Tuesday, July 21, 2009

I could get used to this coffee

Our guide, Phung, has informed me that authentic weasel coffee -- coffee brewed from beans that have passed through the digestive tract of a civet -- is all but impossible to find anymore. I haven't given up my quest, but in the meantime we're drinking a lot of the regular Vietnamese coffee, which is some of the thickest, inkiest, richest coffee I've ever encountered.  The cup above was poured half full of coffee, thinned with hot water, then "lightened" with milk. It's still tar. 

We're in the city of Buon Mi Thuot staying in a huge, brand-new pink hotel where we appear to be the only guests, which is a bit creepy. But the rooms are very international and posh, so it's possible to pretend you're anywhere. Like closer to home. I'm homesick!

But having a wonderful time.  Yesterday was spectacular.
On the 5-hour drive from Da Lat to BMT we saw waterfalls, rainforest, mountains, durian trees, rice paddies, water buffalo, coffee plantations, villages, markets, a lake, countless long-legged chickens. Dogs. Lots and lots of puppies and dogs, which appear to be both livestock and pets. Phung offered to take me to eat dog, but I don't feel the need. 

Dinner last night: grilled goat and hot pot. There were geckos running all over the wall and occasionally shrieking, or chirping, or whatever that sound they make is called. At one point, the waiter brought out a kitchen scale and put it on the terrace floor next to a neighboring table. Then he brought out a live turtle and placed it atop the scale. The turtle kept crawling off the scale and the waiter had to grab him and put him back. After three or four tries the waiter and the diners agreed on a weight and a price, and the turtle went back to the kitchen. We didn't see his second act. 

Today, we drive to Pleiku, where my father was stationed in 1967. 


  1. Hope you took lots of photos yesterday. The waterfall is a beauty, and gives a sense of how very nice and interesting it must be. Glad you are having a good time. Makes me think of Burma and how very much I enjoyed a similar trip, full of new sights and sounds.

    You really ought to try the Durian Fruit. It is said to be wonderful, if over-aromatic. Cecelia Hum used to rave about it!

    Missing you but happy you are having this experience.


  2. Wow, you do/see/eat something crazy every day! I love the turtle story. I wonder if turtle tastes like chicken.

  3. What were those pills next to the coffee?
    Bees update from the Tipsy Farm: I'm never here during the day and at night, there's nothing going on. I hope they're OK.
    How is the coffee brewed, if you know?
    What was the turtle's name?

  4. Pills: malaria and grapefruit seed extract, the latter being a (probably) quack preventative of stomach sickness.
    I looked for honey today, but apparently it is widely adulterated and I have not found a source Mr. Phung approves of.
    Don't know how the coffee is brewed, but I've seen a lot of it growing.