Saigon Stories – Without Beer

James is an excellent guide, a chatterbox with excellent English, perky and enthusiastic, he was born in 1990, so must be 29 years old. James keeps his iPhone 11 in his hand and keeps us in hand too, all of us, taking great care as we dodge with him across the busy streets or jump in and out of boats.

James’ family history tells so much of the recent history of Vietnam. His grandfather fought with the Viet Minh but was killed after the communists came to power in the north, buried alive. His unwillingness to completely give up the generations-held family business and building was found wanting. The rest of the family fled south. James told us that his family were in Saigon during the American war and report that although they heard rumours of the Chu Chi Tunnels being so close to the city, nobody believed it.

We could tell that James really enjoyed his job. He liked chattering to the kids, and to us too. He did his best to teach us some Vietnamese. Loving the personal stories and the top-notch mental stimulation of being in a big, busy city.

This evening, I walked with Paul to the Heart of Darkness brewery and bar. This is a bit of a franchise operation, with outlets in Singaport and London… but guess what? There’s no alcohol-free beer. How lame is that?

Get with the program, Heart of darkness, you are supposed to be trendy.

Again today, I’m overjoyed to report there’s no urge to drink, not to ease anxiety, nor to celebrate nor to drown my sorrows. Not even any craving for the taste of it, far less the sensation.

It’s not that I don’t desire luscious taste and pretty drinks, but I just do not need them to have alcohol in them. Amazing!

I’m surprised but also not really surprised. This is not the first time I have stopped drinking. It’s not even the second or third.

Keeping up with the quit lit. At the moment, I’m re-reading High Sobriety and very much enjoying that. There’s a deep resonance with all the Scottish banter, good and bad. I’m reading about my homecountry’s story and my own and my family’s history… all the whilst learning so much about Vietnam’s history.

All in the stinking heat… with no cool, refreshing ale, but plenty of cool, refreshing drinks.

Looking for a great book about sobriety and alcohol free reading?

Click here to read my favourite book list for 2024.

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