Fresh milk in Vietnam? Good luck! By Daniel Nest

Regular milk is a rarity in Vietnam. They usually drink sweet condensed milk in their tea or coffee. Sometimes this results in awkward scenes.

Hotel in Hue. Breakfast. We are served coffee with sweet milk. My girlfriend doesn't like sugar, so I ask the waiter for another cup, without sugar. I use several variations: "no sugar", "without sugar", "just milk", "regular milk". The water looks at me like I'm playing some odd thesaurus game. Then he nods, says "OK, OK" and leaves.

He comes back with two more cups of coffee, both with the same sweet milk.

Time to change strategy. A lady at the next table suggests asking for black coffee with "fresh milk" on the side. I do so, while also pantomiming milking a cow for good measure. I'm a natural born performer, what can I say.

The waiter says "OK" even more times, smiles wider and leaves. He returns with a tray that has two cups of black coffee and two separate glasses of...wait for it...condensed sweet milk!

At this stage we have eight cups on our table and a very confused waiter attempting to act like he's in control of the situation. He sees that this wasn't what we're looking for, but he doesn't quite know what to do next.

Luckily, before he runs off to bring us 10 more cups of coffee and a banana, his colleague passes by our table and comes to the rescue. She asks "fresh milk?" to which we enthusiastically nod "yes".

We get TWO more cups of coffee, PLUS two cups of fresh milk.

Oh well, close enough!

in Hué, Vietnam


A Ukrainian guy who lives in Denmark and runs an English humour blog:

I also freelance. You can find my work on,, and other places online.

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