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Lonely Planet, our trusty guide, said that V Cafe is a Vietnam backpacker's institution that's been around for years. Lois and I decided to have coffee there, not because of that, but because it was near our hostel and they had WIFI and ca phe sua nam for 20,000 VND (1 USD). Perfect ingredients for a working breakfast.
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It was here, while both of us were writing articles for the site, that we met Tim, a burly teddy bear of an Aussie. He heard both of us talking in Filipino and excitedly called his Filipina girlfriend Beatrice (Beya-tris in Filipino but Bee-tris for Westerners, as he would later explain). She was not only Filipino and Bisaya but she's from Cebu too!
Just like that, a bond was formed between the three of us. We bonded over shared experiences with other Pinoy travellers, what's new in the Philippines, if the superclub Embassy was still THE place to be (told her this has been replaced by Republiq) and that the soap opera Mara Clara was again on primetime television.

Plans were immediately made to head out to the old train station called Cremallaire. In the old days, this train brought locals and goods from Dalat to as far as Hanoi.

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We ate pho at the end of the railway and talked for what seemed like hours, completely missing the pagoda that was supposedly right around the corner. Tim and Beatrice, the always-amazing-no-matter-where-you-go pho and the interesting conversation more than made up for that pagoda.

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Plans were again made for dinner that evening. It was an unusually cold Dalat night (even the locals were complaining) and it was the perfect night for Artichoke soup.

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I've learned that with big artichokes like those in Dalat are not meant to swallowed. You suck and chew until you've gotten every ounce of the yummy juice inside. Here's another secret: the best part is the white thing at the heart of the artichoke. It might not look appealing but trust me when I say it tastes like creamy mashed potato. So good! If you get the chance to sample this soup, hoard the whites like crazy and leave the green parts to your friends who don't know better. (Because they don't subscribe to the Sole Sisters. Ha!)

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At one point during the dinner, we couldn't resist asking Beatrice to sing us a song. Tim jokingly replied:
"Ask her to sing Hotel California. She might be the only Filipino singer who doesn't know that song!"
She didn't sing Hotel California but asked what Lois and Hutch's theme song was.  They said they didn't have a theme song but I later found out it's 'Melt With You'. Hush.

In the end, Beatrice sang a 80's hit called 'A Perfect Combination'. Her voice hit every note and rang clear straight into that unusually chilly Dalat night, she gave me goosebumps:
Perfect combination
Lovers you and me
Perfect combination
We couldn't ask for any better
We never found out what Tim and Beatrice's theme song was. Yet everytime I hear that song, I remember this warm, self-deprecating, funny, musician gypsy couple. I've made it my theme song for them.
Perfect combination
We fit to a tee
A perfect combination
We know what takes to last forever together

6 Responses so far.

  1. Vevant_99 says:

    i'm a big fan already...

  2. Fliptravels says:

    artichoke... so sowsyal! pang mayaman, masaya na ko sa mashed kamote. hahaha

    RON

  3. ganda ng train. un old style pa. tumatakbo pa ba yan?

  4. Steve says:

    It's good to make new friends. Sounds like you had a good time. And I have to say that artichokes are delicious.

  5. meeting interesting people along the way is one of the things I love while traveling - priceless memories :)

  6. i love reading interesting stories like this. make the Philippines proud as you continue on in your journey across South East Asia.

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