Our first night is in the Airways Hotel at Port Moresby. We see an advertisement for the hotel in the Airline Magazine which states it has been voted one of the top ten most luxurious hotels in Asia. We are excited by this bit of news and wonder why the tour company doesn’t mention it. A small seed of doubt then forms in the back of our minds when we note the small print at the bottom of the article that says the award was given by a company in New Delhi. Perhaps this is not quite like a Conde Naste commendation.
You may remember, dear reader, that in the previous blog I mentioned that the Papuans were about to find out that patience is not one of Gordon’s strong points. Well this is how it happened.
Jennifer, our tour greeter takes us to the Airways Hotel which overlooks the airport, and leaves us to check in. They search for our names in the computer and cannot find them. They claim we do not have a reservation. Jennifer, rather wisely, is nowhere to be seen. We chase her down. She comes back to the reservation desk and explains that the reservation is under a completely different name. This seems a little odd but we remember that patience is required and so we go with the flow. There is, understandably, quite a lot of confusion at the front desk. Jennifer just smiles at us and says she has to go back to the airport to meet more people. She assures us that everything is OK. The front desk does not. They leave us sitting in the lobby while the reservation people try to sort it out. Gordon is trying very hard to be patient He lasts forty five minutes, which for him is a record. I recognise all the signs and know what’s coming. He crosses the lobby to the desk and is a furious flurry of arms and plastic as he waves credit cards and demands a room immediately. Marci, the very pleasant, but completely incompetent receptionist is now quivering behind the counter. I can do nothing but sit back and watch, knowing from experience that when Gordon explodes results follow rapidly. We have our room within moments.
The room is nice but not one of the ten best in Asia. It has a ceiling fan that is spinning round at an alarming rate creating a small typhoon in the room. We find the switch and turn it to low. Nothing happens. We turn it off. Nothing happens. I call reception.
Thirty minutes later Gordon calls reception. An electrician is knocking at our door before Gordon puts the phone down. The electrician gets a pair of pliers, twists something inside the fan and the fan slows down. He packs up his tool bag and starts to leave. Gordon, who by now is a rather alarming shade of red with white blotches asks how we are supposed to adjust the fan ourselves and how we are to turn it off. The electrician looks blank. Gordon gets redder. He asks, in his most intimidating voice, if the electrician is going to leave us the pliers so that we can adjust the fan ourselves. The electrician looks blank. Gordon’s voice rises an octave as he suggests what we really need is a new regulator and switch for the fan. He goes on to say that we need it right now. The electrician stops looking blank, and looks terrified instead. I know Gordon well. Terrified is the correct response.
We get a new regulator in no time flat.
Shortly after there is a knock at the door. I don’t let Gordon answer it. I open the door to find Marci, the receptionist. She is still quivering. She is also clutching a bottle of wine. She looks wildly around afraid that Gordon will suddenly leap out from the dark recesses of the room. She thrusts the bottle of wine at me and proffers an apology in a voice that keeps breaking. I smile nicely and say thank you. Marci flees back to her desk. I close the door, thinking that maybe behaving like a spoiled American tourist has its advantages.
I look for wine glasses in the room. There are none. I call Marci and ask if she could possibly send two glasses down so that we can drink the wine. She whispers a reply which I take to be yes.
After ten minutes we still have no glasses.
The phone rings. It is Marci. After several false starts she manages to ask what colour the wine is. She needs to know so that she can bring the correct glasses. If I was Gordon I would ask her why she didn’t notice the color of the wine when she delivered it. But I am too nice and just tell her that it is red.
Another ten minutes pass before the glasses are delivered. They are white wine glasses.
We empty the bottle of wine rather more quickly than usual. We then set out to explore the hotel which it must be said, is impressive. There are staff everywhere. Every few yards we encounter another one whose sole job seems to be to give us a winning smile and warm greeting. But sadly they are all as incompetent as Marci. If I ask them a question they look terrified and seem to be incapable of answering. I wonder whether stories of Gordon have spread through the hotel already.
There are several very attractive lounges, each offering drinks and free canapes. I strike up a conversation with a man from Scotland who asks if I have discovered the lounge that offers free port from 11am to 11pm . Only a Scotsman would know of such things, and only a Scotsman would make such good use of it, as this man obviously has
The seventh floor is the top floor and there is a huge swimming pool and a beautiful restaurant. The restaurant is open on one side with beautiful views
It is an incredibly impressive and dramatic sight from outside. The interior is just as impressive. It has been turned into a computer and business room, and the entire interior has been lined with wood panels:
We have dinner in the restaurant enjoying the beautiful view and wonderful food. The service is a little harder to enjoy. Our waitress is new to the job. She has been told that she has to clear the table after we eat, but has misunderstood the concept. Every time we go to the buffet she rushes over and removes all the cutlery, plates and napkins from the table. It’s a little annoying, and I start to worry about Gordon’s response. But he stays calm, and we just try and make our trips to the buffet really fast so that we catch her before everything is removed.
The hotel is fabulous. Patience and understanding have been restored, but the spoiled American is still bubbling dangerously underneath the surface.
Meanwhile, we meet the people we will be traveling with. We were told by the tour company that we would be a group of fourteen to eighteen. But we are delighted to find out that there will just be five of us. This is great news for the trip as it means we will get individual attention. But it is bad news for the blog as material for my bitchy observations is going to be extremely limited. Even worse is that we connect with the other three people. They are fun, intelligent and charming and will make great traveling companions.
I know, dear readers, that you have never heard me say anything like that before, and it makes for a dull narrative, but I have to be careful. The word is out that I write a blog and these three people are going to be reading it. I have to be nice.
But you know, and I know, that it can’t last.
As we are getting to know the other three, one of them, Roger, a married man of 43 traveling on his own, confides that he has been upgraded at the hotel. He has been put into the Bill Clinton Suite, a huge bedroom with a separate sitting room. It is, he continues, a glamorous and beautifully appointed room that comes with a cappuccino maker, and a list of cigars that are available for purchase. As this is the Bill Clinton Suite he decides not to explore that avenue. I retire to my rather average room with a kettle and instant coffee and speculate on just how long I am going to be able to be nice.