Tuesday, March 16, 2010

I love when the tourist becomes the attraction!

What do three expats staying in a same village 2 hours from the nearest city do on the eve of a national holiday? Go out to dinner, preferably at an establishment that serves beer, of course! If, that is, we are lucky enough to find a decent restaurant open and serving food.

Yesterday, we drove around for half an hour - considering the size of our town, we really couldn't have driven much more than half an hour - before ending up at one of our favourites, a little noodle joint up on a hill overlooking the market. They fry up a mean noodle dish with dried onions, bacon bits, crisps, tomatoes, cucumbers, a fried egg, and lots of chili. They also serve beer for the beer drinkers and make juice for the juice drinkers.

This restaurant has a great little patch of real estate and its walls are almost entirely made of wooden trellises. Its inside walls are decorated with stickers from a schoolgirl's colouring books, its counters are decorated with careful lines of bottles representing the various beverages they serve, and its television blasts out techno karaoke music. It's a great place, so you'd think it would have a buzzing business! Maybe the locals don't like it as much as us expats do, though, because it has been empty every time I've entered.

True to form, when we walked in yesterday, it was deserted except for a teenage girl and a teenage boy: brother and sister and children of the owner, I can only assume. They were glued to the karaoke TV, and none to happy to see three foreigners come in. They stood up and stared at us as we chose a table. We tried to say hi, and they stared back in reply.

We sat down, and they kept staring. Then the girl got on her phone and made the call. She hung up and they kept staring as we opened a bag of crisps off the table and started munching. Eventually the kids brought us some water, and ten minutes later the entire family walked in.

Mom, Dad, and three little siblings. Mom got to work in the kitchen, Dad got to work waiting on us, the two teenagers got back to their TV, and the three youngsters took over the staring role. One gets the impression we were their holiday event. I love it when I get to be the tourist attraction in their own home!

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