Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May go to Vietnam and are told to travel the length of the country in eight days - a task the US military failed to do in ten years.
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APPLAUSE AND CHEERING
Hello, hello! Hello, everybody!
Hello and welcome...
Hello and welcome to a sea of disappointed faces,
as these people have driven all the way down here today,
only to find that the show isn't actually coming from here today.
No, it is in fact coming from 6,000 miles away,
here, in Vietnam.
Yes, we were told to meet in the centre of Saigon,
and await further instructions.
So, sit back, enjoy the ride.
'We arrived in Saigon and got straight down to business.'
That was Mel Gibson!
Mel Gibson is We Were Soldiers.
-You're thinking of Hamburger Hill...
-Since we left...
-He sticks the knife...
-Yes, and Private Pyle was Full Metal Jacket which was shot in the Docklands.
Will you stop going on about what I imagine are war films?!
-Hello. Thank you.
-"Since you can buy Rolexes here for a fiver and lunch for 50p,
"you're standing in the world's biggest pound shop.
"You should therefore have no trouble at all buying some wheels for 15 million dong."
Are these full of money?
Look at that! 15 million dong.
I love the smell of money in the morning.
Smells like wheels!
'Delighted that for once, the producers had been generous, we headed for the showrooms.'
I love having inches of money!
'But our joy was short-lived, as James discovered,
'when he tried to buy a bog-standard Fiat 500.'
Can you tell me how much?
560 million Vietnam dong.
How much is 15 million dong?
Um, just about 1,000 US dollar.
'Even the back-street car dealers were no good.'
-Is it enough?
For a car?
-For the car?
-What happen with the car? You want to...
To buy the car?!
-Oh, I cannot.
'Jeremy, meanwhile, had become desperate.'
Would you sell me your car? Can I buy your car?
Sell me your car!
'And Hammond had given up and gone for lunch.'
It is quite tricky.
Pull up a chair, have a seat.
-They're not very big.
No! I've said to you all along, you two are the freaks.
This place is perfectly scaled. I love it.
'But Hammond's joy at fitting in the chairs
'wasn't going to get us out of our hole.'
I'll tell you the problem. Cars only came to Vietnam a few years ago, OK?
Four or five years ago. They've got a 200% import tax on them.
They haven't had time, in the four or five years since they've been here, to get cheap.
There are no bangers.
Everything's expensive and we're actually quite poor.
'It did look like we'd come a long way for nothing,
'but then James and I had an idea.'
-Look around us. What do we see everywhere?
-No, I can't.
You know I can't do that.
What else is there?
I bet you can get a bike for that.
I bet you can get a lump of excrement for that as well.
-It doesn't mean...
-It's transport with an engine. It's the only choice.
-Look, that's all we've got.
'James and I did have a point.
'Because cars are so expensive in Vietnam,
'bikes are used as family saloons, delivery trucks, people carriers.
'They're used for everything. If you don't have a bike here, you're a nobody.'
'So we took the plunge as well, and an hour later,
'met up at the American War Museum with our cheap-as-chips wheels.'
I bought this. It's a Minsk.
Russian, 125cc, and it's basically the AK47 of bikes -
rugged, simple, easy to repair.
It is built specifically to be used in countries where there are no roads.
It will be - for whatever they throw at us - perfect.
I've gone completely native and I've bought this.
It's an ancient Honda 50 Super Cub -
the greatest motorcycle in history.
Over 60 million of those have been built,
and it is a greater liberator of the people than...
well, that American tank, for example.
I've bought this, which is, um... a motorcycle.
-This is a scooter.
-Don't let go now. It'll fall over.
-No. It's got a thing called a stand.
-You really don't know anything about bikes, do you?
I tell you what, it is actually very pretty.
But it's gonna be useless, because whatever the challenge is,
-tiny wheels and looking good won't help you.
-Why are tiny wheels wrong?
-Little wheels go further into the holes.
The holes in the road.
You'll be all over the place!
How many cylinders has it got?
-JAMES AND RICHARD: One.
'It was time for the main challenge.'
I promise you, I'm not interested in this.
"You'll now attempt to achieve in eight days what the Americans failed to achieve in ten years.
"Get from the south of Vietnam to the north.
"You will ride from here in Saigon to Ha Long City,
"near the Chinese border, which is 1,000 miles away."
-That is excellent!
-That's the best challenge we've ever had.
-I'm going! Get his bike started.
-Honestly, that is fantastic.
I can't do that. I just...can't do that.
I can't do...
Guys, I can't do that.
I can't ride a bike.
Ridiculous. I'm sorry, this is stupid.
I'm not joking. I don't know who came up with this, but it's daft.
I'm more excited than anything we've ever done.
I can't believe you're being a misery-guts.
-It's 1,000 miles in the rainy season!
-That's the best thing!
1,000 miles, in the rainy season, in a country with not very good roads,
and I can't ride a bike!
'There was good reason for my despair.
'The cities in Vietnam are a seething cauldron of barely organised chaos.
'They're a death trap for the inexperienced.
'And in the countryside, there's even more peril.
'Four times more people here die on the roads than in Britain.
'I honestly believed that at some point
'on our long and torturous route,
'one of us would be killed.
'Probably wouldn't be Hammond, though, because unlike us two,
'he at least could get a helmet which fitted.'
The reason I don't ride a motorcycle is because I have a large brain.
-No, you have a big head.
-The reason why...crash helmets are small
is because people who wear them haven't got a brain.
Otherwise they'd have a car.
'Since we were due to set off the following morning,
'Jeremy and I had to get helmets made...
