In Ho Chi Minh City, Helmut and I discover a handsome one-star hero and a hammy Hollywood star who’s a zero!
Dear Readers, at long last, and with great excitement, Helmut and I are about to land in Ho Chi Minh City, formerly called Saigon, Vietnam’s second largest metropolis, a culinary heaven, and home to almost eight million happy socialist noodle eaters!
Yes, Vietnamese food is so delectable that during the flight over, the sheer anticipation of shrimp crepes and spring rolls has us both salivating in our seats – a spontaneous reaction which, coupled with the gin stains, creates a MASSIVE clean-up job for the airline crew!
Noodle In-pho-mation: Pho is a Vietnamese noodle soup usually served with beef (pho bo) or chicken (pho ga). The soup includes noodles made from rice and is often served with basil, lime and bean sprouts
Our friends, or Comrades, as we teasingly like to call them, also speak a little Vietnamese, and this ability certainly comes in handy later, when Helmut has to fight off the local men! Below, a passing ice-cream salesman, who, in contrast to his frozen goods, seems to have the hots for Helmut!
On our first outdoor adventure, the Socialist Republic of Vietnam looks strangely familiar and stirs memories of a bygone era, when, Babycham in one hand, joint in the other, Helmut and I would watch hundreds of protesters on the march
Were they demonstrating against the war? No! They were demonstrating against film director Oliver Stone’s choice to cast Tom Cruise as a cripple in his Vietnam war movie, Born on the Fourth of July. Dear readers, could this be because of his bad acting and diminutive height? Yes! Because everybody knows that Tom is far too tiny and hammy to play even an armchair hero, let alone a wheelchair hero!
In contrast to the past decades, Helmut and I are now keen to experience the Communist takeove without the aid of mind-altering drugs, but when we try to hire a ride to visit Ho Chi Minh’s City’s Reunification Palace, it looks like we might need drugs of a different, powdery kind to revitalize our drivers.
The Palace, formerly the home of the South Vietnamese President, is now a tribute to the North Vietnamese army, who broke through its gates on April 30th 1975. What was this conflict about, dear readers? Some shallow types might say it was because the North Vietnamese had a completely different cuisine from the South and wanted to impose their own brand of noodles or pho-losophy on their neighbors!
Everywhere Helmut and I wander, we see busts of the handsome Mr Ho, who seems to be some kind of culinary hero in this country. Here, he gives himself a mere One Michelin Star. Isn’t that typically modest of a real Commander-in-Chef?
Back home with our gracious hosts we are nearing the end of a very exciting day. As we settle in, cocoa liqueur in hand, to watch Tom struggling to play a paraplegic in our favourite Vietnam movie, one has to wonder dear readers, WAS OLIVER STONED?