Gordon's Great Escape
A local fixer approached us to prep a visit to Mai Chau for two of Ramsay’s producers, who wanted to scout an appropriate place to shoot the ‘up north’, ‘hill-tribe’ segment of Ramsay’s Vietnam special cooking show. The scouting trip was successful, and Mai Chau was greenlit.
We then set about organizing a fake party supposedly for the rice festival that Ramsay would join. We have local Thai hill-tribe friends who are fabulous cooks, so they all got their traditional clothes out of the cupboard and dusted them off, while we found a stilt house far away from the prying eyes of all the foreign tourists that visit Mai Chau. We put on a free 40-litre barrel of bia hoi (local draft beer) for the party, which they promptly demolished. The problem was that no one was allowed to eat the enormous spread because the film crew was taking their time to get the establishing shots.
Shit! Fuck Me!
The long and short was that when it finally came to filming the party, everyone was pretty smashed, and a lot of the footage was left on the editor’s floor. Fortunately, in another segment, where Ramsay was trying to learn how to make banh cuon (a type of wet rice paper) which is nigh on impossible), he broke the plastic chair he was sitting on (which happens all the time on our tours) and got to shout his customary F*** ME!!! Aside from that he was a sweet as a fluffy pink puppy.
Drag Race with Gordon
The real fun happened the next day when we did all the biking scenes. The first words Ramsay said when he saw one of our Urals was, “Wow. I want one. How much?” The BBC legal department had made it clear that he was too valuable to be allowed to ride on any busy public roads, so all we did was ride around in circles on a cement road that was closed off at both ends.
The best thing that happened was when the director asked Digby, Ramsay and another Explore Indochina member to do a long shot, which required them to join a public road and loop back around to the other end of the cement road. We kid you not; the moment they were all on a decent sized road, well beyond the reach of the BBC’s notoriously anal health and safety regulations, one of them, can’t remember who, but probably the tall guy with blond hair, menacingly revved his bike. In a flash, they all roared forward like Steve McQueen on steroids. Ramsay led the pack and shot past a police roadblock where the coppers checked license papers. Our boys had no choice but to follow suit, and luckily sped through the roadblock before the cops could blink. No one was worse off for it, and they all heaved themselves laughing when the director asked what took them so long. So that’s one story for the grandchildren, the day Digby got beaten hands down by Gordon Ramsay in a drag race!