'in a back-street metal shop.'
WELDING TORCHES BUZZ AND POP
THEY ATTEMPT TO SPEAK VIETNAMESE
'With our orders placed, Richard and I fettled our bikes,
'and Jeremy hit the bar.'
-You're not excited, are you?
This is great, I'm very excited. It's the beginning of an epic adventure.
Are you off then?
-This is it?
ENGINES REV Right then! Three, two...
..one, we're off!
'If we were to reach our overnight halt in the mountain town of Da Lat,
'we had to get cracking,
'which is why James immediately shed some weight.'
I've had to ditch my wok!
MEN CHATTER IN VIETNAMESE
ENGINE REVS, THEN STALLS
'Meanwhile, James and I were having a ball in the madness of it all.'
Whoa! This is such a melee.
-I've been riding bikes for 25 years and I've never done anything like this.
-I think just improvise.
It's amazing. It just sort of works!
-Do you know how to start it?
All right, get on.
Well some Vietnamese people came and they just trod on it and it started.
-Whoa, wrong side of the road!
One, neutral, two, three, four.
There you go.
There you go...
You're getting it!
Yep, it's only been an hour, and I've done, well...three feet.
That was a dog!
How does that work?
A bit more acceleration.
-he's gonna die.
'We were now on the outskirts of Saigon.'
I'm glad we couldn't afford cars.
This is better.
Er...that's one. No, there we go.
Yes, that's a gear.
'A passing banker had sold me his helmet, which meant I was now completely safe(!)'
Are we going down there? Where are we going?!
-Is this your favourite place in the whole world now?
This is terrifying. It's just bikes absolutely everywhere.
Oh, my God, there's one stalled in front of me.
Best motorbike I've ever had.
'This is the ONLY motorbike I'd ever had
'and it was undriveable.'
Oh, get into gear, for God's sakes! Stupid thing!
Gear box has a mind of its own, there's no suspension
and it wobbles!
It's just wobbling all the time!
You're going the wrong way!
'Eventually, though, I caught up with Barry Sheen and his boyfriend.'
-Thanks for waiting, mate(!)
-Well I thought, "Jeremy always waits for me, so I'll not wait for him."
-I thought you were just behind us.
-You knew damn well I wasn't!
'And then I discovered why my bike was so undriveable.'
That nut is as tight as it will go and that is...
'The drive shaft was knackered, which, on a Vespa, is bad news.'
We're going to have to change the whole engine.
While we're doing that, the front brakes are now being adjusted so that they...work.
'Still, at least my mates wouldn't leave me behind this time...'
Oh, no, what if we have to finish the whole journey without him?!
'Unsurprisingly, in such a "bikey" country,
'a new engine was found in minutes, and so I rolled up my sleeves
'and had some lunch.'
You look at this and you think,
"What noise did this make when it was alive?
Did it go, "Moo," or did it go "Tweet, tweet, tweet,"
or did it go, "Neigh"?
I think it went, "Ruff! Ruff!"
But it's delicious.
-Um, well I think this thing here is a sort of squid thing with some weird paste.
-Don't like squid.
-OK, well you can have crab with...
-I don't like crab.
I don't like clams.
'By now, the workforce had swelled considerably, and as a result, I was soon on the move again.'
OK, the wheel is no longer wobbling,
got a new engine, got a new gearbox,
and it feels...exactly the same.
'As James and I made smooth progress toward Da Lat,
'we were reflecting on the pedigree of our bargain basement bikes.'
These bikes are quite a common sight all over the world,
and in certain places, they're usually seen with members of the Taliban on them, carrying AK-47s,
and rocket launchers.
This is the wheels of Asia.
Over 60 million of these sold, so if you combine the Beetle,
the Model T, all the versions of the Toyota Corolla,
and the Mini, you still haven't got as many as you have of these.
'40 miles back, I couldn't care less about my bike's pedigree.'
Work! Just work, for one minute!
Further up the road, things were getting hilly,
which meant James was having problems
with his Honda's miserable four horse-power engine.
We can do it! Faster!
TRUCK'S ENGINE ROARS
And here we are again. It's a lovely evening here in south-east Asia, as you can see,
and I'd be enjoying it on any means of transport
apart from the motorbike.
If somebody said to me, "Would you like to hop to Hanoi?"
Yes, I would.
'The last few miles to Da Lat were really steep.'
Just admit it, you should have bought a more powerful bike.
No! I'm not admitting it yet.
I'm still going.
I'm gonna check it out, see if it gets steeper.
MUSIC: "Adagio For Strings" by Samuel Barber
I'm just...coming to a dignified failure.
She's going. She's going.
I've run out of gears...
I've run out of power.
'Still, at least he hadn't put 15 Quadrophenia-style mirrors right in front of his own head lamp.'
God almighty, I'm riding along
with the head light illuminating nothing but my own face!
'Our meeting point was a restaurant in Da Lat,
'and James had worked up quite an appetite by the time he got there.'
-Well, I went to check ahead if it got any steeper. It did.
-Where is he, do you reckon?
Do you think he's enjoying his first biking experience.
I am the most miserable human being alive!
Where's this restaurant?!
Where is it?!
I quite like it here. I like the way the roof's been made and the way the sticks have been joined together.
-Mate, how are you?
-Do you want a beer?
We've drunk 'em, but we'll get another.
'Hammond was loving my misery, but I got revenge by ordering Set Menu B.'
JEREMY ATTEMPTS TO SPEAK VIETNAMESE
What is "ran"?
