After planning to go away and teach for years and having my mind set on Asia for months, here I am in Vietnam. It’s 09.20 on Sunday the 20th of November and I am lying in a pretty dingy hotel room wondering what the strange noises are in the room above me. It sounds like a half-hearted electric drill, the sort of drill that’s not really happy with his life, and a much more enthusiastic hammer. I can’t get on facebook as it’s banned here. Well, you can get on through proxy websites which I’ve attempted but I don’t think I’m enough of a computer nerd to work it out. This means not only am I suffering a bit of culture shock, but extreme withdrawal symptoms from social networking. Plus I’m afraid my avid friends and followers (cough) may think I’m dead if I don’t provide an inane facebook status soon.
So, my journey! At the airport I said bye to Mike which was quite horrific and difficult. I still didn’t really feel nervous though and I was fine on the flight as well. The journey was two seven hour flights with a brief 30 minute stop in Doha (which is a strange looking country, basically a huge huge desert but with some compounds that look like a kid has been playing lego, and then huge sky scrapers in the capital, then more desert). It was my first long haul flight, I guess it was OK. Very uncomfortable and I didn’t sleep at all! On the first flight I was delighted to have no one sat next to me, this was soon dampened by the two year old girl and her mum who sat behind me. The two year old spoke no English and kicked my chair and cried the whole way. Also her mum changed her nappy three times right behind me! Yuk. There were loads of films though and I watched Rise of The Planet of The Apes, which was such a good film (I am definitely on the ape’s side!) as well as episodes of The Big Bang Theory, Office USA, the film JFK (which I was in a tired trance for so don’t really remember!) and some Glastonbury highlights. The food was also ok, even had a butternut squash salad. The next flight was pretty much the same thing. The plane flew through the sunrise at the beginning of the journey and into the sunset at the end which was quite spectacular. We also arrived in Saigon in the middle of a thunder storm which was so beautiful! It was like some one was exploding bombs behind the clouds and there was fork lightening and all.
On arrival at HCMC airport I had to pick up my visa which entailed a lot of form filling and waiting around, something I found quite difficult after 35 hours of no sleep. Eventually after about 2 hours I got through to collect my luggage and was met by a man holding a sign with my name on it. Oh I am so very important you know! He was American and took me to a hotel by taxi, he told me in the taxi that he didn’t trust the man who ran this hotel and was annoyed that the company had put me up there. Just as he had predicted the hotel manager said the big rooms the company had paid for weren’t available and ‘just for one night’ I’d have to be in a smaller room across the street. The American guy said they pulled this trick all the time and had an argument with them.
Suffice to say I am now in the smaller room (which is pretty horrid) and after a night’s sleep am waiting around to find out what’s happening next! Not a perfect start and I was quite upset but mainly because I was so tired and exhausted. My plan now is to go sort out this whole room kerfuffle and then get a simcard and do a bit of a reconnaissance mission. Apologies for the quickly written entry but I thought I’d let every one know I’m alive and well.