My 17 April 2006 posting on coffee in Việt Nam discussed urban coffee houses. Since then, we have been expanding our experience beyond Thành Phố Hồ Chí Minh to the suburbs. These suburban districts are still part of the administrative area of TP. Hồ Chí Minh. Most of these areas are not really suburbs in the American development of the term; there is a lot of countryside to see out there with houses and shops strung out along the roads.
But just as in urban HCMC, there are many coffee houses out in the countryside. There are many of the same type of coffee shops discussed previously, with the addition of a new type not usually found in the urban areas -- jungle hut coffee parks.
These fairly large outdoor coffee parks feature pavilions and thatch-roofed huts. Most importantly, they offer hammocks in addition to the standard coffee house lounge chairs.
It appears that many Vietnamese come to these coffee parks for extensive relaxation. We relaxed in this particular park during the lunch hour, and it seemed as if several of the other patrons were there to nap during the long lunch break, and presumably came to the park after a quick bite somewhere else down the road (since almost all coffee houses do not offer food).
As can be seen in the photo above, the grass huts offer a fair degree of privacy. Since privacy is hard to come by given the density of family members in the average home, it appears that these coffee parks (as in some urban coffee houses) provide an escape to the dark for those people needing a bit of peace and quiet. These huts seem to be a favorite of couples. Actually, urban coffee houses often have very dark corners or alcoves, and I am finally figuring out why these coffee houses are filled with couples in the evening.