I step out into the yard and peer through the angled slats on the gate

They’re still hard at work. The crew down the street has been loading wheelbarrows and shovelling sand for the better part of the day. Their voices carry, jubilant, unified.

Vietnamese do not shy from work.

I head back towards the house when I spot movement through the grass


I think


This lizard is bigger than I’m used to. Maybe a meter long.

And it doesn’t have legs.

Visual cortex catches up to language processing and the name of this creature reaches my brain


For some reason she strikes me as female (I don’t know how to determine the gender of snakes and am pretty sure I won’t be getting close enough to find out). But even from a few meters away, she’s beautiful. Bright green scales cascade into orange-red tones nuzzled near those unblinking, deep-pool, all-seeing eyes.

She nuzzles her way into the narrow bed, sneaking behind the cover of leaf. Edges to the left, then to the right, tongue extended, scoping out this novel territory. She attempts, unsuccessfully, to slide up the smooth facade of the cement wall. Then, finally, comes to a stop.

Hidden. Invisible, honestly, to all except me, and only because I happened to be paying attention.

There’s a snake down here

I call up to Rhino


Down here. In the garden.

Looks like it’s trying to find its way out of the yard.

For whatever reason, I’ve never feared snakes. They’ve always been more of a curiosity to me. I read a book when I was younger emphasizing that they really want nothing to do with us, and I was satisfied, all good.

But here, it pays to be cautious.

Our scaly interloper remains secluded behind the bright purple and green leaves of the ground cover, unmoving.

And so very, very silent.

As if in solidarity,

I keep still

And silent

And the world around us seems to stop

I spend the better part of a minute waiting for her to move, to slide out, to head for the hills.

But apparently her first instinct is to hide. Be still. Wait for dark.

My first instinct, conversely, is to call down the street. Locals will definitely know whether this slither is a venomous one.

I use the moment of standoff to search for venomous snakes Vietnam on my phone. Thankfully, the first four hits look nothing like our new friend.

A Non La pokes its way above the fence. The lady in charge of trash removal is busy on the other side.

I call to her – after a quick translate –

Có một con rắn trong sân, bạn có thể giúp đỡ?

There is a snake in the yard

Can you help?

She wanders around the pillared gate and peers at the bushes. I’m confident she has some sort of local wisdom or charm to keep us all safe

She gently nudges her trash bag into the flower bed.

No movement.

She mutters a few words

And eases backward out of the gate, crossing her arms in the universal body language for

You’re on your own, mister.

To which I reply, in my head


I’m not

I’ve got someone to keep me company

Published by Radutti

Teaching in Ha Noi, screwing things up daily but surviving to write about it. ...everything's perfectly all right now. We're fine. We're all fine here now, thank you. How are you?

Join the Conversation


  1. I am being honest. As soon as you said larger than a lizard and no legs I peaced out! I can handle most things. Blood and guts and snakes are the two exceptions. I trust it all worked out, since you wrote about it.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh my goodness! I had no idea where this story was going. I’m glad that the snake didn’t seem to be poisonous… but judging by the way she backed up it is probably not a good sign. Good luck!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh wow! I’m glad that the snake did not seem to be poisonous… although judging the way the lady backed up, it is probably not a friendly snake either. Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. That’s very cool! I would’ve just sat and watched as well. There is something so calming about animals in their own elements, and as long as you don’t scare her then the snake won’t hurt you. The boy I nanny and I had a similar experience with a grasshopper that stopped in the middle of the driveway while he was biking. We just avoided it as he cruised and sometimes we stopped to watch the grasshopper slowly walk (he wouldn’t dare hop near a possible predator ha) to a nearby bush.


Leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: