Snatched a couple of hours today after meeting some last minute work needs, so took myself off to explore the immediate environs. First off, it is really clean and neat. The streets are crowded, but they are not dirty and they seem a lot more “developed” than, say, Hanoi.

Time came to eat. There were many brightly lit chrome and plastic places, rather like last night’s Happy Steak, but I didn't want a giant meal and I did want something a little more old-style. I found one, no idea what it was called, facing the lake. By the door were bits of meat I could recognize and bits I could not, at which point my colleague departed to find “a bun”. The place wasn’t full, but it wasn’t empty either, and I was taken to a table where the very pretty young waitress blushed fetchingly as she pointed to the menu.

Now in the old days in the old country, it was always taken as some sort of weird sign of authenticity if there were actual Chinese people eating in the local Chinese restaurant. I looked around. There wasn’t a single westerner, nor a single word of English, or any other language I could read, on the menu. I toyed briefly with the “I’ll have what they’re having” gambit but hadn’t actually paid that much attention to what the various theys were having and didn’t feel quite confident enough to get up and investigate. So I played the “Johnny Foreigner mimes noodles” gambit instead. (Just a sort of squiggly random circling motion, in case you were interested.) Bingo.

“Noodle,” she said, I think. Then “beef or fish”.

“Beef,” I said.

Then, completely inexplicably, she held up one finger. Then two. “One, two?”

I was completely lost. One or two what? I thought maybe it was to do with size -- if it wasn’t I was flying blind anyway -- so went for one. “And green tea.”

“Tea. Yes.”

And the noodles came, with a thick oily layer floating above the chilli-red broth and some rather chewy bits of beef nestling within the noodles. And by golly it was good. Not great, but deeply satisfying, and not just for the stomach. The tea was jasmine, not green, but what the heck.

I paid less than 5 yuan and left, a happy man, to walk around the little lake. Some of what I saw is already on Flickr and on my Photo pages.1

  1. 2021-09-22: That died; too much maintenance. 

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