Cat Ba warning: avoid Hoang Gia Minh hotel and trips from Mr. Zoom
2nd May, 2012
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I spent four days in Cat Ba and want to warn other people so they may avoid mistakes I did. First, if possible avoid Hoang Gia Minh hotel, 18 Duron Nui Ngoc, which is across and a bit up from Mr. Zoom restaurant. The rooms at the hotel are big and relatively clean (but you may have a couple of huge cockroaches running in the room and on your bed) and the price is good, but you might have an everyday headache from the guys at the reception desk.
I do not even mention that they want you to tell them how old you are (like they do not see it in your passport), where you were today, where you are going now and tomorrow, what price you paid for trips and services, and why you did nnot buy services/trips from them. There is more interesting stuff about them.
If you are a woman, be prepared one of them might be offering private massage to you. Be also prepared that you might not have hot water in your room. They like fun, so when you come to say there is no hot water the guy would say, ok, I will come in a minute. By the time you come back to your room the heater works and then the guy comes with a smile on his face to make sure you see that the heater works. Once he leaves, in a minute the heater turns off. You go back to the guy to say the heater doesot work again and the story repeats. (They have a switcher and turn the heater off). On my third day, I asked strictly to turn the heater on, they did, but not for long time.
If you do not rent a motorbike from them it might be evaluated as a personal offence. I rented a bike from someone else, and while riding the motorbike I saw the guy from my hotel following me; when he satisfied himself that it was me, he gave me a dirty smile and turned away. All next day I did not have hot water in my room and next morning he confronted me why I did not rent the bike from him and how much I paid to another guy.
My friends from the same hotel got in a real trouble because of not renting a bike from him. He was really pissed off and told them to move out of the hotel next morning. They had an argument and the friends eventually did not bother to move out, but had a spoiled day after all.
No need to tell I tried to avoid dealing with this guy, but did not have much luck. They are all connected there.
I bought a Lan Ha Bay trip from Mr. Zoom Restaurant. Mr. Zoom or whoever he was, offered a very attractive trip. He said it would be SIX PEOPLE on the board. The trip would include kayaking, snorkeling, lunch, and visiting the Monkey Island. He showed pictures of the trip, of his wonderful boat, and happy people on his boat. He seemed to be a very friendly and nice guy, knowing his business. He showed in a map where we would go, where we would stay, etc. Sounded amazing. I was told to come to his restaurant to join my group of six people at 8:00 am next morning.
Next morning, at 7:40 am someone hammers my door. When I open it, guess what, see the guy from my hotel almost yelling that I do not go with Mr. Zoom, but go for the trip with him. I have to come down IMMEDIATELY and he wants me to give my receipt to him. In a great hurry I ran down. The guy points at a chair and tells me to sit down and wait (?!). There are two other people from the group waiting for a minibus that should take us to the boat. We wait. Nothing is happening, so I decide to go and ask Mr. Zoom what is going on. Mr. Zoom tells me that his boat has a problem, but I should nnot worry, he assures I will get the same quality trip from the guy from my hotel.
At 8:30 (!) finally, the minibus arrives and takes us to the boat. ..To make the story short: we got a small, old, shitty crooked boat. We could not even sit there properly as one side was much lower than another. We constantly were asked to sit on the side that was higher to make a balance. We had 23 (!) people on the board. It was extremely overcrowded. People from other boats we met were amazed by the picture of of our miserable crowd, they were taking pictures of us. During lunch the group was separated and some sat on the top (but my neighbors foot was almost in my plate, so little room we had). Everyone felt down. People tried to make it easy by drinking a lot of beer. Well, may be it was the plan, as beer on the board was expensive. We were taken to some cave (no one told me it would be in this trip), for additional price for me, but the group never got a chance for snorkeling, it was not provided.
So, I would say think twice if you decide to deal with these guys.
#1 Posted: 2/5/2012 - 15:55
17th April, 2007
I urge everyone I know to avoid Cat Ba Town entirely - there's nothing there worth making the trip!
#2 Posted: 3/5/2012 - 12:03
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