Moments / Travel

An Open Letter to the People Behind MaLa with a Fork

Dear my favorite two hungry farangs,

How are you?  Is all that sunshine and are all of those white sand beaches treating you ok?  How about the fresh young coconuts?  And the pad thai?  I worry about you two.  I imagine it must be difficult keeping up with all of those amazing bowls of noodles to document and stalking elephants at night on safari.  You must be very tired.  And tan.  Remember your sunscreen, ok?

Anywho, its come to my attention that you are considering a road trip across America this summer and I’m glad to hear it.  There is nothing better than a good old fashioned cross-country road trip.  There’s the thrill of getting horribly lost down a gravelly country road on a quest to find that perfect dented Airstream-gone-diner rising like a shimmering mirage out of the desert heat.  The monotony that is Kansas, punctuated only by giant billboards meant to inform you that “Jesus loves You Unless You Get an Abortion In Which Case You Are Going to Hell.”  There is the beauty of Utah’s stark landscape and its signs warning that it’s all cattle drives and tumbleweeds until you reach the next gas station some 200 miles away.  There are giant balls of twine to see, giant Muskie fish statues, there are mountains and valleys and far too many tempting opportunities to scratch that fast food itch one develops after too many years overseas.  Think about how many times you could listen to “Life is a Highway” and “On the Road Again!”  Do it now before you are instead driving to a chorus of “Are We There Yet?” (yes, I know that is all a long, long way off, still! its worth considering!)

But I digress and I mislead.  The point of this letter is not to convince you to road trip, but rather to convince you to stop in our nation’s fair capital if and when you do.  By taking my appeal public, I leave you no option for “saving face” should you not actually come visit us in “the District,” as we used to call it before that darn apocalyptic alien movie came out a few years ago.

It’s not just that we here at Hot Pot are starved for your excellent company and addictive buckeye candies.  We are, of course, and we would love the chance to catch up and perhaps even imbibe a few adult beverages, panda claws and all.

But honestly, even if we weren’t residing in Washington D.C. this summer with a spare bedroom and our favorite blue-eyed, red-haired baby this side of the Ganges, I would still urge you to swing through America’s only city-state-like region.  Because its a lovely place to visit, with or without us.  I lay out my evidence and arguments hence forth:

1. Have you ever visited a wharf, bought a bushel of crabs and then hauled them over to the Tidal Basin to pick apart with your bare hands whilst taking in a view of the Jefferson Memorial across the water?  No?  Really?  I think you should.

2. Have you heard?  We’ve got lots of wonderful free museums in D.C. a whole Mall (capital M!) of them, to be exact.  I highly recommend the Museum of American History and the Sackler Gallery of Asian Art.  The Sackler is my all time favorite and I have a feeling it will be yours too.

3. Speaking of the Mall, lets talk Monuments.  To be honest, I don’t recommend visiting them during the day.  Too many tourists, too much humidity.  The best way to see them is at night.  We’ll take you.  There’s nothing quite so powerful as visiting the Vietnam Memorial or Abraham Lincoln all alone in the dark of night with just a few street lamps and the light of the moon reflecting on the marble.  You’ll see.

4. Are you hungry?  How does falafel sound?  What about the best and most affordable steak you’ll ever have, served with a delicious array of gut-busting sides from Rays the Steaks?  How about a presidential-like chili dog from good old Ben’s Chili Bowl?  Did you know that the D.C. area is the largest Ethiopian city outside of Adis Ababa and the largest Vietnamese city outside Vietnam?  We’ve got the injera and wat and bowls of pho to prove it.

5. Brunch.  Guys, you know us, you know how we feel about brunch.  What you might not know is that D.C. is a city full of people who love brunch as much as we do.  I won’t even lay out all of our options here, too exhausting, too exciting!

6. With all of this eating, you might want to get some exercise in right?  Wonderful!  There is nothing more inspiring than an early morning run around the Washington Monument.  There are few runs as picturesque as a jog along the centuries-old canals in Georgetown or the Potomac River.

American Flag

7.  Speaking of centuries, do you like old architecture?  Looking at renovated row houses?  D.C. is the perfect place to walk through neighborhoods and take notes for your dream house.

8. No need to worry about packing fashionable fancy clothes for D.C.!  Aside from some very fashionable K Street and hipster-types, D.C. in the summer is generally overrun with tourists in fanny-packs and young people wearing brown tights with black shoes to work.  I should know, I was once one of D.C. most unfashionable interns in the history of unfashionable interns.

9. D.C. is a photographer’s dream city, I’m looking at you here Mr. Hungry Farang with the stunning pictures from Southeast Asia!  The light, the architecture, the sights, you will not want to put your camera away for even a few minutes.

10. Did I mention that we will be there?  And that we are oh-so-charming? And proud parents of a little creature who may or may not be able to do all sorts of clever things like crawl and stand up by the time you get to D.C.?

In short, and in closing, I highly recommend that you include a detour to the District of Columbia on your road trip across America this summer.  Also, in case its relevant, we think you guys are fabulous, and beautiful, and talented.  And please forgive any snide remarks about coconuts and sunscreen.

Yours in Sichuan peppercorns and D.C. brunch dreams,

D, C & W


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