A Phin, A Song and a Double shot

Picking up from the Vietnamese interpretation in 'UMA', if you have a chance to visit Vietnam, do sample the Vietnamese coffee. It’s one of my favourite local drinks for its presentation style, charm and taste. I am almost certain, if you are a coffee drinker, it would be in your list in no time. A glimpse and sip of it is a sure-fire way to keep the energy and curiosity levels at top notch. And after a cup, you’d probably be craving more just like I did. And no, there's no additives added to it, just a plain ol' have-me coffee. The coffee history here dates back to days of French and Dutch colonialism in South East Asia. The mountainous topology gives Vietnam a geographic advantage to produce a diversity of beans; with the multi-origin beans being the more natural blends of the region. 

Vietnam, I learnt, is today the second largest producer of coffee in the world. The beans are roasted on low temperature for a longer duration using a small amount of buttered oil (or plain oil) with hints of sugar and spices. The result is a fine and lightly spiced-caramel flavoured brewed coffee. It is available all over the country and savoured by locals and visitors. 

Hot booster VC

The Phin is an ordinary low-tech (and inexpensive), non-electrical filter used for its brewing. A Phin + good blend of Vietnamese coffee powder + hot water + cream is all you need for a cracker!  The iced is another fancy serving of the same coffee. I wasn’t adventurous enough to try the versions with eggs or yoghurt or fruit then. Though I am pretty much better at handling the classic rules of taste with occasional diversions, these specialty coffees are indeed on the to-try list. I will get there. Someday. While its presentation is commercialised and sold at higher prices at fancier outlets, it is also available at 'local' prices in everyday joints.

There are another two lasting memories I have of Vietnam. First was the warm and welcoming nature of the local families to accept strangers like us into their social group activities. During one occasion, we were invited to join a teacher’s picnic, share their meals and drink their home-made rice wine. We did indeed accept their invitation but could only stay for a short while. 

Sights and sounds around Hanoi

The second is the desire the local university students showed towards acquiring skills such as speaking in or should I say perfecting their English. One such person is a courageous young girl named Thuy Le. We talked on several occasions, and we exchanged our stories. I found hers very uplifting and some very amusingly-courageous, and just listening to her earnest desire and realisation to improve, to be a better person at that young age is an inspiration. Her parting words were the lyrics from Adele's song, which another tourist-friend of hers had recited to her and she in return passed it on to me. ‘I wish nothing but the best for you.’   I wish her and you the same too. Thuy Le and I are still in contact.

The sun's all out. All I need right now is a phin, a good song and double espresso. 

Enjoy the new week.

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