Asian civets, or "weasels" to most people, the amazing animal that produces the most expensive coffee in the world, have competitors - elephants!
Two years ago, the news started spreading from Thailand that coffee beans passed through the digestive tract of the lumbering beasts excelled those produced by the dog-sized civets. In Thailand, elephant coffee can fetch as much as US$50 a cup.
In Viet Nam, a professional elephant breeder in the Central Highlands Province of Dak Lak has adopted the technique. Not only is producing top quality, expensive coffee, his scheme is being used to save wild elephants threatened by poachers.
Dang Nang Long, who has been breeding elephants for generations, told the news website VietNamNet that the wholesale price of the coffee was about VND2.4 million (US$114) a kilogram - or up to $1,100 for retail. This is several times the price of ordinary good coffee. Long added that he could collect an average of five kilograms of "treated" beans from each pile of dung, or a total of VND12.4 million ($550).
Many visitors to the area describe the coffee as "fragrant", "buttery" or "like chocolate". Long feeds his seven elephants with the best coffee cherries bought directly from local farms. He also feeds them corn flour, rice flour, bananas, pineapples, and jackfruit.
Long said the new coffee producing technique would help solve problems for local elephants breeders and owners who often find it difficult to feed and look after the animals when there are few tourists around. More importantly, producing the special beans is not difficult work for the elephants, who are saved from overwork in hauling goods and timber.
Coffee lovers must be pleased to know that their efforts are helping an endangered Vietnamese animal to survive. Pity it's too late to try the technique on rhinocerous and tigers. Oh well!
Body still warm at funeral
A 53-year-old man had been placed in his coffin when one of his friends touched his body and found it was still warm. Nguyen Van Dao, from southern Tien Giang Province, was rushed to Long An General Hospital on February 22 after suffering a stroke.
The doctors declared Dao was brain dead and asked his family to prepare him for burial. At the funeral two days later, family members and friends, including Pham Tan Loc, came to bid him the last goodbye.
Fortunately for Dao, Loc got close enough to the open coffin to notice his friend's body was still warm and urged the family to take him back to hospital. The doctors at another military hospital declared that Dao was only in a coma, but was suffering from severe exhaustion after being unfed for two days.
He finally regained consciousness one day later and was discharged in a stable condition.
Strip show for movie fans
Crying, screaming or being cold-faced are techniques widely used in lovers' fights throughout Viet Nam, but these methods are now considered old hat. The latest trick is to get angry, then naked - getting your gear off to make a point and impress bystanders!
A girl in northern Hai Phong City on Sunday froze everyone with delight at a local cinema when she started taking off her clothes, including her underwear, after a fight with her boyfriend. Witnesses said the unknown girl threatened her boyfriend that if he left her, she would take everything off and give it back to him.
As the boy still turned away, she began disrobe. First the dress, then the underwear as she tightly held the boy, refusing to let him escape. The chaos was only solved when security men hauled her to a restroom and made her dress properly again.
Meanwhile, in another undressing scandal in Ha Noi on Thursday, a video clip went viral on the Internet showing a woman in the street wearing nothing but her brief, red underwear.
The reason for the eye-warming spectacle is not known, but it was clear to viewers that it happened after vthe woman and her boyfriend had a hot-headed fight on the roadside of the Nguyen An Ninh street in Hai Ba Trung District.
The clip also showed the couple riding away later on a motorbike, with the woman still in her red underwear. — VNS