Stop Thief!!

Today there was an event that had me reminiscing about the past. Just an hour before returning from doing an easy-rider trip (more on that later), some low-life snuck into our hotel kitchen and stole the most precious item I had. Was it an item of great value that could turn them a profit??? Noooooo…. It was a French press that enabled me and my customers to enjoy a western style coffee in the morning. Such a cup of coffee is very difficult to find in Vietnam, and I often hear words of thanks when I can serve up a hot cup of coffee for breakfast. Dammit!! I am pretty sure that I will not find a replacement in Vietnam, however, I will be in Saigon tomorrow and I will take a look. So how did I get to this point????????? In November of 2009, Mai and I packed it all in and decided to start an early retirement. The original plan was for me to open a small computer IT service to keep me occupied, and Mai would perhaps do something involved with her favorite past time (and mine), cooking. We had no idea how our path in life would be changed, but boy has it!! It is now August of 2011 and our lives are no where near what we had planned. We ended taking over a small hotel that was in fact the closest thing you can get to a

Village

brothel in this country. With some hard work and persistence, we overcame the corruption, gangs, and drunken customers and turned the Tide Hotel into one of the most successful small hotels in Nha Trang. Mai became the backbone of the operation and sees to the guests comfort and the quality state of the building, and I became the PR guy the fellow that worked to keep the project alive running by western standards and rules. I had a very basic understanding of Vietnamese and had lived amongst Asians for many years, but I found my knowledge lacking. I have already experienced much of this country travelling with family and experiencing it through both Vietnamese and Western eyes, but operating a business…… especially a hotel was much more complicated than one might have thought so I set off in search of education. In order to be able to address customer concerns, I needed to gain information to such things as transportation, health services, money issues, tours, taxis, gangs, prostitution, legalities, restaurants, and a host of other things that are too numerous to list. I jumped in with both feet and hired Cyclo and Xe om drivers for some of my education. I could have never recruited the people who helped me without being able to communicate in basic Vietnamese in order to convince them I was not a tourist…….. Time passed, my language skills improved, many of my new Vietnamese friends started to overlook that I was western and began to see me as one of them. My education grew.. Because of help I received from a website called Trip Advisor a couple of years ago from a fellow named Viet1, I have become an advisor myself and try to give honest and helpful advice to people who want to visit Vietnam. I understand how difficult it can be to the wide eyed and all I want is for people to have a chance to experience the richness of the people and the country like I do every day. Many of the posters (and advisors) on this site are tourists and their advice in quite useful, but often a viewpoint from a person who lives and works here is needed…. And that is what I do….. Anyway……..Some seem to have taken notice of the comments that I write and from their queries and influence (all of them wonderful people) the simple IT guy has become an Easy-Rider. It was never my intent, but it just happened. I have to say that it is not only quite a challenge to overcome the skepticism and the surprise, but is quite fun. (and a little tiring) So far in the last month I have accompanied 2 tours, and have escorted 3 others. The result has been quite positive. The experience of the Vietnamese riders and the places to visit along with my explanations and translations seems to be a good combination. Tomorrow I am off to Saigon for a business meeting that may see me change my retirement yet again, to be followed by a few days in Phu Quoc. I am looking forward to the island stay as it is one of the very few places that I have never been in Vietnam. Perhaps the next blog will be about a typical easy rider trip, or Phu Quoc…… who knows?

Included is a few shots of the road to Buon Ma Thuot

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I will miss my coffee press……

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Owee

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

16 thoughts on “Stop Thief!!

  1. Owen, on this year’s trip Yen and I saw those Bodum presses in all of the larger hotels. Everyone uses them in Denmark.

    If you want one, I’ll bring it in October if Song Da finally decide that they will complete our apartment building by September 30.

