At twelve o’clock the trishaw and I were trundling our way back to the centre when I became worried for the rider it was so hot and he had done much work. I saw a restaurant and called a halt for lunch, mainly to give him a rest. Lunch over, he took me to Mandalay’s central Zeige Market (near that pesky clock tower) but, unusually for me, I didn’t like it. It was big, crowded, dingy-dark and very dirty underfoot, with rubbish, string and plastic all trying to trip me up. Upstairs was better but boring; the goods were largely all the same.
We pedalled back to the hotel. I was done for the day. Time for a lie down.
At dinnertime I walked down the street a little way, and, sent on my way twice by kind passersby, found the Marie Min vegetarian restaurant. Vegetarianism is something I have studiously avoided since a bad experience with it left me scarred for life. Some years ago I went to the home of a vegetarian man who was trying to impress me by cooking a meal. It consisted of something that was beige and lumpy and smelled like chook food pellets. It tasted worse. It was accompanied by other dishes all similarly revolting, tasteless and foul, one was boiled wheat did I mention chook food? As if having to eat this awful food wasn’t bad enough, it put me in hospital! In the middle of the night I awoke in severe pain from an intestinal obstruction caused by all the gas this fowl food had produced.
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Needless to say I never saw that fellow again and the mere mention of vegetarian food still made me shudder. So Marie Min was a revelation. I went there only because the Korean option was closed, but I loved it. Climbing polished teak stairs to a balcony that overhung a tiny lane, I had a divine tomato salad. It was crunchy with onion, nuts and many other tastes and textures, and a big plate of it cost a ridiculous one dollar fifty. It was accompanied by a perfectly acceptable tofu curry and a delicious paw paw lassi.
Across the narrow lane was a Thai restaurant, also on a balcony, so close I could have reached out and almost touched the people sitting there. At this height I was level with the electricity supply of the houses. Wires and connections that looked to be merely extension cords swung in a haphazard tangle in all directions from a central pole. No wonder the electricity was uncertain.
Afterwards I walked back to the hotel alone in the dark street, but I did not feel unsafe. There was still no cold water in my room The tap that wouldn’t turn had been fixed but no water came out of it. The girl from reception grabbed a screw driver, came to my room, applied the screwdriver vigorously, and it was done.
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