musings on music, travel, books, and life from Southeast Asia

A Night At the Coliseum

I’ve been in Kuala Lumpur for the past four days,  making my usual rounds: buying some books for my store in Bangkok and CDs for myself. Another goal this time was meeting my friend Yan Naing Soe. We used to get together when I made trips to Mandalay, but about a year ago he left Myanmar and is now working for a landscaping company in the greater KL area.


We had plans to meet for dinner on my first night in KL, but Yan Naing Soe had never been to the part of town where I’m staying (near the Maybank Tower), so one of the employees at the hotel, Ko Sein Win, who also happens to be from Myanmar, was able to speak to him on the phone and give him directions. Nevertheless, Yan Naing Soe was about 2 hours late getting here, so we had a very late dinner that night. My first choice, the Gandawin Restaurant, which specializes in Burmese food, was closed, so I suggested the Coliseum Cafe. We arrived very late, but the restaurant was open and doing a very brisk business.

I returned to the Coliseum for dinner again tonight, but alone this time. Yan Naing Soe has a pretty heavy work schedule this week, so he wasn’t able to make it. But the waiter at the Coliseum remembered me, and apologized for forgetting my appetizer last time.  Really, I wasn’t upset at all, but appreciated his apology. We had arrived less than an hour before closing that night and the restaurant was packed, so I was just happy that they could serve us in time. Not only did the waiter remember me, one of the cooks did too. He had overheard me speaking Burmese with Yan Naing Soe and asked me if I worked in Myanmar. I told him that I didn’t, but was a frequent visitor to that country and had picked up a bit of the language. Then the conversation steered towards my job in Bangkok, and both the cook and the waiter had lots of questions. Of course the subject of “massage parlors” came up. Hey, Bangkok does have that reputation!

I ended up having a great time dining alone, thanks to the interesting conversation with those personable employees at the Coliseum. The cook, in fact, was quite a character! And to think that I almost didn’t go there tonight. My initial plan was to opt for a cheaper meal somewhere closer to my hotel. But in the end I chose the Coliseum once again and I’m glad I did. The food was fabulous as always, but this time the meal was enhanced by talking to two very nice people. An unpredictable but very memorable evening. Just one of the reasons that I love travel.


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