Bayside, New York
December 29, 2006
The Bamboo Hotel is the last of a string on Cau May and although quite large, it is not as architecturally striking as some of the others. Go up about 4 steps and you're nose to nose with the reception desk. It's a no-frills entry-way, and had it not been recommended by our trusted agent, Aurora Travel, I would have probably executed 180 degree turn. They are quite friendly, and seem practiced at moving people in and out quickly, at least upon registration. It is customary to leave your passport at the desk, and on your way out of the hotel, they do expect you to hand in the key.
We went up 2 flights of a very shiny wooden staircase into a modestly furnished room which was at the end of the hallway. As you can see from the photos, it was very basic, but oh, the view! From the balcony, Mount Fan Xi Pang (many variations on this spelling) displayed all her charms and took our breath away. The majority of people who come up here do so with either one, or several days' worth of trekking planned; we didn't for several reasons, not the least of which was a recent year on crutches for me, and let's face it, neither one of us can claim to be in shape for scaling a sand dune.
It gets cold in December in Sapa; when I asked for extra blankets, I was told that they provide heaters. Be prepared to pay about $7 per day for this luxury. Another unexpected inconvenience was a brown out from 6pm to 10pm, which turned out to be hilarious as I tried to shower by candlelight. Taking a shower here is an incredible challenge: the water heater above the tub lets you know when it's working, however, there was no way to get past scalding without first passing by freezing.
Though the room information booklet is replete with details, no where does it indicate that room service is available: one evening, as we were both unable to move due to a severe chest cold, I took a chance and called to find out if we could have some Pho delivered to our room. I was thrilled to find out that this could be arranged! Also missing is any mention of a heater charge, or that lights are out for 4 hours every evening.
When we hurriedly checked out 4 days later, they forgot to return our passports to us, and to their credit, one of their staff drove to Lao Cai in the hope of finding us prior to boarding our train.
From journal Forget the Alps, Give me Sapa!