Thursday, May 8, 2008



Watch Ploning, it's the bestest movie evah!

Monday, May 5, 2008

Grumpy Dispatch from Hanoi

Apparently, the people who use Hostelworld are easily pleased. Otherwise, they wouldn't have given high points to Hanoi Guesthouse for service. The staff assured us by email that our booking was okay and that they were sending an airport car for us, which was important because it was our first time to go to Vietnam. Since our plane was coming in at midnight, we didn't want to deal with taxis through the unfamiliar streets of Hanoi. When we got there, there was no hotel pickup. We waited two hours and nothing! We even tried calling Duong Manh Tien, which was the name on the emails from the hotel but he wasn't answering. It was too late to find another hotel so we took a taxi. The kind airport guard negotiated with a taxi for us and made sure we got a reasonable rate. Initially, the drivers wanted to charge us US$20-30! You could almost hear the horror in the airport guard's voice. Finally, he found us one that charged only US$15, which was reasonable, given how far the airport was from the city center.

Our taxi had a difficult time finding Hanoi Guesthouse which was hidden in the side streets in a not so savory area of the city. Then when we got there, the hotel staff told us that they were fully booked despite confirming our reservation through email twice! Instead, they brought us to a sister hotel several buildings away. When we got to Hanoi Phoenix, to our horror, we were expected to climb up several flights of stairs to the 6/F to our room. We were exhausted from the trip and the wait at the airport, it was 3 am in the morning, we had been up for nearly 19 hours, and there was no elevator. Worse, when we tried to complain about the shabby treatment to the staff, he laughed at us.

If it hadn't been 3 am, we would have walked out then and there. You can be sure we spent our first morning looking for better accommodations and checked out of there the first possible moment.

Hanoi Guesthouse's business model sucks. Not only did they fail in their promise to pick us up, but they also booked us in a different hotel which was not part of the plan. It's hard to trust a business that violated our expectations several times: first, by failing to send a taxi when they said they would; second, by failing to provide us with a room despite assuring us that we had a reservation; third, by getting us to book in a different hotel when our expectations were that we were going to be staying with them. We had no idea about the other hotel, what its amenities were and whether it would fit our budget. True enough, walking up to a 6/F room with only a flimsy door lock and no chain on the door was not part of our plans.

What this budget hotel did to us so ruined our first day that it spoiled our happy expectations of Vietnam and almost made us want to go back home. Certainly, not the best way to promote the tourist industry, buggers! If you promise something, make sure you fulfill your promise. Otherwise, tell the customer that you won't be able to give what they ask. If you had treated us right, we would have stayed all of six days. Instead, you only got our custom for one night, and you can be sure that I will not be recommending your hotel to any of my family or friends.

PS. It happened to them too!