  2. Hello Owee,
    I found this page the other nite, and read about your missing “French Press”. Today I bought one to bring with me as I plan on staying at your hotel for a few days in mid Sept. ( Haven’t sorted out the flights etc, so can’t make definite dates today. I will come by train from HCMC.) Now I have read the rest of the blogs and see someone else is bringing one also, so you’ll have a spare in case you get ripped again. I’ll be in touch in a few days, but in the meantime, do you have a room available for a solo traveler in mid Sept?
    Best regards,
    Justin Hughes

    1. Thanks Justin.
      I may have a replacement on the way already.
      OF course we will have a room for you……. see you in September……
      Oh Noooo…… now I have that song buzzing in my head

  3. Sorry, you aren’t an Easy Rider.

    Easy Riders are a group based in Da Lat and formed many years ago by an American. Apart from him and his son there are only Vietnamese genuine Easy Riders.

    You don’t look too Vietnamese to me. Neither do you live in Da Lat.

    1. No I am not Vietnamese, I do not live in Dalat, and I only have very basic Vietnamese skills. I 100% agree with you. I am NOT an easyrider. I am trying to refrain from calling myself such.
      The problem is that all of the tour riders (reguardless of where they come from) refer to themselves as such in order to make clear what they do. The group out of dalat are mostly former independents working with the Easyrider booking office.
      I suppose they could call themselves the Hue, Danang, Hoi An, or Nha Trang riders…… but they seem not to.
      Easy rider has now become a generic term to describe one that will escort a person on their motorcycle into areas that a traveller want to see.
      I guess at least the term is a good way to keep the memory of the founders alive 😉

  4. I can be “cheeky” sometimes! but, my nickname is pronounced with a short i.

    Have you considered offering a shuttle service to your hotel? Make a deal with some of the cab drivers to pick up your guests. You pay them directly and you can just tack on the service to the guest’s bill. At least your guest will know how much the shuttle service costs upfront and they won’t feel like they’ve been taken for a ride by the cab driver, pun intended. I know I would prefer this.

    How about offering room service for breakfast. That way the guest can enjoy breakfast on the balcony while watching the view.

    Happy hour! I would pay to have a drink at the end of a sightseeing day. It would be a great way to interact with the other guests.

    Will you have a restaurant on the premises? If a guest came late at night, they would prefer to eat on the premises instead of venturing out.

    Just my two cents to get you to start making the big bucks, errr dong,
    Chiqui

    1. Ahhh… here are the realities.
      Shuttle service to hotel …. I have tried and finding a reloiable person with resonabloe prices has proves so far impossible. I would rather give good advice than charge overpriced fees to my customers. Many cab drivers are bad and we do our best to deal withh them on arrival. We will cover the cost and add to your room… perhaps \i should mention this on my site.

      room service is available if we have enough staff to cover the lobby…. remember, we are only a small hotel and have limited staff.

      Happy Hour? Heck! it is happy hour all the time
      Lastly…. yu almost never need to9 worry about late evening food. There is always some local things to be purchased, and \if my wife is still awake….. you will have a very sympathetic ear and a good feed.
      Chiqui…. with only 10 rooms, I am extremely lucky to break even in a month… Double or triple my rooms and your two cwnts might make me the big \dong.

  5. Owen, glad you’re still having fun with Easy Riders…as I was reading this my wife became aware of something very similar and very curious. There isn’t much ‘big time’ theft here in TH and I’ve only had a few things stolen over the years but this one is strange — especially when I was reading about your idiot thief at the time.

    As you know our front courtyard has the large Bonsai, in the large pot, a new sink worth about 200.000d and the unit for the A/C…all worth something more than the stolen item…
    Normally I lock the front gate at night, leaving it unlocked was unusual.

    She went to water the plants and found the hose cut and lying on the ground, the fawcet/spiggot was missing from the pipe. I used the hose to water late last night and she was playing games on the pc (what else do Vnese gals do) so it happened after she went to bed, around 1 AM or so.

