Since I arrived in Viet Nam I've been staying at the Mogambo Hotel. It's a mini-hotel with about 10 rooms run by an American guy and his Vietnamese-American wife. There's a bar and restaurant downstairs. It's theme gives real meaning to the word "eclectic." First, think bamboo. Then imagine lots and lots of glazed bamboo covering every square inch of the walls and ceiling. Add stuffed animals (and I don't mean the cuddly kind, but real, stuffed, dead animals like tigers and such), pictures of the owners hanging out with Tom Selleck, and lots of expat guys drinking beer, socializing and watching "footie" on the "telly" you just might begin to get a sense for the place. It's great.
Mogambo changes the sheets and washes the floor in my room every day. They also do my laundry and ironing. I've never had it so good.
The thing that makes it especially great is the people. Miss Thuy, the manager, and the girls that staff the restaurant and bar are certified, card-carrying characters. They're also extraordinarily helpful. Need a car to tour the Cu Chi tunnels or find an optometrist? Thuy will take care of it with a big smile. The girls have taken a vested interest in teaching me Vietnamese. I'm not sure who's more entertained....me, as they tease each other mercilessly, or them, as I make mistakes like saying "I'm going to my boyfriend" instead of "I'm going walking" because I use a falling instead of rising tone. To them, my learning Vietnamese is a gas.
Mike and Lanni, the owners, are cool too. It's great to walk into the Mogambo after a long day and be greeted by name, "Hi Chris." Lanni is truly a larger than life character. Spouting salty language that would make a sailor blush, she runs the place with panache and verve. Get a crappy haircut? Belch just a bit too loud? She'll tell you as bluntly as can be. She's also as connected as they come here and is a good person to know. She was giving me advice today: "You listen to Mamma Lanni. She knows!" Words to live by.