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I'm not a Backpacker, am I?

75 USD per night in Vietnam for accommodation, I understand is never on a backpacker's list.

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Sai Gon, August 29th 2011

If I proclaim myself a backpacker, but show these:
TH01-bg.jpgTH02-bg.jpgTH03-bg.jpg
I'm sure to hear: "Whaaattt!?"

Well, that was the interior of my room in Palace Hotel Sai Gon, a 4-star-close-to-5 hotel. This is my 6th visit to Vietnam and 3rd stay in Palace Hotel Sai Gon. I booked a standard room with the lowest rate available: 75 USD per night. The previous 2 times I got a big discount through Air Asia Go. Now, no more discounts. However, when I checked-in I was told that I got my room upgraded with no additional cost. Thank you!

75 USD per night in Vietnam for accommodation, I understand is never on a backpacker's list. On the other hand, I'm not the kind of traveler who carries along all the comforts from home. I'm not either the kind of tourist who'd put the whole itinerary into a single travel agent's hand and just tag along. I'm sure to hear: "Sooo??"

So, the reasonS I risked my budget for Palace Hotel Sai Gon ARE:

  1. The location is within a walking distance to the boat port to Vung Tau. The logic: I save time to get to the port. By eliminating the transport time, I can have more time to enjoy Vung Tau. The Greenline to Vung Tau leaves every 1-2 hours. So missing one, would mean loosing at least an hour. The other logic: I save money, because the transportation to the port are my feet. Sometimes I see travelers who desperately search for the cheapest hotel (while being proud to be called a 'backpacker') by going in and out alley ways, searching here and there. In the end, an hour or two has passed. Exhausted by the searching, the proud backpacker throws himself on a so and so bed. He then boasts out about how little he had to spend on a room. But... I less hear a backpacker boasts on how little he had to spend on domestic transportation fare. Less more I hear a backpacker boasts on how effective he has used time to explore. In my (not) humble opinion, sleeping in a cheap hotel but very distant from my desired destination is absolutely pointless. I am certainly not going to fool myself by letting any driver enjoying a nicer life with my money while I myself return to a starless hotel and endure a less comfort life. Of course, indeed, it would be a huge luck if you can get a cheap accommodation close to your desired destination. However, everything in this life usually comes with a price.
  2. Laundry Service. I needed this badly, because I was traveling 16 days crossing 5 countries. It would be out of question to bring clothings for 16 days along with my camera backpack. I know, in Ben Thanh and Pham Ngu Lao area there are several laundry services. But, considering on distance matter, I chose to prepare myself in case I wouldn't be able to get there for any reason. If that happens, I would still have an option to laundry my clothes at the hotel. My plan was to get them after I return from Phu Quoc. The logic: Traveling light reduces the possibility of leaving stuffs. The less stuff you bring, the less chance there is to forget to bring them. The other logic: The more stuff you carry, the bigger chance your pace slows down. The slower your pace goes, the bigger chance you get left behind... by a group of tour or by a plane. You can make up for that by an earlier start, but then you will reduce the time you could have use to enjoy the place... or even your sleep. In this case, I better give some money to a laundry agent but secure more time in my hands e.g. to take more pictures.
  3. Fitness Centre and Swimming Pool. I'm not at all a gym freak. However, I try to exercise as regular as possible to stay fit, and even get fitter. I try to stay fit as much as possible to keep up my stamina for traveling. For that reason I need a hotel that has a fitness center and a swimming pool. It doesn't necessarily have to be both, actually. The truth is, I gym because I must, but I swim because I like it. The logic: If I run out of money on a trip, I can borrow or even rob someone. But if my stamina drops, I can't do the same. The other logic: Traveling or not, the value of health far exceeds money. In this case also, I better give some money to a hotel, but successfully end my trip with excellent health.

Now, did my logic work? Well, as told already on previous post, the hydrofoil boat that was suppose to take me back from Vung Tau to Sai Gon failed to anchor because of high tide. Therefore we had to get on a bus to another port. Hence, I arrived back in Sai Gon more than hour later than I had planned. It was past seven already. My feet, due to the sprained ankle, didn't seem willing to take another phase to Pham Ngu Lao.

I dropped my camera backpack in my room, packed my dirty clothes, and was back again on the street. I thought of looking for a laundry service nearby. Who knows I could find one which might not be as cheap as the ones in Pham Ngu Lao area, but still less costly than the hotel's laundry service.

Just when I wanted to turn at the corner (Palace Hotel Sai Gon is by the corner)... voila! Body Shop! For the last 2 years I've been using a product of Body Shop that is not sold in all the Body Shops I know in Jakarta. I used to purchased it in Kuala Lumpur. I had been thinking that I could renew my stock from a Body Shop in Penang. It turned out I didn't find one while I was in Penang. When I asked an information-desk staff in Times Square, she looked back at me as if saying, "What do you think this place is?" Ah. I was already hopeless, because I wouldn't be visiting Kuala Lumpur on this trip and I would not be until end of December this year.

I swarmed in Body Shop like a child running into an ice cream parlor. Like me when I was a kid, I mean. My heart pumped harder as I entered. Does this Body Shop have what I'm looking for? Maybe it's just like the Body Shops in Jakarta.

Yesss! It's there! I was attended by a salesgirl who could speak English pretty well until the moment I asked her,

"Do you know whether there's any laundry service nearby?"

"Know what?"

"Laundry."

"What?"

"Laundry?"

"What?"

"Clothe," I said while squeezing my shirt. "Dirty. Wash."

"Ah... ya ya.. Wait a minute." She went to her friend, talked awhile, and came back to me. "No."

"No laundry service around here?" I made sure.

"Yes, no."

I was still curious. I walked on, crossed the cross road, and turned right. In my mind were two things: laundry and dinner. I found no laundry service, and I found no dinner that appealed to me. Either it didn't appeal to my taste or it didn't appeal to my budget.

I had turned back and already gave up the thought of having my clothes cleaned outside the hotel. Suddenly... my eyes bumped into a big sign "LAUNDRY". Wow! How come I didn't see this just now? Once again I swarmed into the shop as if Dad had offered to buy me another ice cream. Hurray!

The lady staff unfolded my shirts and trousers while counting them. But when it came to my socks, she moved them with only the tip of her thumb and index finger. I wondered, do they smell bad actually?? Ah, anyway, I was terribly happy because my laundry cost about half the price of the hotel's. Great.

I bought my dinner at Wrap and Roll Restaurant: Spring Roll. Then, I rolled back to my comfy luxurious room. I'm not a backpacker, am I?

Posted by automidori 16:34 Archived in Vietnam Tagged vietnam backpacker saigon ho_chi_minh_city palace_hotel_saigon

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