That night in Con Cuong after we stopped riding for the day. We checked into our hotel, got cleaned up, started charging our Chatterboxes (which by this point had already started to get a bit annoying, batteries not lasting a full day even with minimal use, etc.), and wandered out of the hotel to find somewhere to eat. It was dark by the time we got out.
Larisa snapped this photo while we were walking
In rural Vietnam, it seems that most restaurants really only have one kind of meat. Beef and Chicken are the two main ones. The sign in front of the restaurant will say Pho Ba (Ba being beef) or Pho whateverthewordisforchicken.
We only got a few buildings down the street before this older lady started gesturing for us to come in to her restaurant. We didn't recognize any of the words on the sign, but she was quite insistent, and after our problems finding food the night before, we figured we should probably just go for it. We went inside with her, and she sat us down in little plastic chairs at a little plastic table. This was pretty common, kindergarten furniture seems to be the norm for most restaurants and coffee shops. After a week of this I began to have an overwhelming urge to draw with Crayons.
The building itself was cement with a flat tin roof, no windows, just a sliding garage door at the front where we had come in. The woman and her daughter began preparing food for us; the "kitchen" was right across the room from us, maybe 15 feet away. It consisted of a large prep table, a shelf, and one burner.
The first thing she brought us was a big plate of sausage. After a few days of noodles, rice, and hammered chicken, Aivars and I were feeling a bit malnourished, so we dug in. It was dark colored ground meat, a bit strange and grainy, but not bad.
Larisa, being some sort of a vegetarian, just watched us and waited for something else to come along. "What kind of meat is in that?" she asked. "Don't know, just glad to have meat"
At some point we noticed an older guy, sitting at the back of the room on a kindergarten chair, sort of facing a wall. He was blind, and he was talking to himself, then he would explode with laughter at whatever hilarious thing he just said. Over and over, talk for a few minutes, then BAAHAHAHAHAHAA!
Then came the most amazing lemon grass soup, warm noodles, cold noodles, rice, salad, and at least one more plate of sausage. All of it was delicious, and our host seemed ecstatic to have the Big Strange White Folks in her place. Whenever she wasn't cooking she would come over and sit with us and show us how to eat certain items. I'm sure we were a train wreck, like watching someone try to eat a cheeseburger with one chopstick and a spoon.
When we finally convinced her to stop bringing us food, she rounded up everybody in the building so we could do a group photo.
From left to right: Blind dude, the chef, Larisa, me, chef's daughter, daughter's boyfriend, and Aivars.
Then she ran into the back room, and came back out holding this picture, and wanted us to take a picture of her holding it. Not sure why...
After this she got Larisa to follow her into the back room somewhere. While they were gone, Aivars and I decided to try to translate the sign out in front, which we could see from where we were sitting. The biggest word on the sign was "Dog". Oh, that's what that sausage was...
Right about the time we figured that out, they both came back out, in dresses!
This was definitely one of the highlights of the entire trip. If anybody is going to ride through that area, let me know, I would love to have someone bring her these pictures.