(journal excerpt): January 30, 2012-Bangkok, TH-
Fully recovered now and today’s focus was applying for our Vietnamese visas. M had a bad sleep last night and we finally moved today to our preferred room at the back of the building. I am not sure why, for some reason, for some people, backpacking and budget travel becomes synonymous with uncleanliness and unwillingness to shower but the hallway outside our old room last night just reeked of bad BO and dirty laundry. Sheesh. This guesthouse we are quite sure, must be in Lonely Planet now (update: It is!!) as it’s currently full and has been for most nights since we’ve been here. So we were happy to finally be able to move into what we ridiculously like to call “our room”…Anyway, back to the embassy. Went to the internet cafe and noticed the website hasn’t been updated since 2007. Good sign. App form requested 2″x2” photos and a fee of USD $30. Once we got there, we saw various forms with various people all with different photo requirements and of course $30 was not correct. It cost us 3600B for both (around $116 CAD). People that needed one day or same day visas paid much more. For a while we debated going back to the Ko San Road where we saw Vietnamese visa service for cheaper. We even got out of line and took our application forms back because we felt we were getting ripped off somehow. But after the initial anger passed, we realized that the difference in price was negligible when it came down to taking the risk of having a fake visa (apparently a problem) and by having no guarantee what the final price is once they have our passport and have us at their mercy.
Point being, we pick our visas up on Thursday and depending on ticket prices we’ll probably fly out on the Friday or Saturday. In the meantime, I’m planning on taking a Thai Vegetarian cooking class within the next couple of days (maybe tomorrow), which is very exciting for me as I’ve been wanting to do it for years. This restaurant we always go to here offers it. Cooking classes are everywhere but vegetarian classes are pretty rare. Anyway, didn’t think we’d be going to Vietnam on this trip but I did think we were going to Bali and Laos so it goes to show how things can change when you are travelling but just trying to go with the flow for now!
(journal excerpt): February 3, 2012-Bangkok, TH-
Well, it looks like everything is sorted for going to Vietnam now. We went yesterday to pick up our passports/visas and the short story is we got them. But who likes the short story?! The long story is that it started raining shortly after we left the guesthouse and by the time we caught the bus and then the skytrain and then ran to the embassy, it was a deluge. It rained hard the whole time we stood in line at the embassy (well over 30 minutes) and the power went out. Luckily, they kept working in the dark though, since by that point we were almost at the front of the line and I figured they’d just close up shop until the power came back on.
By the time we got our visas we could hear it was still raining and having no umbrellas, we decided to wait it out a bit. When we went to leave we found a tonne of people waiting to get out as the embassy was flooded out with about 6″ of black filthy water surrounding it, complete with cockroaches swimming around and god knows what else. Since all the roads and surrounding area was the same, we had no choice but to take off the shoes and walk through it. Nasty! We finally got a few blocks through it to higher ground and decided that, after drying off our feet, we deserved a Dean + Deluca break (just like in Tokyo, located near the embassies/immigration/money!) Later that night we booked our flight, leaving Monday as there was now a considerable price difference and we decided given that we’re going in peak season this time, and just after Tet, to book our first night in a guesthouse there too. So it feels good to get that all sorted out.
Regarding our big decision about where to go after the trip-that is always a work in progress, although we have had some revelations as of late-no time to get into them right now but perhaps by the next post. What I can tell you now, is for one thing, I ended up turning down the ALT job offer in Japan. There were a few things that made it not a good match for me at the moment. I was having a hard time getting my questions answered and they weren’t returning my emails. Bad sign in my books. By the time someone did write back, they blamed their coworker on not getting back to me and then went on to tell me how, even if I’m undecided, I needed to be in email contact every couple of days. Excusez moi? This after nearly a week of waiting patiently for their reply. As well, there were a lot of documents and paperwork I would have needed to send them within two weeks before even receiving any official job offer. Transcripts would need to be sent to them from my university, and the medical test was extensive, including TB x-ray, vision and hearing as well as a drug test, all at my expense, all while travelling somehow and all the while not knowing if they even had a decent job to offer me at the end of it all. At the end, as I said, it just wasn’t a good match for me.
Like I said, I have a bit more to say on this topic but it will have to wait until next time. For now, I will post a few more photos below that I just uploaded. Thanks for reading! I am not entirely sure I will be able to access WordPress in Vietnam all of the time. Or Twitter for that matter. I seem to recall that my friend we were travelling with last time, who had a WordPress blog, couldn’t access it in all locations. So if you suddenly find a blogging gap of a month or so, that’s why! Of course, it could be fine.