Date: 26 December 2013
Location: Allen, Northern Samar
Occasion: Check-in and stay in the Pahayahayan hotel
<Me>: Hello sir, I am looking for a room for an overnight stay. Do you have anything available?
<He>: Yes sir, we have a room for 800 pesos with aircon.
Pahayahayan hotel, Allen
I am here in Allen, Northern Samar. For those who want to know my opinion about Allen….well, I did write a separate blog entry about this, ehhh, let’s say “busy” port town of Samar. Based on my experiences with Allen so far, any offered hotel room here requires a thorough inspection before renting.
<Me>: Can I see the room, sir?
<He>: Yes sir, please follow me.
A first glimpse of the room learns me that I don’t need to expect too much tonight from my transit stay in Allen: The room is a very basic one, with dirty mattresses, walls which need more maintenance then only new paint and a floor which is somehow slippery, having no idea what causes this. Aside of that, the aircon doesn’t do what it should do (cooling the room), but it does create an awful amount of noise. I won’t be using this tonight I guess. 800 pesos doesn’t sound like a good deal, so time to ask for alternatives.
<Me>: Do you also have rooms without aircon, sir?
<He>: Yes sir, we have rooms for 400 pesos without aircon, with fan only. Please follow me.
The room without aircon shows the same state of maintenance as the first one. A strong sewer smell is coming from the bathroom. I guess the guy must have smelled this as well, because within seconds he throws a full bucket of water into the bathroom. I wonder where he got this bucket from, and how he managed to fill this with water so fast, but it doesn’t seem very important now. I can’t discover any cockroaches in the bathroom, and only that fact causes a certain satisfaction. For 400 pesos you cannot expect a 3D television with minibar and since this seems to be the best what Allen has to offer on hotel accommodations, I am ready to take the room.
2 ½ hour later, around 11pm, after I have some food and drinks in the port area and made a short “Allen tour”, I return to my room. Passing the reception area, I notice it is deserted. Looks weird to me for a hotel which offers 24 hours check-in. Anyway, it doesn’t bother me, I am about to take a short night sleep: As soon as light returns in Allen I want to leave, thus making the length of my stay here in Allen as short as possible.
Empty reception desk … where is the staff?
Entering my room, I notice the window is open. Lots of mosquito’s already have taken residence tonight in my room without paying. Since my room is on the second floor, right above open water, it seems logical first closing it before starting to hunt my non-paying visitors. The window closes by means of a shifting mechanism. It’s stuck somehow. It needs some force before it moves. However, once I am able to shift it, before I realize it, the whole window comes loose from its frame. In fact, if I didn’t react so fast, the window would most probably end-up at the bottom of the sea in the port of Allen, but somehow I manage to grab the window before it falls down. Its kind a heavy although it’s made from light materials: It takes some effort to get the window in my room. Once secured, the first thing what comes up in my mind: Why always me again???? I am looking to an opening in the wall which used to hold my window.
Window room after it came loose from its frame
I try several attempts to get the window in its original position back, but need to conclude at the end that this window can only be placed from the outside: Since there is no balcony, there is no way I can repair this myself. Time to have a talk with the hotel staff!
There is still no-one at the reception desk. However, there is a small bell, which can be used to call the staff. My optimism disappears fast when noticing that the bell doesn’t work. I am starting to get slightly irritated. If you provide a bell, then at least make sure it’s operational, right? Now you make me happy with a “dead bird”.
It’s this moment that I also notice that the prices mentioned before (400 and 800 pesos) are 100 pesos higher than the official rates. This would make me angry under normal circumstances, but in the situation I am in right now I decide not to pay attention to this.
Non-working bell to ring absent staff
Unfortunately for me, after searching the whole hotel, I can’t discover any responsible person who can help me fixing my window problem. My irritation level grows, however my alternatives are limited: I paid for the room already, and leaving Allen in the dark isn’t a good alternative. I guess I need to wait until anyone shows up.
