An Icey tale…

The filter system

There are two kinds of ice that are commonly available in Vietnam. One of them are roundish shaped ice that has been formed by a machine not unlike the Motel ice machines we have in North America. Those machines use purified water and are safe for a foreigner to drink. Quite often though, a person can find themselves in a café where you can hear the clack clack of ice being broken from a big block. If you get a drink with ice and it looks jagged…… beware!

 Another bike ride and another story… I was headed out of town when I noticed some sprouting water over a fence. Aha!! I thought to myself. Maybe this is where ice is made…. Indeed it was.. I rode the bike into the yard and was confronted by a security guard. I smiled, showed him my camera and

The ice molds

 told him in Vietnamese that I did not understand how they made ice. He let me through and I was confronted with one of the most primitive and unsanitary places I have seen for a product for human consumption. Before me was a pile of extremely rusted containers propped against a muddy and rust filled soil. It looked as if the years of rust had created the soil itself. The young lads loved me being there taking photos and laughed and posed for many shots. Here is what my new found understanding of how the big block ice making works…..

A muddy place

Ground water is pumped onto some kind of open air filtration system you can see in the photos. The water channels down over the lichen and slimy filters to a holding tank where the water is pumped through grime ridden hoses to these long containers where the ice is formed. The containers are entombed in concrete structure and somehow cooled to the freezing point. I did not see how this was done. After the block was frozen, a couple of men would man handle the big rusty container out of the concrete base and then physically force the large chunk of ice out of the rusty shell. A young muscular fellow then grabbed the block off of the muddy floor and threw it into the open cargo hold of a waiting truck. Who knows what the truck hauled previously….

Out of the rusty container

 Hopefully it hauls ice only and not pigs. That ice then end up being shipped to restaurants and other locations. I do not mind using this ice In a cooler to but my bottles in, but to actually put a chunk of it in my glass??? NO THANK YOU! I have friends that can attest to the fact that one lazy moment and forgetting to check the ice has led to a very bad case of Diarrhea. There is still a lot of bacteria in this ice that our bodies have never been subjected to, and it can cause some very nasty digestive problems. There are some here that drink whatever ice is in their drinks with so problems. Huh… the must have built up an immunity for the bugs, However, after witnessing the process of how the ice was made, I do not care where th water comes from. It will never end up in my drink.

On to the truck it goes

I tried to locate the house of my tiny egg man today but only was able to narrow it down to a small street. I found out that he had already been released from the hospital and was home. I found a person who knew him and was told he is almost better and his business will be up and running again soon… I hope so… I was also told that he is replacing the glass and damaged tin on his new Kiosk. I found out a little more of the dispute. Apparently my friend has been asking for a very long time for the bakery ( who sponsors these businesses) to help replace the old and rusty cart as it was way beyond it’s lifetime. After getting no help, he decided to deal with another bakery and had a new shiny cart provided. The owner of the old bakery hired the thugs to hurt him. They showed up with masks on their faces, and license plates covered with black cloth.  .  I asked them to tell that I had called to see he was OK.

A very hard worker

There is a severe water shortage here and it is affecting the whole country. We have been told that power outages will be a regular occurrence until the end of July. I have since bought a generator, but use it sparingly as it has high fuel consumption. I have been warned that the power loss will happen every 2 days this week until Sunday. Therefore, I have written this post late night to be posted first thing tomorrow.

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Tour designer and Guide specializing in off the beaten track tours of Vietnam

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