A Dragon Apparent

Central Annum 8

We stopped to collect some orchids for the Vice-Mayor’s wife. They were white and orange like tiny jonquil flowers and hung in clusters on waxen stems. While the Vice-Mayor was up the tree, I took an interest in some of the insects. There were huge dragonflies that came darting up and remained stationary at a distance of a foot or ... Read More »

Central Annum 7

Although thick-set for a Vietnamese, Bao-Dai was not, as American newspapers have described him, ‘pudgy’. In contrast to the experience of some newspaper correspondents who told me that he always seemed bored when interviewed, I found him cheerful enough, possibly at the prospect of a hunting trip. He asked me if I hunted and I said that I did not. ... Read More »

Central Annum 6

Back at Pleiku we discussed over a dinner of roast peacock – which was rather like tough veal – the possibility of my getting through to Stung Treng. Once again the Resident told me that he would willingly take me to Bo-Kheo, but thought that it would be extremely ill-advised to make the journey. I formed the opinion that he ... Read More »

Central Annum 5

The schoolmaster was petrified by the importance of the occasion. When the inspector told him to let us see the physical culture class in action, the only thing he could think of getting them to demonstrate for our benefit was breathing exercises. We stood there watching the small chests inflating and deflating hundreds of times, as it seemed, before realising ... Read More »

Central Annum 4

At last, although from a glance at a side-table it was clear that more colour-combinations of liquors and mugs had been intended, the Resi¬dent seized an opportunity to rise. The ceremonial drum was rushed into position, the banners elevated and off we went, at a rapid if unsteady shuffle. But it was not back to the Resident’s Citroen that we ... Read More »

Central Annum 2

What followed was a most distressing spectacle. Two of the fathers stood out. Carrying coupe-coupes (the Moi weapon which is half knife and half axe), they approached the animal from behind. They succeeded after several false attempts, when the heavy knife struck home with a hideous chopping sound, in hamstringing first one leg, causing the animal to hop about on ... Read More »

Central Annum

THERE IS A SCHOOL at Pleiku for the children of the Jarai and Bahnar tribes in the neighbourhood. With some difficulty, and by putting pressure on the chiefs, the children are persuaded to come and sit in its classrooms, where they learn a few words of French and acquire higher education embracing a nodding acquaintance with Napoleon’s cam¬paigns and the ... Read More »

The Vanishing Tribes 6

There was a well-known tea plantation not far away, and the French officials, as usual, had not been afraid to let me know, in a roundabout way, what they thought of it, and of the methods of the planter. But the missionaries had nothing but praise for the Algerian that ran the place, and it turned out that he had ... Read More »

The Vanishing Tribes 5

At Dak Ayun a yellow fortress bristled in the plain; a log-built affair with bamboo palisades in place of barbed-wire entanglements. Patrols would have to walk round it, and it could hold off an attack by a company of not too resolute infantry, but the first field-gun would blow it to matchwood in a few minutes. The machine-guns of Dak ... Read More »

The Vanishing Tribes 4

Pleiku was an authentic frontier town, with military notices on all sides. Pine trees grew in the bright red earth, but there was no grass – only the red soil and the pines. The smart, Mediterranean-looking villas were set back from the road and surrounded by spiked palisades. A few cars with armoured wind-shields were running about, and civilians as ... Read More »