Last night, while we were in the room house relaxing after dinner, we got a phone call from Mr. Something-or-other (1) who introduced himself as the country head for Tours of Indochina for Laos. TOI is the outfitter who actually booked all of our arrangements here, although we worked with them indirectly through Kelly, our travel advisor based in California. Sally found Kelly great to work with, and all of the arrangements made by TOI have been both what we expected and well executed. Mr. Something wanted to know how everything was going during our stay in Laos, which of course was going well. Then he suggested that he have our luggage picked up early in the afternoon, about four or five hours before our flight, so we just would need to deal with our hand luggage from then on. He said it would simplify our check-in as the luggage would be checked in early.
Now this all sounded very strange. First, since we were on the only flight from Vietnam Air that afternoon or evening, check-in wouldn’t start until 5:15, about two hours before the flight. Second, I can’t imagine how the airline would allow some random person to drop off two bags to go in the luggage hold. And of course, there’s no chance I was giving him our passports as ID. Finally, the idea of sending our luggage off ahead when flights can be delayed or cancelled seem way to risky.
So we declined.
We took the luggage with us when we traveled to the airport, but of course never touched it. The hotel staff carried it out to the van, and the TOI guide wheeled it 30 feet from the van to the check-in. Where we waited about two minutes for the passenger ahead of us to finish. Checking in took about five minutes total. Security line was non-existent. The airport is tiny, with less than ten gates total. We were seated by our gate 25 minutes after boarding the van at the hotel.
All very strange.
But back to our last day in Laos. Normally, checkout time at a hotel is 11:00am. On occasion, when we’ve had a late flight or just don’t want to leave that early, we’ve asked to check out at noon or even 1:00. Often (but not always) the hotel will accommodate us. Of course, if they’re sold out and need the room for an arriving customer, they’ll say no. All very reasonable. And we were planning to ask about it for today.
Sally asked Avna, the front-of-house manger, if we could have late check out. She said it’s already been arranged. Sally said we weren’t leaving until 5:00 and asked how late. To which Avna replied: as late as you want. So we stayed in the
room house until 5:00. No charge.
After a late breakfast, we went out for a long walk and went all the way down the main drag, further than we had gone before. Came back, packed, cleaned up. Lunch.
As we were loading into the van (2) at 5:00, the entire front-of-house staff came out to say goodbye. Avna, Jovan (the Executive Chef), the waiter and other staff who greeted us each time we left or returned to the hotel (3). The Amantaka was truly a great experience.
(1) I apologize for not being able to actually understand his name, which is Laotian, between his English accent and the lousy cell phone connection.
(2) With our luggage!
(3) Wish I had a picture.