White fungus drinks, grilled geckos and a side of dog, please…

It pained me greatly to see my good friends, the geckos splayed out today in a corner store, not defying gravity by clinging to walls but flattened and presumably ready for consumption in plastic bags here in Hue, Vietnam. Look at them!

gecko If anyone had tried to do this to Monet last year in Bali I would have stuck them on a stick and fried them! Monet was my friend. We spoke nightly as he hung out behind the painting in my bedroom, ate mosquitoes and shat occasionally on my bed. They eat all kinds of weird shizzle here. The other day, during dinner at our homestay in Sapa a bowl of dark, stewed meat was placed on the table and our Red Dao tribe host beamed as she motioned for us to try it. ‘We killed yesterday,’ she said. ‘His brother.’ I followed her pointing finger with my eyes to a fluffy dog sniffing around the table, presumably looking for his lost sibling and wondering what that sweet-smelling new meat was on the human’s plates.

dog_meat_6sfw FYI, the above wasn’t exactly what was served, but you get the idea. And it was actually enough for me to turn vegetarian for one whole hour. Yesterday, Noah and I hired a bike and went motorcycling around the temples of Hue with a lovely lady in a denim outfit called Daong. Daong sidled up to us as we were parked, huddled over a map looking lost, and announced she would be our guide. Why not, we thought. She seems really friendly and after all, we have no bloody idea where we’re going. Seeing as it was her day off from working on the farm she guided us to the impressive Tomb of Thieu Tri and the equally magnificent Minh Mang’s royal tomb, where we met these guys…

tombfun And then Daong took us to her home, where she poured us green tea, fixed us with a beguiling stare and told us she needed money to pay for her children’s schooling. We handed over 500,000 dong, which we thought was very generous. Then she asked for more. Awkward. Anyway, I digress. Having paid up and refused to hand over any more cash, in spite of being sat at her table between her bed and piles of her drying laundry (again – awkward), off we went to see more temples. With dripping temples and other sticky orifices of our own – eeew – we stopped for drinks, which is when I came across the delicious Bird’s Nest White Fungus Drink here, brought to us by Wonderfarm. Mmmm.

BIRDdrink So yes, there are a lot of freaky things to get used to about Vietnam but it’s all an adventure and the things they do with pork more than make up for the things they do with geckos, dogs and white fungus. It’s quite fun riding on motorbikes too, even if it does mean dicing with death on bridges like this and getting swindled twenty bucks to follow a local to a few temples…

ike Next stop, Hoi An!