Sunday, 12 June 2011
No fried spam but some pho at Cu Chi. Vietnam memories 1965 1975
Once I had to visit a base near Cu Chi. This was on the way to Tay Ninh. When I got there the sergeant I met gave me a beer which was welcome and very correct. He then started to cook his own breakfast. It's possible I had missed mine because I was very hungry. I never knew the smell of spam being fried coud be so good. He did it very slowly, turning it over from time to time, in no hurry, perhaps flavouring the delights of this delicious odour himself. He didn't offer me any, he had no reason to and I couldn't ask. It's funny how the smell of fried spam has survived forty years. Most people I know, my family in particular treat it, along with corned beef and baked beans with utter contempt. To me they are the staples of survival.
On leaving the base I went into the town of Cu Chi and in a café ordered a bowl of Pho. The town was miserable, the café equally so. Café is the wrong word, there is a Vietnamese word. Let's say a place to eat that specialised in pho. The pho was one of the worst I have ever had. I remembered flying over that area. It had been totally destroyed by B52's and Agent Orange. It would be found to be riddled with tunnels dug by the Viet Cong. The people were not happy and had no reason to be so. Not a very good trip.
In the office one day I heard a conversation between two people saying it would be better to give me the old vehicle and not the new one that had just been bought as I took too many risks driving around. A comforting thought.
The musicians and support personnel were Philipinos. The main act were a couple of American comedians who impersonated a well known couple in the States. There seemed to be a lot of copies in vietnam, whilst one rarely saw the genuine article.