This “anyone” is an elderly lady, I estimate her age on 50+ or so. She suddenly enters the reception area. I did see her shortly before, when checking the rooms. It’s 1145pm in the meanwhile.
<She>: Yes sir?
<Me, happy that finally there is someone who can help me>: Hello mrs, I am having a problem with my window, it got loosened from the frame and I can’t put it back.
<She>: Ok sir, and what’s the problem with that?
<Me, wondering why she asks this and why she doesn’t walk immediately with me to my room to witness my window problem>: Well, I like to sleep with closed window. I always do.
<She>: Ohh sir, but you can also sleep with open window.
<Me, trying to stay calm>: I understand that maam, but there is a mosquito party in my room now, and I like to sleep with closed window to prevent I am becoming mosquito food tonight.
<She>: Ohh sir, but if you put the fan on the window, you will blow the mosquitos out of your room.
It’s the first time I noticed something weird on the lady. She doesn’t talk smoothly, with hick-ups, and she moves a bit erratically. There is a big noisy party outside, and it doesn’t take long for me to conclude that she joins the party, and that she is tipsy. I wouldn’t directly say drunk, but I can sense that she did take one or two bottles of red horse too much. For the second time tonight I am thinking: Why is this always happening to me????? Anyway, I can’t do too much about this, so let’s try to deal with this as decent as possible.
<Me>: Well, I believe the fan is used to deliver a fresh flow of air for myself, and not to chase away mosquito’s right?
I notice her walking now two times to a dressing room which apparently stores bed linen, on the other side of the reception desk, and coming back without doing anything which is related to my window problem. One time she uses the desk itself as a support, to prevent her from collapsing. Since I realize now she’s drunk, I observe this with a certain amount of amusement and wondering how this night in Allen will end.
<She, after two useless walks to the dressing room>: So your problem is the window, Sir?
<Me, thinking…wow, good conclusion!> Yes maam, my problem is the window. Now can you either fix it or provide me with an alternative room, it’s almost 12 and I like to sleep.
<She>: But sir, you don’t have to worry, the mosquito’s will leave your room after 12.
This answer I didn’t expect. In fact, it totally surprises me, overwhelms me. It feels like an attack from an invisible enemy, coming from an invisible direction. For the next 10 seconds I am speechless, forgetting she’s drunk, forgetting I am in Allen, forgetting basically everything. I need another 5 seconds to get all facts clear again, and realizing the silliness of this answer.
<Me, getting amused again>: So we have clock reading mosquito’s in Allen right? Well maam, I don’t really care if they can read clock, but I suggest you either send someone to help me or offer me another room.
<She, making a final attempt>: But Sir, you can sleep with the curtains closed.
<Me>: I do realize that maam, I am not born yesterday, but I like to sleep with closed windows as well. I am not going to sleep tonight in that room without closed windows.
<She, showing signs of being pissed off>: Ok sir, I will try to find a boy who can help you. So your problem is the window right?
<Me, accepting the fact that probably I have to confirm a dozen of times tonight that the window is the problem>: Yess maam, my problem is the window.
It’s the end of part 1. She leaves, going downstairs and out, and I do expect her first to go back to the party to get another couple of red horses before she will return. That is .. IF she will return. I also realize by now that the lady hasn’t taken any action to walk with me to my room to inspect the damage. I wonder if she really understands what my problem is.
00.30am. I almost fall asleep on the rather comfortable chair across the reception desk, but suddenly the lady returns, holding a red and a green balloon. She is accompanied by a “boy”. I estimate the boy’s age on mid 40s. I am instantly awake again. I believe it’s the ladies birthday party, reading the text on the balloons, but I am not sure about this.
I decide to put my attention to the boy. The lady seems to be more drunk then before. After one sentence however, it is very clear to me that the boy is joining the same party in Allen and also enjoyed many, I mean many, bottles of red horses as well.
<He, shouting loud, on a funny away>: Hello sir, what is your problem?
