Sunday, January 9, 2011

Hotel Stress

(PICTURE: The hotel bathroom, sans shower curtain.)

Coming into the wedding, one of the things I was most worried about was how my family and friends would react to the hotel we were staying at the night before the big day. I blogged about this a month or so ago, but to summarize, Huyen and had decided to stay at a hotel near her village the night before the wedding so that guests wouldn't have to brave the Vietnamese highways any more than absolutely necessary. In order to do this though, our guests would have to brave a typical Vietnamese small city hotel. We chose the nicest hotel in Phu Ly, which isn't really saying much. To put things in perspective, this hotel had a jewelry shop on the first floor, a cafe and pool hall on the second floor and some sort of restaurant on the third floor.

Here were my fears/stresses in no particular order:
1. The beds would be wayyyyyy too hard for people used to soft beds.
2. The hotel wouldn't be clean enough for everyone.
3. People would be worried that every criminal in the area would descend on the hotel once they saw 24 foreigners get off a giant pink bus.
4. That there was no room service...or any service of any kind for that matter.
5. That the showers didn't have curtains.

Although some people ended up making a comment or two about #5, the other fears didn't seem to bother anyone. However, that didn't mean I didn't suffer some serious stress at the hotel. Firstly, we arrived at the hotel and only had 30 minutes to check in and get ready before we had to depart for the an hoi (the ceremony where my parents must ask for permission for me to marry Huyen). Yeah, 30 minutes for 24 people to get ready after a day of sightseeing and sitting on a bus.

When the bus pulled up to the hotel, I jumped off and grabbed a couple of bags and headed to the front desk to manage the check-in process. The hotel was incredibly prepared and had keys laid out for 15 different rooms. Slowly but surely people took the one elevator up to the fourth floor or lugged their way up the four flights of stairs. While I was checking everyone in, I was barraged with a serious of questions like: "Why isn't there toilet paper in the room?" or "Is there heat?" or "Why isn't there a sheet on my bed?" or "Why do I have to give them my passport?". These were probably questions which could have been answered later in the evening but for whatever reason people wanted immediate responses too.

One question people didn't ask me though was, "Did you take up your dad's black carry-on bag with all of his medication?" The answer to that question was yes. In fact, it was right at my feet for everyone to see. What I didn't know was that four flights below me were my parents and a few relatives who were all having borderline heart attacks looking for my dad's bag. My father naturally panicked when his bag wasn't on the bus and thought someone had stolen it. Nobody thought to think that maybe some idiot (me) who was trying to be helpful took the bag upstairs. Anyway, at some point someone walked into the lobby and said to me, "Your dad is freaking out downstairs because he can't find his medication bag." As we sorted the situation out and got pulses back to normal, someone mentioned that Huyen had been called during the search for the bag. The last thing in the world I wanted was for Huyen to be bothered before the ceremony so I tried to call her back to tell her that everything was okay. But this turned out to be one more small stress -- my phone had run out of money. To put into perspective how many people were calling me with questions over the previous couple of days, my phone had run out of pre-paid money fifteen times faster than it usually does.

Well, after checking everyone into their room and answering about 293 questions, I had ten minutes to get ready. Luckily it doesn't take a groom as long to get ready as a bride. I went to my room which I was sharing with my sister and quickly jumped into the shower. At some point I heard Hannah say, "Oh no, I broke the table." Turns out ironing on a glass table top isn't a good idea. The broken table though turned out to be the only casualty in the panic to get ready. Miraculously everyone was good to go right on time and we headed to the an hoi where all of our fingers were crossed that Huyen's parents would accept Huyen marrying into my family. I just thanked my lucky stars that they hadn't been at the hotel during the panic mode or else they surely would have sent us all packing back to America.