Wednesday, 27 June 2007
Green tea. Memories of Saigon. Vietnam
The picture above is of another singer in my collection of cassettes from before the fall.
Tea was the usual drink. As I utterly loathed the English fashion of putting milk in it I was very happy. Green tea could be had almost anywhere , usually free, and as the water had been boiled it was relatively safe. Coffee was of the robusta variety, very strong, drunk out of small glasses with a lot of sugar. I drank far too much and at times my nerves suffered.
There was a habit in Asia during big celebratory dinners to put bottles of whisky or brandy on the tables. Neither I nor the people I associated with did this and we usually had wine. There was a strong French influence in certain families.
I have mentioned earlier that the beer was lousy. The cheap beer, Larue, for the peasant classes. Very weak and tasteless. And '33' or Ba muoi ba. Strong, horrible taste and frankly some form of gutrot but far safer than the 'Mekong whisky' that thankfully I never tried.
Certain supplies of drink could be had from the PX or black market. Jim very kindly gave me a case of Johnny Walker Black Label for my wedding.
There was a time when I was at Van Kiep that the only drink available from the PX was gin. Gin and tang (an orange powder) and warm water. No ice. Never again. Another time at Phan Thiet when our water supplies had been destroyed and the only beer, American, was revolting. I won't give the name here.
Westerners tended to drink far too much. Some war weary Vietnamese men did but I never noticed much drinking. Vietnamese women rarely drank.