The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) provided us with proper diet and did outstanding job in keeping us healthy.
I don’t recall exactly how often we were given food but every other day or 2 times per week, we were given either chicken, fish and along with some kinds of vegetable. Your portion was so little that if you tried to feed yourself, you would run out of food by the second day. So, what we did was that if you arrived the island by yourself or had one or 2 relatives, you joined other families to cook together. We became one big family. Of course, there was refrigerator to keep the food fresh. We cooked by burning wood from the mountain and used water from the well. The fresh drinking was was saved for drinking.
In comparison with other kids, I was a lucky kid that I had family on the island. Mom cooked for everyone and at least 3 more single guys in our long house (apartment). Our family was extended.
We also had a lot of instant noodles, Mi Goi. Generously, everyone had 7 packs of instant noodles for each week. Most of the women did not like noodles or they ate so little that we could see noodles piled up everywhere. I loved Mi Goi. Sometimes, I had 3 packs of instant noodles and one or two before bedtime. I loved ‘em.
We had noodles for breakfast, noodles for lunch, noodles for dinner, and we had noodles as snack. Eventually, noodles would become our candy. Noodles were everywhere and the rats loved noodles.
Have you tried to fry noodles with sugar, Mi Ngao Duong? I was the expert with this type of snack. With a cup of hot tea and Mi Ngao Duong before bed time, we had a good night sleep.
One more thing, certain types of noodle packages were like foil from the inside and the outside had colorful images. We used them to make Christmas trees and they were so beautiful.
It has been more than 15 years since I left Bidong in 1992, but I still love the instant noodles because I ate them for nearly 3 straight years and almost every day. Sometimes, I make Mi Ngao Duong and I enjoy it myself. I’ll treat you one day.