The monring coffee ritual is turning out to have a double benefit.

Frequenting the same cafe has meant I’m starting to make some connections here in Nha Trang.

The latest is a French Vietnamese named Claude, a man who could read a bus timetable, and make it sound like Remembrance of things Past.

He ambled over to my table to say hello after I stared at him, trying to figure out whether he was part Maori. He has the skin tone, and flat, hooked nose for it.

He is almost my age, and grew up in Paris , leaving school at around 15. “I did not like getting up in the morning, you see”.

He is part Vietnamese, and came to Vietnam after crossing the road to buy a ticket to the US. “The tickets for ze States was ‘ere, and ze ticket for Vietnam was over ‘ere. I thought, no, I am going to Vietnam.”

He’s been in Vietnam now for 14 years, and is relentlessly cheerful, and carefree.

The other day, the entire contents of his under-construction house had been stolen. Maybe it was bravado, but he shrugs. “I do not care”. He guessed the value at a few million VND ( ~= 200 USD ).

He appears to knows his way around Nha Trang, and he’s street-smart, an original thinker, and speaks four languages.

The good coffee, and a dose of The World According to Claude, are the perfect morning filip.

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