Bear, or, more importantly, if a Bear sees you what should you do ?  ( Apart, of course, from saying 23,000 Hail Marys).


Neil’s guide had “armed” the fishermen with a whistle,


And a pair of toenail clippers.


“What in Heaven’s name” ?  We thought to ourselves.  “Are you supposed to trim the Bear’s nails as he is gouging out your liver and perhaps play “Nearer my God to Thee” on the whistle” ?

No, dear readers, the whistle is so you can alert the tour guide to the fact that he should come running….quickly….as you are about to be disembowelled (HE has a gun).

And the scissors are so you can cut the line on your rod and let the salmon float downstream, hopefully with the bear in hot pursuit of his breakfast.





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