A Christmas Feast – Miri, Borneo
I’ve just been reading someone’s blog and their question was “what is the strangest place you have ever spent Christmas?” I had to have a long think about this as I’ve been in some interesting and exotic locations at this time of year. One place did come to mind though, not for being the strangest place but the most surreal experience I’ve had to date at Xmas when abroad.
We had planned to spend the christmas period in Miri, as the guide books had talked up the beaches. It turned out the town was a bit nondescript, the beaches down the coast were hard to access as the bus service was nonexistent and the town beaches were very average. But we had to stay there to await our booked flight out from its airport out to the kelibet highlands.
Wandering around the streets we spotted a sign advertising christmas dinner – all you can eat for 10 dollars and a glass of wine thrown in. What a bargain! Despite the temperate climate we decided that after months delicious rotis and Malaysian food we needed turkey and bought tickets for the event. We figured that most travellers in the area would be attending this gorge fest.
The evening arrived and I dug out my best outfit from the bottom of my rucksack in an attempt to look a little respectable. As we entered we were greeted by carol singers and a waiter who escorted us into a huge room where there was enough dining tables to seat half the chinese population of the town – and they were all there! We were the only two outsiders in the room! The tables groaned with food. The starters covered at least three tables. The mains included, turkey, chicken, suckling pig, haunches of beef and sides of lamb. Side dishes were at least two tables worth, traditional food and dessert another two each. After months of minimal eating we piled our plates up high and tucked in.
As the room filled up it dawned on us that no-one else from the travelling fraternity was going to attend and that we were going to spend the evening with the Chinese community. Therefore, we became the main entertainment and people would make their way over to our table to talk to us, wish us merry Xmas and point out more delicacies to be eaten. At some point I spotted lobster on someones plate and after a lot of hand waving and pointing found my way to the seafood section. The only problem was my stomach was getting a little overloaded. Waiters refilled our glasses time and time again (at no extra cost) – it seemed the community was determined to make sure we had a good time. At some point carol singers made their away around the room and competed with groaning stomachs.
Sated, replete, round bellied and feeling slightly sick, we staggered back to our room to have a lay down before hitting the local night life. Once on the bed – I never managed to get back off it to see the 25th in. But hey I made at least 100 new friends that night and experienced hospitality like never before.