Saturday, 19 January 2013

Chasing goats and making suits

So time for a new update. We've been so busy the last week, I've barely had a chance to count the Russians let alone do a post.
So the last week has seen us move from Hue to Nha Trang. If you didn't know already, it's a really long way. We did however cheat a bit, but I will get to explaining that.
Hue was a nice place to stop at. The centre of the city consists of an ancient city, which was pretty much destroyed by the Americans during the war. Looking at pre American war photos, you get the feeling it would be pretty awesome if it were still standing today. There's not a whole lot left, but if you use your imagination, you can get the idea of how oriental the place of would have looked. Apart from this however, there's not really a whole lot to do other than visit a few tombs of old kings around town, argue with vendors who try to charge you more for a soup than the MCG does for a pie and get drunk with the locals at extremely cheesy nightclubs. It's especially fun if you like hearing gangnam style 10 times a night. I wish I was kidding. The beers are fantastic though. If you're ever in Hue, get on Huda beer. Great stuff.
Despite Hue's myriad of tourist attractions, we couldn't make wait to ditch the place and make tracks. Hue is about 150kms from Hoi An and between them is the Haivan Mountain pass. On the other side of that mountain pass was something more exciting to both of us than gangnam style repeats and expensive soup; warmth. The mountain range between Hue and Danang separates the North from the south and apparently keeps the cold out. We couldn't wait to get there. At 9 in the morning, we donned our warm jackets and jeans for the last time and waved goodbye to Hue. After about 2 hours of riding we finally hit the pass. It was almost as if someone had instantly hit the sun switch. As we rode over the hills the clouds parted and sun hit our faces. Well it wasn't that dramatic, but we certainly did our fair share of fist pumps and horn beeps. The locals looked confused, but we didn't care. Liam was already wearing his singlet (I didn't even see him stop to put it on) and we were on our way to getting a better tan.
The Haivan pass itself is a beautiful part of the world. The road snakes through the mountains where you are surrounded by total jungle, which then drops off below into the sea. The view is amazing and we added about 2 hours to our ride merely from stopping to enjoy the view. We also lost time which was spent chasing wild cows down the mountain, which had been grazing beside and on the roads. We also chased some goats, which seemed to travelling in enormous packs up the road. The weirdest part about the goats and cows is that this is a major road, not some bumpkin side street. I now consider animal chasing a favourite pastime of mine.
Some of the goats I chased and ate.

After we'd finally finished chasing farm animals and also after Liam's accelerator cable decided it would snap three kilometres out of Hoi An, we finally reached our goal. We then did what any good tourist would do; checked into a hotel and set off to get suits made. For anyone who doesn't know, Hoi An is the tailoring capital of the world. I'm not even joking, 90% of the shops here are tailors. Hell knows how they all stay in business, because there's not just one street of them, but an entire city. The great thing about it though is it's so cheap. You can get a suit that will fit you better than anything you can get from David Jones for around $100. They will also make you anything you show them. We even saw some bloke having an assassins creed outfit made (that's a video game for all you uneducated). In the end, we ended up spending about $500 each and the tailor we used even bought us lunch.
Ok, so we didn't just go to Hoi An to buy suits, we did some other stuff too. Seeing as we both consider ourselves admirers of Vietnamese cuisine and don't shy away from a bit of a dabble in the kitchen, we decided to sign up for one of the cooking courses offered by the number one restaurant in town "Morning Glory". For those of you with your minds in the gutter, Morning Glory is not an annoying early morning errection but rather an Asian vegetable.
Get your mind out of the gutter: Morning Glory 

Aside from getting the feeling that we were looked upon by everyone else as a gay couple, it was really enjoyable. The class confirmed to me that I will never be able to make a rice paper roll, which pretty much ended my dreams of opening a Vietnamese restaurant. The lady who took the course owned three restaurants in Hoi An and is apparently a worldwide renowned Vietnamese chef. She also mentioned she regularly frequents footscray market when she visits Melbourne, which instantly raised her cred in my eyes.
Vietnamese cuisine is a lot more technical than it looks. The amount of herbs, vegetables and other random ingredients they use is insane. We took a visit to the local market where the locals buy their produce. I had no idea ginger came in so many varieties and that you can buy a herb that smells and tastes like fish. (the fish herb explains some really bad soups we've sampled). The Viets really have got their food down pat though and it's definitely one of my favourite cuisines in the world. It seems that in Australia we only get access to a fraction of the food on offer here. There really is so much more to it than Pho and spring rolls.
After seeing what Hoi An had to offer and staying a day too long due to spending more than the entire Vietnamese GDP on suits, we realised we were running out of time. We had to make the tough decision of chopping a few places from our places to go to list and instead take a 12 hour sleeper bus to Nha Trang. The bus company allowed us to stow our bikes underneath, which we were extremely happy about. After almost missing the bus due to the bus driver forgetting to pick us up and sleeping in a seat that was closer to a sleeping in a sardine tin with four other people, our happiness soon  turned to frustration and then hatred. Not only are the busses arseholes when you're not on them, but bigger arseholes when you have the pleasure of riding one. After enduring 12 hours of the bumpiest ride I have ever experienced we finally arrived in Nha Trang. The drivers basically physically kicked us off the bus and tossed our bags and bikes onto the side of the road. Shortly after the bus had driven off into the morning sun, we realised they had snapped both our mirrors off, broken a foot peg and worst of all, failed to return our keys. We walked our bikes to a nearby hotel, not looking forward to dealing with a mechanic about replacing the lost keys. Thankfully we found a genius locksmith who somehow managed to copy the keys and get our bikes back on the road. They can literally do anything here. Major relief. I hate Vietnamese busses... lucky I drive a motorbike and not a freaking tank.
So now we find ourselves in the gold coast of Vietnam, which I'm not sure is good or bad. As we're almost out of time we're really going to try and make the most of our stay here. Hopefully that means we do some more things other than suit buying and goat chasing. The main goal I think is to try and stay as sober as possible and not piss off the Russians. Oh yeah Nha Trang is little Moscow or something.
Last I heard, Putin was trying to annex Nha Trang due to the high number of native Russian Speakers.