I live in DC, which is a great place to live and visit. I try to make the most of it. However, I also love to leave my home and see what the world has to offer. Come and join me!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

First Night in Vietnam and Australian Food, Sunday, 23 March 2008 Cont.

The flight to Vietnam was fine and uneventful. The seats were so spacious! And they even serve you a little snack. It was quite a luxury. In Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) you have to go through x-ray screening at nothing to declare before you can leave the airport. They weren't even looking at the screen to see if people were not declaring that which should be declared.

I had read about the taxi rip-offs in Vietnam and thought I was prepared. Ha! I walked outside of the airport and a guy asked me if I wanted a taxi. I said yes. He took my suitcase and put it in the cab. He said it would be $15. I said I knew it was supposed to be around $7 and he had to use the meter. He said, No, it's $15. You buy a card and it's $15. And flashed a little card, about the size of a business card with a little clear plastic window with a hologram. A pretty official looking card. I said meter. He said it was broken. I gave up, defeated and annoyed. I feared this trip would get the best of me, despite my savvy traveler ego.

After bidding a bitter farewell to my cab driver at the Renaissance Riverside Hotel I crossed the beautiful lobby to check in. I hit a snag when they asked for my government work ID so I could get the government rate. Well, I don't travel with my work ID! For goodness sake! I use it to get into the building but not outside of work. They were all, "Just get your husband to fax it over." UGH! I don't have a husband, people! Or a boyfriend, or a partner, or a significant other, or anyone who can do this for me. I have nobody. I am alone in this world. Do you really, really want to make that any worse? Finally I asked them whether the official passport I'd already handed over wasn't enough? Oh yeah, sure. Goodness!

I was very tired. The city was overwhelming. It was very busy and I wasn't quite sure what there was to see, and where I was in relation to what there is to see. I rallied myself to go to an ATM--where my card was declined! Oh crap. I didn't have enough cash for two weeks in a cash economy, by any stretch. My podunk credit union does not have an out-of-country collect number to call or 24 hour customer service. I went to the hotel business center to email them, knowing it was only Sunday morning in the States and it would be a loooong weekend of waiting for an answer.

I again rallied myself to leave the hotel. I walked up and down Dong Khoi, sort of the high end tourist main drag. I didn't take one single photo, so this is a very boring post.

I was foraging for a restaurant when I remembered that I kind of don't like Asian food. Hmm. I found Jaspa's, which had been mentioned in the English language magazine in the hotel. It is random foods of the world by some Australian expats. Perfect. I had a lentil, beet, and goat cheese salad, a pina colada, and a bottle of water for 250,000 VND (about $16) including tip. This is a lot to pay for a meal in Vietnam, but less than you'd pay in the States so I figured it evened out. I love legumes and they're not much used in Vietnamese cooking, so I was glad I'd had lentils while I could.

I finally let myself collapse in the hotel, where I accidentally wet my toothbrush with tap water. Dang! I rubbed some hand sanitizer on it. I took the first malaria pill of the trip, wondering what kind of trippy dreams it would give me.

I turned on the TV and proved the theory that at any given moment there is an episode of CSI on somewhere in the world. And then I went to sleep.

You can see all thephotos I later took of HCMC, and all photos from this trip if you'd like.

No comments: