Dining at a Silent Teahouse Reaching Out

Tea, just like coffee is a common drink that can cause a conversation to be initiated between even the most unusual acquaintances. Across the world tea is like a universal peace symbol, many good things after came out of conversation held over a fine cup of tea. However, have you ever imagined about what barriers could pop up if the verbal conversation were to be removed? Wouldn’t the whole experience lacking the gossiping be a tea dining sin? Some may say yes, while some of you also may say no. I used too disagree until I visited The Reaching Out Tea House in Hội An, Southern Vietnam.

The Reaching Out Tea house is a tranquil oasis in a UNESCO heritage site. This teahouse has been functioning as a social enterprise since the year 2000. The purpose is to help those with disabilities to accrue skills and secure employment to support themselves and assist their communities. Since their early days, they now have more than one business and operate over 70 employees. Reaching Out Tea House has managed to train staff into artisan crafts. Yet little did I know any of this untill sitting in the teahouse.

Approaching The Teahouse

On a late morning, before I got the sleeper train to Nha Trang, my American friend Amanda and I had become so sick of looking at tailors or markets. We decided to pause for a break in a place which looked like a lovely cafe. It looked relaxing, and the interior was slightly quirky. Because we were incredibly tired, we decided to venture in, and the interior was quirky.

Upon walking in and choosing our table to sit a hearing-impaired waitress came over. We were all ready to talk to her until she started signing to us, using her hands to gesture sign language. Then she pointed to the centre of the table. On the centre of the table, there were blocks, pencils and paper. We had to write down our order and give it to the waitress. Likewise, on the blocks, there were words written such as a bill, thankyou, whisper, order sheet, cold water and ice. Which we were to present to the waitress without saying a word.

We soon discovered, all the staff we hearing impaired and only communicated via sign language, writing or the wooden blocks. Next, Amanda and I wrote down our order and waited in peace. After 5 minutes or so, we got served three different varieties of tea such as oolong, green tea and jasmine—similarly, gorgeous and tasty artisan type biscuits.

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Sipping in Silence

Taking each sip of tea, we looked at each other’s expressions and gave a nod of approval. I spent a good one hour people watching on the street of Hoi An’s Old Quarter. To be honest, because of the experience, I found it to be one of the most relaxing tea-sipping moments of my life. Unfortunately, the next thing I knew was friends had located us at the front of the tea shop informing us we had to depart for the onwards train journey. For the first time on my travels in Vietnam, I was hesitant to move away from The Reaching Out Teahouse, and most of all, the gorgeous Hội An. So, I went to pay the bill, and the waitress gave a big smile, waving me goodbye.

Dining at a Silent TeahouseDining at Reaching Out Silent Teahouse was an experience to remember. If I ever return to Hoi An, I shall definitely spend more than an hour. This blog post does not do the experience justice, though. So, I’d recommend you too seeing for yourself dining at Reaching Out Silent Teahouse.


Extracts of Alex

Navigating Nepal and the World

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