Published: May 28th 2009May 28th 2009
So, I bought a Vietnam visa from a reputable German-owned travel agency in Laos along with my flight to Vietnam from Luang Prabang. Problem is, despite my reservations about the visa that was stuck in my passport, and despite the reassurances I received, I landed in Vietnam and was given 15 days instead of the month long tourist visa. Now, I only realized this about a week into my trip to Vietnam.
I was so angry that the travel agency had refuted my claim that it was the wrong visa and then sent me on my merry way. I’m sure they knew about the cock-up but as it was May Day Vietnam shut down and so did the Embassy.
Now, because of this dodgy visa, I’d arrived in Hue, expecting to be able to extend it for a month. I was wrong, I had to go to the bigger city of Denang to the south and get a new visa completely. I’d also have to return to Hue, because despite it being over 2 weeks my letter from London containing my back cards still
hadn’t turned up.
So, that evening Amy - the Franco-Colombian woman who’d literally
slept with me on the bumper bus and had some dinner and kinda hit it off. She must be in her 50s but is a fashion stylist for haute couture in Paris, and a very chatty and nice personality with a good sense of humour on her. So I headed off to Denang whilst everyone else seemed to go onto Hoi An.
That mornign I got a motorbike guy to take me to these massive maountains that they quarry marble out of, lots of pagodas, caves and temples there, even teh scene of fighting during the war, so bullets in the gates of pagodas and stuff. Scorching hot day, dripped with sweat, but got some great pictures too.
Returned and then got the tourist bus to Denang and got let off at a travel agency that was closed. Good start. Then despite being approached by a motorbike geezer I managed to ignore his advice that every hotel in my guide was “closed” - he must us London types are bloody gullible as well as rude!
Anyway, I walked myself to a hotel in the blazing heat and got a double room. Then I got a motorbike taxi
to the immigration bureau, but they said I needed a “sponsor” for a new visa, so they gave me a business card and told me to go there. Another motorbike trip this time to some travel agency (getting wary) and because of the young lass’ excellent English I was sorted pretty quickly -but at a cost $80 US (ouch) and it would take 5 working days to get the visa (7 by including the weekend)! So, she took my passport and arranged for it to be returned with visa at the hotel in Hue, because I had to back there anyway.
So I had to wait for this visa process and so I settled in Denang for a bit. Went to the famous Cham civilization museum, which holds loads of sculpture from the famous 5th to 14th Century Hindu Civilisation in Vietnam. Got some good pics and stood me in good stead for when I visited the ancient capital of Cham near Hoi An.
This place is also famous for being the place where the Americans first landed in Vietnam, on the famous “China Beach”. I visited it and it’s very long and very pretty, even though large
parts of it are being taken over by private resorts. It chucked it down on the way back from the beach so I settled in at a beach restaurant and ordered some crab. Well, I must be the only Westerner who’s ever had crab there or something because I had (and I counted) 7 waiters surrounding me and taking my orders (and generally treating me as if I was some kind of pop star). The crab I ordered was huge and at first they only gave me chop sticks (!) to eat it with but soon turned up with a cracker. It was a hideous mess, I think it’s probably only the second time I’ve taken on a crab as supper. Plus, I swear he was looking at me the whole time, bating me, bating me. I had him in the end, a bowl of legs and claws and shell.
Bamboo Bar 2
I went to an expat bar called Bamboo 2 in Denang, had a couple of beers in there, talking to an older Aussie woman who was teaching English over there and an American ex-Navy turned businessman living in Hong Kong. The usual stuff was discussed, each
other’s countries, Vietnam, a bit on the war etc. They both left me to it after a while - I am the younger sort I suppose. Got talking to the waitress and bloody nora, she’s not even getting paid to work there, but she’s doing it purely to practice her English! She has a full time job in some office and spends her evenings, putting up with drunks and pissed-up English. When I wisely left before I got tanked up I think half the people there thought I was trying to pull her, as they all looked a bit surprised when I bid farewell and walked out. This ain’t Thailand people!
The next day, I took my bloody Fujifilm Camera - (official name for it now) to a company office in the city and tried to get them to repair it for me by sending it Ho Chi Minh City. It was under 1 year warranty and they had a duty to repair it but they were giving me hassle about proof of purchase and warranty card, which I defeated. Then more hassle about sending it to HCMC, they wanted me to go there and get it repaired, they
didn’t seem to get customers coming it with this kind of thing. Anyway, I got them to take it and to send it on, so I will hopefully have a repaired camera by the time I get south. I’ll hopefully sell it on E Bay or something, the Sony Cyber-Shot is bloomin’ marvelous.
Then, I went to the Denang market and amongst the narrow heaving stalls I bought a two dollar pair of fake Rayy Bans and a nice straw cowboy hat, nice and wide. Again, I was treated like tome minor celebrity by the sellers and customers in there, good to barter with.
As you can tell I’ve been travelling around a fair bit and not really dosing much either, so I’ve had to blog and take photos.
I left Denang aftera pretty relaxing time of it, no one seems to go here, so I had the place to myself (plus it’s Vietnam’s fourth biggest city).
Next stop the little gem that is Hoi An.
There are more photos below