“It was a tour full of surprising and embarrassing moments for me…..
I was informed that my guests would stay at Church Boutique Hotel. Using google maps, I found its address at Hang Ca, so I thought: “First step done!!”. Unfortunately, 5 hours before the tour, I was puzzled to know that in fact, there were 5 other Church Boutique Hotels in the Old Quarter’s area.My partner and I had to make direct phone calls to the receptionist to ask for the guest’s check-in. Finally, we made it. We headed for 95 Hang Gai… AWKWARD ME!
It was a chain of embarrassing events for me: the guest turn up early 20 minutes while I was late for almost 20 minutes. SILLY ME! And I got that how a bad habit of mine for approximately 20 years had definitely made me fool.
I met them in front of Saint Joseph Cathedral. After a moment’s embarrassment, I said a few words to introduce myself. And for the meanwhile, I got fairly nervous at what might happen. They were an old couple having travelled to quite impressive number of countries (France, South Africa, Ethiopia, HongKong,etc) It was not the age of our guests that made me nervous, It was my limited experience that confused me. A train of thoughts poped into my head on the spur of the moment … If I could meet difficult in striking up a conversation, in finding topics to talk, and if I couldn’t meet their requirement and satisfaction, etc. A series of “what if” questions hit me hard.
Still I had to keep my chin up and we headedfor The Sword Lake. At first, silence lingered among me and the old couple, and I just thought that if I kept on being struck dumb like this, the atmosphere would get worse, silence would become so heavy that at last it might be reign my tour and deprive ourselves of the meaning of our short trip. Plucking up all of my courage to ask him a straight question about his religious belief, kinda things related to Christian religion, I didn’t know whether I offenced him or not, and admittedly I did it all out of my own curiosity (I was originally Christian).
After a short talk, we finally break the ice, to be more exact, the ice started to melt partly; anyway, it was a good signal that came. I told him about Hoan Kiem Lake, King Le Thai To (Le Loi) and the legend related to his victory against Ming Chinese- the legend of the Returned Sword. The tour started to run quite smoothly … or it was just smooth only then.
…. Ending those stories about the Lake, the Golden Turtle, we moved to the French Quarter and the Opera House, and once again my head was running empty. It seemed that all the things I was taught about these sites flew off, at that awkward moment I could only and merely introduced what sprang to my mind, it simply was small stuffs. Thanks to my partner, she was definitely Miss Know-It-All, she could give a thorough and detailed information about the sites to our guests, and it suits them well.
As my little knowledge about the Old Quarter and its specialization, I couldn’t give the man much useful information about the streets. In return, to fill the gaps between our conversation, we talked about some fill-in topics: the stiffling weather with an upcoming heatwave makin’ it boiling; tips on how to avoid temperature shock when going out of a hotel room, how to cross the road in Vietnam (keep a cool head and walk like a boss), some cuisine specialities like beef noodles, Vietnamese mixed salad, sweet soup…; street vendors and a funny story of the possibility to be chased away by the police on eating at those places. We found a lot in common, take loving dogs for example. He is a teacher of children, so I know how come he was patient enough to listen to those silly things of my talk. Thereore, of course, I kept being in my talkative mood. I even told him about Korean drama and K-pop stars (haha) he just smiled…
I told him that I was just a newbie (maybe it was purely my excuse for my limited knowledge about the sites, for what I have not done well during my trial tour) and in return he said: “Oh that’s okay, you’ve done well”. It MIGHT be a word of politeness as well but Mr.Terry, you have encouraged me a lot. Thank you!!