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Big Trip Blog Bigtripblog is a multimedia travel experience capturing the adventures of Kevin and Valerie during their one year trip around the world.

Standards of Service

VIETNAM | Friday, 11 May 2007 | Views [807]

We’ve eaten at hundreds of restaurants since the trip began. The service at these places has varied from top notch at swanky places in India to unbearably lax and slow at some beach places in Thailand, and everywhere in between. Here are a few anecdotes from some of the funny things that have happened to us while dining out on the big trip. At a beach place on Koh Lanta, we ordered fresh grilled red snapper and a couple of baked potatoes. They brought us butter, but there wasn’t any salt or pepper on the table. “Excuse me,” I asked a passing “waiter,” who looked about thirteen years old. “Can I have some salt?” He looked around the tables spread out on the beach, thought for a moment, and then said, “Sorry, salt is finished,” before scampering off. We just sort of sat there for a minute, then started laughing and ate our potatoes without salt. By the time we could have flagged down someone else to try our luck again, the potatoes would have been cold, and there was no guarantee we’d get a different answer. In Phnom Penh, the main drag of restaurants is along the river. We found a Mexican place that looked decent, so naturally we ate there. The food was great; fresh tortillas, fresh salsa, awesome tacos. We had a couple of cold ones, which were a little pricier than normal, but we figured what the heck. When the bill came, it was $1.00 more than it was supposed to be (a large discrepancy when the bill is $8). I looked at the beer prices, and they were each .25 more than the menu said they should be. I took the bill up to the counter and showed the staff, and she said, “The price has changed.” I looked at her for a minute, never having been in this situation before. “So….don’t you think you should change the menu, or maybe tell us?” I guess it made sense because she apologized and graciously gave us the price written in the menu. At our favorite bar and restaurant in Saigon, I had some food left on my plate. The staff at this place (Eden) are really friendly and great. They can’t stand plates or anything on your table that shouldn’t be there; they rove constantly, smiling and chatting with the patrons while furiously scanning for an empty bottle, a finished meal, an extra coaster. One of the staff came by and looked at my plate and said, “Can I take this?” I smiled and said, “No, I’m actually still working on it.” He threw his head back and laughed, gave me a look that said, “You joker, you!” and took my plate away. I was too stunned to act. On another visit we ordered a large beer with two glasses. The beer and glasses came, we filled them up, and as I was placing the freshly emptied bottle on the table, a waiter appeared, picked up the bottle and said, “Would you like one more?” before we had even taken a sip of our beers. We informed him that we were actually OK. In Diyarbakir, Turkey, we found a small restaurant in the old city that looked good. Being Ramadan, it was impossible to eat out during the day. It was like keeping the fast ourselves, especially in the east. Turkish food was some of the best we’ve had so far, but it can be heavy. Trying to keep things on the lighter side, we opted for lentil soup and some crusty bread. The proprietor brought that over, then a few dishes of some other stuff: spicy lamb stew, stewed vegetables, some kind of rice dish. It wasn’t the first time we ended up with extra food in Turkey, so we didn’t question it. He did, however, charge us for it at the end of the meal. That was a first. Not speaking Turkish or Kurdish, we decided to let it go and accept his “recommendations.”

Tags: Food & eating

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