October 6, 2010

There’s this restaurant in Pokhara, favorite stop for the backpackers that cross this town, it’s the Laughing Buddha. Pokhara Lakeside is very touristic and westerner, as I’ve said before, a street full of restaurants that offer food from all over the world, from Lasagne (even if sometimes it is misspelled “lasange” or in thousands of other ways) to steak with chips. And everything at Western prices. So not very convenientfor those who are traveling for months around Asia (and I’m not talking about me, I’m one of those who are traveling less among the people I’ve met).

(A tiny ant keeps walking around the border of the glass with my masala tea – that I’m starting to love – and I can’t get it, she’s too small and quick).

Among this long line of Western restaurants there are some exceptions. One of these is the Laughing Buddha. It’s a small restaurant with 5 tables, family-run. The young girl, 15 years old, that speaks a great English, in the evening works unti 11pm, does her homework in quiet times, at 6 am gets up to serve breakfast and at 9.30 combs her hair in braids, puts on the red ribbon and goes to school (girls have to wear a red ribbon in their hair when they go to school, it’s part of the uniform apparently; and no bracelets). When she finishes school at 4pm she’s back to help her parents.

Well, this place is amazing not only because the owners are very kind, but also food is delicious and very cheap. I love to have breakfast here. This morning I had a “heavy breakfast”, with porridge (that before I moved to London I didn’t know what it was, now I love it), two slices of toasted bread, butter and jam, two eggs (boiled, fried or in omelet, as you prefer), baked potatoes with sweet peppers and onion, tea or coffee. All this at only 95 euro cents. 70 cents for the “simple” breakfast, without porridge. Every morning I’m happy to get out of bed because I know I’m having breakfast there.

Sometimes we go there for dinner too, and last night the mom was a bit sad because they haven’t had many customers in the last days. I’m sorry for them, because at that price and that quality, they should always be full. – A little girl just started typing on my laptop. With her yellow pyjama, red flip flops 3cm long and two silver rings around the ankles (she must be around 2 years old). So yes. I feel like I should eat there breakfast, lunch and dinner. And food is so good that I could actually eat every two hours. But I know that my mom wouldn’t agree, so I try not to do it.

There are other restaurants equally pretty, but I grew fond of this family, so when I can I come here (when the Dutch guy introduced us to this place I wondered why he was eating at the same place all the time, with all the options available. Now I know).

Unfortunately tonight all 5 tables were full, so with a Finnish girl met at the Annapurna Base Camp (Hilde was in bed with a stomach ache) we went to another place. By the lake. I was there yesterday with Hilde. Very nice place. With plastic tables facing the lake. It made me wish I had a house by the water. Not on the Adriatic Riviera, it’s too flat. Somewhere with rocks and big waves. I wonder if there’s a place like this in Italy or if I should move to Cornwall?

Anyway. My point is that I don’t understand how it is possible that the Western restaurants that are very expesive (well, they cost like in Europe) are always so busy, while local restaurants with very low prices struggle to work. Maybe the Laughing Buddha lady was exagerating, but it’s true that this is high season here, and they don’t have so many clients, only between 7 and 8 pm they are completely full. But with people paying 1-1.30 euro for dinner… I don’t know. Probably they would close if things weren’t going well. But which other working opportunities do they have here? I don’t know. I do my best to help them, I try to eat and spend as much as I can (just to help the local economy, like Pietro taught me).

Tomorrow at 1.30 pm there’s our bus (14 hours) to Bardia, a National Park. Will we be able to see a tiger? Exciting. And tomorrow Lee arrives in Pokhara. It’s a shame I won’t be able to see him.

I wonder if the small ant is gone away or if she has drowned in the tea that I’ve drunk…

Next post: Thoughts about traveling.