It's not youse, it's me
OK, so Sampan isn’t in London. It’s not even in England! But I snapped no photos of this night out, and decided to reflect on an earlier time when I was out with the same two girlfriends.
It was 2009, and my childhood friend and I were visiting my sister who was abroad for a semester in London. It was an epic 10-day trip that included flying into Dublin, leaving for London on my 22nd birthday, taking the Chunnel back and forth to Paris for an overnight, and concluded with a stay in Barcelona.
The trip went off without a hitch and, remarkably, under $1,500. We flew back on a Sunday, Mother’s Day. I spent that day with family, and then took final exams and graduated a few days later.
While gallivanting in Europe — because that’s what you do when you’re PYTs and have access to money you won’t have again just shortly thereafter — we realized, “Hey! Our high school friend is living and studying abroad with her sister at this very moment! We need to meet up.”
And we did! And it was lovely.
Overall, the Dublin people we encountered were fun and affable; the London people, eh (no Canadian accent), not so much. In Paris, we met an aspiring film school student, and I got to order crepes and un Coca for my friend.
The people we most interacted with in Barcelona were vendors on the beach peddling cerveza, oil massages and coconut slices. I’ll never forget the man who saw our small, empty sunscreen bottle and asked to have it. My sister told him, Sure, go to town. “Thank you,” he replied happily. “I will put my alcohol in it.”
Back in America and four years later, my two friends and I met for dinner in Market East. Sampan was a happy accident. It wasn’t the night’s original choice, but we casually strolled outside and decided to pop in.
Sharing our tapas-style food, we feasted on Seared Scallop Satay with bacon, honey and cilantro; Kim Chee Fried Rice; and Crispy Szechuan Chicken with garlic, sesame and Chinese greens. The food was excellent.
Our nice girls night out was almost spoiled when I inquired about a friend we thought worked there as a manager. Our waiter’s friendly demeanor turned to one of disdain. “No,” he replied, and hurried off. Our friend either doesn’t work there, or is despised. I don’t think we ever did get a text back confirming or denying her employment.
For tasty Asian fare near City Hall, put Sampan on your to-do list. Just don’t ask if a ‘Brittany’ or ‘Bridget’ works there; they don’t take kindly to that.
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