<Me, almost collapsing over the chair because I didn’t expect him to shout at me, I am only a meter away from him>: My window is loosened from its frame, sir, I can’t close it anymore.
<He, shouting even louder>: So you have a problem with your window?
<Me, almost automatically, without realizing it, shouting back>: Yes sir, I have a window problem.
It’s this moment when I realize that I am shouting as well. Why am I shouting in the middle of the night here in this hotel to a guy standing one meter from me????
<He, still shouting>: Can we have a look to your room?
<Me, communicating on a decent soundlevel again>: Ofcourse sir, please follow me.
During the walk to my room he shouts several times to the lady. I don’t understand them. I do wonder if this doesn’t awake other customers, but frankly, I don’t really care anymore.
<Me, opening my room door and showing the window>: This is my problem sir.
<He and she, simultaneously>: Ohhhhhhhhhh.
<He>: Sir, YOU have a big problem, the window is out.
<Me, smiling>: Yes sir, that’s a big problem for YOU.
In this short conversation I am trying to get away from the situation that I have a problem. In first instance, in my view, the boy and the lady have a problem, not me.
<He>: Sir, let me try to fix the window.
<Me, thinking, this guy is drunk, not sure if trying to fix the window is the best thing to do now>: I am not sure if you can fix it sir, I think you have to do this from the outside.
Without listening to me, the guy steps on one of the two beds with his slippers on, picks up the window and tries to re-position it in the frame. As expected, he doesn’t succeed. In fact, I need to grab him during one attempt, preventing that he falls down, with the window, in the dirty sea water of Allen. After 5 to 10 minutes, the boy realizes that this window will not be fixed tonight. he puts the window back to one of the wall.
Boy and lady put window against the wall
<He>: Sir, I can’t fix this window tonight.
<Me>: It’s ok, I think you are right. Maybe you can provide me with an alternative room.
<She>: But that’s a problem sir, we don’t have any vacant rooms.
<Me>: So how are we going to solve this?
<She>: You can still sleep in this room sir?
<Me, starting to answer with a threatening voice tone>: I am NOT going to sleep in this room, maam.
She now starts talking in herself, mumbling, I can’t discover any reasonable words coming out, but it’s clear that she’s thinking, despite her current state. Once back at the reception desk, she walks again to the dressing room, takes out some bed linen, and then walks back to the same dressing room, putting the bed linen back. It’s clear that she has no clear plan, and I take back my original position in the comfortable chair, waiting what she will do.
Then suddenly, she takes the key from another room, enters the room and start bringing new bed linen in. During that, she mumbles to me several times that this room is not ready. I am curious why she says that, so I decide to inspect the room myself as well. It’s a large room, with three super dirty mattresses, a smell which cannot be described, and two fans. I am not sure what people do here with mattresses, and I am not sure if I really want to know.
The first mattress
The second mattress
One of the three mattresses is being covered by “clean” bed-linen by the lady. The floor is dirty. However, the room doesn’t have any window. In the current situation, this almost feels like a victory. During a fast inspection of the bathroom I can’t discover any creature larger than 5 centimeters, and since it’s after 0100am already, without complaining, I accept the room in it’s current state.
The CR and bathroom
When I wake up around 0600am, in my sleep I accidentally removed partly the fresh bed-linen, and I am sleeping with my face on the most dirty mattress of the three. I guess it requires a couple of showers before feeling clean again. Around 0630am I leave the hotel. From the outside I look back to my original room. I guess it will take a long time before the window will be fixed.
Hotel Pahayahayan from the rear. The second room counting from right is my room. The window is still missing.
On my last meters leaving Allen, I realize that …
- I am pretty sure that this is my last stay ever in this hotel.
- I am pretty sure that this is my last stay ever in Allen.
- I am pretty sure that from now on I will always check windows first before accepting any room.
I mumble words like “Thanks Allen” for this lesson learned, before opening my motorbikes throttle to its “full gas” position. It’s the fastest leave ever out of Allen, of a foreigner on a motorbike.