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Trip Start Aug 06, 2011
144Trip End Ongoing
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Where I stayed
Dai Luong Hotel
1- We had to pay twice for our hotel room. I had been using Agoda to book some of our rooms as they have a strong presence in Southeast Asia (they do require the payment up front which is different from most booking sites and a big negative). Unfortunately they also have a reputation for non-existent customer service (whoa- just had a Rogers flashback), but up until this point I hadn't needed to test them. When we rolled into Rach Gia in the middle of the night after our sardine-can minibus ride, the owner claimed to have never heard from Agoda and the only way we could stay was to pay again (did I mention that it was the middle of the night, and there were no other hotels nearby). Numerous attempts to get a response from Agoda have resulted in the uninterrupted sounds of crickets so we are likely out $19 (if this is the worst unplanned financial disaster we experience, Martin can rest easy- although he doesn't know that we have a big planned financial disaster coming up in Singapore)
2- The people of Rach Gia really like their karaoke- I mean, they REALLY like there karaoke. The area we were in must have had an entire road of world class karaoke joints (unlike the tiny establishments we have seen in other karaoke hotbeds like Manila and Bangkok). These were huge nightclub sized businesses with speakers just slightly smaller than an average Beluga Whale pointed out to the street- if you didn't know it was well lubricated Vietnamese Idol contestants, you would swear that local cats were being made to suffer unspeakable acts of torture at full volume. We were told that it would all stop at 10:30 pm and, at exactly 10:30 pm, everything went silent (cheers to the one party police state).
3- Our hotel owner had indicated that we were the first Westerners to ever stay at his hotel and as we wandered the neighbourhood streets the next day, we were obviously the centre of some attention. We've traveled through a number of places where we were something of an oddity but it was somewhat unexpected in Vietnam- it was a lot of staring mixed with a number of waves, hello's, and broad smiles. Our moment to feel like movie stars I guess
4- When you're in an area not frequented by Westerners, it can be daunting to order food from a picture-less menu you can't read. Even pointing at other peoples meals (which has worked a treat in similar situations) just secured us looks of incredulity- I suspect they thought we were asking to take the plate away from the other diner. As a result we were a little hungry upon leaving Rach Gia.
5- We really didn't know what we were doing when we booked our ferry tickets so we were just hoping for a happy outcome. As we dumped our packs, we were escorted into the VIP section of the boat- not sure how that happened but the extra space and comfort was a welcome relief after our recent cramped transportation events.