Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Vietnam Is Starting Out A Little Rough

Well, it is not really the fault of the country. But Vietnam is starting out a bit rough for me. 

Right before I took the plane to Hanoi, I got the news that my car back home has been totaled.  Luckily, everybody is all right.  But my little car that took me up into the Arctic twice, shuttled me reliably all over almost every province in Canada and most states of the United States is no more.  It will take me a while to figure out what that means for my journey and how it will affect me when I get back. Because now I will almost certainly return not only somewhat financially depleted, but not having any transportation to help me generate what might be some needed income.  I'll survive, and I'm certainly glad nobody was hurt, but it is definitely a blow.

When I arrived at the airport last night, I had to go through one of the most chaotic processes so far for entry.  I had to submit a visa approval letter, and give them my passport, which they held on to for a while.  And I had to submit two ID photos, which I was ready for and had with me to submit. But then I had to fill out a form on which I was supposed to put a lot of details from my passport, but they had taken my passport.  So I was waiting for my passport to come back to finish filling out the forms (in duplicate), when I heard my name called over the public address system in the airport.  I went over to the desk, and was going to explain, but they just took the forms and stamped them, and gave me my passport back.  They didn't even seem to care much what was on the forms.  But I had my hands full with all kinds of papers, and things were slightly chaotic.  And I got in after midnight, so it was late and I was really tired.

I went looking for my ride.  I had reserved a car from the hostel, and it was the first time in my life that I was one of those people who has someone waiting for them with a placard with their name on it.  The driver was easy to find, of course, he had a placard with my name.  But as I was heading out, I realized that I need to get money.  So the driver showed me where the ATMs were, and I went over to get some money.  The ATM only let me pull out two million dongs, which is a little over ninety dollars.

Then I took off with the driver, and we headed back to the hostel. But suddenly I realized that I had failed to retrieve my card from the ATM.  I checked my wallet, and sure enough, it was not there.  So I told the driver I needed to go back to the airport, kinda panicky.  He had a hard time understanding, but finally I got through to him what I needed, and he turned around.  

I went over to the ATM.  No card anywhere in sight.  There were a couple of cards on top of the ATM, but neither of them was mine.  This machine is apparently not primed to remind you very well about your card, if others had left theirs there.  I asked some people around, they really didn't understand and just shrugged.  I asked the guard, who didn't really understand at first and kept showing me where the ATMs are.  No, I know where the ATMs are, it's just...oh, crap...

Well, the card was just gone.  I needed to contact my bank to report it missing, but I have no data in Vietnam, and would have to wait until I got to the hostel to use their wi-fi.  I was really anxious the whole trip from the airport to the hostel, and it was a long one.  There was no traffic at all at that time of night, but it still took a really long time to get to the hostel...the airport must be pretty far outside of Hanoi.

I checked into the hostel a little before three in the morning, and for some reason, they didn't charge me any money, but they took my passport.  I guess I pay when I leave, but they are going to keep my passport the whole time?  I got the wi-fi password, called my bank, and got disconnected a few times from the weak wi-fi connection.  I wanted to scream in frustration.  I was really tired and wanted to sleep, but knew I had to do this right away, and also, since it was three in the morning in Hanoi, it was during business hours in the US.  I also checked my account online and saw that somebody had withdrawn money after I did.  Shit.  They must not require that the PIN be entered again for subsequent transactions, and now I know it was stolen.  I found the wi-fi router and stood right under it, and that allowed me to complete a call to my bank.  The guy I talked to was very helpful, cancelled my card immediately and got the address of the hostel from me to send me a new one.  So right now I'm without my ATM card, but hopefully I'll get a new one soon, and I should have enough money to last until it arrives, especially since I haven't paid the hostel bill yet.  This has all been pretty emotionally draining and it has been a difficult day.

1 comment:

  1. That sounds rough alright. Sure hope Vietnam eases up on you soon!