I have been looking for a bit of fresh content to my blog and I have found it. I have been in contact with Gordon, a very nice fellow for about the last 6 months that is interested in looking at Vietnam as a possible retirement destination. He has been here in the past but was limited in his experiences as he was here with a partner who had difficulty adjusting to this chaotic culture. Hah!! He chose me as the person to stay with and talk to about his future plans……… My life is a dream (sometimes a nightmare). Hoo Hoo…. C’mon Gordon and enter one of the most magical places on earth. Lets share the dream. Following is an email Gordon wrote to all his friends in his words with only personal information removed………. I love it!!!!! Enjoy……
“I’m not sure if you’d believe the events of the last 2 days unless you lived them. Such is my life at times. I know some people would get very upset and afraid if it happened to them, but thankfully I can deal with this stuff in a pretty calm way…..most of the time.
So 2 days ago I left (with 3 other guests) on a motorcycle tour with Owen and 3 of his drivers that he hires to take people to interesting places
around this part of Vietnam. We went to some spectacular places, driving through a lot of gorgeous countryside and farmland, past dozens of little villages, visiting a new hilltop pagoda that’s been worked on for 7 years and still in the construction state but open to visitors who’d like to come and visit or mediate, along the open ocean at times where the waves were crashing in, through fishing villages, over dozens of bridges, and millions of bumps and twists and turns. It truly was an amazing experience….. and so different seeing it from the backseat of a motorcycle, especially being in Vietnam.
At times the garbage and smell can seem almost overwhelming, and you see that traffic rules are thrown completely out the window; but when you get past this and accept things for the way they are here, you see endless beauty and life in a different way, where people are always busy with something, not worrying about doing things by the book, – but instead by however it’ll get the job done,….. And ….you feel welcome to be a part of their community.
In Vietnam the process to register at a hotel is very different. You must give them your passport – which they keep while you are staying there, and your name and the details of your passport is given to the police in that community. I’ve even read that in some places your passport will be taken to the police station while you’re there. I’ve heard that the rules are a bit different in some tourist areas, but not where I was on this part of my trip.
Because all 4 of us were staying at Owen’s place, he had brought our passports with him and presented them to the front desk girl at the hotel, and she took them and gave us keys for our rooms.
So everything goes well and we go out for supper to a place owned by an American Vet – actually a navy vet named Bob Johnston who wrote a
book called “The Duck Pond”. It’s about his life while he did river rat trips during the Vietnam War. He’s also been involved in a project – that no longer operates – to help victims of Agent Orange, although his wife is helping to run a soup kitchen project that gives meals to hospital patients.
So we go back to our hotel rooms and I’m getting settled – finding a TV show to watch – when I get a knock on the door and it’s the front desk girl. She has a passport with her which is not mine and tries desperately to explain things (the only words she knows is “no English”) and I eventually understand that she needs more than my passport. She also needs my Vietnam Visa. Well it so happened that when I was at Owen’s homestay, I gave his front desk girl my passport with the visa, but after looking at it, she just kept the passport and gave me back the visa. So guess where my visa is??? Back at Owen’s place in my other pack that I left there – supposedly where it will be safe.
So I tell the girl (and hopefully she understands) to go see Owen and he’ll take care of everything. And I’m not sure if she went to see Owen first or the Police, but in a few minutes I get another knock on the door. Actually I should say more of a hammer. And it’s Owen saying we have some serious trouble. And he wants to know why my visa isn’t in with my passport?? And he’s really not in a very happy mood. So I explain that his girl gave it back to me and it’s at his place – which took us about 5 hours of driving to get here.
So he says we have to go to the Police Station and see if we can try and explain what happened and hopefully we can work things out with them. (Otherwise we are in for a long and dangerous ride back to Nha Trang at night) I get dressed and we head off in a taxi (they’ve had too much to drink to be driving), and eventually we find the police station. I could hardly believe that the taxi driver didn’t even know where the station was located.
So standing there beside her scooter is the front desk girl, who’s now gone and given my passport to the police, and guess what??? The police
station just closed about 15 minutes ago. ….. at 9 pm. Well I can hardly believe that my passport has been confiscated and we can’t even talk to the people who’ve taken it away. Owen is not very happy, and even goes over and kicks at the Iron Gate to try and get someone inside to come out and deal with us. (Yea it is true…. I have found through experience that the police respect foreigners with balls that do not cow and throw money at them…. so bang away I did)
Now the story even takes a crazier twist.
To be Continued…………….