Kind souls offer strangers free iced tea

Published: 26/09/2009 05:00

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A cyclo driver stops to take a cooling cup of tea from the free drinking point managed by Pham Van Long.

Shoe polisher Tran Van Dinh saves one fifth of his monthly income by drinking free iced tea on some corners of the central coastal city of Da Nang, where the summertime sun scorches everything in sight.

“During the summer, I used to spend at least ten thousand dong everyday on cold drinks, but since I found out about these free iced tea points, I save up and send this money to my family,” the 15-year-old boy from the neighbouring province of Quang Nam said.

Dinh and thousands of other poor labourers in Da Nang are cooling down in the summer heat from several free iced beverage supply points, which are sponsored by some city dwellers richer in heart than in pocket.

Kind souls

Waking every morning at 5am, Pham Van Long begins boiling water to make tea for his free iced tea point on Le Duan street in downtown Da Nang. It takes him two hours to boil 100 litres of water and about the same amount of time for it to cool back down. Using cheap charcoal for boiling, Long waits for the tank to cool down and carries it by hand to the street corner near his home.

On the corner, a 100-litre tank sits on the pavement of the street where it is accessible to both walkers and others passing by. The tank can keep the iced tea cold for a long time without the need for more ice during the day.

Everyday Long boils and cools between 400 and 500 litres of water to make free ice tea for people on the street.

“Everyday I bring 400-500 litres of iced tea to this point,” said the 62-year-old man, who lives in a small lane near the corner.

Long, who retired from his tailor trade and began the charity four years ago, said he’s not rich, but he tries to set aside about one million dong every month to make tea for poorer people.

“My thinking is simple: I just cut down on some of my beer drinking everyday to make tea to help the poor. I really enjoy seeing them satisfied while drinking my tea.”

Unlike the retired Long, Nguyen Thanh in Phan Dang Luu Street started making tea three years ago for his staff at his LPG gas shop, with a small tank of iced tea at the door of the shop.

“Sometimes poor people would beg me for some tea, so I decided to make more tea to give to them as well,” said the 40-year-old man.

Thanh then purchased a larger tank and put it on the pavement, supplying free iced tea to all the people.

“My shop is near some schools and many pupils come by to have tea,” Thanh said with a smile.

Thanh said that it was not only poor people that drank at his corner, but some ordinary people in a hurry who just wanted a quick cool drink also.

Beside supplying free iced tea like Long and Thanh, Nguyen Thi Thanh Thuy on Phan Chau Trinh Street also supplies free vegetarian meals for poor people every first and fifteenth day of the lunar month.

Thuy, who has been doing such charitable activities for the last 12 years, serves upwards of 800 people on these days.

“Every time I see poor people eating my food, I feel relaxed and happy, and now it is one of the best parts of my life,” she said.

Stopping in for a free iced tea on Phan Dang Luu Street, a young couple on their luxury bike takes two glasses, saying they just want to enjoy something free, a rare thing these days.

But one must still be careful of hygiene, and the spread of diseases like the A/H1N1 flu, which saw its first casualty in Nha Trang a few days back. There are only re-usable plastic cups, as the owners cannot afford to provide disposable ones. So it is free, but as with everything in life, it comes with its own set of risks.

VietNamNet/VNS

Provide by Vietnam Travel

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