I woke with a gloomy sensation. Today I am headed home with the staff prepared as well as could be, but not enough. In the last day before going back to Canada, we had a person that is totally untrustworthy come and inquire how the money from the hotel will be handled. That threw up alarm bells in Mai’s, mind and franticly we looked for a solution for the security
of the building. In the last hours, we were able to find an Australian with a good reputation that was looking for a place to live in the area. I offered him 3 weeks worth of free accommodation in exchange for his presence there. It works out for both of us, so now Mai and I are a little more at peace. Mai is ecstatic to be going back…. She misses mom, dad, and all the other family and friends. I miss them also, but I am able to keep connection through the net, and being overseas is not much different than being there with
the exception of a rare meeting or a weekly pool game. Many people have that glad to be going home, but I truly do not. Since I have been in Vietnam, I have felt alive!! There is so much to do and so many unforeseen circumstances that challenge a person daily, that boredom is not an issue. I have good friends that I regret not being able to be with and wish they would try living here, however, I and Mai are not at a loss for friends. In the six months I have been here, I have developed new friendships, one or two that have the possibility of becoming very close ones. I have just found out bu us leaving for a short time, that Mai and I have become quite beloved in the community. Because of us, we have brought in foreigners and their money into the community. We have turned the hotel into a shining beacon in the community and everybody talks well about us. That is nice to hear. Maybe that goes to explain some of the hoots and hollers when we walk down the street hand in hand. Even the fish ladies who I feud with are always yelling for us to hug and also find them men.
I am sitting in a restaurant in the Narita airport in Tokyo. I just had a 15 dollar snack and am feeling a bit ripped off. How is the flight so far you ask? Well…. I have always known that transporting foreigners is where part of the money grabbing and corruption can be, and I fell right into the trap. I had my receptionist Tram order a small taxi for us to go to the airport. A 7 seater showed up at our door and as we left I asked why we had a big car and that the small car price was much lower. The taxi went 1 block and dropped us to a small car. Everybody was jabbering in Vietnamese and I could only grasp that there was a 10000 agreement of some kind between the drivers….. whatever!! Let’s go to the airport!! The guy drove like a total maniac and we madi it in record time. He tried to charge me a metered rate of 480000 dong for a ride that is under contract to my hotel for 150000. I hade already paid the gate charge of 10000. The driver argued that we owed 10000 for the gate. I paid 180000 before I realized my mistake of having extra in there for the already paid gate and the other taxi. Well….. wont he be in for a big surprise when the next time he is flagged down by me at our hotel, I just wave him off and use a taxi beside him. Ya just burned yourself buddy!! Anyway.. Mai marveled at the new airport and everything went smoothly until…. I had checked in on the web and when the cleark was issuing my tickets he noticed a problem with my visa exemption. It was one day past its expiry date…. WhA?????? That is not possible… I had mine done the same day as Mai’s so they should be the same. I checked, and sure enough, Mai’s said the 25th, but for some reason the writing was either very bad, or on my passport is said the 23rd…. expired by one day. The ticketing agent sort of gave a wink wink… I give you your tickets anyway, but do not tell them you have the ticket and just tell the immigration people you have a small problem with the date. Because you are leaving, they just may overlook it. We got to the immigration and after scrutinizing the error for a bit, the young officer claimed we had to return to NhaTrang to fix the error…. But wait for a minute. Maybe a slight change could be made but he had to have it Ok’d by his boss. He disappeared for a couple of minutes, waved me away and wanted to talk with Mai directly. After a bit of discussion, Mai came to me and got a 500000 dong note that she slipped into my passp ort for the lad. Damnit!! In this instance I had no choice but to feed a corrupt official… Are you reading this internet monitors?? The person who cleared me ASKED FOR A BRIBE!! Luckily I had grabbed the large bill just in case of an emergency.. I always stare down this corruption and never pay, but in this instance, I had no choice…..