Put 4 cups water, sugar, and halved vanilla bean with scraped seeds into a large saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring until sugar has dissolved. Add plums. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer until plums are tender, about 15 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer plums to a plate to cool completely; remove bean, and discard poaching liquid.
Puree cooled plums in a blender. Add buttermilk and small ice cubes; blend until smooth.
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