    Now the curious part; the thief had brought along a pipe plug!!
    WHY would — with all of the much more expensive things — someone steal a fawcet worth 50,000d? WHY would they A. know that removing that would drain my tank in a few hours and B. think ahead and bring a freeking pipe plug of the right size?? The plug cost 10,000d.

    I coiled-up the hose and hung it from the gate, with a large note attatched (in Vnese) ‘Thief…you took the fawcet but forgot the hose!’

    Bob

  6. Owen, glad you’re still having fun with Easy Riders…as I was reading this my wife became aware of something very similar and very curious. There isn’t much ‘big time’ theft here in TH and I’ve only had a few things stolen over the years but this one is strange — especially when I was reading about your idiot thief at the time.

    As you know our front courtyard has the large Bonsai, in the large pot, a new sink worth about 200.000d and the unit for the A/C…all worth something more than the stolen item…
    Normally I lock the front gate at night, leaving it unlocked was unusual.

    She went to water the plants and found the hose cut and lying on the ground, the fawcet/spiggot was missing from the pipe. I used the hose to water late last night and she was playing games on the pc (what else do Vnese gals do) so it happened after she went to bed, around 1 AM or so.

    Now the curious part; the thief had brought along a pipe plug!!
    WHY would — with all of the much more expensive things — someone steal a fawcet worth 50,000d? WHY would they A. know that removing that would drain my tank in a few hours and B. think ahead and bring a freeking pipe plug of the right size?? The plug cost 10,000d.

    I coiled-up the hose and hung it from the gate, with a large note attatched (in Vnese) ‘Thief…you took the fawcet but forgot the hose!’

    1. Har…. what a hoot!! I had the same thing happen… A person stole my faucet from in front of the hotel. It was worth what???? maybe 2 dollars?\
      I now use a pcv valve glued to PCV pipe……… Try and steal that Sukkaaa

  7. R.I.P coffee press!!
    We stayed at your hotel just a few days ago and a highlight was definitely drinking the filter coffee every morning whilst staring at the sea! We had a great time in your place at Nha Trang so if anyone is reading this then I recommend the Tide hotel highly (even without filter coffee!)

    1. I am happy to announce that one of or fantastic customers is bringing a replacement so that other great customers such as yourself can enjoy a good morning coffee.

  8. Enjoy your time in Phu Quoc. I can hardly wait to get back there. My first time there was hardly enough time. Ohh and do not forget to get the pepper there. It is great Stuff!

    Next time in Vietnam Spending more time in:

    Phu Quoc
    Can Tho
    Siagon
    Did not spend enough time in any of those places.

  9. Hi Owen,
    My husband and I are retiring next year. To make our money stretch further and satisfy our passion for travel, we are thinking of travelling in Asia during the fall/winter months. I went on TA to do some research and saw your link right off the bat. I’ve spent the last couple of nights reading your blog. It’s like I was reading an ebook. Loved it! I still have a ways to go, but I’d like to say, bravo to you for not bending down to corruption! Since we will probably tour Vietnam a minimum of a month(we’ve both never been), I will certainly look into your recommended travel agency. Our monthly budget for lodging will only be $600-700. When I saw your hotel pictures and prices, I thought to myself that we would have to put Nha Trang on our must see places in Vietnam. I don’t know if the tour company can accomodate our wish for cheap but clean lodgings though. They might say, “You cheapo Canucks, go make your own arrangements!”. I will be making a pest of myself on here and on TA over the next year while I do my research. Thailand was originally on the top of my list. After reading your blog, Vietnam is on top!
    Cheers,
    Chiqui

    1. Thanks for the compliment. I think you will find my friends can arrange trips for less than you can yourselves (when on the move). I am with them right now on a trip to Phu Quoc. Please feel free to contact me with your question. You will find me and others on http://www.tripadvisor.com in the Vietnam forums, or you can contact me through the hotel website.
      I look forward to talking with you Chiqui…. hmmmmmm is that another spelling for cheeky?

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