The hotel was adequate and we were getting hungry at the end of the day. We walked down to the hotel restaurant and opened the menu. The list of western style meals and equivalent prices raised the red flags immediately. I insisted that we could do better and cheaper.
We headed out the door and down the street. We'd been there before and the local places usually had good food and there was always someone around who spoke a little English.
A few blocks down the street we found a quaint local restaurant about the size of a two car garage. It looked like a decent alternative so we walked in and sat down. They brought us menus which were of course entirely in Chinese. It took less than a minute for me to exhaust my repertoire of Mandarin and we also determined that not a soul in the place spoke or seemed to understand any English at all.
Helen looked across the table at me and said "OK smart guy, now what are you going to do".
Rising to the challenge I remembered that all Chinese menus we had ever seen were laid out in sections according to the type of main ingredient, like; chicken, beef, seafood, vegetables, etc. The waitress came over to take our order. I opened the menu and pointed to one dish in each of what appeared to be five sections We did know how to ask for tea in Chinese so now we had ordered..
As the waitress scurried off to the kitchen Helen asked me "just what
did you order for us?" To which I smugly replied "Chinese surprise".
The meal was wonderful, varied, tasty and in the end cheap as well. Helen still believes it had more to do with luck than being a savvy traveler.