-You haven't eaten anything since you got here, have you?
-You just haven't seen me.
-What have you eaten?
-Piles of stuff.
-He had some cornflakes.
I was trying them in case they were different.
I like to try local cultures and flavours and they may have been different!
But I'd been eating a squid, soup, clam, bamboo shoot arrangement before you came in. I had!
'Then our ran arrived!'
-Oh, God, I don't like snake.
-It's going to be delicious.
If I told you it was chicken...
-We'll have chicken then!
-Could I have it medium-rare?
What, a medium-rare snake?!
How would you have it? Well done, I suppose!
'Richard didn't go for the snake salad
'or the snake soup and he really didn't go for the still beating
-I have sampled your world today.
Do you want vodka with snake blood or vodka with snake bile?
I don't need a vodka with snake...
JEREMY AND JAMES: Three, two, one, go.
'James and I liked the snake vodka.
'In fact, we liked it so much...'
Three, two, one, go.
'That later we may have made mischief with Hammond's helmet.'
-Did YOU do this?
We just wanted to make sure it was strong enough.
We were worried about you. We were paralytically worried.
I was blind worried.
-He was so worried on a couple of occasions he fell over with worry.
-How did you do it?
We tested it under the wheels of a lorry and look what happened.
-You tested it?
-So now that's...
Don't worry, though.
We've just been out to town and we've bought you another one.
-Don't take this the wrong way, because colours assume different significance...
-Seriously. In Britain, we think of that as feminine...
-Stop moving your face about with noises coming out.
Here it's the colour of warriors.
-He's not very happy with us.
'But at least he was happier than me, because today,
'I faced another 130 miles of rough roads, endless breakdowns,
'massive discomfort and general peril.
'Still, at least I'd been assured it wouldn't rain.'
Name an upside to this, mate!
Name one upside!
Well you're not hot any more, are you?
My light's dying. It's dying.
My light's dying!
'There was an upside though.
'Richard's Taliban bike had decided it liked the rain even less than me.'
Come on, now.
That's not as effective as I'd hoped.
Oh, my God!
What the hell is going on in my life?!
Why has my life gone so wrong?!
-It's good for you!
It is! Stop whining.
Hit that. Cheer me up - kill yourself.
# I'll take you anywhere you want, girl Ride my Honda tonight! #
I hate you!
# First gear, it's all right
# Second gear, I'm all right
# Third gear, hold on tight! #
MUSIC: Little Honda by the Beach Boys
'All I could hope was that Captain Beach Boy would have a disaster
on these awful, flooded roads.
This is a massive "Oh, cock!" How can it have run out?
That rain makes a really annoying noise on my colander...helmet.
-And it comes through.
'On his much faster Minsk, Hammond had passed his old mate James,
'not stopped to help, and caught up with me.'
Sorry! I've stopped!
He's enjoying it!
He is... He's enjoying it!
This nice man has stopped on an old Russian motorcycle, and I think he's going to give me some petrol.
What a nice man.
In fact, I think I'll pay him.
My dong's going to be all soggy, isn't it?
'At a filling station further up the road, Jeremy and I had pulled over,
'because my clutch cable had snapped.'
You see, my clutch should be there, and it isn't.
'This became a big problem for all of us.'
-May, there's bad news.
-The producers have got fed up with us just replacing parts willy-nilly on our bikes.
-You two, you mean?
-Yes. His clutch cable went. He went and bought one from in there.
-So, they say that if our bikes go wrong again,
we can't just keep them going with tools,
-they've provided backup transport.
'Excellent turned out to be the wrong word.'
-Oh, my God!
-Oh, yes, that is a bit...
-Oh, God, I don't think so.
It's slightly conspicuous.
-TINNY MUSIC PLAYS
-That's "Born In The USA", evidently.
THUNDER RUMBLES That's thunder! And the village.
Have you noticed, there was a rumble of thunder and the village arrived.
Children, if you're watching this at home
and you don't know why this is inappropriate,
ask your parents.
But this is about as inappropriate a bike
as it's humanly possible to conceive.
'Amazingly, all our bikes suddenly worked perfectly.'
'However, getting to Nha Trang
'meant crossing more spectacular mountains,
'which meant more bad news for James.'
I might even get third gear. Wait for it.
Here it comes!
I am Francis Rossi!
This is staggeringly good. We are in the clouds.
'By nightfall, we were on the downhill run, and finally united.'
This is the first time we've all ridden together since the square in Saigon.
It's dark and about to rain, but there we are.
Did you see that one?!
'The lightning was biblical, and from my point of view, quite useful.'
Oh, no! No!
No, my light! My light!
'Fearful of the Yankee bike,
'I strapped a torch to my front mud guard
'and with just two days' motorcycling experience,
'set off into the night...
'Where even Captain Experienced found the going a bit tricky.'
This is where it gets bad. Got to be careful on the downhill bits cos only the back brake works.
-Huge truck with no brakes.
Well, there's no other word. It's absolutely suicidal.
'Eventually, we careered into Nha Trang.'
-Hold on. James!
-What do we do here?
-James just went straight out then.
'It had been another hateful day...'
'..so I decided to cheer myself up by buying Richard Hammond a small present.
If I can just stand this, it'll warm up and then it does
and you think, "Oh, nice." That's what it's like coming down the hill.
Yes, exactly right.
-There you go.
What is that...?
-There you go, nice present.
-That's for me?
Well, because I thought it would look good in your hall in your new house.
Have you seen the detailing on it?
-I mean, Look at the bridge.
-I see what you've done.
