Another motivator to brush up my Mandarin.
11.08.2012 - 02.09.2012
Aksu, August 19th 2012
The railway station turned out to be very close to Pudong Holiday Hotel. I regretted I didn't bargain at all when the taxi driver asked for 10 yuan. Moreover, he seated me with other passengers in his taxi. Even if I had paid him 5 yuan, it would have been more than enough. Ah, that's my own fault of not consulting Google Maps carefully.
With the booking confirmation paper I received from Ctrip, I walked straight to the front desk. There was only one lady sitting behind the desk. She wore dark blue jacket. She checked my paper, poked out some folders from the desk, and then told me that my booking didn't existed. That was what I understood. But I thought that couldn't be. Ctrip has clearly confirmed my booking. I must be misunderstanding this staff, I thought. She must meant that I cannot check in now, not that my booking is not listed. That would be reasonable as it was still about 8:45 AM. Therefore, in Mandarin I asked her at what time I would be able to check in.
"You cannot check in. You don't have a reservation." That was what I understood, but once again I didn't trust myself. I repeated my question in English "at what time". But instead, she returned to me a stern look like "Don't you try to speak English with me." So I tried harder to pronounce the words "shénme shíhou". I gave her a pen and asked her to write the time.
She didn't even take the pen. She just repeated the same thing. Aaarrrgh, am I always going to get frustrated with hotels?? Meanwhile a guest came and talked to this lady. He seemed terribly upset. I sank myself on the sofa and let this gentleman express his anger. I called Ctrip. However, the English service turned out not to be available before 9:00 AM. Phew.
Cory, please come to my rescue. I had to call him, again. Just like in Korla, he talked with the hotel staff for me.
Cory told me that the agent I used to book this hotel hasn't faxed my booking yet. But, he has asked the hotel to find me a room, he said. Someone would be checking out soon and I was asked to wait for that guest, and then I could check in. See!? I had understood correctly! My reservation is unrecognized!
I sank myself back on the sofa waiting for that mentioned guest to check out. I tried to call Ctrip again. I wanted to complain for not handling my booking properly. Meanwhile another group of guests were at the front desk, mad. Ah, it seems that this hotel creates trouble.
I mentioned about that to the customer service staff from Ctrip across the phone. She replied, "That's not your problem." Haiyaaa... it isn't. But the fact that within just half an hour 3 different guests get mad might be an indicator of something wrong. Ctrip asked me to pass my cellphone to Pudong Holiday Hotel's staff.
The front desk staff in dark blue jacket was busy talking over the phone. It seemed like a tough conversation. Somebody else mad? Sigh. Thus, I handed my cellphone to another staff who hadn't been there when I just arrived. She went through the folders on the desk, said something to the staff in dark blue jacket, and at last returned my cellphone.
When I got my cellphone back, Ctrip told me that it was too early for me to check in and that I could check in at 11 o'clock.
I insisted that I've already asked at what time I could check in, but didn't get the answer and Cory also interpreted for me the same thing. The voice over that replied, "Madam, your room will be ready at 11 o'clock. I've solved your problem."
At 11 o'clock I returned to the hotel. I was ushered to a room which turned out to be still untidy. The sheets and pillows were messed up. I took a picture of it, went back downstairs to the front desk, and showed them my camera's screen preview. "Why is it like this?" I asked, in Mandarin. I don't know the word for "untidy", "messed up", etc. in Mandarin. So just say "like this".
Without a second look, another staff ushered me back upstairs. Wrong room, she said. Phew.
I sent a complaint via email to Ctrip. We exchanged emails several times, but Ctrip insisted that I had arrived too early and that there was no staff wearing dark blue. About arriving too early, I've actually already filled in Ctrip's form that I would arrive at 8:00 AM, and that was written on my booking confirmation sheet from Ctrip: "Estimated arrival time: 08:00-11:00". So why say I arrived too early? Besides, I was prepared to not be able to check in yet. Usually when I arrived early at a hotel, I ask when I can check in, leave my luggage, and go sightseeing. I was about to do that, too. But the thing is I was told that my booking was unrecognized. So said Cory for me.
About the front desk staff wearing dark blue was even weirder. Ctrip said that according Pudong Holiday Hotel, they have no staff wearing dark blue, so it must have been an stranger talking to me. Jiaahhhh!! If a stranger can sit behind the front desk talking to guests and the other staff, whilst the other staff herself and the security guy standing in front of the door, the bellboys, everyone, consider that as something common, safety in Pudong Holiday Hotel should be a big question mark. A stranger might pop up in a guest's room and every staff takes that as something natural. Phew.
What if I had no cellphone and couldn't call Ctrip? I certainly would have loose this reservation. Phew, phew.
Apart from this chaotic booking experience, the room itself was a hundred percent perfect place. That will be for my next post to share.