Sunday, January 24, 2010

Usual Niceties

We have an Indonesian place where we are friendly weekend regulars. It's an open air garage kind of place with her half-Taiwanese young daughter lazying around watching TV in pink princess clothes. The food is great, probably not the best there is, but to us, tempeh coconut curry soups, samosa-like pastries, and cumin fried chicken, is a welcomed change of food scenery from the typically Taiwanese boiled vegetable soups that we eat all week.

It takes about an hour of biking up to the base of the mountains to get there. It's in a coffee producing town called Gukeng. It is our favorite ride by far, the only one that we really ever repeat, actually. We ride through a tree lined "Green Tunnel" for several kilometers with farms flanking both sides, through dinky villages, through orange groves where we often stop and buy fresh orange juice. It's very idyllic really, in spite of the traffic. For the past several weekends our Indonesian lunch place has been re-locating back to the woman's courtyard home. We've biked to Gukeng on two occasions to find her either sweeping and touching up or the shop closed up. In lieu of this there isn't much else in town. So this weekend we spent random change on snacks and sat in the park. A high strung girl with betel nut dripping out of her mouth chatted with me for a bit, asking me if I was happy and various other interrogations, until I eventually came to her stall and bought coffee-flavored crackers. We sat at a picnic table and talked as a group of shy kids debated approaching us for a good 20 minutes. Eventually, one did. She asked us her memorized English conversation invocation, "What's your name?" and then asked me a few questions in Chinese. I had the young girl take our picture, which pleased the group. And soon there after the old woman under the tree in the background had us sit with her as she smiled and squinted into the speckled sunlight and dangled her small sock and sandal-ed feet off the bench's edge.


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