If you had a car, you'd pop it on the back seat or in the boot.
Yeah, I see... I see what you've done here, now.
# Nowhere to run to, baby
# Nowhere to hide... #
'We ploughed on northwards with the monotony only broken by a light sprinkling of massive discomfort.'
Maybe 90 degrees.
'In fact, after a day-and-a-half of solid riding in this sweatbox,
'our clothes were so rank,
'we decided to get some more in the town of Hoi An -
'Vietnam's Savile Row.'
Buying off the peg in Vietnam, let's be honest, is all right for you...
-but the trousers...
-Gonna be an issue for you, I grant you that.
Maybe in other areas...the girth!
-This is cashmere?
-And how much is this...?
The price for the whole thing, 125 US dollars.
A cashmere suit for... £70!
-What, a whole suit, or just the buttons?
-The whole suit.
-Made to measure.
-Made to measure!
It takes one day to finish.
-So we can have any style.
- Any style. - And any material?
I might have some time on my own.
Linen, not good. Makes you look even fatter.
Jonathan Ross would never wear...
linen for that reason - because he's getting quite portly.
Ah, this is Chinese brocade.
-I don't know what that is.
-I don't really know what I'm doing here cos I'm not very fashion conscious.
-Your suit's ready. Here it is.
-Thank you, thank you(!)
-Thank you, that's very nice.
-They're measuring the biceps now. Tape measure's not long enough.
If she leaves that tape measure under my armpit any longer, it'll rot.
'With our suits under way,
'I decided to go for some tailor-made shoes as well...'
'..which turned out to be extremely good fun!
'Since our new wardrobe wouldn't be ready till morning, Richard and James suggested we go to the beach.
'With our stupid bikes.'
Why are we doing this?!
I've fallen off it!
I've fallen off!
Hey, this is great!
'Happily, however, I soon found a typical Vietnamese hotel,
'where I could revert to being a human.'
DISTANT ENGINES >
Oh, come on, it's like being on holiday with two idiots.
'To get away from the dreadful bike noises,
'I went to the spa for a foot treatment.'
Bah! That one's a piranha.
Ga ga ga!
'On the beach, we were seeing who could get their bike nearest to the waves.
'Which was a mistake.'
SONG: Born In The USA By Bruce Springsteen
Not now! Not while that's there. ENGINE STARTS
Yes. No. Yes. No.
I am now officially the world's most comfortable man.
'Meanwhile, I was getting my first lesson in what, sadly, put this country on the map.'
You, here, fighting the US?
This beach, yours.
Good to meet you.
'As night fell, we decided to head into downtown Hoi An,
'only to find the Minsk hadn't recovered from its swim.'
-MUSIC: Born In The USA
-Hammond, I was born down in a dead man's town.
# Born down in a dead man's town... # It's lovely, but I don't fancy it today.
The first kick I took was when I hit the ground.
In a minute you're going to be driving along with that blaring...
from that bike.
No more spare parts allowed.
No, nothing going on. Just work.
If he turns up on Bruce Springsteen,
I'll feel quite sorry for him, but I'll still laugh.
'We had intended to nip into town for something to eat.
'But in Hoi An it's easy to get a bit distracted.'
-It's very pretty, I have to say.
Extraordinarily pretty, and Hammond has missed it.
He is missing this... How do I make these legs go down?
-I didn't think you bothered.
-You getting fond of your motorcycle, Jeremy?
-Are you sure?
# Born in the USA, I was... #
I don't want to sound like Michael Palin, all gushing,
-You're going to.
This is like that duck racing thing they do on British rivers
only much more beautiful.
-Was that like Palin?
-No, it was rubbish.
ANNOUNCEMENT IN VIETNAMESE
'The next morning we picked up our clothes from the tailors' and hit the highway.'
When I said I wanted the sort of thing the locals would wear to work
I was thinking more working in a shop or on a building site,
not working in an embassy or going to a formal reception.
It's Brighton Beach!
1965, Mods and Rockers!
'Richard had a new look too, but sadly not a new bike.
'Because annoyingly, the Minsk had dried out.'
Love your work! Is that a smoking jacket?!
-Is that a Mod coat?
-Oh, yeah, a full Phil Daniels!
-Check out the lining!
'As usual, however, there was one small problem.'
I fear my new Mod look has been spoiled slightly
because somebody has written "penis" on my helmet!
I did that.
'As we headed for the ancient capital of Hue
'on the super-heated highway,
'James started to fall behind again.
'And all Jeremy and I could think to do was buy him a present.
'Something nice and...heavy.'
It's depressing, being at the back. I think he needs cheering up.
My thoughts exactly. Which is why we've come to...
Kerry Katona's front room.
"Oh, it's all lovely, this!"
What about these lions?
-This is a modern thing.
-He's not modern.
-No, he doesn't do modern.
-He won't like that.
-No, he's very...
-Thanks for waiting.
We decided to buy you a present!
You're standing right next to it.
-We thought about that long and hard!
-Seriously, it's classical.
It's of ballet, and we know that you like the ballet.
-So you have actually thought about it?
-That's a real present.
I need some straps.
'With Darcey Bussell on the back of his bike,
'James was being even more careful than usual.
'Which is more than could be said of Hammond.'
-All your masts have come off!
They're all down!
I can fix it. I can fix that, you'll never notice.
A toll booth.
Motorbikes go free.
What's he done?!
Sorry! I'm sorry!
-Hammond just hit the sign in the tollbooth.
That bloke's furious.
'Then the Vespa came over all Italian again.'
