|Happy Birthday Jeff
Low and behold but who was the first person I saw when I walked out my door this morning but Nicole at the computer. She had returned this morning at 5am from Sapa. The poor bugger was really tired and as she had already checked out, she had no room to crash in. Now it would have been the right thing to give her mine for a bit but I still hadn't packed and my crap was everywhere, so not really feasible.
My nose is really sniffily and at breakfast I came across another tourist who was suffering almost as bad. He also blamed the air con. Even one of the staff members is sniffily. I went and bought some more tissues for myself and the staff. The tissue selling ladies tried to up the price again today. It goes up everyday. I stood firm and the price dropped to half. Enough of that bullshit ladies. I am generous but not a fool.
I also bought the staff those little pastries that I got them the other day. I'm not sure that they were shared properly last time and as the staff that was on this morning was different to the other day, I took the chance to spoil them.
I knew that there was a departure tax to pay at the airport so headed out to get some more money. Didn't want to but figured I had to have it. Found out later that I didn't as the tax is in the ticket price. Crap. Of well, it'll pay for dinner at the airport.
I never got the chance to book accommodation in Hong Kong so that could be interesting. In a place like that though I am expecting that they will have some kind of desk that will arrange something for me. Not too expensive I hope although it seems nothing is cheap in Hong Kong.
I farewelled Nicole who has been great to know. She has a later flight than me and going elsewhere. She headed off to do some more last minute shopping and I promised to send her the photo of the menu I got that has the 'Dog dishes'.
My driver arrived and I got in for the hour ride to the airport. It's only just over thirty km's but the traffic and roads holds it up. The driver wasn't in my good books and had no chance of getting a tip as he spent all his time smoking and talking on his mobile. He also liked to use his hands when talking so often didn't have a hand on the wheel at all.
The only time he stopped that crap was when his battery died. Thank God for small mercies. It was very lucky too. Closer to the airport, a stray cow decided to cross the highway from between two railings. We didn't even see it coming and nearly slammed right into it. We would of if he was still on the phone. The fact that it was also pelting down with rain did not help.
The airport was the cleanest thing I have seen in Vietnam. Very small though but very shiny. I went upstairs to the restaurant as I still had not had lunch. Everything was expensive but typical of an airport. At least the customs process was easy enough. Except stupid me finally found the scissors. They were in my carry on. At least they didn't make a fuss about it and accepted my human error. Bummer as they were a good pair. Not like I can't buy more though.
Afterwards I headed downstairs and waited for the boarding. We ended up being delayed just over an hour. Not good for the English back packer I was chatting to. He had a connecting flight in Hong Kong for London and his window of catching that connection was rapidly shrinking.
The staff didn't help him at all and were rude about it. They made it his fault and no apologies given. I guess it comes down to liability. If they did apologise it could be deemed as their fault and someone may get bitchy and sue them. Common courteously is over ruled by stupidity.
We finally boarded and I had not been given the window seat as requested but an aisle seat. She said that it wasn't a full flight so I took the window anyway. Sure enough a guy came along and the window seat was his. He was cool with sitting in the isle as he had long legs and it was better for him. Later another girl came along and she had also been given the same seating as me. This air line needs to have a talk with it's seat reservation people. There were heaps of empty rows though so she just took one of them.
Off we went and remind me not to travel with a cold again. Man it's hard to unblock your ears with a runny nose. Not fun and I had problems the whole way. The service on board though was great and the seating very comfy. I recommend it to the bigger of us. Even I didn't need a seat belt extension. Nice feeling. Would have thought I would have needed to ask for one as I expected that the belts would have been made for the smaller local people.
It was a decent flight and the weather did us well. No movie as it was less than two hours so I just read and smiled at the fact that I was over China. We landed kind of hard but no biggy then I watched the usual rush of everyone to get their stuff and stand up to get to the door. I stayed seated. I see no point in doing that when you just have to stand their cramped for several minutes while you wait for the airport personnel to hook up the plane.
It took a bit longer too as we had not pulled up to the terminal but had one of those steps put against us, then had to transfer to a bus. The poor English guy was first in line to get off and this would not have been helping him at all. He had less than 20 minutes to catch his flight and I would have been amazed but thankful if he made it.
Once the bus dropped us at the building entry, there was a scramble to get inside and up the stairs. A lot of people had connections including the guy that was next to me on the plane. He was on some kind of junket for the company he worked for, Phillips, and they all had to get a connection to Amsterdam.
I joined the queue for entry at customs and was almost at the back. A guy came up and asked if everyone could follow him. Only about twenty of us did but were glad. We headed with him to the other side where we were now first in line. I was given a ninety day stay which was more than enough. I only intend to stay long enough to get my Chinese visa.
Then it was on to collecting my luggage. Easy enough although I noted that my back pack had a 'security checked' sticker on it. Not sure what got their attention but they may have thought the camera stand bag on the side may have contained a rifle. Glad they are thorough though. Helps make me feel that it's safe here.
I then found an information kiosk where the lady was a huge help. She then directed me onto the hotel reservation desk. I organised to stay at the Imperial Hotel. I figured that I would get a good price as it was after midnight. They gave me my form and pointed me towards the hotel bus service.
There had to be something to go wrong though and I finally found it. The ATM's didn't seem to like foreigners. The locals seemed to have no problem getting their money but none of us could. Their was three other Aussies having the same problem. They need six numbers not four so two zero's have to be added but that still did not help. The key board was also upside down and I have found previously that these don't work at all.
I was getting very worried as I needed to get some local money to catch the bus. No one was much help and I couldn't change money as I had used almost all of my remaining US at the post office. Finally I found that I could pay for the bus by credit card. Not good as the fee would probably be higher than the payment. Then he suggested something. I had $15AUD on me and that was just perfect for the cost. Yippee. Done. So off I was taken to the bus. Lucky too as it was leaving in 10 minutes.
The drive to the hotel was incredible. I have never seen anything like this in all my travels. This city puts all others to shame in the 'wow' factor. It's just amazing how many sky scrapers they have and how well it seems to be organised. It also has sane drivers and a sense of safety about it. I like this place.
I was dropped at the hotel and although the lady at the front desk was not exactly nice, she got the job done. I went up to my room with the impression that I am leaving to find cheaper accommodation tomorrow. The front desk chick told me it would be more expensive tomorrow and not cheaper as I had gotten a special low rate. Makes sense really but what a hassle.
The hall way to the room is a bit mouldy and cheapish, and in no way a reflection of the reception area. The room though was larger than I was expecting and has all the mod cons that you would expect. The TV doesn't work properly though but as it was almost 2am, I didn't care. Sleep for me to find another place tomorrow and get my visa done.