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Vietnam - Hoi An 2 (bronchitis convalescence)

Written on: Wednesday March 25th, 2009

We arrived at Sea and Sand Hotel, and this time they actually meant 'hotel'. A sea breeze was blowing through the airy foyer, they brought us a cold orange juice (what the doctor ordered literally), and showed us a room. The window was open, through which we could see the sea and surrounding islands and mountains and a cool (ok warm) breeze through the window and balcony door meant it was substantially cooler than the town 5km inland. We took the room.

The beach came alive with the locals when the sun went down, with food being sold and served on the sand for the locals all evening. Then we went to sleep to the sound and sparks from the telegraph poles!

The following morning we had a buffet breakfast included, so obviously ate as much as we possibly could and went back upstairs to cool off and shower. We wandered towards the beach where there were a few places selling food and ate the best Cao Lau yet (a delicious regional dish which must consist of, among other stuff, yellowy noodles made with ash from Tro wood from nearby Cham Island and water only from an old square Cham well) and returned to the room for Jon to cool off again.

The adjoining door between our room and the next was mysteriously unbolted even though I had checked this was locked previously. On seeing this I immediately counted the money in the money belt in my rucksack. Four 20 notes were missing from the emergency sterling fund. Yes, we should have left it safely at reception but...

The receptionist was particularly unhelpful and only managed to say over and over, this never happened here before, before giving the most ridiculous advice ever, which was to go to the local police station. I got on the back of a Xe Om (moped taxi) and spent two and a half fruitless hours randomly going into any room trying to get the police to help (who responded in English when questions not regarding the theft were asked, otherwise it was a shake of the head and back to face the telly, join mates for a card game, or have a lie down after all the hard work). After spending 45 minutes requesting to call from the phone we were all sitting in front of, I enlisted the help of an office worker who managed to persuade one of the police. She called the hotel receptionist (who obviously couldn't assist) so got put through to Jon for a whinge. When the phone rang back, I probably shouldn't have just picked it up asuming it was Jon though!!! They then hid the phone!!

It was too late on my return to do anything further, but we were informed that management would be there the following morning.

Somebody saying he was management was there the following morning (emerging only after another receptionist had said there was no management available). His way of helping was calling the entire staff together around us and this descending into them all shouting, and us sitting in disbelief not knowing what on earth was being said. Eventually he said I will take you to the police as a translator (well he wasn't much good at that with the staff) at 1:30 when management arrives (erm we thought you were management). Then shakes our hands. Then says "yes, at 1:30 management arrives and we can decide if I go to police". Ok back to square one.

At 1:30, real management arrives (in shirt and trousers, obviously in his lunch hour from another pretty well paid job) and after a very long discussion amazingly decides to refund our money in the form of free accomodation (bear in mind this one's the expensive convalescent hotel, so we end up getting about 16. We shake on the deal.

Two days later we checked out at around midday, and they tried to get that 16 back. We refused as we'd said we'd made a deal. As we were waiting for a 2 o'clock bus back into Hoi An town, the frantic manager came to talk to us shouting around saying we owed him money and now he didn't believe us anymore. We walked away.


(Cat Bien (Sea and Sand) Hotel - NOT recommended (obviously!))