A Convoy to Dalat 4

It seemed unlikely that this Vietnamese lady could be the object of my search, and indeed, after I had pronounced the name very slowly and, as I thought, distinctly, half a dozen times, the light dawned. Of course, it was not she, Madame Sle-le, I wanted at all. It was Madame Sne-de. The important and celebrated Madame Sne-de. ‘Oui, bien-sur. ... Read More »

A Convoy to Dalat 3

There was an eating place in the village that was serving pork and peas – take it or leave it – and where you could buy weak beer at the equivalent of five shillings a bottle. Here, too, the frontier atmosphere was very marked and obviously enjoyed by the soldiers who waved aside the eating utensils and preferred to manipulate ... Read More »

A Convoy to Dalat 2

The villages were stockaded, with strong points at the angles of the fortifications. Inside there were towers and miradors as they are called locally; structures like oil derricks supporting a machine-gun post. Sometimes truncated towers had been built into the roofs of the larger houses. It was said that one could enter these villages with safety only in daytime, and ... Read More »

A Convoy to Dalat

THE DALAT CONVOY left at five o’clock. Suspecting-as indeed proved to be the case – that the hotel boy would not call me, I lay awake most of the night, perspiring gently, listening to the occasional explosion of distant mortar bombs and to the rumble of army trucks patrolling the streets. I was travelling in a shirt and shorts, and ... Read More »

Sunday Diversions 2

To reach the quayside meant a walk of not more than five minutes up the main street, the Rue Catenat. It was five o’clock, and by this hour possible to risk the sun and walk out in the open, along the water’s edge, where the dockers were loading and unloading cargoes. A quarter of a mile away, across the river, ... Read More »

Sunday Diversions

BACK IN SAIGON I had a day to spare before the real journey began. It was Sunday, and in the morning I walked slowly to the Jardins Botaniques. Clusters of Vietnamese beauties on bicycles were bound in the same direction, floating, it seemed, rather than pedalling, as the trains of their silk gowns trailed in the air behind them. The ... Read More »

The Universal Religion 7

At the banquet which followed, I sat next to a Cao-Daist colonel, who informed me, with a secret, knowing smile, that he was head of the secret police of this Universal Religion of the Age of Improved Transport. The meal was vegetarian and although the French visitors had been told that they could order eggs if they wished, no one ... Read More »

The Universal Religion 6

In support of the latter theory it is significant that the founders and directors of this movement were all men who had spent most of their lives in the harness of a profession or in the civil service. To have been successful as they had been in these walks of life would have left them little time to cultivate taste, ... Read More »

The Universal Religion 5

It might have been, but what about the children with all this voluntary abnegation, practised almost as soon as they were out of the cradle? The answer was given by a Cao-Daist doctor of the ninth grade and a member of the Charity Corps, in which he had reached the rather low rank of fiddle-ardent. ‘We suffer from malnutrition in ... Read More »

The Universal Religion 4

As soon as the convoy was really under way it began to travel at high speed. Except where we were forced to slow down for roadblocks the Citroen was doing a steady sixty m.p.h. The deserted paddy-fields through which our road ran were the colour of putty and the sunshine reflected blearily from the muddy water. As we passed, congregations ... Read More »