28.03.2011 - 28.03.2011 34 °C
Before we knew it our time in Darwin had passed and we were at the airport. A few security checks and some teary farewells between Kirby and her mum and we were sitting on the plane ready to leave Australia behind.
We were on an international Jetstar flight and to my disgust there was neither a movie playing nor any entertainment available due to the entertainment system requiring “maintenance”. Thankfully my trusty laptop full of movies kept us going for a few hours
It was 9:15pm when we arrived at Ho Chi Minh airport and we were greeted with a long line from the visa collection desk. While we were waiting for our visa’s to be processed two old ladies sitting in front of us were approached by an airport official. I must add that everyone working in the airport looked like they were in the military (maybe they were), decked out in their green outfit covered with stars and medals and a face equally cold they were quite intimidating. The ladies were promptly told that the paperwork that they had provided the officials was actually not an official visa approval letter and that on the system there was no record of an approved visa for either of them. The ladies tried to argue that they had booked this trip through a travel agent and they were told by the agent that everything was arranged, but they were met with a pitiless stare and told that they had to leave the country before even entering it. Luckily though another option arose and they were able to stay at the airport hotel overnight and pay for a visa application to be processed the next morning (not sure how much that would cost but I’m guessing it’s not cheap). After witnessing this whole ordeal a slight feeling of impending doom encroached on my happy demeanour as I hoped that all of our paperwork was correct. Thankfully our names were called and we headed outside to breathe our first breath of fresh Vietnamese air – although with 5 million motorbikes in Ho Chi Minh City, it wasn’t that ‘fresh’.
Before we headed overseas we read plenty of books that talked about transport in Asia and one in particular suggested to use the metered taxi as they are regulated and far less likely to rip you off. We knew that the ride to our hotel should cost around 300,000 dong and the moment we exited the building we were confronted with a man who offered to take us to our hotel for 500,000 dong in his private car, we said no and headed over to the taxi rank. The taxi we took had a meter but it was obviously faulty because by the time we arrived at our hotel it was sitting at 1.3 million dong. It only took us 30 minutes within Vietnam to get ripped off – WooHoo
When we walked inside the hotel we were greeted by a smiling woman who promptly told us there was no vacancy. Luckily we had booked and payed a deposit already. After a quick search through her book she kindly informed us she had no such booking written down and there was not a bed for us. We showed her our receipt from the transaction and she called her boss, Mr. Kim. When he arrived he apologised profusely and took us to one of his other hotels and is letting us stay in an air-conditioned room with a private bathroom for the same price.
It is now midnight and fingers crossed our first day in Ho Chi Minh will be cheaper than our first 3 hours