Found at the entry to every second alley, or so it seems, nuoc mia in Saigon is the best all natural energy drink that you’ll find. Keep an eye out for the small alloy cart with a large, iconic and galleon-like wheel that hangs off the side. Once the wheel starts spinning, the attendant will carefully feed the rollers with short lengths of cut and pre-peeled sugar cane. After crushing every last drop of juice out of the sugar cane stick, only dry pulp is left at the end.
What can’t Aloe Vera do? Nha dam is used in makeup, wet-tissues, moisturizers and soaps, shaving cream, hair products and countless other goods in our consumer world. For a long time it’s also been widely used in traditional medicine and as a natural remedy for sunburn and other skin diseases or irritations. In some parts of the world it’s even eaten, or drank, and a cool bottle of Vietnamese “Nha dam” (Aloe vera drink) shouldn’t be missed.
One of the more special drinks you’ll come across in Vietnam, there are several varieties but the most common types sold on the streets are “Bong Cuc”, which is prepared from daisy flowers. Other varieties include “Linh Chi” which is made from mushrooms and “Nuoc Dang” which translates to ‘bitter drink’ tasted a bit coconut wine. They all belong to the “Sam Lanh” family and while they can look a little like dirty tap water.