-Do you know something very interesting?
My bike isn't broken.
-You're not going to believe how they mended it.
-With a hammer?
They got a plastic bag, filled it with weeds,
and kind of wedged all the electrics
so they can't jiggle about.
-See that mountain up there, James?
-We're going up that.
I'll wait for you at the top.
'The mountain was a bit of a surprise.
'Because you expect to find many things when you come to Vietnam -
'communistical farming, reminders of the war, stunning food,
'massive heat. What you don't expect to find
'is a deserted ribbon of perfection.
'One of the best coast roads in the world.'
'It's called the Hai Van Pass,
'and in this place, I had an epiphany.'
I'm liking this.
Hang on! I'm going for an overtake!
Yeah! This is great!
At last I've got a playmate. Ha-ha!
Don't leave me!
# Born in the USA, I was... #
Man alive, it keeps getting better!
There are views in the world, and then there's that one.
This is when I'm going to wish I didn't have Darcey with me.
It's gone! Hammond!
It's gone again.
-You know we mended it with weeds?
-The weed bag, yeah.
The weed bag doesn't work.
'Mind you, there are worse places to break down.'
-We go round the world, but some of the stuff here...
It's made my hair all stand on end.
And there's nobody there... Oh, I tell you who is here.
-Has he arrived?
-It's not a majestic sight, is it?
-Seriously, look at that view.
-Have you got his present? Or do you know where it is?
-I put it in the camera van.
-Go and get it.
-Have you really got me a present?
We've both been amazed. Your first bike ride,
coming up here on this road, you deserve your present now.
-James, present him.
That is very...
Funnily enough, that's the word I used. It is.
I shall try to look after this, Hammond,
a bit better than you're looking after the galleon that I gave you.
50 miles to Hue!
Down into second for the difficult hairpin.
Oh, yes! Knee down!
Every time I change down, Darcey clouts me with her breasts!
It's not a complaint, it's an observation.
'We thought as we got to the bottom of the pass that we'd be back in the chaos.
BOAT ENGINE PUTTERS
That image really is a metaphor for Vietnam.
The mountains, the coastline,
the big new engineering projects and the traditional fishing scene.
With that soundtrack.
It is a fabulous country, it really is.
'That night in the hotel,
'Hammond set about mending his treasured galleon.'
I think I may have to cut some of the rigging. Cos there's...
'Meanwhile, to pay him back for breaking it in the first place,
'I decided to redecorate his treasured bike.'
You know he will be apocalyptically cross.
I know, but he's cross about everything, so it doesn't really...
Oh-ho-ho. Let's have a go.
-Would you like to do some?
-Would you like to do some? Pink!
If he asks, we just say, "The chef did it."
If you painted the back, he'd be furious. Down there.
-Do you have a pencil I could borrow?
Now look what's happened. The whole town has turned out to paint Richard Hammond's bike pink.
James and I are doing everything possible to stop them...
-Please, don't do this!
-I've given up trying to tell them.
And you missed a bit there that you mustn't do.
Look, you can't just go...
-Hang on, has she painted her own bike?
-Seriously, don't...it isn't hers!
What happened is, she's got hold of this big paint and decided
everything in the entire car park needs painted pink!
The sun rose over another beautiful day in the 'Nam.
But among us three, the atmosphere was a little tense...
I told you he'd be furious.
Can they really not organise a bloody junction better than this?
I know he's cross but I've told him a chef did it.
-Did he not believe you?
WHACK! Oh, dear.
Despite Richard's mood, we were told to report to a nearby
government building for a challenge.
I think it looks good!
-It matches your helmet now.
-Yes, I have spotted that, that's the point,
very good, yes.
No, I am sorry. We did everything in our power.
You know we're your mates. Anyway, we need a challenge.
He is cross, but just read the challenge, it'll cheer him up.
It'll be the person with the pinkest bike wins, I'll bet.
-The person with the pinkest bike...
-There you go!
-No, it doesn't actually say that.
-What does it say?
You are about to enter what was North Vietnam.
It's as well your papers are in order,
you will therefore take a Vietnamese driving test.
-Well, that'll just be one of those joke ones. You know, the Egypt one?
-Forwards and backwards six feet.
This is gonna be a doddle.
SHE SPEAKS IN VIETNAMESE
First, we had to take an oral theory test...
It's you. Stand up, stand up, stand up!
SHE CONTINUES IN VIETNAMESE
Always give way to the car from the right.
You've a one in a hundred chance of being right, there.
But you were in the wrong language.
THE OTHERS SNIGGER
HE SPEAKS VIETNAMESE
How the hell did... what did you just do?
It was 18. 18 years old.
How did you know?
What age you are to ride a motorbike, which of course is 18.
How did you know what she asked?
Did you not bother learning Vietnamese before we came here?
You're screwed, then.
So, only one of us had shone in the classroom.
But in the practical test, things would be better.
Is it you have to ride in a figure-of-eight, then you can go out and ride on Ho Chi Minh's highways?
-So if you touch the white lines, you fail?
Barbara Cartland went first.
Ooh, it's me!
In. It's quite tight...
Well, it serves him right for riding an enormous motorcycle.
Ooh, it's harder than it looks!
Is he doing well?
Richard Hammond, pass.
He'll love this, it's all about precision,
going slowly and being accurate...
-Gone the wrong way...
-It's a good spectator sport, though, isn't it?
They're really loving it.
-Get on with it!
Ah, I've got the angle right...
-No, that's not right!
-What he's doing is,
rather predictably, going too fast.
This is just impossible on these wheels. They're too small!
