Greetings from the 6 1/2 floor.
As anticipated, there was stoush when we checked out. I refused to pay $16 each for a tour that everyone else paid $7 for. Refused. I also refused to pay another $25 for the room, and they quickly settled on another $15 (which meant that we paid $20 per night, which was more than the hotel was worth, but I was saving my energy for “The Battle of The City Tour”. The front desk staff tried to placate the cross tourist, but it quickly became clear that the cross tourist wasn’t going to budge, and Mrs. Hotel was summoned from sleep. The situation was explained, the tour leaflet was shown to her, and I pointed to $7 pp. She said that because we had lunch on the tour, we had to pay $9 extra. I calmly pointed out that everybody had lunch, and that although she had charged me $16 each, the leaflet that she had shown us prior to booking clearly showed that lunch was included, and the lunch had not been worth $9. A lot of shaking of heads ensued, and I was a little concerned that she might call the police on us. Doing a runner wasn’t an option, as the hotel keeps your passport until you pay your bill. It’s a police requirement all over Vietnam apparently.
She backed down and glared over her shoulder at me in disgust as she stormed off, and I was left a shivering wreck, unable to enjoy my breakfast. I was left feeling like a cow, that perhaps the $18 US that we were arguing about was worth so much more to her than to us, and that it was churlish of me to kick up a stink. But then by the same token, if it becomes the norm for hotels to rip people off like that, Vietnam won’t be such a lovely place to visit. Some Aussies in the lobby that witnessed the incident came up and thanked me for sticking up for what was right. That $18 is nearly enough to pay for the next two nights accomodation in Hoi An.
The bus picked us up “at 8 o’clock”, which was actually more like 8.45, and we were off again. Hue has some lovely places to visit, but with the never ending drizzle, we weren’t inclined to stay and wait out the weather. We tried to get a trip to Hoi An via Bach Ma National Park, but were told that it was “impossible” to go in the wet. I suspect that impossible = not pleasant, and we can handle not pleasant, but apparently Bach Ma is a relatively unusual spot for tourists to go, and no-one wanted to take responsibility for us whinging about the rain.
The bus drove through a really long tunnel just north of Da Nang, and the rain seemed to go away. It still wasn’t beach weather, but it was an improvement. we stopped so the bus could change tyres (or so the tourists were stranded at a place which served food and drink), and then we were on our way again. On reaching Hoi An, the bus stopped at two “recommended” hotels, but most of us had accommodation already booked. We had arranged with a guy from the place we had dinner with the night before to go to his hotel – The Grasslands. The map looked like it was close to town, it was $10 a night, and they offered to meet us at the bus, so we figured we didn’t have much to lose.
The Grasslands is a nice hotel. TV, air conditioning, a pool in the foyer, and free internet (not WIFI). And free bicycle hire, in case you want to go into town, and don’t fancy the 15min walk. And the $10 rooms were all full – so we got a $15 room. We decided to find a hotel closer to the action for our second night in Hoi An.
We found a hotel that had been recommended by a couple from the Central Coast, and checked it out. We looked at a few other places, but ended up at the Huy Hoang I Hotel, in a $10 room. It’s very ordinary, and smells of mould. I’ll see how my lungs handle it, but we may find ourselves back at the Grasslands before we leave Hoi An. We stopped for a pancake like thing at a stall in the markets – no idea what it was called, but we asked the chef to make ours without shrimp – delicious!
They come out of the pan burning hot, and are placed on a piece of rice paper – you add salad and green banana slices, and then dip into a mysterious sauce with chilli added. I decided it was best not to ask about the sauce, but it didn’t taste fishy, and was delicious.
A bit hard to see in this picture, but the roof of this building is typical of Hoi An – the tiles are concave and convex, and fit together like yin and yang. During winter it is common for moss to grow on the roofs.
After lunch we did some more wandering the streets, and were dragged in to a tailors shop. I ordered a pair of jeans (the jeans I have are on their last legs, and one more hike will surely kill them), and Mark ordered a lairy shirt. $25 US for both – we can pick the up this afternoon and see wether we got good value.
More wandering, and we found a fabulous local “cocktail”. Rum, coconut cream and pineapple in a blender. 15,000d (about $1.20 Aus), so we had a couple with some veggie spring rolls for dinner. Not exactly health food, but we were having a day off the diet. We walked back to the hotel past the most garish dress shop I have seen in my life. Andrew, this one’s for you.