Ok, I admit, I gave up writing with my mobile, hah. That is why posts about our Asia trip are coming a bit late. But you know better late than never! Anyway, this time I was thinking to write some thoughts about Vietnam.
Vietnam was actually not my personal favourite destination. It was absolutely awesome to experience, but nothing I am eagerly wanting back to. Why? To be honest I think that a little incident which happened to me at the Hong Kong airport spoiled a bit my Vietnam time. Also that we happened to be in one of the biggest cities during Chinese New Year so basically the whole city was dead and almost everything was closed. So let’s start with the incident which happened to me.
We arrived few hours before our flight’s departure. Well, that was a super good thing! We went to drop our bags and do a check-in. It went fine with all the others except me. My passport was a problem. (A small reminder that others were holding Swedish passports.) My first reaction was like ”Oh, excuse me? What?”. ”Yes, this passport is a problem.” I tried to ask what kind of a problem we were talking about and a lady explained to me that I need a visa. I was clueless, I had checked that China was the only destination where we needed to apply a visa before hand. ”Oh, hmm, what should I do?” I mumbled running into a panic. ”Google it, haha. We won’t wait you if you do not fix this before we close the check-in” That was an answer I got and then they refused to talk to me more. Frustration, with hands shaking I started to google. Did I miss to check one destination? Is it really possible. Running to an info desk, to another.. Ok, nobody is going to help me. I found pages, Finnish do not need a visa, but not updated today. My brain froze. What the f*** should I do? I checked flight prices. The cheapest flight within a week was 500€, The visa was like five times cheaper. Well, one thing was clear, others need to board, otherwise it will be ridiculosly expensive for everybody.
There was seriously not time to think. I filled in a visa application and received an e-mail that I will get the visa after 40 minutes, if I need it earlier I need to pay more, of course. I checked the clock; check-in was closing in 39 minutes. I tried to talk to the lady, she still refused to talk with me. Very, well, I ended up to pay for the fast service to secure that I had time to catch the same flight with others. A new flight had still been twice of the new visa price.. I got it! 15 minutes before the check-in closed. ”You need to print it.” Well I ran again. ”We do not accept card for print-outs, just cash. Oh, and you need to e-mail it to a printer.” Yeah, right. We just spent our last Hong Kong dollars for breakfast. This time Alex got to run. I stayed and tried to figure out how I get my documents to the printer. E-mailed four times. Nothing happened. Seven minutes left. No I cannot borrow a computer next to the printer. I am still sorry that I yelled to a printer-lady, but in that panic I was unable to behave, hah. Four minutes left, I saw a green light. IT IS PRINTING! I basically threw dollars to the lady, ran back to the check-in, ran to a shuttle train, a gate has changed, ran to the new one.. We saw last passengers queuing to our flight. WE MADE IT! Not even close you know, I even had time had time to go toilet before boarding, heh.
Welcome to Vietnam! First thing I saw was a sign where was a list of different lands which passport holders do not need a visa for a stay less that 15 days. Guess if Finland was listed? Oh, yes! Finland was listed and I was not just panicing any more, I was angry, I felt so fooled, I.. Well, you got the point, I was not happy. And after some insane chattings I actually ended up to even not use my visa. Guess what was the problem? ”But lady, all Mexican citizen need a visa to enter Vietnam.” Yeah, it would have been nice to receive that information a bit earlier, so I would not have needed to purchase one. Well, at least we made it.
We had arrived to Hanoi, the city with traffic like chaos. When I stepped out from a taxi I did not know in which direction I should go, could go, or where was even possible to go, hah. There were mopeds everywhere. Red light, they are still driving at streets, narrow as.. I don’t know, super narrow. Everytime when we walked somewhere or walked cross a street it felt like it is better to not check left and right, just go and hope that you won’t get injured. Well, I crashed just twice so pretty good score I guess, and luckily, without getting hurt.
Hanoi was something so I had never seen before. The funny thing was that earlied when I pictured Vietnam in my head these hats filled my thoughts. And they really had the hats and they were selling everything. Some of the bikes were build as moving selling stands or food trucs. Like I wrote, it was really something to experience. Vietnam made me to think also how good we have it in Nordics. There were all kinds of people in streets trying to survive that I sometimes allmost fell into tears.
After Hanoi we went to Halong Bay and it was wow! It was like an archipelago from a dream. Pictures speaks louder than words. The views were just amazing. We stayed at the biggest tourist island called Cat Ba, but luckily it was a low-season so it was not crowded at all, vice versa. We found a good hostel right in the centre with a really reasonable price. A receptionist told us that during a high-season prices are about four times more expensive, so we were really happy.
We were again unlucky with a flight when we flew to our last destination in Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh City. It was second and the last time we used this company, when the first time they did not allow me to board. So, this time, everything went fine until we collected our backpacks. All four bags were wet and they stinked so bad, like old meat. This time I was not the only one who was mad. We tried to fix some settlement with the company and they promised to e-mail us within two weeks. Well, I think an e-mail is still on it’s way since we have not received it. Thank god the bad smell disappeared with some shampoo. So we spent our first day washing our backpacks and other stuff.
Our trip continued towards Cambodia after Ho Chi Minh City by bus. Even if we read plenty of horror stories about busses in Asia, we decided to give a try which was actually a total success. Maybe we were lucky this time or other have been unlucky however I enjoyed the bus trip! The only confusing thing was when we booked tickets we recognized that some companies uses the old name of HCMC which is Saigon.
Next story about Cambodia where we spent almost one month!