I checked out my room this morning and it smelled of soggy cabbage. On mentioning it to the staff on the front desk they said they’d make a call and by mid-afternoon it was fixed and the temperature back down to a much more civilised 17 degrees. Champion!
The morning was spent loafing around downstairs, looking at maps of the surrounding area with Mike and Max, the owners. Just around Hanoi there is enough to see to last you a month if you can get around on your own moped. I really have to come back here sometime.
Maps and trips were the topic of a social conversation as the internet had died overnight. The ISP tried to say that the problem was areawide and it would be back up by the afternoon – the same tale they’d spun the last time. The last time this happened, it was off for two days. Internet cafes aren’t anywhere near as prevalent around here are they are in either Bangkok or Auckland, but I managed to quickly check my mail when I got to Blue Dragon.
Today’s lesson was a little more of a struggle as the kids I had were more “playful” when it comes to computers and were prone to wandering off down little tracks of their own. Still, we managed to get two more web pages done and I showed them the pictures of me sitting with Tigers in Kanchanaburi. They were quite impressed!
Eamonn and the Irish group were all leaving today and someone had told us about an “eat all you can” chocolate buffet at the Sofitel. This sounded too good to be true so we had to give it a shot. We met there are 3pm and wandered into another world.
Sofitel are pretty posh places and this was no exception. Plodding around in my sweaty sandals, shorts and t-shirts I felt out of the place for the first time in weeks. Never mind, there was chocolate to be had and the staff didn’t bat an eyelid at this scruffy traveller amongst their otherwise shirt-clad clientele. nEven Eamonn had dressed for the occasion in a long-sleeved shirt.
We took our seats and were presented with a menu. Talking ourselves out of the champagne wasn’t too difficult as it was $US260 a bottle for the good stuff (heck, water was $US2.50 – it’s 50c in the hostel). We ordered the buffet and our complimentary tea was delivered and poured. And delicious. The first cup of non-Liptons I’ve had since I got here.
Enough messing about. Chocolate was calling. Loudly. And in a very posh Belgian accent.
This place had it all. A chocolate fountain. Fresh fruit on sticks to place under it (pineapple, melon, kiwi fruit, raspberries…). Chocolate orange with real strips of orange inside. Truffles. Cookies. Little cakes. Sauces. Ice cream. Mousse (white and dark). Individual chocolates: ganache, praline, ginger, caramel, marzipan, coffee…
You name it, they probably had it. The ice cream in particular was divine. You could taste the chocolate and the cream in each mouthful. I hate to think how much we ate but it was enough to make us ill. I like to think I counteracted all the fat with a healthy plate of raspberries to finish. However, I still ate about as many calories in one sitting as I have since I arrived in Vietnam and my arteries must have been hardening faster than quick-dry cement.
The grand total was a shade under $US10 each ($8 + service charge + VAT) and worth it simply for the experience alone. I need to chck out how much the hotel costs for a night, just out of curiosity. This must be one of the cheapest ones worldwide.