Monday, November 28, 2016

The Visa Run From Hanoi To Bangkok

Yesterday, I flew from Hanoi to Bangkok to make a visa run. For those of you who don't know what a visa run is, a visa run occurs when your visa is about to run out and you can get another one by leaving the country and returning on a new visa. One interesting first for me is that this is the first time I have had a residence in a different country and left that residence, with my stuff in it, behind while I went to a third country. Another interesting first is that part of the time I am gone, I have that residence while I have no authorization to be there (but it's perfectly fine to rent the place and have my stuff there), and then I will return to it, newly authorized to be there.

It was nice to be able to not bring my whole kit and kaboodle of stuff that I lug around with me. Most of the stuff I don't need is winter clothes. It will probably be high twenties to low thirties Centigrade (high eighties to low nineties Fahrenheit) the whole time I am in Bangkok, so I just brought some lightly warm stuff just in case, and a hooded windbreaker in case I need it for rain. But I'm just carrying a small backpack with about four and a half kilos of stuff in it...a welcome break from the 20+ kilos I have altogether, not including the small amount of household appurtenances I bought for my apartment (a trash can, a mop, a pillow and pillowcase, etc.) that I will leave behind for the next person who moves into the furnished apartment after I move out.

So, I got my mini-kit together for light travel, and headed out to catch the #86 bus to the Hanoi airport. Luckily, the #86 stops just a short distance from my apartment. It is a little more expensive than most of the other city buses. Most of the city buses are 7000 or 9000 đồng (my auto-correct just added those accents), which is between 30 and 40 cents in US money. But the #86 to the airport is 30,000 đồng. It's still not much at all, and much cheaper than the hired car I took to the hostel in Hanoi when I first arrived there; I didn't have much of a choice at that time since I arrived after midnight and no buses were running then. Also I got to see the scenery for the first time between Hanoi and the airport, which I couldn't do when I arrived, because it was dark. And I was freaking out at that time because I had just lost my ATM card.

The flight to Bangkok took about two hours. When I arrived, it was very easy to get to the hostel. There was an airport link train that left directly from the terminal, and took me into the city.  There was a stop about six blocks away from the hostel, so it was just a short walk. One thing I have quit doing is nervously constantly consulting an online map to plan my route when I get to a new place. Now I just look at it occasionally two or three times to see if I'm on the right track. I'll walk around a city mostly unconcerned with where I am, and just look at the map to get back to where I need to be.
One thing I have in Thailand, finally, is free data and texting on my phone through my US international plan. Most countries are covered, but some aren't.  Vietnam is not included (I got a Vietnamese phone and SIM card so I'd have coverage there), and neither was Mongolia when I was there. Laos won't be either when I go there. But every other country I've been to has been covered.

The hostel seems nice (that is, for a place that has multiple bunks crammed into small rooms). I don't mind the small space and lack of privacy too much, though some people who are jerks can sometimes make it more difficult. But most people are cooperative and friendly, and that has been the case here so far. I stay in hostels often to keep costs down while I'm traveling for this very long period of time, and it is an absolute necessity when I'm in some of the more expensive countries. But I do appreciate my little Hanoi apartment and the privacy and space it has given me; it has been a welcome respite from the hostel cram.

Yesterday I went on a long walk to explore the city and the area around the hostel. I made another foray at night, and had a major adventure that you'll just have to wait for somebody to offer me a book deal with a sizeable advance to hear about (I've had several adventures on this nine-month odyssey that fall into that category). Or maybe I'll tell you about it someday at a party or something.  But until then, ha, ha, too bad. You think you're getting the whole story? Not even.

Today I was wandering down the street in Bangkok and saw a money exchange place. I decided to exchange some dollars for Thai baht, because the ATM fees here in Thailand are really high, and you can get pretty good exchange rates for changing dollars.  One thing that stood out was that they had different exchange rates for different bills. The best rate was available for $100 bills, then a slightly worse rate for $50 bills, and the most disadvantageous rate was for $10s and $20s. It didn't say what they exchanged ones and fives for; maybe they just don't bother with those at all.

I was talking about auto-correct earlier in this post...the auto-correct on my Android phone has been starting to replace some English words with Vietnamese-accented words, I guess that's because I have typed a lot of Vietnamese words, especially while I was in my Vietnamese class. I wish it would stop doing that, though. A lot of that was to make flash cards for a Vietnamese Anki deck that I made. It's the first Anki deck that I have made from scratch; I've loaded public decks for other languages I've learned and then added words I encountered if they were not already in the deck. I really like Anki as a language learning tool, but it is only good for vocabulary, not for other components of language learning, like oral expression and oral comprehension, which for me, seem to be the most difficult parts of learning a language.

I have three keyboards installed on my Android phone. One is the English keyboard that came worth my phone.  Then I installed a Cyrillic keyboard when I was in Russian learning a bit of Russian, and finally the Vietnamese keyboard. I've never installed Polish or French keyboards, as the diacritical marks for those languages are available in the English keyboard.  I was surprised that Vietnamese words come up when I'm typing on the English keyboard, but I guess that has nothing to do with the keyboards, but on the memory for the auto-correct function.

1 comment:

  1. I look forward to hearing those inside stories some day over a beer.