Lux et umbra vicissum…

light and shadow by turn…

Lux et umbra vicissum… header image 2

Journal entry from 5-14-08

May 31st, 2008 · 1 Comment

A Dumb American’s Experience in a Half-Western Hotel

When I first arrived at the Ghion hotel, I wasn’t quite sure what to think. The front of the building was certainly impressive enough. There was a winding drive that rambled in different directions amid beautiful landscaping, and the whole front of the hotel was lined with lights so that it had a feel of both grandness and a certain sense of welcome.

On entering the lobby, I was aware of some of the first difference between this and a western hotel – or at least any hotel I’d stayed in before. Whereas I was used to seeing large lobbies with sweeping registration counters, this lobby seemed small, though grandly designed, and the registration desk was really only large enough for two people to stand comfortably side by side (though I’m quite sure that more than that manage at times.) [side note: the lobby was actually bigger than I realized, but since we arrived so late some of the lights were off… also the registration counter did have a wrap-around section that I hadn’t noticed at first]

I do not count among my talents the ability to understand folks with thick accents. This is always an embarrassment, and so it was at the front desk. At first we had to make sure I actually had a reservation (there was some uncertainty), but that was handled by Getachew, my wonderful driver and friend in need. However, once it was settled that I did, in fact, have a room, he headed out to go to his own home and I was left to fend for myself. *sigh* The man at the desk was telling me something, but I hadn’t a clue what it was. At first I tried having him repeat the information, but after he had repeated it twice and I still hadn’t understood, I decided to take the, “Um… oh… ok…” approach. At which point, looking slightly resigned, he motioned to two porters to take my bags. I didn’t have the will to fight for my bags, so I resigned myself to the fact that I’d be tipping them for a job I could have done myself, and we proceeded to my room. It was only after I had entered the room that I finally realized the man at the front desk may have been telling me how much to pay him. 😛 [I decided later that he may have been telling me what time they served breakfast…]

My room was a bit of a puzzle in itself. On walking in, my able porters immediately deposited my bags and turned on the television. I tipped them and they left, at which point I took a more thorough look around the small space. There were two twin beds, each with a small nightstand, a small desk with an internet plug and ashtray on top, and a small TV stand with a little TV. There was also a nice-size bathroom and a sizable wardrobe. All in all, it was perfectly satisfactory for my needs. When Michelle gets here she’ll use the second twin bed, and really we’ll mostly be here to sleep and maybe type or write.

But then I faced my first conundrum. The TV seemed loud and I wanted to turn it off, but gosh darn it where was the power button? There was no remote to be seen, only a small sign on top of the TV stating which channels were what (there were six of them). I started playing with the little round buttons on the front of the TV, none of which were marked, and before long I had learned which ones were channel up and down and which were volume up and down, but nothing turned the darn thing off. I turned the volume down a bit and walked away in defeat determining to try again later.

I then went in to use the bathroom only to be unable to find the flush handle for the toilet. I was beginning to get frustrated and was starting to wonder whether the bucket which I had taken for a trash can was in fact there to provide a means of flushing.

At that point I stopped and reminded myself that I had had very little sleep and things would probably make more sense in the morning.

I did finally manage to turn the TV off. The button was recessed and, being black on black, hard to see in the dim light. The morning then revealed to me that the little knobby thing that seems to be lying loosely on the back of the toilet actually lifted up to flush it. I raised my arms in victory upon this discovery.

Another time maybe I’ll write about the large windows in the shower and the man sweeping the path outside with a large frond of some kind, but right now I need to go pay the poor front desk man for my room and exchange some money. Then I’ll be ready to find out when I can meet my daughters. 🙂

Tags: Faith & Ministries

1 response so far ↓

  • 1 jen // Jun 1, 2008 at 11:08 pm

    TeeHee – I often think of foreign potties and sinks that I have experience when, yet again, our ET daughter cannot figure out how to get soap or water or a paper towel in a public restroom here – poor thing – seems there is about a billion ways to make a bathroom!