Day 17 Thursday 1 January 2015

An early morning as we al have to disembark by 8:15am.  As last night we are still tied up to the pier at My Tho – but opening the curtains brings a huge shock and final proof and a realisation that we are on a tidal river.  Last night we could have stepped from our balcony onto the dockside; this morning we are staring at a wall which reaches up to eye level.  During the night the tide went out and the boat is now lower and egress from the ship to the quay is at second floor level.  At least no-one can see us getting dressed.

Bags outside our doors at 7 and we head upstairs for breakfast and coffee.  During the latter I note that the bags are being steadily offloaded and as we are not travelling with the main group to Saigon I go into mad “bag monitor” mode annd head outside collecting our two and two other fellow traveller bags into a separate and forlorn looking group.

We slowly watch our fellow passengers leave in various coaches for the next part of their adventure and we wave them all off; eventually there are just the four of us.

Suddenly a mini-bus arrives and we are back with Asian trails.  Our hotel booking for tonight is an eco-friendly hotel which is back at Cai Be.  Our friendly guide welcomes us (and with all bags loaded) we head off and she outlines are programme for the morning – which is to revisit the places we had seen in Cai Be the previous day (not overly surprising).  As we had “been there and done that” we advise her that we would be more than happy simply to go to the hotel and make use of the pool for the day – after all we need to go home a little browner than when we set out – it is supposed to be a holiday.  She seems surprised but accepts our decision and we are not surprised when the hotel says the rooms will not be ready until later.

We check in, passports copied and luggage labelled for room 106 and we head to the pool.  Sunlounger and towels acquired we stretch out and seek to get a little colour.  Around 1 it is getting hot and I suggest repairing to reception and seeing if by any chance our room was available.  Sadly not and so we sit on the hard wooden furniture (which could have come from that shop up the road) and I am glad we have not bought any.  I get an internet connection on the phone and can catch up with the world but none of the Apple appliances will connect.

Soon after 1:30 we are told our room is ready and we go there to find the maids just finishing.  I cannot get an internet connection now but the wife finds she has had an email from the National Lottery – she has won.  But we cannot get a connection to the NL website to find out how much.  Given my success earlier I return to reception and spend nearly an hour – but fail to find out anything useful.  When I return to our room the wife has found out the magic numbers from the Hull Post and she has won £25.  And I was hoping for the big money!

Then the afternoon descends into complete farce.  We get a phone call wanting to know if we have checked in.  [Needless to say we have].  Then when wife has rolled over to try an afternoon snooze the phone goes again – can they see the passports.  Not trusting anyone I remind her that I saw them take copies that morning and they already have them.  Having had her snooze destroyed the wife is not happy.  It gets worse five minutes late when a front of house manager arrives at the door and asks to see the passports.  I can only assume the change of shift from morning to afternoon has led to this complete catalogue of errors.

Our fellow travellers were allocated room 105 but on arrival there they had only been briefly in residence when management arrived and moved them to room 101.  105 was equipped with a double bed and two extra beds (for a family of four) and so was inappropriate.

Throughout this time our wifi was intermittent at best and so we went for a wander around the complex (beautiful gardens, nice pool, games area, beach area, bikes and boats for local outings, sign saying “keep out of deep water” on the same lake as canoes for use by residents, toothbrush in a plastic wrapper encased in a nice looking paper outer to maintain the eco-facade) and decide to settle in the restaurant area and have a drink.  Now all of a sudden we had rock solid wifi for as many bits of kit as we carry (at least four).  We can get our photos on line for the first time in days.  Getting a table was more complex.  We arrived at the same time as another couple and they wanted us all to sit at the same table.  We just sat at another one.

And had a drink, and then had another.  Service was not notable and nor was the quality of the cooking.  It was also entertaining watching as they tried to seat (or not) other people coming into the restaurant – which we were told variously was open all day and opened at seven in the evening – although we were served dinner (probably because we were there) at about 6.  At least we just had to consider it funny.

Returning to the room I use the toilet and think I see something running down the wall.  My fears are confirmed when my wife uses the shower and decides there are a couple of geckos in the bathroom – something which she has not encountered since our honeymoon in St Lucia where the score was only one.  Later I up the count to three on the glass wall of the shower which faces out to the river but do not tell her.  All seem to have gone by morning.

I am sure if they addressed a few of these issues (a lot of staff  training would be good, along with some consistent processes) plus upping the catering aspect then this would actually be a very nice place to stay.  However we decided to name it “Fawlty Eco-Towers” in recognition of our experiences.  PS to the above, most of those staying appeared to speak English so it would be good if some more of the staff had a better comprehension of English as well, although I understand that it does have to be local recruitment to hold costs.

Tomorrow – Ho Chi Minh City.