Saturday, July 22, 2006

Good Morning Vietnam!

Yes probably a well overused phrase by now but by pure chance it was morning when we crossed into Vietnam.
Getting from Kunming to the border town was a quick jaunt down bumpy country roads in a mini bus. Having been mislead due to the whole "lost in translation" thingy, we arrived a full 10 hours before we had expected to. And it was stinking hot. Having absolutely no idea where anything was, we were very grateful to an enterprising fellow who offered to give us a hand. Finding a hotel, sorting out train tickets and changing our RMB (Chinese money) to Dong (Vietnamese currency). Of course we knew he was making money off every transaction but it wasn't til we got to the train station the following morning that we realised exactly how much. He had charged us more than ten times the worth of the train tickets! But at the end of the day, we had tickets and no headaches so it was a small price to pay.
Leaving China proved to be just as difficult as entering. After an extended look at our passports the official asked us to "wait a moment". And he disappeared. When he came back he asked us to "please take a seat and wait a moment". So we waited. And joked about being taken into separate rooms and questioned. Alas it was no big deal. We were asked back to the desk and processed pretty quickly. Sigh...
Getting from the border to the train station in Lao Cai means a taxi ride. Or a motocycle ride. Motocycles are cheaper so we took two of them. Bloody good fun! Our packs on our backs, these poor buggers navigating through the chaotic traffic, it was quite a sight to see. And believe me loads of locals were laughing their heads off at the spectacle.
A wonderful introduction to Vietnam!

1 comment:

Vernon said...

So did the giant wads of Chinese RMB turn into even bigger wads of tiny denomination Vietnamese currency? Must admit I was kinda freaked out at how much cash I entered China with. If it can't fit in a wallet, there's something wrong. At least in China you can actually find ATMs that operate after hours - that always pissed me off in Japan.