20.12.2008 24 °C
The receptionists of the Hai Au Hotel, Hoi-An, Anh and Dung, have become our new best friends. Here we are in front of their Christmas Tree.
Life on the road is very easy for us. Hotels find us if we don't find them first. For instance, when we arrived in Hoi-An by bus, the tour operator phoned the hotel we had booked to say that we were at their office. Within 3 minutes Anh, the receptionist from our hotel, roared up on the back of a motorbike to welcome us and to wait with us until a taxi arrived to take us to the hotel. The hotel even paid for the taxi. Just an example of great service!
Not entirely - Tourists are gold, so bus companies offer ridiculously low fares in the hope of picking your pockets when you arrive. The bus driver had already tried to gently nudge us into two of his company's hotels before dropping us off at the office. Other hoteliers know this happens so are quick to grab their customers.
The hotel staff are generally fantastic. Nothing is too much trouble. They arm us with maps and directions and tell us what is, and what is not worth, seeing. They also suggest restaurants, stores and services that we should try. But everyone is a tout for one establishment or another. In Bangkok we saw a local wearing a T shirt saying, "NO - I don't want a Tuk-Tuk, Tailor or Thai Massage." Here in Hoi-An can be added, "Boat Trip, Cyclo, Motorbike, Shoeshine, Restaurant or Pig-shaped penny whistle."
We only have to mention to the hotel receptionist that we are considering flying or taking a tour, train or bus, and we are instantly booked. Every hotel is a travel agency and next door to almost everywhere is a laundry where we pay just $1 to get a kilo of clothes washed and dried.
A major source of amusement to us are the pseudo-english signs and menus - but we wonder how many Canadians could do better in Vietnamese. As for the spoken language; all the youngsters speak some English, although it is as if they couldn't afford the full English language course so they only took the first part - ergo they only learned the beginning of each word and didn't get as far as "R". For example: Fried Rice, fried egg and sweet milk becomes fly lie, fly eh and swee mil.