I try and try…….

The perfect Christmas gift?

Things have been hectic in Paradise. With the coming of new year, the hotel has been very busy and much time is spent looking after guests needs, and trying to make sure the hotel can live up to the reputation that we have developed. The first order of business was to repair all of the water damage done by the rains of November. We had the walls fill with water and over a couple of weeks, soak through the interior painted and create cracks in some ceilings. With the exception of one room, all are now repaired and life goes on. Restoring the building was not without its challenges, and the biggest one for me was trying to get the Vietnamese around me think about the result of the task at hand. Remember I have commented that most Vietnamese people only live in the moment? Well repainting the building was a stark reminder of how things go. I instructed the painters very clearly that fixtures and plates had to be removed and the mold killing paint be applied in order to kill the growth and smell that came along with it. I also stressed very clearly that a drop cloth was to be used when painting the staircase and a wet towel kept handy to clean up dribbles. This of course was ignored and I returned to the hotel later in the day to see paint splattered everywhere. I angrily got a wet towel only to discover that it had dried already and now the floor was in need of scraping. My receptionist who was the one to translate my instructions for them was now on her knees cleaning the mess. I went to change a couple of wall switches that needed repair, and found that the painters simply painted over the clear tape holding the switch plates to the wall, and sure enough… there was mold growing underneath. I became angry at the painters but was stunned when my receptionist told me that she had instructed them just to paint over when they asked about it. Whaa???? She has been with me for a year now and knows how

the ghetto destroyed

things work. For the life of me I have no idea why she would tell them that after she translated my instructions to remove everything and paint under. Anyway…. I climb the stairs t check on the rooms and am again stunned still to see them painting the hallway with paint running down the walls, pooling and dripping into the course stairs where it is difficult to wash. Aha!! Here is my chance to make an example! I jump to the wet mess with a wet towel and clean up the dribbles in front of their gazes. It needed a bit of rubbing because of the course surface, but it all came off. I handed them the wet towel and left them too it. They left for the day and I went to look at the job they had done. There was a rag left from where they were wiping the floor but it was not the wet one I gave them but instead a damp rag. The stairs are now covered by drops and smeared

Much better weather

 areas of where they tried t wipe up a bit. Frustrated, I ask my receptionist ( the same one who is supposed to be telling these people what to do) to get a wet towel and clean it up before it dried. “No problem she says” Our cleaning girl will clean it. I stress that if it is not cleaned now, it never will. She does nor believe me. Sure enough, the cleaner goes home for the day and I discover that the mess could not be cleaned. I am beginning to get angry again and show everybody the mess. I try to clean it up but it is not possible as paint in Vietnam is not washable and to remove the mess means I remove the underlying paint. In their defense I hear pleads of that all painters paint that way in Vietnam. Even if I hired the best professionals…. It would be the same thing!!   Accckkkk!! I am now resolved to see if these painters can grasp any simple concept of being able to understand not having to clean up their mess. The next day the painters are back working in the staircase and I interrupt them splattering paint all over

Merry Christmas

the place. U use a bed sheet and lay it on the stairs for the entire level. The stared at what I was doing with blank eyes and slack jaws. This has got to get through to them I think. I grab a roller and purposely make a mess. I look at them…… then look at the mess… and then lift the sheet to show that there was no mess underneath. The continued to look at me as if I was showing them brain surgery.  I left them too it and was content that I had taught them something that would make their job much easier in the future. I walked up 3 flights of stairs to check on their progress and I found them painting the halls slopping paint all over with no bed sheet to be found. They had however, added to the mess by walking through the drops and moving it all around the building.

I give up… I am beginning to think there are only two mind sets here. One is the “in the present” mindset where no matter how much you try to educate a person that tomorrow exists and a person should plan for it, it cannot be grasped. And the few who can see tomorrow and become filthy rich. Seems there is no middle class to speak of here.

Oh dear, I need a break from this and it just so happens I need to go to Saigon to meet up with friends arriving at the airport.

a recent shots about the house

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Tour designer and Guide specializing in off the beaten track tours of Vietnam

6 thoughts on “I try and try…….

  1. Hmmmmm, the education of Owen in Vietnam. Yes…
    You are a foreigner therefore A. you don’t know anything B. that’s the way it’s always been done so, trying to change it is actually harder to teach than brain surgery.

    It took me almost a year to train the guy (actually a very nice bright one) who does the work on the motorbikes that when I say ‘moi’ I mean it. New plug — after he’d cleaned the same old one for the third time and it still didn’t fire I took it away and broke it — after finding 5 patches on a tube he was doing number 6, a knife caused replacement — two memorable examples.

    Even with you watching they will do it their way…all you will get is a crashing headache and an argument.

    Enjoy !!

  2. By the way, the hotel I booked in Hanoi was wonderful and very central. Though, my temper was not suited for the street vendors, so I had to get out of the tourist area… Yieks.

  3. Hello Owen!
    Hahaha! You have to calm down and roll with the punches, otherwise you will get a heart attack! I am glad to see that the hotel is more or less fixed now. I was worried about that. Don’t want to stay in to fancy-schmancy city center hotel next time I come down.

    Happy new (western) year!
    Say hello to the “family” at the hotel and give May especially a hug from me.


  4. Let me know how that woman control thing works out, I’m more interested in if they have an “Understanding Women” device and how that works. Glad to see you’re over your blogblock. Who did your initial paiting back when you remodeled? Same guys? Let’s kick alittle a** and get it done right. Don’t forget I want the 203 room when I come and it better be finished, don’t care about the mold or mildew, couldn’t be worse than my hooch at Dong Ba Thin in 71….what a rat hole that was. I have my eye on one of those fish ladies and she won’t recognize me off of a different balcony.

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