the nothing whatever...

It Finally Found Me

After Hoi An, we decided to make the 4 hour trip up the coast to Hue, staying there for a couple of nights at the “Google” hotel. The hotel had no affiliations with the global internet mega-company aside from ripping off their name and logo, but for what its worth, the accommodation was more than sufficient for $15 a night; air-con, HBO movies, hot water, working toilet…great value.

It was lucky that we both had a Kindle for the bus trip there because it was a tumultuous ride, and one required a distraction to avoid being stricken with paranoia. The driver would do things like overtake on the other side of the road as we went around a blind corner with a long steep cliff drop on the other side, and the girl sitting to my right had numerous heart attacks looking down the isle and out through the windscreen at what the driver was seeing. I kept my head planted in my book. I figured that sometimes you just have to leave it to the experts. Besides, if you could ignore the fact that it might be the last thing you will ever see, the views from the side windows were quite spectacular.

Up until now, we have been doing really well in the stomach illness department. We have been in South East Asia for upwards of a month and a half, and gastronomically speaking we have definitely not been shirking the issue. But when you have such an amazing run you begin to feel invincible, you let your guard down, and you make some stupid decisions…like Japanese. One thing we have both really missed about Sydney is the high quality sushi and sashimi in its stupendous abundance, the trains and the restaurants and the street-side stalls, fresh raw fish everywhere.

Literally right next to our hotel was a Japanese restaurant that looked modern and sleek and elegant, as they always do, and succumbing to our craving, we decided we might give it a try. We ordered a few simple dishes figuring that the most popular would be the least likely to do us any damage, a tray of nigiri (raw fish, prawns or egg on rice), some gyoza and some fried prawns. While the gyoza and the prawns are meant to be eaten hot, the nigiri is a cold dish, and with the Vietnamese humidity, it went warm in about two minutes. Nic put away her chopsticks when it came to those last few pieces, but I shook off my apprehension and took advantage, soaking them in a bit more soy to get rid of the strong fishy aftertaste that you only really get when its a little tepid. I am an idiot, I know.

It wasn’t till later that night that my belly really began to complain. We were watching Captain America on HBO, and I began to sweat seeping cold sweats. As I drifted off to sleep, my stomach had stabbing pains, enough to periodically wake me, and while I didn’t feel as though I would vomit, I had that same feeling that you feel free falling rapidly on a rollercoaster. My stomach was no longer in my control. I didn’t eat much for the next day or so. It wasn’t as though I was sick, but it was like that demon piece of fish had just stripped me of any desire for food, artificially filling my stomach and convincing me that I was without appetite. The bathroom experiences were forgettable, and as I was no longer in control of my stomach, I didn’t really feel safe lingering too far from the hotel. What compounded my frustrations was that the Google hotel (or its alias, The Crazy Buffalo) served unlimited free glasses of “fresh beer” from 5pm till Midnight every night, which I was no longer in the mood for. Needless to say, for about 48 hours, I was really out of sorts.

So, as such, our time in Hue was marred by this minor inconvenience. People who visit Hue usually head out to DMZ (de-militarization zone), a location where some of the fiercest battles were fought and was subject to periods of the heaviest bombing during the war, such that even today there are still active landmines and bombs in the area. Although we were a bit disappointed we didn’t get the opportunity to go out there, nor experience Hue to its fullest, I guess the moral to the story is this:

“You win some, you lose some. But you live, you live to fight another day…”