Published: December 6th 2007November 13th 2007
Now I'm not claiming to be the 'number 1' unluckiest travel by any means, I was able to avoid the Phuket plane crash, I haven't been mugged and I'm yet to end up in a bathtub full of ice with a missing kidney. HOWEVER, I am beginning to feel that I am up there with some of the most unlucky travellers. Let me explain why......
Ok, so firstly there was the well documented 'knee incident', anybody who's paid the slightest bit of interest to my travels (or even just my general well being) will know all about that, for anyone who doesn't, you can read all about it...
So I think the whole knee incident, although admittedly avoidable with a more stringent use of antiseptic, or alternatively, better coordination when running in rain, it still counts for a whole 3 'bad luck' incidents, when considering the time spent in hospital, a failed skin graft and the missed travel opportunities. So after that when the stitches were removed and
These pics are actually before the flooding got to its worst. This part was apparently above head height.
I was free to travel again I was confident that my Karma had been equalised and I could resume my travels with at least a certain degree vigilance.
From the various people I had quizzed during my travels as to their opinion on the places they'd visited I didn't meet a single person who didn't enjoy Laos, and having now been there for myself, I can see exactly why. What a great place! Check out my last blog: Vang Vieng
. However, opinions on Vietnam were generally pretty polarized. Some people loved it and thought it was the best place they'd been, others hated it and advised me to skip it. I was therefore keen to come here and decide for myself. I was, however, slightly anxious due to the fact that rather than having the 3.5 weeks that I'd originally scheduled before my hospitalisation I only had 2 weeks. This was pretty much the minimum amount of time to do anything worthwhile and the two Danish girls who I'd met in Chang Mai and Laos were kind enough to write out a schedule of the best places to see and how long to spend in them
I met people who had moved from hotels where they had to swim out of the lobby.
with the 2 weeks I had available.
I had been warned that traveling Vietnam was a lot different to the rest of SE Asia, the people were a lot more keen to make money off you and I was advised to exercise extra care with all my belongings.
I met Jordan, a Canadian dude at the airport who I recognised from Laos, he'd also been warned about Vietnam. So together from the get go we were both on our guard, and from the get go the Vietnamese were trying to scam us. After arranging a taxi for $7 halfway through the journey they tried to claim the taxi was $10 and 30 minutes of arguing later they agreed on the original $7. Similar situation with the guest house. However, I don't want to dwell on these points, the title of this blog refers to my bad luck and these points are merely something I feel that comes as part of traveling through Vietnam. Halong Bay
An amazing place. BUT, totally ruined due to the poorly organised tour. I've made a point whilst traveling to avoid any organised tours and book tickets and trips independently, however, there didn't seem to be
an option to do this in Vietnam. The tours seem unavoidable and with my lack of time, even more so. The beauty of Halong bay was totally overshadowed by the poorly organised tour. I'm not one to usually complain, in fact, one thing that has annoyed me the most during my travels is other travelers who seem to get overly impatient with locals, almost expecting the sort of service they would expect back home. Come on! You're in their country, be thankful they speak any English at all, be thankful their willing to help you and if you want the food exactly how you would expect it back home, then stay at home! Anyway, I have to admit that the tour to Halong bay was terrible and I was annoyed on this occasion since there was no other option but to take these tours. A tour that didn't include the night stay on the boat like we originally paid, overbooked minibuses, a wait for two hours at a harbor and rubbish food. booooooooo!!! This is a huge shame since the Vietnamese have here an amazing asset to capitalise on, but they seem to be wasting it by constantly trying to
cut corners, scam tourists and not organise anything properly. Sapa
AMAZING!! Thankfully this tour gave the impression that it was organised by people with an IQ greater than that of your common household doormat. In fact, I would go as far as to say that it was well organised, everything was as promised, and more. Sapa is a small town in the mountains of north Vietnam and from here our trip involved a trek into the surrounding villages by a guide who was an 18 year girl from one of those villages, who spoke amazing English (considering she'd learnt simply from talking to tourists), had a fantastic personality and was a great laugh also (but i guess that come under 'fantastic personality'). After 6 hours of treking on the first day we arrived at our 'homestay', a Vietnamese house where we stay for the night. The food, all cooked on a single wok over a wood fire, was amazing. A huge variety of dishes and some of the nicest food I've had since traveling. Then out came the rice whiskey..........potent stuff! After a couple of hours of drinking I decided along with two other couples, a Korean girl and her
mother and a Australian (Deane) and his 7 year old son (who was obviously asleep by now) that we were enjoying ourselves so much we'd stay for an extra day of trekking. So after negotiating a fair price with one of locals I rented his moped and set off with our guide, Ku, with the tickets of all the people who wished to stay the extra day, back the way we'd spent the day trekking to Sapa town to get out trip extended. Although this was maybe a sketchy decision in retrospect considering the amount of rice whiskey I'd consumed, it did turn out to be a good decision as staying the extra day was well worth it. The following day we did another six hours trekking to another village for another homestay and were rewarded by some lush hot springs.
