Published: March 2nd 2013March 2nd 2013
Confirmation of the fact I ain't gon' let nuttin' get me down. THUMBS UP yeaaah
You've spent 17 hours in the air, excluding a stop at Doha, Qatar. Your legs are aching and you are completely shattered. After arriving at the HCM airport you've waited for 2 hours to finalise your visa and YES, you can finally get your stuff and leave!
Now, imagine your frustration when you look for your bag on the conveyor belt, and it's not there. 'Welcome to Vietnam'.
Yesterday evening was difficult. It was around 9.00 pm when I made my way to lost baggage, face palming on the way there. I was so annoyed that my first memory of this country was already tarnished with the stress of this situation, which was only magnified when 5 or so forms were dumped in front of me to fill in.
This being said, my major worry that the backpack had been stolen was put to rest straight away; Qatar Airways had simply 'forgotten'
my bag. Ha-ha-ha. Not sure how they managed to be so incompetent, because I was actually quite impressed with the flight service; plenty of food, blankets, and the person next to me had a really comfy shoulder. Special thanks, random lady!
After half an hour of trying to sort it out, things were looking up.
They told me that the bag would be delivered this evening to my hostel, so bright side #1
: I didn't have to carry my backpack to the hostel!
I was given $50 compensation in case I needed to buy anything. #2
: I'm backpacking. Surviving 1 day in the same clothes isn't TOO much to ask. And I packed my hand luggage very smartly, if I do say so. Yay free money!
Finally, they gave me a little pack with a nighty inside. #3
: No fresh underwear, but goddamnit will l sleep well.
Getting through customs took all of 5 minutes and I managed to take a minute to appreciate where I was, and what I was doing. The warmth and humidity immediately hit me, as well as the noise: The road was lined with locals hungry for business, through currency exchange, taxi transfers, and hotel rooms. They were quite insistent too: I was soon approached by a gentleman offering to take me to my hostel for the sum of $25, but I declined knowing that this was a rip-off. He grabbed my hand to show me his licence and kept repeating '700,000 dong is very cheap.' So I kinda scurried away.
I ended up paying about $11 which was much more reasonable, although I did have about 8 near death experiences in the space of 15 minutes. The driving in Vietnam, like many Asian countries, is AWFUL. Lanes don't even seem to exist. Sure, there are some nicely chalked out lines on the road...but they're definitely ignored. And the number of people of motorbikes was incredible; dangerously dotting through the cars and pedestrians was evidently second nature, and I was amazed by the number of small children sitting at the front. A level of bravery matched only by Spartacus, me thinks.
My taxi driver spoke little/no English, which reinforced just how difficult to language barrier will be: While I've learnt some phrases on a basic level i.e. the wording, Vietnamese involves 5 different vowel tones which change the meaning entirely. I suppose that's one of the best things about travelling though... trying to overcome the challenge of communicating with people who speak an entirely different language.
My hostel has been fairly impressive so far; of course it has all the amenities you'd expect but the room itself is a lot more 'hotel' like that I thought it would be. In other words, I wasn't expecting the little chocs on my pillows but it was well appreciated. So yada yada yada, I unpacked and then... oh wait. LOLZ joker.
Although in all seriousness, I was so excited about getting out of my many layers and whacked out the pack containing my nighty, only to find toothpaste, a comb, and a 'refreshing towel'. So she definitely didn't say nighty. Brilliant. :( I can't even undestand English.
Sitting by myself was luxury, for the first couple of hours. I've been experiencing an odd mixture of revelling in the fact I am alone and have the freedom to relax and enjoy my own company, and then feeling quite lonely. (Sob sob, sympathy messages are welcome.) Leading on from that, I'm looking forward to meeting the G Adventures tour team this evening so I can make some m8s. And boy, am I going to make a great first impression! An impression of a homeless person that is. 'Nice Lonsdale trousers', said no-one, ever.
Anyway it's 10 a.m. at the moment and I've got the day to explore, so armed with a phrase book and google maps, I'm heading out into the city.
P.S. This morning I was woken up by Gangnam Style playing outside my room window. Excellent alarm.
P.P.S #homelesspersonlookalike #packedlightly? #typical