Hotel breakfast when the hotel isn’t finished
A breakfast in a construction site
Vietnam, you might be a great place to live and work, but having breakfast today wasn’t the most memorable… I’ve had some of the greatest food experiences in Vietnam, but this wasn’t one of them.
In a “lost in translation” issue, I missed breakfast in my hotel in Saigon (Vietnam) yesterday. Since there are ongoing works in the hotel, the restaurant had limited opening hours. I, of course, misunderstood that and showed up after the breakfast service already closed.
Today, I wasn’t going to miss the cooked-to-order breakfast, and so I arrive at the first floor well within the set time. Much to my surprise, I’m standing in an empty restaurant. No staff present, a couple of very dusty tables and a pile of drywall-waste in the middle of the room. As I’m sure I misunderstood the location, I go to the reception on a lower floor, where the girl confirms (well, we don’t speak each other’s language, so…) that the hotel serves their breakfast on the first floor.
So here I go back up. I see a door that I didn’t notice earlier, put my head around it and see a woman n what looks like an improvised kitchen. She keeps repeating the same word, and fortunately, a maid who speaks a bit of English comes in and tells me she needs a paper. Since I never received any papers, I walk back to the ground floor, ask the same receptionist for the paper, which she handed me immediately. I don;t get used to the we-only-solve-the-one-problem-you-have-and-not-the-one-we-know-you’ll-have-next-attitude…
And back up I go, with the paper. That small sheet of paper not only has my room number on it, but it also has the menu choices. In Vietnamese. And the maid has since left. Time to get out the phone. and translate “fried eggs” to Vietnamese. Trúng chiên, it seems to be. Since I had found the coffee order on the menu already. The lady and I seemed to have found a way to get an order in.
The right room, but the right choice?
The room where I was standing had a distinct smell of yesterdays eastern cooking. Not bad, but not the most appealing. Since there was only one chair in the room ( I noticed later a pile of folded chairs in a corner, so they expected many more guests), I stood near the window, watching over the busy street, while I hoped I’d see some breakfast soon.
There comes my Vietnamese breakfast
After a couple of minutes, the lady walks out of the kitchen with plates. One has fried eggs and some white bread on a second one. She takes a newspaper from a nearby table and lays it on the place where the seat is standing. See the amount of dust on the tables, I’d prefer indeed that old newspaper over the drywall-dust… Not as bad as earlier bad hotel experiences in New Zealand, but getting close.
And so I eat my breakfast. Alone in a construction site on a folding chair, on yesterdays newspaper, with the window open to keep the smell within reason.
The lady brings me an iced coffee. With a straw… Sigh… While she’s at my table, a Russian guy walks in. His face is as puzzled as mine was when I walked in here earlier. After he’s been told this is indeed the breakfast area, he walks off. I see him crossing the street to the coffee place there. Not a bad choice. I’ll have me a decent hot latte there later, to swallow the dust of this place. Whether stranded in Alaska, or stuck with a breakfast in a weird place,[inlinetweet prefix=”” tweeter=”” suffix=”#Experience”] digital nomads, have to adapt the old Congo saying” “Tire ton plan”…[/inlinetweet] (be resourceful)
Koen Blanquart is a strategy consultant, journalist, and author.
Wanderlust is one of his driving factors, and he shares his travels here on Boarding Today. Koen is also the skipper of SV Bagabonda, a sailing vessel making a slow circumvention of the globe..
Koen recently published a book on how to manage a remote team: The Suitcase Office.
Traveling abroad can be fun, but this sounds like “one of those days” (or at least morning’s). These are the kind of problems that can happen anywhere but when there’s a language barrier, they’ve got to be all the more frustrating. It’s amazing how you always seem to run into someone who speaks a little English. That’s got to be encouraging. Koen, I like reading about your adventures, even when things go awry.