Chinese Tea

by David Elridge

This story is part of our 'Funniest hotel experiences' series, featuring tales from luxury hotel guests which were sent in for our recent travel writing competition. Photo by Yomi955.

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As part of a tour of the Middle East I was with a group staying at a hotel which was a long way above five star. As this was a Moslem country no alcohol was served.

Despite the food in the hotel being excellent and paid for, one evening four of us decided to see what life was like in the nearby town so set off in a taxi. Being all over a certain age and not very seasoned travellers we were quite unsure about putting our trust in the taxi driver, despite the fact that he was well known to the hotel staff.

Having explained that we wanted to try an authentic Chinese restaurant he set off for one he said was the best where we would find good food at a reasonable price.

As soon as he turned off the road and took us down a pot-holed track we became a bit worried. My three companions were all women and I felt it my duty to assume the role of leader and protector. I asked about the darkness and the state of the road and was told that once off the main beaten track most of the town was quite run-down.

He ushered us into the well furnished lobby area and told us to get the restaurant to ring him when we were ready to go back to the hotel.

Somewhat relieved by the pleasant ambiance and the smiling faces of the quite large number of young women working there we enjoyed a complimentary fruit drink while our table was prepared.

Several men came in and each was greeted by one of the girls then taken through a door. Our immediate thought was that the restaurant doubled as a brothel. We kept quiet and agreed to add the experience as one more story to take home.

Shortly after we were shown through a different door into the restaurant. We decided to order the house special which consisted of lots of different dishes we could share. Taking me as being either the husband of the three women or just more important the waitress asked if we would like tea with our meal. We were all fond of Chinese tea so readily agreed.

When the large pot and the tiny cups arrived the waitress said, with a huge smile. "It’s Carlsberg tea." What did we know about local brands? When I poured some out not only was it cold but it wasn’t tea. It was Carlsberg lager.

So there we sat. Dining in a brothel and drinking highly illegal alcohol. We felt really very naughty.

The food was excellent. We drank two pots of tea and loved every minute of the whole experience. On the way back to the hotel the taxi driver nearly had an ‘accident of the water’ when we told him that we were convinced the place doubled as a brothel.

It was, in fact a gambling den much frequented by the Chinese population of the town.

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