-I've only been riding a bike five days!
Happily, in Vietnam, if you fail you are allowed to try again.
He's spent less time in the circle than he has out of the circle.
Jeremy Clarkson, fail.
Obviously, it was the Vespa's fault,
so I had a go on the Cub.
-Give it gas, man!
-There you go!
The big wheels are helping massively here.
You can't scoot it along!
Oh, this is disastrous.
How's he ridden this thing?!
Jeremy Clarkson, fail.
Is he the most ridiculous human being in the world currently, or ever...
We're gonna have to get going.
But we haven't got a licence.
Well, that's cos you failed your theory.
You haven't been granted a pass for your practical, it's pathetic.
-But as a team...
-As a team we've done both halves of it. As a unit...
we are licensed.
-We are now licensed.
-We could have a Top Gear licence, with all our faces on it.
-As long as we stick together.
-It was important, that.
-I am sorry, James. I am.
You're not sorry. Please shut up.
To apologise for Darcey's head,
I bought James some flowers and then we headed out of Hue.
You knocked one of my mirrors off!
Even though we were against the clock, we felt we had to stop at the citadel.
Scene of one of the fiercest battles in the Vietnam War.
Bullet holes everywhere.
And everywhere you look, it's just...
-You can track them as well, can't you, sometimes?
-That is machine-gun fire there.
-I think, for most people, Vietnam is a war, not a country.
And this was pretty much the epicentre.
It's nice that they haven't restored it. That's a better memorial than anything else, isn't it?
It was now day six of our epic road trip,
and the finish line was still more than 400 miles away.
What's more, the traffic was getting worse.
-You can tell we're getting close to the North...
-What, more bikes?
Well, a lot more bikes.
The heat was worse than ever, and even James's Cub
was starting to feel the strain.
That's just not as sweet as it was this morning.
Progress, then, was slower than ever...
and over lunch, the penny dropped - with a horrible clang.
-Those are bamboo shoots.
We can't make it.
If you think how far we've come so far,
and how far we've got... well, we're about halfway.
Well, thinking about it, probably that...
that day spent playing on the beach and having a massage,
while we had our suits made...
-wasn't actually the...
We can't just give in.
So what're you saying? We must try harder?
-We must find a way of making the bikes faster?
We decided to take an overnight train to Ha Long City,
which is something the Americans never thought to do.
But we couldn't celebrate our ingenuity, because at the station...
..James was a bit upset that my spare wheel had come through my painting.
Now look what you've done.
-What, I did it on purpose?
-Hammond paid for it,
-and it was...well, we won't say how much it was, but it was quite expensive.
-You're not making me feel any better.
-How do you think we feel?
-Let's not get bogged down
with who did what to who.
No, cos you did all of it.
THEY GROAN Argh! Come on!
Wait, wait, wait. Ooh, sorry, sorry.
In the night, can you water the flowers for me?
-Yeah, a tyre went through it.
James had bought the tickets, and great news for licence payers -
they were for third class!
There are people sleeping.
How long have we done?
Getting through it!
We decided to pass the rest of the time by mending each others' presents.
Moves about more than I expected, but that's OK.
It'll give the painting some motion, some fluidity. It's good. It's good.
That's like trying to unravel the mystery of the universe.
Made of string.
In the accident, we've lost her hand.
The thing that...maybe I could improvise that and make that her hand,
and then she's like a sort of mutant.
What I've done is inject a touch of the familiar
to this otherwise quite alien scene.
Aah. Why is that so hot?
Is that glue?
Why's it so hot?
I've dropped hot glue on my suit!
Do you have anything to cure superglue burns through silk?
My hand's in the front of my trousers, don't read anything into that.
In the morning, the train was approaching our destination.
James is going to be extremely pleased with...
Not so much with this, but the surgery on her shoulder...
That is the work of a top doc.
It's difficult to explore the allegorical significances
and layers of the painting when I'm...well, sober.
What you've done...
is you've painted a Land Rover in the middle of a Vietnamese scene.
-Mind you, you're in for a big surprise when you see
what May's done to your galleon.
It's not brilliant, mate, if I'm honest.
-And what are these?
But what are they representing?
It's the best I could do with the bits that survived
and stuff I could buy from the woman with the trolley.
Finally, two days early,
we arrived in Ha Long City.
Where's her hand?
I've completely lost it.
Move this out the way... Sorry?
This is heavy presumably...
Darcey's head's come off again.
-Don't touch it!
This has been the clumsiest arrival at a finishing point.
It hasn't been an elegant arrival, but we are at the finishing point.
It's very hot. Is it hotter here than it was?
Isn't there a sea breeze?
How do you spell Ha Long?
It's two words.
G-A. I think that means train station, I think. Ga.
Well, where did you book the tickets to?
-There's nothing wrong with the tickets.
-Well, clearly, we're in the wrong place.
Ha Long City. Ha Long City. Ha Long City.
You chose the platform. You said, "I know where it is!"
There's one platform, James. There's one line.
There was a line either side of the platform, like there often is.
'A quick look at a map showed us the scale of my colleague's cock up.'
-There is Ha Long.
There is Hanoi.
Well, we're miles away!
We'll have to go along there. It's a day's ride.
All right, anyway, welcome to Hanoi!
"Oh, no, I'll get the tickets. I know what I'm doing.
"I understand public transport."
"No, no, trust me. I promise you it's this platform."
'To make matters worse, the traffic was more mental than ever.'
I'm utterly, utterly marmalated here. I've never been more in peril.
