D37: Bắc Kạn - Tetchy Days in Vietnam - CycleBlaze

March 12, 2018 to March 13, 2018

D37: Bắc Kạn

The Nicest Hotel in the Universe

This is like the most amazing historical mosaic ever
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Ever since I returned to Hanoi, the weather has returned to being gray and unpleasant. Sometimes it is warmly gray and unpleasant. Other times it is nicely cool while being gray and unpleasant. But generally, it's been gray and unpleasant. Today was no exception to that rule. Only, in addition to being gray and unpleasant, it was also threatening to rain, I had a soft bed, all kinds of sore body parts from yesterday's unexpected mountain biking and my throat was kind of bothering me.

This was the perfect time to go back to sleep.

Once I woke up again, I looked out the window, checked the weather report, checked the map to see how far I was likely to need to go today and made the executive decision that it was the perfect time to go back to sleep.

Later on, when I simply found it too difficult to force my eyes to stay closed, I stared at the ceiling for a while, got up and took a luxuriously hot shower that had to have a decent sized water heater somewhere in the building that wasn't my bathroom and crawled back into bed with a book. I've basically finished binge reading all the available stuff by Daniel Abraham and am currently working on back catalog books by my family friend and first ever employer Jack Chalker.

About half past noon, someone started knocking on the door. What with my only having paid for one night's hotel, I expected that this was going to happen eventually. I looked around the room and realized, not only is all of my non bike wear clothing currently dirty, it's also currently in the bottle bags and currently attached to my bike which is currently downstairs in the hotel lobby. I wrapped the big duvet comforter around myself and opened the door to explain that I was going to stay another night.

Shit, right. I don't speak any Vietnamese.

Is there universal sign language for "I don't feel like getting out of bed today"?

So I pantomimed coughing. I put one hand to my forehead like someone feeling for a fever. I sniffled. The woman in the hall nodded, spoke a bunch more Vietnamese at me, and left. I closed the door and went back to bed.

It was a really nice bed. Talking with other tourists (bicycle, motorcycle, and backpacker) I understand that I've had more than my fair share of really nice beds in Vietnam and this one was definitely one of them. The room I was in had three beds of varying degrees of soft and while it wasn't luxuriantly stretch out and enjoy the softness of the soft bed level of soft, this was still a soft bed.

Each bed was a slightly different degree of soft. And there were three beds to choose from.
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An hour or ninety minutes later, she was back knocking at my door. I figured I was about to be asked for money (a reasonable assumption) so I grabbed my phone (for the Google Translate option) and my wallet when I wrapped the duvet around myself and shuffled to the door. Nope. She was delivering cold medicine, a thermos full of hot water, and a bag with sandwiches.

Some more napping and some more reading later (I guess I never did get my hands on a copy of the second Changewinds novel), she was back at my door again. This time with a bowl of soup.

And again, an hour after that to give me instant coffee (great idea at 8pm) and a tin full of Danish butter cookies (the kind that are Schroedinger's Sewing Supplies). I wasn't even feeling that bad. Yes, my throat was a little bit scratchy and yes I was having a little bit of nasty head goo come out when I blow my nose but that's nothing really unusual. I just happened to like the idea of the bed more than the idea of not the bed given the weather outside my window and the distance to the next confirmed bed.

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In the morning, while considering the various implications of someone wants to pay me to do work and I'd rather do work wearing clothing and sitting in the coffee shop next door, she knocked on my door again to bring me more sandwiches.

Before I left the room, I made sure I had at least 200,000 dong in small money in my wallet. 100,000 to pay for another night in the room and 100,000 (which probably wasn't enough) to pay for the extras. I'd have been happier if I had 300,000 in small money but I didn't have change.

When I got downstairs, I found dogs but I couldn't find people. One friendly curious dog not on a leash, one leashed at the end of a hall, and three (two on leashes, one in a cage) in what clearly used to be a first floor hotel room. I stood around for a while and finally decided that I'd just leave the money somewhere obvious. Opened my wallet and the 200,000 dong had miraculously turned into 110,000 dong. Because, yet again, I'd miscounted zeroes and mistaken a 10,000 dong note for a 100,000 dong note.

No worries though, the people outside the front door selling coconuts turned out to be associated with the hotel and they had change. Of course, they wouldn't take more than the 100,000 for the room. I tried. I really really tried. There was lots of back and forth pouncing on each other shoving money in pockets only to have it taken out and triumphantly given back to the other person.

Went to the coffee shop next door to handle a short press release for Hainan Airlines and, while I was waiting, a plastic bag with a slightly damp pair of bike gloves was put on my handlebars. I was fairly sure I knew where I lost these two nights ago and had meant to try to stop by that restaurant on my way out of town but apparently they had already been found, taken to the hotel, and washed.

Nhà Nghỉ Kim Thuyen next door to Cafe Lệ at 14 Hùng Vương, Phùng Chí Kiên, Bắc Kạn, Vietnam. You all got to come here. They're really great people.

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