We mentioned this story in a short form post on Nov. 19th, but it was too good not to write up in more detail:
It all begins in the early morning hours after a night out on Bui Vien road, the backpacker hangout in Ho Chi Minh (Saigon). We were just about to take a turn towards our hostel, Vietnam Inn Saigon, when an Irish lass walking beside me screamed. I looked over and saw her clinging desperately to her purse strap as a local man on the back of a two-person scooter attempted to rip it from her body. A couple violent tugs later and the snatcher succeeded; the strap snapped and the driver hit the gas.
Little did they know that my brother, Cory, was walking 50 feet behind. He hadn’t seen what happened but immediately recognized that something was wrong from the screams. He tracked the scooter laterally like a linebacker, edging them closer to the side of the road. The driver tried to cut around him, but Cory turned, took three running steps, and placed a perfect two-handed push on the bag snatcher, still sitting on the back of the scooter with purse in hand.
The scooter swerved once… twice… then lost control towards the side of the road and smashed into a set of concrete steps at the edge of a restaurant. The patrons shouted in surprise as both the driver and the bag snatcher tumbled across the pavement. In a flash, they scrambled to their feet and took off running, leaving the sorry scooter lying on its side in the dust.
I was hardly aware of moving, but moments later I found myself sprinting a few feet behind the bag snatcher as he tried desperately to outpace me. I prepared to grab him and spin him into the pavement, but the snatcher, realizing that he was about to lose the foot race, tossed the purse high into the air. I eased up and caught it with my right hand. When I looked again the snatcher was disappearing into a side alley.
I turned back towards the restaurant where Cory was trying to tame an unruly crowd that hadn’t quite grasped the situation. Another local man picked up the scooter and slowly drove it away through the mass of people. We both had some choice words for him as he went. In retrospect, we should have taken pictures of the scooter and license plate, but our adrenaline was running too high for that type of thinking.
I returned the purse to its owner and we removed ourselves from the scene. Back at the hostel we had a celebratory Saigon beer and spent the next hour recounting every single detail from every single angle until our nerves had calmed enough to let us sleep.