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Barbecued Ghost?

An Elusive Spirit at the Crazy Buffalo Bar

By Dave Fox
Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Vietnam

The Crazy Buffalo's sinister neon has burst into flames twice since the bar opened in 2010.

The Crazy Buffalo’s sinister neon has burst into flames twice since the bar opened in 2010.

As I continue working on my new book about Saigon’s backpacker district, there’s a story that’s been eluding me. Rumor has it a restaurant-bar in the neighborhood could be haunted.

Many neighborhood residents know the story. They have heard from other people of a ghostly presence on the top floor of the Crazy Buffalo. But I’ve tried and tried to find someone who can give me a first-hand account of such an encounter, to no avail.

I’ve talked to the staff, and gotten half-stories that are driving me crazy. But the bar, open 24 hours, has lots of staff. I keep trying to find the right person who can give me something more concrete.

So the other night, I set out again. I sat at a table, ordered a beer, and waited for my friend Phúc to arrive. Phúc’s been my translator as I’ve gone out and interviewed neighborhood residents.

When Phúc showed up, we called our waitress over. She had only worked there a month. Hadn’t heard the story. Looked at me as if I was crazy.

Late-night squid after a night of research.

Late-night squid after a night of research.

Phúc asked to talk to the manager. The manager spoke enough English that Phúc did not translate.

“I have heard stories,” I said, “that maybe there is a ghost in your bar. Do you know about this?”

His eyes lit up. “Yes!”

I felt a blip in my adrenaline. Maybe, finally, I had found the source I’ve been looking for!

“Yes?!” I grinned, leaning forward in my chair. “You know the story? Have you seen the ghost?”

“Yes!” His eyes grew wider.

“Can you please tell me about the ghost?” I said.

“Yes!” the manager said with glee, picking up a menu. “You want to try the goat!”

My heart sank.

Outside a locked room that was once a third-floor bar at the Crazy Buffalo, I discovered this apparition.

Outside a locked room that was once a third-floor bar at the Crazy Buffalo, I discovered this apparition.

“No. Not the goat. The ghost.”

“Not goat?”

“No. Not goat. Ghost.”

I looked at Phúc to translate.

“Not goat!” Phúc repeated… in English. “Ghost! Ghost!”

The manager looked perplexed.

“GHOST!” Phúc said again. For dramatic effect, he then formed his hands into claws, raised them in the air, and went, “BLAAAAAHHHHH!”

The manager looked at Phúc like he was insane. He was doing the worst goat imitation ever.

“Phúc,” I said, “could you please explain in Vietnamese?”

So Phúc translated, and the manager, looking disappointed that we were not going to order dinner, told us what I keep hearing: that many people in the neighborhood believe the building is haunted. But he has never seen anything himself, nor does he know anyone who has.

I’m not letting this story go. I’m determined to find someone who has seen the ghost that allegedly haunts the Crazy Buffalo. But on this night, it was not going to happen.

Phuc and I jumped on his motorbike and rode to a less touristy part of town, to an outdoor restaurant that specializes in goat. We ate barbecued goat, and curried goat. They were not what I hoped to find, but they were a tasty homonym.

Published on Friday, October 11, 2013

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