Wednesday, 21 October 2015

White Dragon Sky (and SMOKING gets me the Penthouse)

I sleep until 5 am. Finally getting into the rhythm and of course the departure date has to be approaching so  that  I will get to do this jet-lagging all over again in Canada.
I'm glad that I didn't book a more involved tour or events schedule. 

Breakfast is at 7 am but I get some hot water at the bar at 6:30 to use on a pouch of Vietnamese instant coffee.  Amazing stuff.  Just how the Vietnamese manage to produce instant coffee that tastes better than a large fraction of freshly brewed North American coffee is beyond me. The ‘real’ coffee served with breakfast is even better ;-)

not enough coffee yet !

A flock of junks ?

Rooms are vacated at 10:00 for cleaning and the tables are already set for the 10:30 lunch.  On the table are 2 envelopes for tips (one for the tour guide and one for the boat crew) and an evaluation form for the trip (1-4 stars for boat crew, tour guide, food quality, room condition, etc). I fill out my form, giving 4/4 to pretty much everything, except for the tour guide, who I feel was hurrying us a bit too much, who gets 2/4.
Of course, it is the same tour guide, who reads the forms, and who approaches me and asks me if there was something he did to offend me.  When I explain my reasoning to him, he apologizes and asks me how he could do it differently and in a sly manner asks me whether I would be willing to fill out 'another' evaluation form.
I realize in time that this is not one of those hotel ratings on Tripadvisor or Expedia and fill out another form giving him 3/4.  Because this form goes directly to his employer,  who knows exactly who the 2/4 person is and will look for someone else. The tour guide is maybe 24 years old and he is willing to learn.  What if someone had judged me this harshly in my younger years?

At least I realize in time to not mess with reverse-timeline karma, but the people at the other table apparently don't.  A couple  of 25 year old French tourists feel that the have the right and obligation to be judge and executioner for the tour guide. Even though their problem with him was the same as mine (His job is to bring all tourists to different sites in time and he hasn't learned to keep that time pressure from the guests), and he had approached them with the request to fill out 'another' form as well, but even though he is BEGGING now, they refuse to show mercy.  

Bad Karma arrive quickly:  the two French people whisper to each other, keep looking down at their cutlery, and don't even dare to look at the 2 Germans at their table.  I wonder whether they will ever get it.

After some confusion which bus will take which tourist back to Hanoi, I finally have a seat in a huge bus with an aggressive but extremely good driver.

Rice patties:  green = unharvested
smoke = straw being burned
The four hour bus journey seems to take longer every time I take it.  At some point I glance out the window and in the hazy sky see a cloud that resembles a flying duck or dragon with the sun forming its eye.

The bus gets stuck in traffic so it's visible for quite a long time (i.e its eye doesn't move)

No, the dragon did not vanish in a puff of smoke; this was a truck driver hitting the gas

Or maybe it's dragon remains after all?

Since this is a large tourist bus it is prone to get stuck in Hanoi rush hour almost constantly, so I get off at the first stop it makes in the Old Quarter and walk back to the hotel.

The receptionist is happy to see me even though someone had to nudge him out of sleep on his couch and tells me that I have been upgraded for free to a room on the 7th floor.  I didn't even know the hotel had 7 floors.  He tells me that the room has a balcony and that I may smoke on that balcony.  

AAAAHH.  So this, then, is the poodle’s core (Goethe):  Since I am always awake at 5 am, I tip tap down to the lobby and wake everyone when trying to open the front door.  This middle-of-the-night disturbance of the reception staff’s sleep could only be stopped in one of two manners:  1) Forbid the guest to come down at such an uncomely time, or 2) give the guest a space to fume at such an early hour.  Brilliant ;-)

But when I open the door to room 701 I no longer care.  I now am resident in the penthouse of the hotel formerly known as the Royal Palace Hotel.   THIS is SO NICE !

I'm almost too excited to sleep, but mange to eventually.

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