'But we were ahead of schedule, so we went for breakfast.'
These are chicken innards.
-Actually, it doesn't say innards, it says chicken...
We've ordered pickled pig's ear with vegetables
dipped in seasoning sauce. Spelled wrong.
'Hammond didn't fancy any of that,
'and nor did he go for the main course.'
Speak of the devil, the sparrows have arrived.
Look at that! Wafer thin sparrow?
-No, I'm fine.
-One little wafer thin sparrow?
No, I'm fine.
'But after seven days, he had the something.'
Richard Hammond is eating rice!
-It's rice crispies, but...
-Is it rice?
-Am I eating it with chopsticks?
Then I am native and local as you.
'After breakfast we set out for Ha Long city.'
That's part of a shot-down B52, which landed there...
and they never bothered to move it.
'And soon we realised it wasn't just Hanoi's traffic that was confusing.'
I have no idea where we are and no idea...
Not one sign post.
I'm pretty sure we've been past this park once already.
'Eventually though, we found our way out of the city,
'and into the countryside.'
Ha Long and Hanoi are two big cities.
I doubt they're connected by a three-foot wide dusty path
covered in hay.
You know when we got the 16th century, I think we turned left.
We should've gone right. Now we're in the 13th century.
DOG BARKS AGGRESSIVELY
-Well, we are completely lost.
-Yeah, are we finally admitting that? Yes.
-Even I will admit this is not the main road from...
Anywhere to anywhere.
THEY GREET EACH OTHER
Where is Ha Long City?
-This isn't Ha Long City, is it? No.
I like being lost here.
Yeah, this is a nice place to be lost.
We've found a road!
'It really did look like we were going to make it.'
I've always said to my children,
that if they buy a bike I will burn it,
and if they replace it with another one, I shall burn that too.
Now, however, if they buy a bike,
I will completely understand...
..and then I'll burn it.
With just 50 miles to go, Hammond went berserk.
He's just a prat.
'And happily he paid the price.'
Oh, no! No, no, no! I'm breaking down.
'Bruce beckoned, but having come this far,
'I wasn't going to give in.'
Plenty of fuel. It's not that.
'Happily, Jeremy ploughed on.'
Now I'm motoring!
'And without his hammer-fisted approach to pretty much everything,
'we'd have the bike mended in a jiffy.'
Whoa! I'm in gear! Ah!
I got a... Oh!
So you simultaneously headbutted me in the gentleman's region
and snapped the prow off the galleon.
You complete numpty, Hammond.
I am now boldly going where no American has been before!
'Unaware that we had a man down, we were even still buying each other silly presents.'
So there we are. It's my first bike crash, so I'm a member of the club now.
Don't like it. Hate biking.
It's a stupid idea.
My foot hurts quite badly,
cos the bike landed on it.
Got cracked ribs probably, my elbow's ruined.
Look at my suit!
'Luckily, the Vespa was undamaged, which meant I could catch the others
'and thank them for suggesting bikes in the first place.'
You short-arsed little Birmingham...
-"I've never been abroad and I don't like it
"and I'm with my piano playing idiotic..." Bleugh!
Come on! Cheer up, we're nearly there!
'Actually, the faddy Brummie was right.
'It was no time for squabbling.'
What a journey!
700 miles on my bike.
250 miles on a train,
and about 50 miles on my face.
If we've done it... If we've nursed these old, broken, tiny wee bikes
the length of Vietnam...
Ten miles to go!
Ha Long City! There it is!
THEY BEEP THEIR HORNS
We're in Ha Long City!
My little Minsk! You little buffalo, you!
Ah! Ah! Ah!
We've gone from the South to the North of Vietnam.
We've proved to the Americans it's possible!
We did it!
-I cannot believe all three bikes...
-Yes, I am a bit.
-Well done, mate.
That's it. I became a biker.
Oh, I'm being left in the field of battle, but a few beers and it'll...
-That'll just be to say congratulations.
-It'll just... Open it. "Well done!"
-It won't say that.
You think it'll say that?
-Well, it is. "Well done."
-What does it say?
-It says, "You haven't finished."
-Oh, come on!
No, well, that's...
But we have finished.
It says, "The actual finishing point is...
"Bar Hang in Ha Long Bay.
"It's only accessible by water.
"It's probably a good idea to modify your bikes so they can float."
-No, but look on the bright side.
If it's possible here to get a helmet made overnight,
it must be possible to get your bike converted into...
a Jet Ski overnight as well. It has to be.
I'm sure they do it all the time(!)
-How hard can it be?
-Don't say that!
'So it was time to find a workshop and cue the music.'
MUSIC: Theme from "The A-Team"
The wheels will be there and there.
# Da da-da da, Da da-da da... #
The engine needs to be the other way.
The next morning, we stood on the beach and looked out over Ha Long Bay,
which was quite simply Vietnam's biggest surprise.
It is a spectacular limestone maze, and hidden in there somewhere was our bar.
All we had to do was find it, and luckily we had just the machines for the job.
James had attached his bike to a traditional fishing boat,
using the engine to power the propeller.
-You've just completely disassembled your motorcycle.
-It isn't a motorbike any more.
Front wheels, gone. Engine isn't where it's supposed to live.
There's nothing in the rules that says the engine has to stay in the same place.
I've gone with the Minsk principles of simplicity, you see.
I have a rudder, steerable from the bars.
Cables, and then it's just a chain drive down to prop and I'm away.
And that's just the standard pedalo, sort of...
Yeah, this is a pedalo with extra floats on it.
