It was a small table. It felt even smaller because the groups on our right and left were foreign to us. The group on our right consisted of three french women. The group on our left consisted of an irishman, a danish girl, and a german. It could have been the start of a joke, but instead, it was simply the start of our meal on this second day in Vietnam.
Down a dark alley and up four flights of stairs we walked through the kitchen and sat down in the waiting area as they prepared a table for us. I was greeted by a friendly chicken. I sat down on the waiting bench, and she nipped at my ankles. I hoped she wasn’t about to become my dinner but I accepted her fate, if only because she would become something far tastier.
They sat us down between the two parties at a table just wide enough to hold our drinks. The food came, as did the conversation, and the three groups became one as night two of our SE Asia baby adventure continued. Only in such an environment can strangers from across the globe come together peacefully and enjoy each other’s company. The biggest unifier was the six-month-old baby girl who stared and smiled her way joyously into the hearts of patrons and servers alike.
As we left the small restaurant on the roof of a neglected apartment building, we realized, through conversation and one social infant, that 9 people had sat down together as foreigners but walked away as friends.