Cambodia Shares Its Secrets

Cambodia Shares Its Secrets

In Joseph Conrad’s short story, “The Secret Sharer,” a tall ship eases her way through the warm night, towards the coast of an exotic tropical kingdom. The captain secretly assists a mysterious man over the side and he swims to the lee-ward shore of “The Cambogee.” Nowadays we call that land Cambodia. Many years ago, as a sailor plying the “China... Read More

Cobra’s Beating Heart

Cobra’s Beating Heart

Cobra as Fresh as It Gets I’ve eaten and drunk many a strange thing around the world. And I’ll continue to do so, for your delectation as well as mine. So I was at the 3T restaurant, on the rooftop above Temple Club in Saigon, recently, entertaining a friend from the States. And I want to tell you that I had the freshest shrimp I’ve ever eaten. Oh, so sweet and... Read More

Vintage Thailand

Vintage Thailand

In the province of Issan, where many scholars say the roots of Thai culture strike deepest, one of the symbols of European culture is being nurtured. Mr. Chaiyudh Karnasuta, 83, owns and operates Chateau de Loei as Thailand’s first commercial winery, in operation since 1991. You might think the tropics a daft place to grow wine, and you’d generally be right. But Issan... Read More

Hoi An’s Cuisine Misstress, Vy

Hoi An’s Cuisine Misstress, Vy

Trin Diem Vy, or Miss Vy as she is known to everyone, is the third-generation owner and chef de cuisine at what is now called the Mermaid restaurant in Hoi An. It began as a market stall operated by her grandparents when they were young. ‘I still use the same recipes my grandmother and my mother used,’ she says in her Australian-accented English. ‘Mine is the home cooking... Read More

A Xe Om Tale

A Xe Om Tale

It’s called a xe om. Say “say awm.” You’ve always got to have “small money” in your pocket. In Vietnam or any other “Third World” country, any poor country, you need small money. There are too many people who simply can’t or won’t break a five. Or a six, as the case may be. Here in Vietnam, for example, we have the 50,000-dong note. A laughably big... Read More

The Enemy Within: A Saigon Odyssey

The Enemy Within: A Saigon Odyssey

Darkness was thick on the Mekong River delta that night, making it difficult to keep my bearings, but I was able to orient myself by the light of shell flashes to the West, near Saigon.  The larger bursts were like cameraflashes, and my eye took pictures, etching onto my memory the sirensong beauty of the land we were about to quit in defeat.  A hundred or so Vietnamese refugees... Read More

Baja California’s Ancient Warrior

Baja California’s Ancient Warrior

The Sierra de San Fransisco rises almost straight up from the desert floor of Baja California, climbing for a mile.  No rolling foothills presage its existence.  It lunges up like skyscrapers, stabbing at the air with its crooked towers, snatching at clouds with its twisted peaks.  Here and there high mesas contrast with the crags.  The mesas fall away into great slashes of... Read More

Cock’s Testicles for Three: A Saigon Special

Cock’s Testicles for Three: A Saigon Special

My testicles?! So how does this get to something like Cock’s Testicles? The two Aussies I met on the flight into Saigon and I have forged a grand alliance, and have become mates, chums, buddies. Rob is the tall one, a typical Aussie blond beach boy, beer chugging, ball playing good fella. He’s the quieter of the two, but always ready to shout “Aussie Aussie Aussie!... Read More

Chicken Feet – Finger Licking in Laos

Chicken Feet – Finger Licking in Laos

I hopped on the ordinary train from Bangkok to the end of the line at Nong Kai. But that was not my destination. I was heading to the place that’s after the end of the line, in more ways than one. To cross the Mekong River from Thailand into Laos is to cross time and consciousness more than space. Crammed into the middle of the Indochina peninsula, it is a place the world... Read More

On The Origin Of Species: The Tuxedo

On The Origin Of Species: The Tuxedo

It is the most enduring garment of the modern age: the classic black and white, the civilian man’s version of the full dress uniform. It’s the original power suit. And it is what a man wears when he wants to look and feel his personal best. As Dean Martin said, “In a tuxedo, I’m a star.” The tuxedo is the sartorial masterstroke of Griswold P. Lorillard, habitue’... Read More