A great trip which hugely boosted my opinion of Vietnam. I would liked to of stayed longer, like Deane and his son did, but my tight scheduled meant I had to get going. Oh, And The bad luck I mentioned Earlier
Ok, so I'm getting off the point a bit here, talking about what I actually DID in Vietnam,
instead this is supposed to be a blog explaining why at the moment I feel the Bad Luck Gods are pissing all over me.
I arrived back from Sapa into Hanoi on the night train at 5am. I have heard many a story of people being robbed on such trains, but I am far too street savvy to get caught out like that so I cunningly removed the memory card from my camera and placed it in my trouser pocket, so in the event that my camera was stolen, I would still have my prized photo's containing pictures from Sapa, Halong Bay and Vientienne (Laos). Fortunately when I arrived into Hanoi in the morning in my half asleep state my camera hadn't been stolen so I took my memory card from my pocket, placed it back into my camera and proceeded to leave the train................. in the process leaving my camera, which now contained my prized memory card, on the bed........ Idiot! The irony being if I hadn't of been so cautious as to remove my memory card, I would still have both camera and card now. Ahhhh!
I caught a moped back to my guest house which wasn't yet
This was after worst of it, when it was possible to go and wade around a bit.
open, so I thought I'd have a look through all my pictures from the past two weeks while I waited. It was at this point that I realised what I'd done. So I hoped back on a moped to the train station, rushed back onto the carriage I had been in and low and behold........it was gone. It was obvious the conductor who had been checking the beds as I left had taken it. I even got the woman in the office to call him at home, but surprise surprise, he didn't have it.......T@%T! - This is bad luck number 1 by the way.
Bad luck number 2 - Whilst walking around the train station in distress with a hord of Vietnamese around me offering help, only since they thought there'd be some money in it for them along the way, I was successful in stubbing my big toe on a concrete pathing slab and slicing the end of it off. Now at 5:30am with a lost camera an excessively bleeding toe, which I was paranoid would become infected, I decided to cut my losses and get a moped back to my guest house.
Bad Luck number 3 - With my large back pack on my back and may day pack on my front I jumped on a moped, like I'd done many a time, and headed for the guest house I'd already visited that morning. The driver decided to take a short cut up a curb and what happens..................I fall, backward roll style off the back into the road!!! So now, I'm lying in the road, mopeds riding around me, a bleeding toe and a cameraless bag. GREAT! What don't you just send a rubbish truck to unload on me while I'm here?!? ...the next multiple of 3
So I was ready to leave Hanoi and after spending the morning shopping for a new camera that I couldn't go without, the plan was to catch the bus to Hoi An, have a super cheap suit made ready for my new job in February, stay one night and leave the following day to continue my travels. A simple in-and-out job. Very due able. Not a problem. People do this all the time. Easy!................. however, silly me, silly old Rob. I hadn't factored Vietnams worst floods for 100 years into my little plan had I. So this brings me up to the current day. I am sat in an internet cafe in Hoi An. I'm seriously pissed off with Vietnam, for more reasons than I've covered in this blog. If I hear another person say 'Hello, Motorcycle' I'm going to jail for murder. All I want to do is catch a flight to Saigon to meet my Irish mate Ruairi (from Chang Mai/Laos) and then head to Australia. I cannot leave as I paid to have a suit made when I arrived but since the power has been out, they have yet been unable to make it. It is not possible to leave by bus since all roads are flooded. It is not possible to fly as all flights are booked. All bars are closed due to the flooding. I am left to write this long blog after which I will retire to my guest house to read. Just Shoot me!
So the flooding I think counts for one of my next three pieces of bad luck. The second piece of bad luck was that on my first night in Hoi An.................yes, I got food poisoning! I was up for most of the night 'enjoying' the usual activities that accompany food poisoning. Thankfull I felt ok the next day. So I'm expecting one last piece of bad luck and I did read on the internet the other day that in a province near to Hoi An the flooding caused the fence to a crocodile farm to be knocked down releasing 5000 crocodiles into the wild, this is absolutely true by the way: Vietnam Hunts Escaped Crocodiles
. I'm begining to feel that if anyone in this country is going to get eaten by an escaped crocodile..........it's gonna be me. BUT, don't worry people, I'm on my guard!
Here ends my transmission.
Oh, and please don't question the limited number of photo's in this blog.................. I've lost my F$%king camera!!!
Anyway, all that said, all there is left to say now is....................
BRING ON AUSTRALIA!!! WHOOP WHOOP !!
(...........By the way, ladies, I should also mention that on the plus side, since entering Vietnam I am now a MULTI-Millionaire. On the negative side, it's for the same reason as in Laos :( )