Up, Up, and Up, I Go

Cat Ba Island, Sept 25  2009

Through the Halong Caves, back into our boat, we continued to Cat Ba Island. Welcome to Cat Ba Archipelago Blosphere Reserve!!

We had to wait about an hour until finally our bus came to fetch and bring us up, up, up... the cliffs of Cat Ba Island. This island is really made of hard rocks. None at all does it imitate Hard Rock Cafe.

After spending the previous night in a "cubic", stopping in front of Sun Flower Hotel was very much a relief. I call our hotel the previous night a "cubic" because it was so narrow, had steep stairs, but many floors. No elevator.  Sun Flower Hotel was broad and had an elevator. As broad as a sun flower.

However, speaking about the elevator, there was something funny. When we checked in the hotel that evening, went up to our room, went down for dinner to the restaurant, back up again to our room, and then down again to go sightseeing, the elevator seemed okay. I expected some nightlife with some illuminations which would make a good photograph, but didn't find any except this. 

We returned back to our hotel. Tia went straight to our room., I still wanted to take a walk along the main street. When I returned to the hotel lobby, another man was standing in front of the elevator. So I waited together with him. Through the panel on the wall, we could notice on what floor the elevator was. We... (I mean, that he must have also.) noticed that the elevator took so long on one floor.

I began to wonder, are they that so many people who can't decide on what floor they want to go that they hesitate to press the "close" button and move on?? This didn't happen only on one floor. I could see the light on number 5 on for several minutes, and then on again on number 3 for another several minutes.
The man standing next to me was about to leave when, looks like the hotel's employee or manager, came to us holding a bunch of keys. Finally the escalator reached ground floor. We got in. The man with the bunch of keys plugged in a key into a keyhole inside the elevator. The door of the elevator immediately closed.
3rd floor. Some people went out and some people came in. The man with the keys went out and the elevator door stayed opened. Some people looked puzzled. One two people started to press the "close" button several time impatiently. A man behind me yelled and spoke many things I believe was Vietnamese and the ones who pressed the "close" button, I believe also, were foreigners. Nevertheless, every human with a brain, does not to have to learn Vietnamese to understand through one's tone that one was irritated. Nobody else dared to press a button since then. Everyone just stood with their heads raised up, mouth half opened, and eyes fixed on the elevator panel waiting for hope.

Suddenly I thought to myself, now the door cannot be closed. But, what if the door cannot be opened?! I started to get terrified. "Excuse me, excuse me." I pushed people aside and stepped out of the elevator. This time hoping the door won't close before I was out.
Out I was. On the 3rd floor. "Come on, you can!" I encouraged myself. "Only 5 floors left."
Up, up, and up. 4, 5, 6..., 7...? It was a wall with a door locked at the end of the stairs. Oh, I must have been too enthusiastic doing some night sports that I passed the 8th floor where my room was.
Back down the stairs I went. What?? I couldn't believe my eyes. On the wall it was written "6 Floor". Back up the stairs I went. The wall and a door with a chain lock hanging on it. It was about 10 o'clock. I began to shudder. All the stories from my childhood began to pop up in my mind. The story of a cupboard that leaded to a road into a foreign land. The story of stairs that ended into a different world... Hiyyy... It was dark on the left side and I was alone...
As if I heard a voice in my heart, "Go to the left."
"Hiyyy... but it's dark there..."
"Go to the left," said that voice again.
Okay. I turned left, walked a few steps into the getting dark aisle... and...there was a staircase behind there, and I could see light up there!!

It really was the 8th floor! But, I was still a bit scared. What if I open the room door and instead of seeing Tia, I find an old witch inside our room with her broom stick? Who ever knows that the stories told in childhood did actually happened?
Knock, knock. "Tia...?" 

Click. Tia stood in front of me. It was, Tia. Not an old witch.
Hahhh! I threw myself on the bed and blurted out this story from the beginning. "There was a man standing in front of the elevator... bla, bla, bla." What a weird hotel!

The next morning I chose to be patient and take the elevator. I decided that getting trapped inside an elevator with few people is much better than freedom alone in a dark aisle facing a door with a chain lock on it.

The elevator journey, it took as long as the night before. There was a piece of paper stuck on the wall inside the elevator. It was there also last night since we arrived. There were some Vietnamese sentences written on that paper. No translation in any other language. I began to guess. Maybe that paper is telling not to press a button when the door hasn't closed. That's why the man behind me last night was so irritated. Maybe the elevator's computer system is slow that it takes several minutes to execute the next program after a button is pressed. Let's say it takes 3 minutes. If after 1 minute someone presses a button, then it would take not 2 minutes left, but another 3 minutes. So, the more often you press a button, the longer you'll have to wait. Well... whose fault is it then? None, I believe, has ever thought of learning Vietnamese in order to get through a Vietnamese elevator.

Maybe... (Too long standing in that weird elevator made my mind wandered to neverland.) while people are standing in the opened elevator, there's something like a detector that scans the people one by one in case of someone carrying a bomb. 

"Ah, that's because Jakarta had been bombed a few months ago. It's you," I said to myself, "that's bomb traumatic. These people aren't. War is over, you know!"

"Okay," I answered back to myself. "Maybe the detector is to detect the people's body temperature in case of someone carrying swine flu. You see people wearing masks everywhere?"

"Yes, I see. That's very possible," said the other me, and finally the elevator door opened to the restaurant. The smell and the noise inside there made me think I was in Jakarta's Glodok :))

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