After the successful result of the TTM trade show in Thailand, my buddy Hau and I have undertaken the task of designing some new and exciting tours in Vietnam that for the moment, very unique and not offered by anyone else. The tourist areas in Vietnam have become so commercialized and “same same” in so many cases that sometimes it is difficult to get a feel of what Vietnam is truly like, but instead a false impression of scams, greed, and aggression. The latter is notVietnamat all and I have found my place inVietnamtrying to help that small percentage of travelers that want to experience a more authenticVietnam. With this goal in mind, we have now completed a number of itineraries that combines adventure in “realVietnam”, along with most of the desired tourist destinations. I will post some of these itineraries in the future, but for now, I will hold back as Vietnamese companies are the perfect models of mimicry. I want to be sure that they are realistic and doable, but more importantly, executable before others start copying our efforts.
Today, let me tell you about how red tape can complicate things with a tale I am experiencing at this very moment. For a while now I have been living inVietnamsupposedly retired, but working all the same. According to immigration inVietnam, a person is required to have a Visa. Before I relocated here, there was a certificate of Visa exemption that was good for the life of the passport. I applied and was issued the exemption that had the stipulation that it was valid for 90 days at which time a person could have it renewed for 10 dollars, or exit and enter the country and have it re-activated. It sounds sort of silly for a “Visa Exemption”, but a person has to live by the rules. After 9 months inVietnam, immigration changes the rules on the exemption that it could no longer be simply renewed (unless perhaps sliding some cash which I try not to do). I was not aware of the change and ended in a big argument with the head of
immigration for my area. He angrily took my passport telling me he would fix it and I had it returned days later with a 3 month single entry Visa with a family endorsement. This visa could be renewed for a period of time. I carried on quickly running out of pages in my book with stamps and other country visas. One occasion I had the head immigration again in another confrontation and in this case Mai was with me. It seems he was frustrated that every 3 months I was in his face but he liked me, so in the end, I was issued a 1 year, multi entry visa with family classification. With all the travelling I do, nobody can seem to figure out what visa number to use to register me, and the customs people are confused when I re-enter the country. Now my one year is coming close to the end and I have decided to get a residency card that would solve my issues.
Oh Oh….. My passport expires in one year or so and the residency card can only be issued for the length of the passport. I thought no problem; I will get the shorted card and
extend with a newly issued passport when I return fromCanadanext year……nope! The office that is responsible for issuing the card is required to send my passport toHanoifor 15 or more days. Eeek! I cannot. I have to host a tour of the Mekong Delta for a VIP in a couple of weeks. Ok, she said…. After that… Eeek! I am then off toCambodiafor a company retreat. I also have the issue that without a passport, I cannot do my job. If someone wants to travel to the highlands or even overnight in Tuy Hoa, I will have no passport to register with the hotel and my drivers license is often not enough. After some brainstorming, here is what is happening right now.
I made an emergency one day trip during when I was free to the Canadian embassy inSaigonwhere after a little red tape, I left my passport for renewal. I will be issued a new 48 page passport and I was temporarily issued a notarized photocopy. The copy cannot
be used to fly, so I was to take a night bus or train back home. The copy should allow me to keep working and stay in hotels though I know from experience that photocopies in many places…even notarized will not be accepted. Hopefully when I return for the Mekong Delta trip, my new passport will be ready for pickup and I have requested the old one returned. I will then submit my new passport for the issue of my residency card and hopefully be able to use my old passport to travel.
With all goals accomplished, I boarded a busy night train that had no beds left. I was forced to take a soft chair and endure a ride from hell for 6.5 hours back to Nha Trang. I do not look forward to having to return toSaigonby train or bus for the upcoming tour.
P.S….. A bit of bad luck maybe?
I have been looking for a cruiser motorcycle for a long time and upon return to Nha Trang, by chance I have come across a rare 1100 cc Honda Shadow for sale that I am interested in purchasing……. Only one snag…. I cannot get the money from the bank to purchase it as I do not have a hard copy of a passport. Oh well….. Maybe fate is involved in the game.
Included are a few random shots