Good Morning Vietnam
Friday 22nd February
Vietnam. Laying on the My Khe beach in Da Nang. 30 summink degrees and sunny.
Well what an adventurous couple of days. When last we spoke we were at the airport in Christchurch getting comfortable for a long night prior to our 6.30 am flight out of New Zealand.
It didn’t take long for the comfort to be spoiled as they close the main parts of the terminal for the night for security reasons. Understandable.
However the staff then ram all of us customers who are in a similar position into the arrivals terminal AND then push us to the far end, near the draughty doors and on the hard tin seats. Most unfair and unfriendly. We had a bit of a row with the airport duty dude about us being classed as homeless folk rather than paid up customers. We eventually gained back some ground and more comfortable seats but by then we had little opportunity for sleep. It left a bit of a bad taste as we departed NZ. And after we had enjoyed it so much.
Anyhow we were the first in the queue for check in ( didn’t progress it online as we had hold baggage anyway). It was at this point that we started to appreciate what we had ahead. Three flights:-
Christchurch to Melbourne - 3.5 hours
Melbourne to Ho Chi Minh City (Vietnam )- 8.5 hours
Ho Chi Minh to Da Nang (Vietnam seaside)- 1 hour. Plus waiting time between..! Who planned this pantomime.?!
What happened was.. we booked the first two legs many moons ago but later decided that as we only had 6 days in Vietnam we didn’t want to waste too much time travelling in trains or buses so the flight made sense. At the time......
The flight to Melbourne was easy using Jetstar (budget Qantas subsidiary) with plenty of time for transfer. Our bags were headed to Ho Chi Minh City all the way. We were amazed and delighted by the next leg. Vietnam Airways. Brilliant. Who knew? Probably the cleanest, most efficient, cheeriest, quietest, lovely est..flight ever. Can’t praise them enough. And that was the airline that we had concerns about at the time of booking.
So...arrive at Ho Chi Minh With slightly over two hours before our domestic flight to Da Nang. Perfect..plenty of time... Well no.... as we arrived at customs on landing their were 9 immigration booths open and 9 long queues.. pick one. Well we left the decision to Michelle..she is clever like that. Looks at the customers, avoids queues with children, old people, dodgy looking folk and pets..Check for the age of the official person running the queue and confirm they are not in training etc.. and of course it is the shortest one. Research done, on the spot, queue selected.....Well for once she picked wrong. We had Mr Vietnam Grumpy who was a pain in the pASSport. He was over-thorough with everyone. On our turn he grunted two words (in English but may as well have been in Vietnamese) then waited.. It shortly transpired that those two words meant...’so you haven’t got a visa dickhead. where are you staying. When are you leaving. and What flight are you leaving on.?’ After some loooong minutes we were through. Didn’t need a visa (as we had researched) and he was just a ‘welcome to my country’ plum.
So,,,time is ticking on..calm has become concern with 1 hour 10 minutes till our flight. Grab the hold baggage from the carousel. Escape International Arrivals dash to the Domestic Departures Terminal which was a long walk next door and the furthest point of that terminal. (Three backpacks, One rucksack and two suitcases on wheels were on heat!). Thankfully there was only a small queue so checked in, bags gone..breathe...
Just got to go through into Departures past security.. aaaaaargh. Huge queue. Massive.. Panic ensued and no amount of charm could help us jump the queue. Signs say the Departures gates close 15 minutes before scheduled time...Finally we got done with just that 15 minutes to spare. We were last on a hot, sweaty bus transfer to the plane. Phew. After all that travelling we were all wiped out but arrived as planned in Da Nang. A taxi to the hotel was the only option in our condition. Well one thing for sure.we weren’t going to fall asleep on that ride. These roads are MENTAL..! Mopeds, bikes and cars just whizz round the roads. Don’t think there are any laws or rules or discipline. And everyone toots..all the time. We were gobsmacked. We expected to die but thankfully the taxi driver appears to have done it before. Phew.
We are now staying at the Haka Hotel near the seafront. Good reviews but not one of those big four star things that surround us. But bloody lovely. After a well deserved shower it was blissful deep sleep. 3 flights-36 hours travel. . Bad idea.
So...this morning we were refreshed, had a great breakfast then walked down the beach and into town. Had a couple of beers in a bar whilst ‘traffic watching’ and then did some shopping in a market. I am now an official ‘Under Armour’ clothing convert as yet again I have bought genuine (ahem!) shirts for about £3 each.
Money here is great. On arrival I withdrew 3 million Dong from the ATM. Turns out that is about £100. Feels real rich, though all those noughts makes your head spin..!
And here we are now on the beach, in the sun. Slightly windy. Waves are quite high. But the sea is warm. YES....... Bonus.
A little more mention is needed of these roads. Chaos is a good description and we are yet to establish why there are not bodies laying dead and injured around the streets from crashes. We have loved watching it and managed to cross roads several times now without dying. Scared yes. Entertained yes. !
Incidentally this hotel cost us £230 in total for two rooms for five nights INCLUDING breakfast. Thank you booking.com again. Michelle even gets an additional discount as a repeat customer. Wow.
And, of course, we enjoyed a chorus of ‘GOOD MORNING VIETNAM’ on waking today (and every other day probably..!)
Did you know....Good Morning, Vietnam is a 1987 American comedy-drama war film set in Saigon (Ho Chi Minh) in 1965, during the Vietnam War, the film stars Robin Williams as a radio DJ on Armed Forces Radio Service, who proves hugely popular with the troops, but infuriates his superiors with what they call his "irreverent tendency"
Another long blog...please stop me someone...!
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