The countdown to returning home is nearly over; just two more sleeps and we will be back in Blighty.
I can’t help but think of the chickens my pal Marcia keeps in Christchurch (bear with me, there is a connection).
We learnt that when you collect freshly laid eggs, it is important to leave at least three eggs behind in the nest (or golf balls, which the chickens hilariously mistake for the fruit of their loins). Apparently, chicken counting goes “one… two… many”; they can’t quantify numbers larger than three.
I can relate; when we had several days before the flight to LHR, I was able to convince myself that there was still loads of time left on our travels. Now the number has ceased to be “many”, I am a squawking, clucking, freaked out chook.
Nothing better to unruffle our proverbial feathers than some downtime in the beach resort of Nha Trang, south central Vietnam.
While it was a great place to relax, the beach was not particularly remarkable save for the surprising number of Russian holidaymakers there; even TV channels, shop signs, menu translations etc are in Russian in this “little Russia”. It seems Nha Trang is to Russia what the Costa del Sol is to Britain.
Anyway, we ignored the restaurants pushing blinis and borscht and sought out a couple of local specialities, following tips picked up from Vietnamese foodies in the know The Ravenous Couple and my buddy Anh from Banh Mi 11.
First was nem nướng, barbecued pork meat and crunchy crackling. You make a fat cigar by smoothing out a sheet of rice paper, topping with pork, a forest of herbs, as many chillies you can handle and whatever condiments you fancy before rolling up and dunking in some sauce between bites.
Nem chua (fermented sour pork wrapped in pretty parcels of banana leaves) got the same treatment.
Then it was time to move on to another street joint to sample what may now qualify as the strangest thing I’ve ever eaten: sứa (jellyfish).
Before this, the weirdest thing I had ever eaten were deep fried locusts, which were a struggle to force down. Happily, jellyfish is actually really good! It has a mild, fresh flavour and isn’t slimy or rubbery as I thought it may be – it was a crunchy and refreshing topping for my seafood pho. And no sting! I could even imagine it adding some interesting texture to something like paella.
Mark eschewed the jellyfish option, although he experimented with a local vegetable drink which tasted healthy/medicinal, not unlike wheatgrass.
Knowing our travelling days are numbered (in chicken-friendly quantities), we splashed out on our last day in Nha Trang with a couple of scuba dives. I certainly regarded jellyfish with a fresh perspective!
In many ways however we are looking forward to coming home. It will be wonderful to be reunited with family and friends. Not to mention a proper cup of tea…