On the shuttle into Mandalay we showed our hotel address to an attendant.
He shook his head, “Long way.”
And once we arrived we showed the same address to the waiting taxi drivers.
None of them were familiar with the name of the hotel, and they only determined where our hotel was located by the address. And once they figured out where it was all of them said, “Long way.”
We bargained one driver down to 5000 kyat ($5) for the trip. But we neglected to book him for the next day, a mistake, as it turned out, for he and his nice car were fully booked from then on.
The “long way” to our hotel turned out to be a really long way. It was miles out of town – not in ‘North Mandalay’ as described by the AGODA hotel booking site, but in the next township. In the middle of nowhere. With nothing around it, no restaurants, sights or anything else.
Despite the graciousness of our hosts, plying us with the powdered ‘juice’ as we arrive, we were horrified.
There was no wifi, well, there actually was wifi, but unfortunately a ‘system-wide’ problem had made it inaccessible.
There was a large flat screen TV in our room but there wasn’t any signal. (There wasn’t any signal the entire time we were there – they hadn’t yet got around to purchasing a satellite dish.)
The skybar was locked. (They opened it upon request – it was a nice place to sit and watch the sunset while being eaten alive by mosquitos.)
There weren’t any places nearby where we could eat although they did have a rather bare semi-cafeteria where we could order some plain and pricey food.
We asked the manager if we could cancel this hotel and find another closer into town. He was agreeable but told us we would have to contact AGODA to modify our arrangements. Which we couldn’t do without wifi.
Lots of F words were coming out of Al but I had a few too: frantic, flustered, fried, frustrated.
We decided to head into town to see if we could find some wifi and reorganize AGODA to get a different hotel.
The hotel called up a taxi for us but they were terrible at bargaining so this trip cost us 7000 kyat ($7). It took forever for the taxi to arrive; we suspected it got lost trying to find the place!
We were squabbling, confused, upset, both of us hating Myanmar.
What a disaster and our flight back wasn’t for several weeks…
Key phrases for Myanmar:
woulda, shoulda, coulda…
There is a system wide failure to communicate…
There was nothing about our hotel that I wanted to take a photo of except for the early morning parade of monks through the streets below.
PS. It got much much better once we figured out how the country worked, and by the end we loved Myanmar. The online hotel booking site AGODA, on the other hand, is forever in our bad books.