Friday, 8 November 2013

Let's go out for dinner...

Friday 8th November again...

Well you see we wanted to go out for dinner in Bangkok, even if it was just once. On my birthday here we tried to go out to eat and the stench of Bangkok was so disgusting I could not eat for several days, so with the rain making everything smell so much nicer, we tried again. It seems that the forces of fate do not want me to eat in this city.

We left the hotel in the cool evening with the streets drying from the rain, the smell of rotting rubbish and effluence was quite low in the spectrum of aromas on the streets, most appealing of all was the smell of cooking coming from the various restaurants, I was actually hungry and looking forwards to something nice and spicy. Sadly this was not to be...

With Carol getting a little frustrated at trying to find a place she liked, we settled on a nice place with a good air con and a bit of equally cool jazz playing, the staff greeted us in English and showed us to a table before giving us a menu. Carol having forgotten her reading glasses struggled to read the menu and her face darkened with every aspect she could make out. Being a European place with a European owner, the prices reflected European incomes and were a somewhat higher than Carol really wanted to pay, so with a comment to me she stood up and we left to bemused looks from the owner and the staff. 

We crossed the road and went looking for something that matched our prices a little more, I though was starting to really struggle with the noise levels on the busy street and the traffic noise, people noise, music noise and day to day city noise was becoming so oppressive all I could do was cover my ears to stop the building roar that was ricocheting around my head. I know that my hearing is unusual, I can hear a watch ticking on the other side of the room, yet as soon as two noises happen together I have to work very hard to distinguish them. You can imagine how I am when in a busy pub with music and lots of drinkers, basically I tend to sit quietly because I am unable to follow a conversation. With the street in Bangkok though, the noise level was painful and when Carol spoke I could not hear a word she said. Why am I telling you this you may wonder, well it will soon become pertinent to our story. 

Carol found a small family run restaurant on the corner of the busy street and asked me if I wanted to enter, with my ears covered it was all I could do to follow her and we wandered inside. The small eatery was a roar of noise that to me sounded like I was stood in the path of a tornado (wind or plane, take your pick!) and the powerful fan at the back did not help. Carol asked if we could shut the main door and sure enough the noise level dropped to merely irritating. The radio was playing a mixture of old rock n roll and the news channel on TV was turned down, inside the floor was littered with the latest delivery and as we were shown to a table it became clear that the young boy working there had been doing his homework only moments before. 

Once sat down, the young woman who had invited us in came over with menus and asked what we wanted. Carol ordered a mild Pork curry, with steamed rice, some garlic bread and a pot of tea. I ordered egg fried rice with chicken and a sprite. A nice simple meal so that we could come back to hotel early and have a good sleep before our long train journey the following morning. A short while later A cup of tea was brought over to Carol and I was given a bottle of sprite. Carol's pot of tea, now a single cup had no milk or sugar with it. We waited for a while and in the end Carol asked for some milk and sugar. The owner of the restaurant spent some time hunting for it and in the end found a jug of milk of indeterminate vintage in the same fridge that my bottle of sprite had come from, a small amount was decanted and given to Carol along with a large pot of sugar. Again we waited, but this time for our food. After a while the restaurant owner returned to our table somewhat perplexed, she was confused over our order and could not understand what food we had asked for. Carol explained it again and after a few moments the light flicked on, even though we were sat with the the menus that we had ordered from, the owner smiled and left us to our drinks. 

It was at this point that I started to notice some things that did not seem right. First of all the young boy came out of the kitchen and washed his hands, he then went to the toilet and returned to eatery doing up his fly. He did not wash his hands again for the rest of the time that we were in the place. I pointed out to Carol that she may wish to avoid eating the melon that the boy had then started to slice. A few minutes later the boy was called into the kitchen and he returned carrying a plate of food and placed it upon the table infront of Carol. It was a bowl of indeterminate meat curry soup. a moment or two later the boy returned with a plate of steamed rice, his thumb holding down the edge to stop it wobbling. I pointed out to Carol that she may wish to avoid some aspects of her meal. The bowl of soup had been placed on a plate and was encircled by a a lay out of Bay leaves, some of which had black spots on them and obvious signs of decay, again I pointed this out to Carol and she stated that she had no intention of eating them anyway. Her soup though was very nice, even if the meat was a bit chewy. 

Jayne still waiting for her meal to arrive while Carol finishes her own.
I started to laugh, struggling to suppress my giggles as I noticed that stray cat had entered the eatery and was crouched low on the floor watching the staff moving about. As they moved from the eatery to the kitchen the cat bolted across the restaurant floor and hid behind the ice cream freezer for a moment before emerging and scanning the floor looking for dropped morsels. As the young boy entered the eatery again, the cat pelted from the room as fast as it could on the polished floor, my giggles started to get louder, but could still not drown out the roar of noise from outside and the cooling fans. Carol was half way through her meal when the young woman returned to our table and placed a plate of garlic bread upon it, slices of garlic the size pills were grilled into submission upon the stale looking bread roll. Again my laughter was hard to suppress and even Carol started to laugh. However my food was still some other place. 

Still no food for Jayne while Carol enjoys her grilled garlic on toast!
It was then that I noticed the large beetle crawling along the work counter where the garlic had only recently been sliced, Carol had nearly finished her meal when I commented that food had better be good given that I had no idea what if anything I was going to be served with. It turned out that I was to be served with nothing, they had forgotten to cook my meal and again my giggles were hard to suppress. What made it funnier is that it was only then that we found out that Carol's curried meat soup was actually curried chicken soup which they assured us was exactly what we had ordered. Carol explained again our order and the young woman rushed away to the kitchen and the hurried sounds of cooking emerged. While this continued I watched the young boy washing used dishes that had been placed on shelves in the kitchen during the last opening, the dried contents took some scrubbing in the cold clear soap free water that he used and with each plate he "cleaned" he placed it on the drying rack, along with the empty bear bottles. I could not stop laughing by this point

The plate of food placed infront of me resembled a pile of vomited up slop, in a rounded mound, next to that was a freshly sliced salad. I did not check it for invertebrates! I picked up a piece of chicken with my fork and placed it in my mouth, it had the consistency of old school rubbers and no flavour at all. It simply did not taste of anything, not even chicken and my confused facial expression caused Carol to ask if it was OK, to which I honestly answered that I did not know. I tried another piece of flavourless rubbery chicken and then tried some of the rice. The Rice had flavour, but it was not a nice one, it tasted the way a bin smells on a hot day after it has been left to putrefy for a week. It was at this point that I gave up and put my fork back down. Carol finished her garlic sandwich and we asked for the bill which we promptly paid. My comment to Carol that she should give them a big tip because I had not laughed so hard in ages was met with a cold look!