Thursday, February 21, 2008

The Re-Arrival

We have been back in Hanoi for exactly one month today. We arrived late at night on Jan 21st and within minutes encountered our first example of ineptitude by the Vietnamese. We went to a booking agent in the lobby of the airport to obtain transportation and lodging. We dickered over prices until finally settling on a price for a hotel (18$) and a taxi to Hanoi Centre (10$). We had discussed a couple of different hotels before settling for the one we did. She wrote the name of the hotel on our receipt and the address for the driver. We loaded our luggage into the taxi and settled in for the 30 minute drive to the Old Quarter. After thirty minutes of non-stop honking from our driver we found ourselves in front of the hotel. We showed the receipt to the girl at the front desk and she nodded that this was the place. We unloaded our baggage into their foyer and walked up to the front desk, passport and receipt in hand. Upon closer inspection by the staff they noticed the name of the hotel was different and we were in fact, not at the right hotel. After thirteen hours of traveling we were not impressed with this revelation. They apologized for the misunderstanding and asked us to come back and stay with them some other time. They also advised us their rate was 15$. We assured them we would be back the next day. We called another taxi and waited about ten minutes for it to show up. We loaded our bags into the back and gave him the proper address which turned out to be exactly a block and a half away. Once again we unloaded our baggage and checked in to the proper hotel. The room, of course, was on the top floor of a five floor building that lacked an elevator. We lugged our luggage up the five floors, took showers and immediately went to sleep.
The next day Karen went off to work at 7:30 am and I checked out of the hotel, packed our luggage into a taxi and drove the block and a half back to the first hotel to save a few bucks a day in rate. Once again I found myself on the fifth floor, but with nobody to help me lug the luggage. After settling in to the hotel, I called Danny, our Motorbike lessor, and set up a time for him to drop off the bikes. He advised he would drop mine off that very day but we had to wait for Karen's automatic as he didn't have any on hand. He dropped off the bike and the Hotel manager informed me he would have to charge a dollar a day for parking for the bike. The hotel was now 16$ per night. The rest of that day and evening went by without any major problems. The next day I got a call from Danny saying he had a MIO for Karen. He dropped it off at the hotel and the manager announced it was a dollar per bike(17$). Another day went by and we had a late dinner keeping us out until almost ten O'clock. When we arrived back at the hotel the owner was there and asked to talk to us. He informed us that he would have to ask us to leave the hotel because the staff quoted a price that was too low. He also said they didn't have room for two bikes. This turned out to be utter crap, as he was just offered more money for the room from other tourists. Once again, Karen went to work in the morning and I went out looking for Hotel Rooms. Four hours and many viewings(always on the top floor), I was exhausted and finally decided on the Sunflower Hotel, where we had stayed for ten days before we left. Their price (20$) per night. I went back to the other hotel and packed up all of our stuff once again and carried it alone down five flights of stairs. I called a taxi and headed over to the Sunflower. Upon arrival there, the staff came out and grabbed my bags and brought them up to the fourth floor, room 401 where we have been ever since.
Welcome back Merlins.

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