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This song became famous among Australians in South Vietnam. There is hardly and Aussie who served there that did not know it, but these days most only remember the first verse.


It is sung to the tune of The Children’s Marching Song (from the film, The Inn of the Sixth Happiness – 1958 starring Ingrid Bergman as English missionary, Gladys Aylward and Curt Jurgens as Eurasian Colonel Lin) and is based on the traditional nursery rhyme, Nick Nack Paddy Wack (which are sound words with no actual meaning) that was originally adapted by Malcolm Arnold for the Mitch Miller Orchestra. An introduction to a few basic meanings of some of the words is necessary to enjoy the sardonic humour of the piece:

  • Charlie: Should be pronounced char-lee
  • Cheap Charlie: a ‘round-eye’ who was stingy or unwilling to spend money
  • Uc-da-loi: is Vietnamese term for an Australian (pronounced ‘ook da loy’); purportedly meaning, “big rat” because there is no word in Vietnamese for Kangaroo
  • Saigon Tea: served to bar girls as whisky and coke at inflated prices when a ‘round eye’ was paying. It was never alcoholic and was usually just cold tea
  • Round eye: Asian slang name for any non Asian person
  • MPC: Military Payment Certificates which replaced American dollars. It was an American attempt to get US currency out of the system. MPC was of no use to the NVA or VC and could be changed by the authorities regularly to maintain currency control. All Allied troops had to use it
  • P: Piastre – the major unit of currency of French Indochina and South Vietnam. MPC was equivalent to about 1,000 Piastre (or more) on the black market. The official Vietnamese currency was, and still is the Dong (VND)
  • Mamma-san: female bar/brothel owner
  • Baby san: Baby


Uc-da-loi, Cheap Charlie, He no buy me Saigon tea, Saigon tea costs many many P, Uc-da-loi he Cheap Charlie.

Uc-da-loi, Cheap Charlie, He no give me MPC, MPC costs many many P, Uc-da-loi he Cheap Charlie.

Uc-da-loi, Cheap Charlie, He no go to bed with me, Bed with me costs many many P, Uc-da-loi he Cheap Charlie.

Uc-da-loi, Cheap Charlie, Make me give him one for free, Mamma-san go crook at me, Uc-da-loi, he Cheap Charlie.

Uc-da-loi, Cheap Charlie, He give baby-san to me, Baby-san costs many many P, Uc-da-loi, he Cheap Charlie.

Uc-da-loi, Cheap Charlie, He go home across the sea, He leave baby-san with me, Uc-da-loi he Cheap Charlie

Thai phrases - Describing a person
KindJai Dee
Clever (smart)Chalad
StingyKhee Niao ("Cheap Charlie")
TricksterKhee Kong
ImpatientJai Ron
PatientJai Yen
CruelJai Dam
Evil, maliciousJai Rai
Kind-heartedJai Dee

Sample PhrasesThai
The girls like him because he is kindPoo Ying Chob Khao Prao Wa Khao Jai Dee
Becareful, he is a tricksterRa Wang Na Khao Khee Kong
Make him pay everything, he is richHai Khao Jai Mod Khao Ruay

Please note: Thai Language is expressed by feelings (The heart) whereas Western expressed in Seeing.

Example: Western culture, when we understand we say "yes I see"  in Thai it's "Khao Jai" (enter the heart) to see the introduction "
Heart Culture" where you will see the common word "Jai" (Heart).

Kon Thai
   a Wai
 Kon Farang

-- Edited by Sawasdee on Friday 7th of May 2010 01:25:35 PM

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