October 17, 2013
We woke with a vengeance; packed with a vengeance; and walked down the stairs with a vengeance, until we cornered him behind his desk like the rat he was.
KT: We didn’t even get our token picture of the room! We’ve gotten pictures of every single guesthouse room across Vietnam, but not this one. We were too set on getting out of there. Whoops!
“We’re checking out” we said with sternness in our faces.
He was quite. Then asked if we drank anything from the room.
“No. But the fridge was missing a bottle of water which I told one of your staff yesterday.”
I thought he was going to play the ol’ $18 a night trick. But he stuck to his word.
Then he started to add the $4 for parking our bikes for two nights and that’s when we chimed in.
“We saw you pull the bike underneath. We’re not paying for parking.”
He came back as if he had rehearsed his lines already.
“No…I park yours underneath. I pay for parking for mine.”
We weren’t stacking what he was chopping – buying what he was selling; if you know what I mean. I know it was only a few bucks, but the point was this guy rubbed us the wrong way from the start and it was a matter of principal.
We read the night before that there was a free parking lot around the corner, and one of the workers told us that they would drive our bikes over to Violet Hotel 1 and then ride one of the bikes back to our hotel. And the downstairs lobby could have easily fit four bikes and we were the only ones staying there. So instead of unleashing the rage that I was full of I hit him with a dose of realness.
“Instead of trying to make a few dollars off us, it would have been nice of you to tell us about the free parking lot.”
His smirk went away. We had 700,000 dong ($32) in our hands and we were set on not paying a penny more. The payment even included parking my bike, which we let him have a small victory. He accepted the money and we walked off without another word.
We loaded up our bikes as he stood there in guffaw. We had our justice. After cruising around the block we rolled up to Alibaba Hotel which gave off a feeling that was the polar opposite of Violet 2 and right then we knew that we had to go with our gut, something that we had been doing thus far until comfort skewed my vision.
We dropped our bags off in our new $13 room and had a little chat downstairs with the women about how relieved we were to be out of our last hotel. They knew exactly what we were talking about. They even described the man to me.
“He is very thin man. Short. A little bit darker skin.”
“Yes yes yes! That’s him!” I blasted
“Ahh! He sometimes stands in front of our hotel and tries to steal our customers.”
“Are you kidding me?”
The horror goes on. We were just happy to be out. And we couldn’t have found a nicer pair of women. We went to a café to check our emails and wait around for Robert to drop off the remaining money.
We ordered Americano’s and opened our emails. I had a bite and it was about time. We were leaving tomorrow and I couldn’t afford to be out a couple hundred bucks. It was from a 50 year old who just arrived and was obviously looking for a bike. After a little back and forth action we had set a time to meet. Katie wished me luck and I took off for the hotel.
I first have to mention that it had been raining nonstop for the past four days and had flooded my engine so the electric starter wasn’t working, but the kick start got it running just fine. I know the bike and I have been through hell over the past three months but as of late it had been running just fine aside from the recent popped tire. I knew Michael Douglas would get the last laugh. The man showed up and it turns out he was also a Canadian and we’d shared many of the same travels through Asia and South America. With the rain coming down I had to get the kick start going for him, which wasn’t a good start, and he took off around the block. Ten minutes had passed before I saw him putting up the street. Mother
fuckersucker!! I had already known he wasn’t interested and I don’t blame him. He said the bike died on him a dozen times. Yadda yadda goddamn Michael Douglas is all I thought! I wished him a safe trip and no ill will. Now it was crunch time.
That morning we stopped to put air in Katie’s tires because she woke up with a flat tire that occurred from Robert’s little accident. While we were getting it patched we popped into a hostel to use their internet. The woman behind the counter said she knew a mechanic that might be interested in buying my bike. I thanked her but told her I was holding out for a tourist. This woman was now my last hope. So I started my bike up easily and cruised on over. She wasn’t there but another woman was. She knew the same mechanic. In fact it was her brother. She put him on the phone so I could talk to him.
“Where were you yesterday?” He said “I showed up at the hotel.”
You have to be kidding me! It was the same mechanic from yesterday.
“I am so sorry. I was five minutes late and they told me you left.” Which was true.
Having already seen the bike he offered to pay me $150. I knew this man was my last option so I dropped it down to $200. He came back at $160 and eventually we settled on $170. Which was $80 less than I was asking, but $170 more than nothing.
I handed the phone back to his sister and he told her to pay me. I, being an idiot, forgot my blue registration card at home, which he insisted upon, so I got back on the bike in the rain and flew back to the hotel to pick it up.
To add another level of bizarreness, this transaction would never have been possible had it not been for the whores who returned my wallet in Ho Chi Minh. If you haven’t read the story already click here. Well if it wasn’t for me getting my wallet back, blue card intact, it would have been extremely hard to sell a bike, even if the registration is not in my name. It is just like a right of passage. So even though those two whores stole $130 from me, by some divine act they had also given me back $170. I picked up the registration card and flew back to complete the transaction. And with a huge sigh Michael Douglas was off my hands.
Robert had messaged Katie and apologized for not being able to make it, but he said tomorrow he would be there definitely. They set to meet at one o’clock, which didn’t leave a lot of room for us to buy a ticket for a bus to Sapa if he decided to back out or switch to another day. Our Visas were coming to an end and we wanted to spend a couple days in Sapa. The timing was getting extremely tight, but first we have a water puppet show to attend.
The play was very interesting. A live Vietnamese folk band sat to the left of the stage and narrated, sang and strummed along with the puppets. The stage was a bed of water with a bamboo backdrop. And alongside the music puppets came to life singing, fishing, chasing fox, planting rice and boating around in lifelike form. It was truly a wonderful show aside from, and there seems to always be an aside from, a Chinese woman that snuck into the seats right ahead of us with an iPad size camera screen and wanted to film the whole damn show. It was as though we were watching a play through her lit up camera. It was just another example of how people feel like they are the only person in the room.
KT: I always enjoy a good theatre show, and The Water Puppet Theatre was incredibly impressive! I didn’t expect to laugh so hard to puppets splashing around in water and imitating catching fish. It was really amusing, definitely recommend it if you’re ever in Vietnam! Apparently Water Puppet Theatre was a cultural past time when the monsoon season would drown the crops.