One good day in Christchurch
This was a mission like no other. I hadn’t eaten any spicy food for five days and I needed to have some really quickly.
I was in Christchurch, New Zealand. It was winter, about six degrees Celcius. I’d arrived earlier that day after spending time in Kaikoura looking at whales and kayaking alongside dolphins and seals, and the tragedy was that I’d finished all my instant noodles.
Ah, yes…Instant noodles, pot noodles, whatever you want to call them. The staple diet of starving and impoverished Malaysian journalists, what more one who was travelling by herself.
I got lucky in Kaikoura a few days ago. The tacky one-star hotel I stayed at (pink curtains and pink bedspreads with huge red flowers) was within walking distance to a supermarket. There was nothing grand about the store but that was where I bought most of my food. I became mad with joy one day when I discovered pots of Thai vegetarian instant noodles, all arranged neatly on a shelf, with lethal-looking red chillies at the top corner of the label. I don’t remember for sure, but I must have done a little jig in front of the Asian food section.
But that was Kaikoura and now I was in Christchurch on one of the streets near Hagley Park. It was getting dark and I was too tired to hunt for a supermarket, bring the food back to my hostel and prepare dinner.
“Kebab, miss?” a guy called out from a Middle Eastern takeaway as I walked past. Kebabs are fine but I wasn’t in the mood for any that evening and the takeaway didn’t seem to have any tables. I wanted to sit down and have a proper meal.
I walked till the end of the road.
And what was this? A sign which declared that I’d reached The Thai Orchid? ‘Authentic Thai Cuisine’? And another smaller sign which said ‘OPEN’? It was time for me to go mad with joy once again.
I pushed the door of the restaurant and a bell tinkled somewhere. An attractive lady at the cashier dressed in a deep blue silk top and sarong stood up.
She greeted me with the wai as all Thais do.
I already knew what I wanted. “Do you have some fried rice?”
A man, probably her husband, emerged from the kitchen, smiling.
“Yes, we have that,” the lady replied. Music to my ears.
“Can you make it really hot? With lots of chillies?”
The man laughed. “Sure. White man hot or Asian hot?”
“Asian hot. Very hot.”
Warmed from good conversation and a plate of excellent hot fried rice with salted fish, I walked back to my hostel after dinner, sent a quick text message to my parents, brushed my teeth, and went to bed.
And that was how my good day ended.
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