They say it’s harder to get acclimated to the time change when you head East and lose hours. We are road weary and exhausted by the time we return to our room on the evening of our arrival. I fall asleep two pages into my book.
I awaken to an empty room. Trent and Victor are more accustomed to the time changes as flight attendants. It’s 9am when I finally get up, which is 2am back at home. I feel okay though. I must have slept over 9 hours.
Breakfast is included with our stay, so I figure the boys are there and head down. They wave me down as I pass the Cafe Milano on the first floor. They have already eaten breakfast and been to the market for fresh fruit. I join them for strong coffee, American style, and shisha.
Today is a buffer day. We relax and don’t have much planned. Later, we take a walk to find lunch. The streets are chaotic. People everywhere and a constant din of honking horns.
We happen upon a bazaar where vendors sell clothes, shoes, knock off apparel and food. We walk, taking everything in. The cost of living is cheap but there seems to be a lot of poverty. Beggars sit, some of them limbless or with children, arms outreached and palms open. My employment concerns seems lightweight at best.
There are more VW buses in this block than followed the Grateful Dead over 30 years. They are exclusively white and drive with the sliding door open. There are also tuk tuks, the three wheeled vehicles favored in Thailand, and carts drawn by donkey. Delivery drivers on motorbikes zip around with Pizza Hut, Mcdonald’s and KFC in boxes affixed to their rear.
We pass up shawarma, hoping to find somewhere to sit down. Just a block from the Aracan Hotel, we find Chicken Tikka. It’s a clean little restaurant, mostly white, with a salad bar in the center and pictures of the food on the menu. There are also descriptions in English which really helps.
My friends start with a creamy chicken soup, and I with the salad bar. It’s not traditional fare. There is hummus, tabouleh, and baba ganoush. I have two different tomato salads, one with a tangy green sauce and the other with cucumber and some sort of vinaigrette. I scoop it all up with very thin crispy brown fried chips. The chips alone are spot on.
We share a mixed grill with chicken and lamb. It’s perfectly seasoned, the chicken a little spicy, and served with a garlicky aoil. It’s served with saffron rice and sautéed carrots, zucchini, and peas.
A nap at the hotel is a must. After the nap we return to Cafe Milano for coffee and sheesha. We meet a few of the 49 people arriving for the party and then walk through the streets. The bazaars are hopping and the prices are unbelievable. I get a sweater for just over $2 and a new bag for $11.
We peruse a fresh fish market, spice merchants, fresh fruit markets, and butcher shops. Finally it’s time again to eat but finding a sit-down restaurant proves to take a little effort. It’s 11:30 when we sit down to eat, and at midnight my birthday begins.
We meet the guest of honor, Cody, back at the hotel where they’re celebrating their arrival with sheesha and live music. Tomorrow set to begin with breakfast at seven, so we retire shortly thereafter.
It’s sure to be a birthday that I’ll never forget.