'I'd been even more ingenious, turning my Vespa into a Mississippi-style paddle steamer.'
Now, as it turned out, my simple plan was very difficult
cos the Vespa weighs 940,000 tonnes.
So I needed four canoes full of foam.
'The main problem though is that with cracked ribs,
'I couldn't operate the kick start.'
Could you start my engine for me, cos neither of my legs are working?
As you're injured, I'll reduce the price.
'It was time for the off.'
MUSIC: "Ride of the Valkyries" by Richard Wagner
I have propulsion!
'But then in true Top Gear amphibious tradition,
'it all went wrong for James.
'First he crashed into me.'
Why are you doing this to me?
It's that way, you blithering idiot!
'Then he crashed into some netting.'
'And then as Hammond and I got going...'
Yeah! Once you've got it going, it's like...water-skiing! Woo-hoo!
No! No! Cock.
Why's it done that?
'As his boat was towed back to shore,
'Richard and I thought about going back to help...
'but we didn't.'
I did not expect anything like this.
James meanwhile on the beach, in what can only be described
as a crashed airliner. A scene from Lost.
I've found Hammond's spare pontoons
from the workshop over there. I've employed these local blokes to use the best traditional,
Vietnamese boat-building knot technology to lash it all together
to give me more buoyancy, stop the stern falling into the water and stop it filling up.
"Phut, phut"s away and off I go, but I've got a lot of catching up to do.
'Out in the bay, there are problems too.
'My Vespa had stalled and I needed Hammond's leg to kick it back into life.'
Right. I'll get on my bike.
-That was truly ridiculous.
-All we've got to do is get back to yours.
-Were going well, so far.
-Yeah, it's going very well.
'Half an hour later, my new, improved boat was ready.
'So I set off in pursuit of the others,
'and the elusive bar.'
1,969 islands in here.
Bar Hang? Hello. Bar Hang?
-I think he thinks we're idiots.
Where'd they go?
'We'd got desperate,
'and had even resorted to looking in caves.'
You know when Attenborough travels the world and goes to incredible natural sights like this?
-He doesn't usually pitch up on a home-made amphibious scooter.
And that's where he's been going wrong.
# It's not a big motorcycle
# Just a groovy little motorbike
# It's more fun than a barrel of monkeys, that two-wheel bike... #
OK, if you've just tuned in to Britain's favourite car show,
what's happened is, Richard and I have driven into a cave,
looking for a bar that isn't here and we have no reverse gear.
'Still...could be worse.'
God, that was going so well. My traditional Vietnamese fishing knots
have come undone,
and my centuries-old fibreglass outrigger has drifted away.
This is gonna work.
'After a 1,000 point turn, Jeremy and I were out of the cave!'
I wasn't worried, I wasn't scared.
'And with only a few hours of daylight left, we really couldn't afford any more problems.'
Water has got into the electrical system,
and the 60,000 V is coursing through everything that's metal,
including the frame on the boat, the frame of the bike...
'Our bike-skis were in a bad way.'
Life! There's life!
It's a bar!
It's an umbrella! It's a bar!
The little speck over there is Hammond, I'm sure of it!
'Sadly, there wasn't much I could do with this information.'
BLEEP BLEEP BLEEP BLEEP piece of BLEEP!
'Because my steering was broken.'
All I can do is go in circles.
'And so it seemed the non-biker would get there first.'
And that is how we do that.
'The question now was would all of us make it
before the eight-day deadline expired at sundown?
BLEEP BLEEP BLEEP BLEEP!
Wah! I can't do anything cos I haven't got reverse.
'Eventually, blind luck brought Hammond close to the pontoon
'where I was sadly too busy to help him moor.'
Just that bit of rope there, look! That rope is long enough.
But your back into it!
'With the swan lined up, I gave the engine a burst.'
-Ha ha ha!
Ha ha ha!
Using nothing but currents and the wind,
Richard Hammond's idiotic Minsk appears to have made it.
Have a beer.
'Now there were two of us to savour this amazing location.'
I've just been finding out about this place.
The people who live here are born here.
They live here, they fish here and they die here.
-They never go on dry land.
-Never go on dry land.
-They spend their whole lives floating?
-Yeah, they float around.
'Floating, though was becoming an issue for our colleague, who'd just lost his second pontoon.'
It's fallen apart.
Oh, come on!
Yeah, when we left Saigon, "But I think one thing I can guarantee
"is that my bike will make it"!
It's been quite a journey. That's the way it ends!
-There's James May ending it.
I don't believe it!
This is the worst arrival at a place, ever made by anyone, James.
The fact is, though, it was an arrival.
Our little bikes had made it.
Oh, sure, there'd been breakdowns, accidents and squabbles,
but through the rain, the draining humidity,
the mad traffic and the tricky roads,
they'd brought us 1,000 miles.
I have to say, though, that despite the success, I'm still not sold on biking.
There are good moments, but it's mostly bad.
And I'm sorry, but our machines were completely overshadowed
by this incredible, beautiful, brilliant country.
It's hard to sum it up, really. Perhaps that's why people when they get back from this place,
always say the same thing.
-"You don't know, man!
"You weren't there!"
Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May go to Vietnam and are told to travel the entire length of the country in just eight days, thereby achieving what the American military failed to do in ten years.
First they must each buy suitable transport for the trip, but the several million dong they have in their pockets prove to be rather less money than they thought, especially in one of the most expensive car markets in the world.
Nonetheless, the boys are resourceful and, with the wheels eventually sorted, they set off on one of the most spectacular and incredible road trips Top Gear has ever attempted.