Dong Hoi Hotel problems
Trip Start Dec 13, 2007
20Trip End Feb 01, 2008
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Where I stayed
Ke Bang Hotel
Well, our train was a little late (only 15 to 20 minutes), but when we arrived at the station, we quickly knew that the Ke Bang Hotel rep was not there to meet us as we had been promised by e-mail.
No problem, we got a taxi to the hotel and were met with a very surprised expression from the receptionist. Sadly, she had no English language skills, and I'm sad to say, we have still learnt very little Vietnamese. She looked through the printout of my internet booking from September and looked totally confused. She said the word "interpreter" and picked up the phone. Sadly, the interpreter's English was poor. It transpired that the hotel had no record of our booking. I had to read all of the detail. "When did you book?" "I booked in September" "Silence... Why are you at the hotel now if you book in September?" Anyway, we got through the reception challenge in about 30 minutes, then it was all smiles
Dong Hoi is actually quite a nice set-up on a river estuary, with one arm of the estuary forming a bit of an island/ peninsula effect on the ocean side of the river.
We decided to check out the Sun Spa Resort as a spot to walk to (over a big river bridge) and to get lunch.
The resort was having a lot of work done, including two bulldozers re-alligning the sand in front of the hotel. Lunch as nice, but pricey for Vietnam of course, being a 4* resort, but still very cheap by Aussie standards. We were the only lunch guests in this massive complex. After lunch we asked if we could use their pool and they said we could. We had our towels and bathers and we would have gone for an ocean swim had they said no. We had another round of drinks by the pool and set off back to our hotel as the sun set
For Dinner, we thought the Saigon Quangbinh Hotel was the go -also 4*. Strangely, this big, new hotel, part of one of the biggest chains in Vietnam only had two menus in the whole hotel (so they said!).
We also thought we would be the only diners until another family came in. A very, very quiet town....
Well, we had an OK night in our crummy hotel, but were convinced that the Sun Spa Resort was a relative bargain and our booking was over-priced and under delivering.
This view was cemented at breakfast - no this hotel didn't do breakfast, despite breakfast being included in my booking. Hmmm.
We checked out with some bad feeling. The telephone interpreter was hastily engaged by reception and said we had to pay for 2 rooms for 2 nights as we had booked. I reminded them that yesterday I had to fight for 30 minutes to convince them I did have a booking, so we hadn't kept anyone away. They said they would 'deduct breakfast from the bill'. I said I had booked breakfast and expected breakfast.
It was all going badly and they wouldn't let me go without paying the second night.
I offered them the one night's cost and told the interpreter that they would need to call the police if they wanted more money from me.
I encouraged Caroline to take a bag outside and flag a cab. It was then soon over. We paid the one night, were into a cab and into the Sun Spa Resort in a flash.
Fantastic ocean view room (for a garden room special price!) and all the resort services. Gym, 2 pools, dodgy hairdresser for Sam..... Great stuff. No more touring for a day whilst we lapped up the resort services; pools, gym, beach with flattened sand (albeit with caterpillar tracks throughout)
Our taxi to the station was straightforward and we had a bit of a chat with a young lady carrying flowers to meet her 'sweetheart' who was arriving on the train we were leaving on; the SE6.
The train was again, the best, SE series. Aircon, reserved soft seating. On earlier journeys, we had been inundated with drink/ snack/ food services via the trolleys going up and down the aisles. We had worked out the food service - buy a ticket, then about an hour later, the food trays would come out - sort of airline style. An earlier train had the pictorial menu displayed in the middle of the carriage. The service initially looked dodgy and cleanliness of food a concern, but the plastic, compartmentalised 'TV Dinner' type trays were completely disposable, just the rigid plastic outer tray was retained for future use..... Sam and I had decided to have the train meal on this journey. We had the phrase book ready and with catching the train at 1129, we expected an early offer of food and drinks for lunch. Caroline had ordered a smoked salmon and caper baguette from our 4* resort for US150.00 (or thereabouts) plus 5% service and 10% GST, Caitlin didn't want anything.
Unfortunately, the food service was offered about 4pm and no drinks were offered before this. We had water with us, as usual and some bickies, but Sam and I were saving ourselves for the hot food.
Phrase book in hand, we ordered pork steak for Rick and chicken for Sam. The meal was VND20,000 each - less than A$1.50. The meal was heaps of rice, a compartment of well seasoned vegies, and we were offered a plastic cup of watery vegie soup, ladled out of a dirty looking plastic esky, which we both declined. Rick's pork steak also included some cheap pork bits (offal?) under the steak. Sam's chicken was a nicely spiced chicken curry in a thin gravy. We both ate our meals and enjoyed them very much (Maybe helped by the hunger!)