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Vietnam Adventure Part One: The stuff in the stuff you put in your children makes them spit on me.
HWA?
pukiban
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Brother talked to me before we got here about Vietnamese coffee. It's pretty much a shot of espresso mixed with lots of sweetened condensed milk, served with so much ice it's almost more like a slushie (though just in general they serve everything with too much ice, which is fine with me because I've always loved too much ice). Sometimes they'll have it with lots of sugar but no cream. It's good but incredibly thick and sweet, and I'm constantly tempted to pour the tea they serve it with in the cup to water it down, only I'm a little afraid they'll all think I'm weird (though I'm not sure if it would be any weirder to them than the way Clay insists on drinking his coffee with NO SUGAR OR CREAM.)

What Clay didn't warn me about was just HOW MUCH coffee they drink. This probably does have a little to do with the fact that we live next door to the cafe, but still. Every time you go to someone's house (which we did a lot the first few days), they will insist you drink coffee with them. Every time you've been on the road for a little while, someone will insist on stopping at a cafe. Every time you're sitting around at home around the time intervals at which you might be offered water or something else to drink in America, someone will come at you with a coffee. I think I had under ten cups of coffee my first day here, but not MUCH under. And that's with trying to turn them down.

Usually, at least, there's a pot of tea with it to drink afterward, but never water. It's always a little surprise to see water when we're out (at home there's a big jug of it we can drink from, though I've almost never seen anyone else in the house but us do so), especially in restaurants. A couple days ago we were having some sort of fruit-salad-drink-thing at a roadside stall and they actually served some to us, though.

But they served it with shot glasses.

And that's usually how it seems to go. Coffee = large glass, tea = small cup, water = pewny tasting vestibule. I guess I shouldn't be surprised I've almost never caught anyone here actually using a bathroom.

Maybe after reading all that you know better than to wonder, but in case you had any doubts and are trying to figure out what the children drink, I did indeed see a maybe-seven-or-younger already hyperactive child served the espressosweetmilkdrink (later, she spent a good couple hours tirelessly spitting on us and trying to pry the digital camera from my hands. In a friendly way, though) together with all the adults. When Clay tries to tell people he's had trouble sleeping and doesn't want to drink coffee at 10pm, sometimes they answer back, “Why?”

When he tried to look up the word for caffeine in the Vietnamese dictionary, he instead found a phrasal definition that said, “stuff that is inside coffee.”

Since we've been visiting people less and they're maybe starting to learn we don't want to drink coffee that often, I think my coffee intake has gone down to four or so cups a day. Someday, when we can, we hope to sneak away to the market to buy bottled water to smuggle in our rooms. Till then, I only feel sickly dehydrated sometimes.


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